September 16, 2002

Satellite City - Part II

I posted the track listing for my Factory Records mix on Thursday, but I changed it just now to add a couple of songs I downloaded earlier today. But almost all of the other songs in that playlist are from my own collection, and boy did I have a lot of records to pull. Going through the drawers of 7" singles and bookcases of LPs, I was able to amass quite a stack on my coffee table. Only two CDs though, both by Crispy Ambulance. Odd. I don't even own any New Order or Joy Division CDs! Plenty of vinyl though, that's for sure.

As I started reviewing the pile of records, I saw two I'd never even listened to, plus a couple I'd rescued from my "reject pile" of records to sell. (Hey, they were purchased for 25 cents each at a now-defunct New Orleans record store. Believe it or not, I've found more records on Factory and related labels in New Orleans than in any other city I've been to.)

Given that I'd never paid that much attention to Factory as compared to other labels (the trifecta: Rough Trade, Flying Nun, Postcard), listening to all these records was an interesting exercise. Some observations:

  • The Return of The Durutti Column -- wow, I'd really overlooked this one. Mellow, pretty... would made a good musical double-header with Felt.
  • It's titled Factory Benelux Greatest Hits, but this record is a stinker! The track from 52nd Street is particularly bad, 80s disco synth.
  • Once I put on "Bizarre Love Triangle" I couldn't stop listening to it. (I hadn't put this on in ages!) I must have played this one at least five times in a row, then every time after listening to a particularly awful Factory record (see above).
  • Considering I'm not terribly familiar with their music, I sure do have a lot of Stockholm Monsters records. Some pretty good stuff -- must listen to more.
  • The Miaow single is great! But Cath Carroll's solo single that I have ("Beast")? So... not.
  • The Railway Children and James tracks are going into my main iPod rotation, for sure. I believe I bought the former for $4 at a WFMU record fair a couple of years ago, the latter for around the same price at some record store out on Long Island a few years before that. Money well spent.
  • I need to fire up Soulseek on the PC and grab some more music from some of these new (re)discoveries!

Below is a copy of the liner notes I made for my friends who will be receiving this mix as a CD. It's a mix of band info, historical perspective, plus my own semi-informed opinions. (Yes, I relied heavily on my reference library to write a few of these blurbs.) Also note that info on the Miaow and Section 25 tracks are missing, as those were the two late additions.

OMD - "Electricity" (3:32)
7" single
May 1979

The very first single by Liverpool natives OMD, as well as one of the first Factory releases. OMD moved to a major label (DinDisc/Virgin) shortly after this, where they continued to record a string of pop hits throughout the 80's (including that horrible song from "Pretty In Pink" -- gack).
(band info)

Joy Division - "Disorder" (3:31)
from Unknown Pleasures LP
June 1979

Standout track from the first Joy Division album, selected simply because it's one of my favorites. Another album track, "She's Lost Control" is featured in the movie and on the official soundtrack.
(band info)

Distractions - "Time Goes By So Slow" (3:23)
7" single
FAC 12
September 1979

This is an odd one, an infectious slice of 60's power pop that sounds nothing like any of the other Factory releases of that era. But an excellent single.
(band info)

The Durutti Column - "Sketch For Summer" (2:59)
from The Return of The Durutti Column LP
January 1980

Remember that scene from the movie where Tony Wilson is the audience of one at the Hacienda? That was Vini Reilly, aka The Durutti Column. This one is from the first DC album, which is a delicate, all-instrumental affair, spotlighting Reilly's fluid and somewhat jazzy solo guitar.
(band info)

A Certain Ratio - "Flight" (5:59)
12" single
FAC 22
October 1980

Funk as distilled through post-punk, this was a Top 10 indie chart hit for A Certain Ratio. One of the more overtly dance-y Factory bands, they soon strayed from the atmospheric shimmer of this early single.
(band info)

Minny Pops - "Dolphin's Spurt" (2:51)
7" single
FAC 31
February 1981

One of two singles that appeared on Factory by this Dutch electro group. Harsh and angular in a way that's not quite my cup of tea, but somewhat catchy. Went on to release a number of other records on their own Plurex label.
(band info)

Crispy Ambulance - "Concorde Square" (9:08)
from: Live On A Hot August Night 12" single
FAC BN 4 (Factory Benelux)
June 1981

A Martin Hannett-produced career highlight from a band that got tagged early on by the press as the poor man's Joy Division. (The fact that lead singer Alan Hempsall stood in for Ian Curtis at a Joy Division gig probably didn't help matters.) The first few minutes are an angular tour-de-force, before sliding somewhat abruptly into a spooky echo chamber of distant piano and background hums.
(band info)

Crawling Chaos - "Creamo Coyl" (2:21)
from: The Gas Chair LP
FAC BN 6 (Factory Benelux)
January 1982

Like The Distractions single, this is another weird, one-off song from a very minor Factory band. A neat little 60's surf pastiche, complete with theremin-esque backing vocals and girly "ah-ahs." But the rest of the album sounds absolutely nothing like this and is in fact quite unlistenable. Just FYI.
(band info)

Stockholm Monsters - "All At Once" (2:57)
7" single
FAC 107
June 1984

Their sound fit right in on Factory, but this band was actually formed by two brothers from none other than New York. They moved to Manchester and went on to record one album and a series of rhythmic, danceable singles with bits of odd instrumentation (horns, here; flute on the debut "Fairy Tales" single).
(band info)

The Wake - "Of The Matter" (2:53)
7" single
FAC 113
October 1985

A softer sound from the Wake as compared to their more austere early Factory releases, this song features layered synths, hushed male and female vocals, all set over a percolating beat. In keeping with the band's new sound, they would migrate a few years later to label Sarah Records, home of lovelorn twee pop.
(band info)

James - "What's the World" (1:56)
from: Village Fire EP
FAC 138
October 1985

An early, peppy track from James who, much like OMD, went on to much greater success after moving to a major label. In the process they also changed their sound quite a bit, which is a shame, as this song is a Grade A example of (just) pre-C86 jangle pop reminiscent of contemporaries Brilliant Corners and Orange Juice.
(band info)

New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle" (4:20)
from: Brotherhood LP
FAC 163
November 1986

My favorite New Order song, and one of the best singles of the 80's. One of their best-known songs (after "Blue Monday") and covered by countless bands because it works on so many levels: a great dance track, hummable pop tune, both musically sophisticated and lyrically personal. Dance music for thinking people, indeed.
(band info)

The Railway Children - "Brighter" (4:52)
12" single
FAC 167
February 1987

The intro sounds as if it's been lifted straight from "Uncertain Smile" by The The, but the skittering xylophones match well with the frantically-strummed guitars and loping bassline. Later moved to Virgin Records where they were a modestly successful indie guitar band in the mold of The Mighty Lemon Drops.
(band info)

Happy Mondays - "Wrote For Luck" (6:05)
from: Bummed LP
FACT 220
November 1988

Massively-successful single, the recording of which is portrayed in the movie, even if this song is missing from the soundtrack. It could be about half as long and be enough Mondays for me, but this one does have its charms.
(band info)

Posted by nstop at September 16, 2002 04:31 AM


You should've put some ESG on there!

Posted by: Andy on September 18, 2002 03:44 PM

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