Monday, 18 December 2006

The Greatest Record Label Ever

Look. I'm a bit parochial about my music: I'm located in the decayed late 70s, between the collapse of pay bargaining, sterling, the social contract, and the sudden realisation that we were going somewhere else; the world stood poised to get rid of itself. My posts have kind of indicated as much lately. In fact for me, that phase goes up to 1984. But I set the miners' strike as the end of this period. It's a violent clash of modes of living and entire ethical systems (imho of course) as well as the fight for work. I have been stuck as this point since discovering the Jam at the age of 13; something about it draws me back, as though the empty factories and waste grounds have something to say that we're still missing amid the shining glass and steel. As though a great struggle was being played out in the places I was born and did not grow up between the fading of meaning and the final (maybe) acceptance of the finity of systems. The long sandstone terraces look like unplayed keys and the fog hangs around for years at a time.

Nothing communicates all this to me more than Factory Records. Even the name. Martin Hannett was the musical genius inside this remarkable sound, this smashing of glass inside tight rusty cages. Tony Wilson may be a situationist twat but he _knows_ music, really knows it. I mean, leaving Joy Division to one side (because you have to); A Certain Ratio are just amazing. Do the Du is a fabulous brutal tune, and as for this one:

I'd pay in each and every way/to know the place/where people feel no anguish/and need no care

It's a corker. They scorch decay into words and they know it. Jazz-funk, whatever: A Certain Ratio are another picture of Britain in the gutter, but with a soul.

And then there's Section 25. A lot of their stuff is just too grim to listen to (the entire of The Key of Dreams for me) but From the Hip is about two years too early and is, besides, utterly gorgeous. Love and Hate...could have been amazing and I love Bad News Week and some other tracks.

There was so much talent at Factory: Happy Mondays fall outside my obsession but I recognise their genius too.

and then there is Joy Division. I have a lot to say about these guys which borders on the spiritualistic but is probably better left unsaid. The greatest band ever. The method by which dying cities call out to the future; the sound of...of...

factories, I guess. With the collective soul they imply and the sense of purpose, drifting towards closure.

I haven't attempted to analyse any of this carefully, because I have done so many times over the years and can't go over it all again: listen, listen and think.

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