Communications 1978-1992 8½ ( 2009 )
Disc: 1 / 1. Joy Division: Digital / 2. Cabaret Voltaire: Baader Meinhof / 3. A Certain Ratio: All Night Party / 4. OMD: Electricity (Original version) / 5. Joy Division: She's Lost Control / 6. The Distractions: Time Goes By So Slow / 7. Joy Division: Transmission / 8. The Durutti Column: Sketch For Summer / 9. Crispy Ambulance: Deaf / 10. Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart / 11. A Certain Ratio: Shack Up / 12. Section 25: Girls Don't Count / 13. Crawling Chaos: Sex Machine / 14. A Certain Ratio: Flight / 15. The Names: Night Shift / 16. New Order: Ceremony (Original version) / 17. Minny Pops: Dolphin's Spurt / 18. John Dowie: Its Hard To Be An Egg / 19. Section 25: Dirty Disco / Disc: 2 / 1. New Order: Everything's Gone Green / 2. Tunnel Vision: Watching The Hydroplanes / 3. The Durutti Column: Messidor / 4. A Certain Ratio: Knife Slits Water (LP version) / 5. Royal Family and the Poor: Art on 45 / 6. Swamp Children: Taste What's Rhythm / 7. New Order: Temptation / 8. 52nd Street: Cool As Ice / 9. New Order: Blue Monday / 10. Cabaret Voltaire: Yashar (John Robie Remix) / 11. Quando Quango: Love Tempo / 12. The Wake: Talk About The Past / Disc: 3 / 1. New Order: Confusion / 2. Marcel King: Reach For Love / 3. Section 25: Looking from A Hilltop (Restructure) / 4. Stockholm Monsters: All At Once / 5. Life: Tell Me / 6. Durutti: Column A Little Mercy (Duet) / 7. James: Hymn From A Village / 8. Kalima: Trickery / 9. A Certain Ratio: Sounds Like Something Dirty / 10. Quando Quango: Genius / 11. Happy Mondays: Freaky Dancin' / 12. Miaow: When It All Comes Down / 13. The Railway Children: Brighter / 14. Biting Tongues: Compressor / 15. New Order: True Faith / 16. Happy Mondays: 24 Hour Party People / Disc: 4 / 1. New Order: Fine Time / 2. Happy Mondays: W.F.L. (Think About the Future) / 3. Revenge: Seven Reasons / 4. Happy Mondays: Hallelujah (Club Mix) / 5. Electronic: Getting Away With It / 6. Happy Mondays: Step On / 7. Northside: Shall We Take A Trip / 8. New Order: World In Motion / 9. Happy Mondays: Kinky Afro / 10. The Durutti Column: Home / 11. Electronic: Get The Message (DNA remix) / 12. Northside: Take 5 / 13. Cath Carroll: Moves Like You (Remix) / 14. The Other Two: Tasty Fish (12" mix) / 15. Happy Mondays: Sunshine and Love (Lionrock Remix)
Tony Wilson was never a great man of business. Even when 'The Hacienda' was at its pomp and other mavericks would have capitalized on the brand name, Tony was pushing acts such as Northside, Cath Carrol as well as Happy Mondays and New Order, but not a lot else. Tony of course never signed The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Fall, Inspiral Carpets or The Charlatens. James only released a couple of singles on Factory before signing an ill-fated deal with Sire Records that nearly destroyed them. Also, Tony's apparent inability to see that Crispy Ambulence really weren't in the same league as Joy Division, for instance, will have held back his money making ability. Well it all went tits up in 1992, London Records pulled out of a full rescue plan for factory when they discovered every act signed to Factory owned their own catalogues and publishing. Factory only took 50% of the record sales and no act was really 'under contract'. A great deal for the artists and one we may and really should see more of now that nobody trusts record labels anymore. Tony was a true music fan - but this all meant Factory was essentially worthless.
About a third of this fine four CD box set comprises material released by Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and New Order off-shoot bands like Revenge, Electronic, etc. Of the other important bands, the Durutti Column tracks sound like something I need to know more about. I do know key Durriti man Vini Reily played lead guitar on Morrissey's first post Smiths album, 'Viva Hate', but that's about it. Still, the Durutti Column track called 'Messidor' presented here almost reminds me of Maurice Deebanks Felt instrumentals, clearly a great thing. Otherwise, we've got a lot of interesting one-offs on this box-set. Factory Records singles in particular always had great production and loads of ideas. Tony Wilson seemingly didn't want to meet the zeitgeist. He wanted to either innovate or just take on the strange and wounded. There's a track here called 'Compressor' by a band titled 'Biting Tongues', of which I know nothing. Yet, this is a truly great track of the kind you'd discover at midnight played by John Peel. When a record was played by the late, great John Peel, it took on an extra dimension anyway. This track is a brilliant semi-instrumental full of a cookin' rhythm section, brass instruments and occasional ghostly vocals - like Jazz in a 100 years time.
What happened to OMD to cause them to leave Factory? Surely Factory needed one of those synth-pop bands that were all the rage in the early eighties? Well, here we get the original version of 'Electricity', still a marvellous thing. A lot of the stuff bands released 1980 towards 1982 gets better with age. They were using pretty shitty synths capable of three different notes or something and this forced creativity. These days, when you can replicate any sound on earth at the push of a button, the creativity is taken away. Where's that 'Phil Spector Wall Of Sound' button on this mixing desk? Well, ask Bernard Butler. He got that down pat when he produced the Duffy album. She'll do nothing without him though. Not many producers rate the Phil Spector sound. They get confused and instead produced a synthetic version of Motown without any clue how the original Motown songs were recorded. Joe Meek? He recorded in his Kitchen, Bathroom. Creativity folks - it's something a lot of Factory acts had, because they didn't have anything else. Poverty forces you to look at different ways of doing things.
Ah, 'Ceremony'. It was the first New Order single but the last song Joy Division wrote. Well, something like that. Compare 'Ceremony' to the first New Order album and you'll know instantly that Ian Curtis wasn't just a great lyricist but that also he was the focal point musically of Joy Division. Everything revolved around him and it took New Order a good 2 to 3 years to find their way. Funnily enough, when 'Blue Monday' was released, Factory lost money on every 12" copy sold due to the expensive packaging. Also funnily enough, that was about the last time Bernard Sumner tried to sing in the same manner or tone as Ian Curtis.
How to finish? Well, I don't want to labour over the remixes of Happy Monday's material. Let's instead return to the pure original Mondays of 'Freaky Dancin'. They couldn't play, sing or get their instruments exactly in tune. We don't get that spirit of 1976 these days, do we? No. The Happy Mondays recorded this in the late eighties and sounded like a bunch of guys who had never seen each other before, much less played in a band together. Still, the magic came together in a way the likes of Coldplay of Kasabian simply won't understand. This track more than almost any other Happy Mondays track is diamond and gold to me. Every band member playing a different tune, Shaun Ryder back in the mix a little bit. When they wanted to subsequently repeat such a mix of mess, noise, funk and brilliance of course they couldn't. That was the excellence of Factory Records - it was a place you could call home as much as the local pub was. Why The Fall never signed I don't know, apart from I imagine Mark E Smith didn't like Tony Wilson because of class wars. Well, we can only speculate.