Category: Manchester

Jane and Edward Barton: Jane and Barton

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Cherry Red 1983.  MRED53

Discogs

My liking for Edward Barton sets me apart from most people on this planet, but with his abrasive delivery removed, the beauty of his songs is more obvious to everyone else.  This mini album deals with that by having his (then) girlfriend, Jane Lancaster do most of the vocals.  The best known track, It’s A Fine Day appeared here a long time ago, and the rest of the album is similarly haunting.

Northside: My Rising Star

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Factory 1990.  FAC298

Discogs

Everything Starts With An A has had an absolute frenzy lately of posting Factory stuff, so here’s a modest contribution to the project from me.

Northside were very much part of the Madchester baggy thing which was all good fun when I was a student, although quite a departure from Factory’s more usual arty output.  They seem to have been mostly forgotten about, but this single still stands up well I think.

A Witness: One Foot In The Groove

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Ron Johnson 1988.  ZRON 30

Discogs

Another Ron Johnson classic tonight, this time from Manchester’s A Witness.  This is an easier listen than Big Flame, but still has the jagged guitars and the debt to Captain Beefheart.  Add surreal lyrics, great tunes and some fantastic guitar riffs, and the result is irresistible.

A Witness have a connection to various other similar bands of the time, most notably Bogshed, Big Flame, AC Temple and The Membranes, but came to an abrupt end when the guitarist, Rick Aitken was killed in a climbing accident.

More to come from this band…

Ruthless Rap Assassins: And It Wasn’t A Dream

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Syncopate 1990.  SYN38 and 12SYX38

Discogs  Discogs

I love a bit of social commentary in music especially rap, and this single does a particularly good job.  It’s the story of a couple emigrating from the Caribbean in the 1950s with high hopes, quickly dashed by the hostile reception they got from the xenophobic Brits.  One verse is about the woman, the other the man and the whole thing is told from the perspective of their UK born son.   This is a part of UK history everyone who lives here should know about, but it’s not just an earnest history lesson.  The words are beautifully written, and it works just as well musically, with loping backing giving a nice caribbean vibe alongside the well placed Malcolm X samples.  It had rave reviews at the time and Peel played it quite a bit, but it bombed.  The band then took a real dive getting involved with Shaun Ryder and Black Grape.  I guess they had bills to pay.

This is the CD single bundled up with the remix 12″.  Do you need that many versions of it?  I guess not, but it really is a fantastic dose of Brit rap.

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Big Flame: Tough

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Ron Johnson 1985.  ZRON 4

Discogs

I guess Big Flame will always be best remembered for appearing on the C86 compilation, but they didn’t come close to fitting that cliché because there was nothing twee or unoriginal about them.  Their angular, jarring guitar sound became what their label was best known for, and was some of the most interesting guitar based music around back then, with a healthy dose of radical politics thrown in for good measure.  However it’s not an easy listen, so if you’re after unchallenging indiepop, look elsewhere.

They seem largely forgotten now apart from the occasional re-issue, none of which are now available.  However they were apparently a huge influence on the Manic Street Preachers in their early Richie Manic period (no real connection though between Big Flame and what the Manics went on to become).

New Fast Automatic Daffodils: Get Better

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Play It Again Sam 1991.  BIAS 193-7

Discogs

I haven’t had much time lately to do vinyl rips, hence the spate of singles.

I played this recently on a whim and realised that it’s a different version of the track to the one on the Pigeonhole album, and unlike the album version, it’s produced by the legendary Martin Hamnett of Factory fame.  Oddly the B side, Pigeonhole, doesn’t appear on the Pigeonhole album.

While I prefer their later, darker material, this single is still excellent.  It has the usual choppy guitar work, interesting rhythm section and great songwriting.  This version has a great freeform guitar solo based more on feedback than anything else.

Unfortunately I only have the tightwad 7″ of this.  If anyone can let me have a lossless rip of the CD version I’d be grateful – it has a couple of extra tracks I’ve never heard.

Dub Sex: Splintered Faith

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Cut Deep 1989.  CDCUT 1

Discogs

I wasn’t going to post this for a while because I’m concentrating on vinyl rips at the moment, but “Forever” was very keen to get this, so always willing to oblige…

This is a career retrospective – not the sort of thing I usually go in for: as I recall I picked this up cheap.  Between this, the Time Of Life 12″ and the Edward Not Edward compilation, this must cover most of what they released, which was one album and a handful of singles.  I also have their debut, a flexi which came with Debris magazine, but that appears as the first track here.  This is the end of the line for Dub Sex posts on vinyl301 I’m afraid – this is all I’ve got.

I can’t think of much to add to what I said about Time Of Life.  Dub Sex were short lived and didn’t change their style much, so it’s more of the same.  The standard of the material is really consistent; there’s not a duff track here, and as I said before, they deserved to be much bigger than they were.  Swerve and Kicking The Corpse Around spring immediately to mind as highlights.

A Certain Ratio: Sextet

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Factory 1982.  FACT55

Discogs

I’m slightly too young to have got into ACR when they were at their peak.  Or maybe I just wasn’t cool enough as a teenager.  Whatever the reason, this is the only ACR I have, and “Hint” requested it, so here goes.

I guess you could call this album indiefunk.  They have two very proficient bass players and some imaginative percussion, but they don’t quite leave behind their post-punk roots, so they end up with an effective combination of two styles you’d think should be kept apart.  Having said that, it’s very much of it’s time, but for me that adds to its appeal.  There are elements of jazz here, as there so often is in funk (someone’s been listening to Miles I think) and some latin percussion here and there.  It’s eclectic, innovative and very well played.

For more ACR, Everything Starts With An A is the place to go.  He’s far more knowledgeable about the band than I am, and has posted a lot more (although not this album).

Us: Born In The North

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Wooden 1988.  WOOD 6

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This single barely sold at all, and is now largely forgotten.  That’s not because of the quality of the music, nor of the performers.  I suspect the problem was than no-one had any idea who “Us” were and Wooden had virtually no distribution.

In effect this single is by A Guy Called Gerald, with Edward Barton on vocals.  It’s from the same period as Voodoo Ray, and I think is almost as good.  Like its better known companion, this is a superb slab of acid house; minimalist and menacing.  Barton’s odd vocals work surprisingly well in this context, as does the sample of the hateful Edwina Currie indulging in a spot of victim blaming.  As you’ll know if you follow this blog, I like politics in music, and this works well on that score.  If you’re familiar with the UK you’ll know of the huge and ever growing gulf between the wealthy south-east and the rest of the country.  Back in 1988 it was bad enough, but it’s grown substantially since then, and it’s good to see musicians expressing their anger about it, and the politicians who seek to perpetuate the divide.

Dub Sex: Time Of Life

Dub Sex

Scam 1989.  SCAM005

Discogs

Dub Sex were a Manchester band who were, I think, unjustly ignored.  This is a fabulous, dark single, oozing with energy and anger.  It’s like a cross between Wire and late period New Fads.  I came across them on a flexi which came with an issue of the excellent Debris magazine, on the strength of which I bought a few bits and pieces by the band.   I know nothing more about them, and there’s precious little on the net, but don’t let that put you off – this should have been huge.

Dub Sex have appeared on this blog before, on the rather fine Edward Not Edward compilation.  There is of course nothing available to buy by the band.