Psychodiscography- Part One

I’m currently reading Shake, Rattle and Rain, which is a history of popular music in Manchester between 1955 and 1995, and the Tourist Information spot in the Town Hall does maps of Manchester’s musical heritage. So I thought it would be interesting to check out some of the places name-checked and add my own musical memories.

There are twenty locations on the tourist map, close enough together that they could all be visited in a walk on a fine day. Of course, this being Manchester, I chose a rainy day to make my first excursion, which is how this gets to be a multi-part article. I’ll list the map’s info and then some observations of my own for each spot.

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Duke of Wellington Statue- Piccadilly.
This statue provided the backdrop for the cover of the Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP from 1977. This was the first independent, do-it-yourself, UK punk record. It included the classic punk track ‘Boredom’. The EP showed that Manchester could go its own way.

Considering Buzzcocks did one of the all time great songs- Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen In Love With)– I really should have more of their stuff. Off to the second hand record shops and Kazaa for me.
Piccadilly is a whole lot more civilised now than when I arrived in Manchester. I don’t like the concrete stalag wall that greets you when approaching from the bus ranks and I did like the idea, if not the actual state, of the sunken gardens that used to occupy the site. But you just have to love that fountain.

This location mapped on Platial.

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The Roadhouse- Newton Street
An independent venue on Newton Street which has provided a platform for new talent for just over a decade. Local bands Elbow and Longview line up alongside Coldplay and Stereophonics as bands who have cut their performance teeth in this basement club. Spot the next big thing with the talent scouts at the ‘In The City’ music convention.

The last time I was in The Roadhouse was to see Kinesis, a bunch of teenagers from Bolton. Anthony H Wilson was there (swoon). I used to work with the guitarist (or bass player, I can’t remember) from Longview at The Gas. He wouldn’t have struck you as a very Rock ‘N Roll kid of a guy.

This location mapped on Platial.

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Night & Day- Oldham Street
Night & Day is in the heart of Manchester’s ‘Northern Quarter’. Live gigs take place virtually every night of the week. Outside on the pavements find metal panels with cryptic references to some of the great Manchester music acts.

Last gig I saw in Night & Day was James Robert Morrison, aka Jim Bob of Carter USM, doing an acoustic set. Recently, the venue has had problems with the occupants of posh flats next door complaining about the noise (when it was the builders of the flats who ignored advice about soundproofing and are the ones at fault). Arseholes move to cool areas then complain about the things that made the areas cool- how crap is that?

This location mapped on Platial.

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Affleck’s Palace- Tib Street
Affleck’s Palace hosts a four storey bazaar of everything quirky, kitsch and original. Check out the mosaics around the building by Mark Kennedy for more Mancunian referencing. ‘Panic’ in Afflecks Arcade sells a fantastic range of Smiths, Morrissey and other cult band posters. The Tib Street Horn by David Kemp underlines the presence of more than 15 independent record shops here-abouts. This is the Northern Quarter!

Thankfully, Affleck’s has nothing to do with one half of the grotesque monster that was Bennifer. A lot of my family’s birthday and Christmas presents come from the Palace. When I’m rich I think I’ll get a few outfits from the second hand clothing shops and T-shirt emporia in there.

This place mapped on Platial.

And with that I had to give up. I was close to soaked to the skin and the chill was setting in. Next week I’ll try to cover more of the map and maybe a few places from the book.

Originally published in August 2004 as a Cycling on the Pavement article.

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0 Responses to Psychodiscography- Part One

  1. Avatar Stephen Newton
    Stephen Newton says:

    I attended a course at Cornerhouse (led by CP Lee, of course) that should have coincided with the launch of the book… but the book came out a little late.

    It were great!