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  • Booze, Blood and Noise: The Violent Roots of Manchester Punk

    “It was a peculiarity of late license laws in Manchester at the time that food had to be available until the premises closed,” says Taylor. “When the police raided, one of the first things they would check was that there was food available, because if you didn’t have it they would shut down the club and kick everyone into the street immediately.”

    via Booze, Blood and Noise: The Violent Roots of Manchester Punk — Cuepoint — Medium.


  • The 8:15 To Manchester

    Manchester Indie Bands Rail Map Art Poster by indieprints on Etsy

    Manchester Indie Bands Rail Map Art Poster by indieprints on Etsy

    via manchestergalore.tumblr.com

    I’ve written before about the Radio 2 series The Peoples Songs. A few weeks ago, they did an episode about musicals and I tweeted about my desire for a MadChester based one. A piece of whimsy I soon forgot about.

    Then I found out about Sunshine On Leith.

    If the Proclaimers can have a musical, then surely there’s room for one dedicated to dodging the rain and the bullets.

    It’s still whimsy, but I’m going to kick ideas around and something may yet come of it. I’ll probably have a list of songs from ’88 to ’93 that I’d love to see in a film before I have any hint of the story they’d be hung on. But it’s a great excuse to create myself a Madchester playlist and watch videos like this-


  • Psychodiscography- Part Two

    Another day, another wander around the city centre. No rain this time, but still I didn’t get pictures of all the locations on the tourist music map. Nevertheless, on with the run down.

    The Town Hall- Albert Square.
    This grade one listed building is home to Manchester City Council, and where you will find the Tourist Information Centre. This is the location of the farewell party where the city said its tearful goodbyes to Take That. Voted the greatest boy band in history by Smash Hits readers in 2003, Gary Barlow continued with a successful song writing career writing for world artists such as Mariah Carey, Blue and Donny Osmond. The prodigal son, Robbie Williams started loving angels instead.

    And the other three- William of Orange, Curly and the pretty one- were never heard of again. They’re probably sleeping under the arches somewhere. 10CC, who I hadn’t realised were a Manchester band until I saw it on the side of a cow, played outside the Town Hall just prior to the start of the Commonwealth games.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Free Trade Hall, Peter Street
    Now converted to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, this was for almost 150 years the key musical destination for classical and popular music. In 1966 Bob Dylan was booed and called “Judas” by a Folk Music audience for returning for the second half of his set with rock and roll music. In July 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared twice in the smaller room here, invited by the Buzzcocks who supported them in the second concert. The audience was as remarkable as the Pistol’s performance. Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Tony Wilson, Morrissey and Linda Mulvey witnessed the raw power of Punk. Manchester’s musical history was about to be re-written.

    I’m not fond of that phrase. “History was about to be re-written”? What exactly does it mean? “History was about to be made”, maybe, but at the time of the concert the future had yet to happen. From that point musical history could be written, not re-written. It’s always best to get there first.

    Anyway. The Free Trade Hall was erected on the site of the Peterloo Massacre, which I’d always assumed had happened up the road in what is now St Peter’s Square. I really should have read the blue plaque.

    The Free Trade Hall closed as a venue in 1996. I never went to a concert there.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    G-Mex, Windmill Street
    The former Central Station, now the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, hosted many of the city’s biggest concerts from the mid-80s until the MEN Arena took over in the late 90s. It was here in 1986 that the “Festival of the Tenth Summer”- headlined by New Order and The Smiths– was held 10 years on from the Sex Pistols concerts at the Free Trade Hall. James also famously requested that the world “Sit Down” at this venue.

    Never been to a concert in G-Mex either.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Boardwalk, Little Peter Street
    Now awaiting redevelopment, this former church hall was once one of the key “Madchester” venues of the late 80s and early 90s. From its earlier association as a rehearsal space for Joy Division and the Halle Orchestra, these walls came to witness a role call of famous names including The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, James and The Inspiral Carpets. The Boardwalk also saw the first performance of Oasis in 1992 with brother Noel in the line up for the first time playing “Rock and Roll Star” to an audience of around 20.

    I saw Terrorvision play at the Boardwalk, and a lesser known band called Bandit Queen. That was a decade ago. I must get out more.

    The Hacienda, Whitworth Street West
    The globally famous name of this influential club has been retained by new apartments which now occupy the site. Opened by Factory Records and subsidised by the success of New Order, the Hacienda (1982-1997) brought “house” music to Europe and made it a worldwide phenomena. The club and the character of Anthony H Wilson played a starring role in “24 Hour Party People“, the 2002 Michael Winterbottom movie. Mike Pickering, Dave Haslam, Graeme Park and Jon Da Silva were the world famous Djs and inspirational floor fillers for a generation of clubbers.

    I only went to the Hacienda twice. And the second time was because I was on the guest list. Still, I consider what they’ve done to it sacrilege.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Ritz, Whitworth Street West
    The longest continuously running club in the city by a stretch. This not only provided a backdrop for the classic Mancunian movie “A Taste of Honey” from 1961 but was also the scene of The Smiths first concert in 1982. the Ritz was immortalised in verse by punk poet John Cooper Clarke in “Salomey Maloney”. Local bands Doves and A Certain Ratio still play here. A tribute concert to Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division and New Order and pivotal figure on the Manchester music scene was held on the 5th anniversary of his death in May 2004.

    The Ritz was always more my style than the Hac. And it has a bouncing dancefloor, one of the greatest sights is looking down from the balcony and seeing the rhythm ripple across the dancefloor as people jump up. Sti
    ll, the last time I was in there was years ago, I got a wee bit squiffy on White Lightning (street corner drunks’ favourite) cider, so I don’t remember what happened next.

    There’s a development of apartments next door, so at some point the wankers who move in will start complaining about the noise and try to get it shut down.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    The Cornerhouse, Oxford Road
    Manchester’s original art house with two cinemas showcasing international films and a well frequented bar and cafe. A popular haunt for city luminaries and philosophers (including Eric Cantona, when he is in town). Manchester musicians and cinema continue to receive rave reviews with Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) writing the music to accompany Hugh Grant in “About A Boy“. Former Magazine and Bad Seeds band member Barry Adamson is credited with the soundtracks to The Beach and Scream 3.

    Tangential links there, but hey. I once won a Jive Bunny album in the Cornerhouse’s quiz.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Music Box and Rockworld, Oxford Street
    Music Box provides some of the most progressive and interesting club nights in Manchester, hosting the twin legends that are Mr. Scruff’s “Keep It Unreal” and The Unabomber’s “Electric Chair” nights. It’s neighbour, Rockworld, is home to the legendary Friday all-nighters. This site formerly hosted the nightclubs Rafters and Fagins. The latter was the venue where Joy Division, playing as Warsaw in 1977, were picked up by Factory Records.

    Rockworld’s always fun, but it can be a bit disconcerting being the only person in light colours adrift in a sea of teen-Goths. Actually, that’s a lie. It’s getting close to one of my fantasies.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Legends, Whitworth Street
    This was the second home to the famous Twisted Wheel from 1963 to 1971. The term “Northern Soul” was first coined by soul guru Dave Godin writing about the “Northern” scene at clubs like the Blackpool Mecca and the famous Wigan Casino, in the magazine Blues and Soul. Ben E. King, Jnr Walker, Joe Tex and Bob Earl have all walked through these doors. Recently revived Wheel nights pack the dance floor with Northern Souls who can still last the night.

    Oh crap. My research has really let me down here. I haven’t found Legends, or the building it’s in/ used to be in on my travels. I’ll try again later.

    Dry, Oldham Street
    Originally known as Dry 201, a reference to Factory Records famous cataloguing system, this was one of the first European style bars to open in Manchester. Designed by the Hacienda’s Ben Kelly, it was later to gain notoriety with its banning of local bad boys Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder.

    I don’t know. Back at its height, Dry was full of the sort of pretentious wankers I’ve always disliked. Maybe it’s better nowadays.

    Band on the Wall, Swan Street
    This Swan Street club is one of the oldest in the city with music played at this point for over 200 years. One of Manchester’s most prolific bands, The Fall, have graced its stage on occasion. Music writer and lecturer C P Lee has also appeared as a member of the unforgettable Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias. A range of jazz, funk and soul nights make this one of Manchester’s most diverse attractions.

    This is turning into “how uncool is Ian”. I don’t think I’ve ever been to BotW. I would, y’know, if someone asked me…….

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    Urbis, Cathedral Gardens
    A stunning new addition to Manchester’s skyline in 2002. This is a a museum “of the city”. It’s worth keeping an eye on this space as 2004’s offerings have featured a retrospective of influential Factory designer Peter Saville’s work and an exhibition on the music of Detroit and Manchester.

    Urbis is cool. Mainly I go in to check the shop, though, rather than the exhibitions. The Cathedral Gardens are where the kids hang out on a Saturday. The street furniture is great for skateboarding and BMXing on. So short-sighted busybodies try to get the kids fined for doing energetic things in a safe place and want to banish them back to the dark corners where drug dealers can sell to them more easily.

    This location ahs been mapped on Platial

    MEN Arena, Hunts Bank Way
    This is Europe’s largest indoor arena with 20,000 seats. The busiest concert venue on the planet with 823,000 paying guests in 2003. Every major artist in the world from Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue to REM play this venue. The arena marked Morrisey’s first return to Manchester after an absence of 12 years with his new album “You are the Quarry”.

    And I’ve never attended a concert here either. One day I’ll buy Daz a ticket to one of the WWE things they keep holding here.

    (Since I wrote this, I have been to the MEN twice. Once to collect at an Eighties nostalgia night and then to watch plank pushers doing stunts.)

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    South, South King Street
    Tucked away at the back of South King Street this venue has changed its face from Bernards Bar to Stuffed Olives to Bar K but is now home to the popular “Rock and Roll Bar” on a Friday night. Haven to Manchester’s shoegazing community, a Mancunian male voice choir belting out “I am the Resurrection” can be heard from three blocks away.

    Also home to Clint Boon, formerly of Inspiral Carpets, on a Saturday. Which is when we normally end up down there. He has a policy to (almost) never play Inspirals songs, which is a shame.

    This location has been mapped on Platial

    Granada, Quay Street
    The country’s premier independent TV company is famous for dramas such as “Prime Suspect” and “Cold Feet”, but best known for the soap “Coronation Street”. It has played a significant role
    in the city’s musical history, with the Beatles making their first TV performance here on 7 October 1962. Anthony Wilson presented the influential music programme “So It Goes” and premiered the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK” on this show.

    Once upon a time there was a programme called “The People’s Parliament”. As I was working in the Students’ Union at the time, I was asked to be one of the participants in the pilot episode, which was shot in the House of Commons set at Granada studios. When filming was over we were all bunged £20 (for “transport costs” no-one was being paid for participating). I hopped on a bus down to the Academy to watch Carter USM. They had recently had one of their songs used in a KP advert, so Jim Bob kept getting bags of peanuts thrown at him. After the gig I got on another bus, headed back into town, and rounded off the night at UMIST, buying people drinks with my “transport” money.

    Those were the days.

    This location has been mapped on Platial.

    And of course, there are my musical landmarks which aren’t on the map.

    Cyberia– One of the very first internet cafes in the world, Oxford Road. My sister was manager of Cyberia. One of the world’s first live webcasts, featuring 808 State, was held there in 1996 or ’97. It was supposed to be the opening night for their alcohol licence, but there were problems explaining the Information Superhighway to the old dears in charge of licensing, so it turned into a private party.

    Main Debating Hall/ Academy/ Pokey little hall upstairs the name of which I can’t remember at the University– Various gigs over the years, including Embrace, Carter USM, Echobelly and Frank Black.

    Old Trafford– This year’s Move festival.

    Various of the free festivals that get organised every year.

    Still, I do need to go and see more live music…….

    Originally published in Cycling on the Pavement in August 2004

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  • 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.

    pod110804

    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.

    pod120804

    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.

    pod150804

    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.

    pod180804

    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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  • I am the Resurrection

    A very modern Madchester Passion Play is to be performed this Easter. Featuring Bez as a disciple and versions of songs by Joy Division, the Buzzcocks and M People, it will take the form of a parade through Manchester from Canal Street to Albert Square culminating with an “as yet undisclosed song from the top of Manchester’s town hall”.

    Canon Robin Gamble, canon evangelist at Manchester Cathedral, has been tasked with encouraging churchgoers to attend the event.

    “I wouldn’t know a Buzzcock from a ballcock so I couldn’t really comment on the music. All I can say is that they are not doing a Christian service, it is a piece of contemporary theatre and that is going to get people to think about the story in modern terms,” he said.

    “It is going to come from the streets, with the sounds of traffic and people bustling around and it will make people think about this story in a new way. It is going to be challenging and shocking and is going to get things rumbling – it’s going to be brilliant.”

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  • Songs

    Inspired by this Observer article, itself inspired by a Nick Hornby essay collection, I’m throwing open a Team Spinneyhead challenge to name and explain favourite and important tracks from our pasts. They don’t have to be ranked, mine are going to tumble out in the order they occur to me.
    Stupid Girl by Garbage. An all time favourite for all the right reasons- excellent song, great lyrics, nastiness as pop perfection- and all the wrong ones. Suffice to say there’s a tale, but it’ll make me look all spiteful, childish and bitter. Check out this for art imitating life, so I don’t have to elaborate.
    Stress by Jim’s Big Ego (Flash video) The summer of 2000, sitting in a little office downloading songs on company time, doing the bare amount of work and no-one noticing. Little did I know this song was about the year to come.
    After The Watershed, Say It With Flowers and The Only Living Boy In New Cross by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Let’s see. I pulled to Watershed (another event recorded for posterity, but less vividly, in fiction), Flowers gave me the title to Sounds of Soldiers and New Cross was a mad bastard driving song for 2001.
    I Can’t Imagine The World Without me by Echobelly. Just brilliant. This lot arrived in 93/94 and were only overshadowed by Oasis. As great as the Burnage boys were, Echobelly deserved far more attention than they got.
    Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) by The Buzzcocks. Pretty much sums up my relationship with the subject of Stupid Girl.
    Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega. Ah, first love. So sweet, so innocent, so utterly, utterly embarassing. Dedicated to Amy Hunter, who I had the biggest unrequited crush on when I was seventeen.
    I’m Not In Love by 10cc. Because I’m just a disgusting, soppy romantic.
    Don’t Let Me Down Gently by The Wonderstuff. Loud, loud, loud, fun, fun ,fun.
    Let It Be by The Beatles. September 13th 2001. I was living with a guy who knew people who worked in the WTC, but I was far too fucked up by work to be any use or comfort. The radio alarm went off and I hit the snooze button, but got up anyway. When the radio came back on it was this song and I just stopped what I was doing and cried.
    There are more, but I think I’ll save them for another post.


  • No Title

    Click the image for the full picture

    I’m starting a slow process of uncluttering my life. I’m selling off comics and stuff on EBay, I’m going to rip all my CD singles to the hard drive and I might sell them as well, and I’m thinking about getting rid of the television. The last is because I watched a whole two hours of TV this week- The Shield, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Coupling (if I hadn’t been out last night I would probably have watched Have I Got News For You, but that’s it). It was on for the sake of moving pictures whilst I ate, but that doesn’t really count.
    I’ve gone without TV before. In 1998, the portable set I then had fused and I lasted over six months before hiring a replacement set. People thought I was a bit odd and the TV licencing folks couldn’t cope with it, but I got on. I read, I wrote, I surfed. It was quite constructive. This time it would be even easier because there’s a DVD drive in my PC.


  • No Title

    I’ve been bringing the compiled copy of Eliza Effect up to date and by popular demand (well, Jenny asked, and she’s been visiting longer than anyone else) I’ll be posting some more snippets soon. In the mean time, more Seeds

    Nil Garran was paying tithe to the hidden army. It was his way of resisting, and it was easier and safer than taking up a weapon. It was resistance by omission He went about his business as usual, letting the occupying armies take his products at their starvation level prices and demand the occasional tribute.
    They didn�t know just how fertile the land was, so could not tell that the fields never yielded all the soil fruit they should. Some of the trees in the wild orchard were half bare before harvest began. The land fowl were free to roam, so he could not know how many nested where he did not look, and the water fowl were not his to worry about.
    Somewhere in the forests the soldiers had their hidden communities. They guarded the tracks, guns, bomb lobbers and stonks that the Southerners could not account for despite the supposed rout of the Northern armies. They all waited, biding their time, ready to rise up when the time was right. Just like the god king sleeping in his silver tower in the far North. But Gorran didn�t believe in the god king. The god king didn�t steal his tubers.

    Today’s muzack- The Buzzcocks- Sigles Going Steady, Death In Vegas- The Contino Sessions. I have an excuse, I went out to see Nine Queens. It’s every bit as good as the reviews promised. Exactly who is conning who isn’t revealed until the last minute or so. It’s not as if you won’t have guessed who the biggest con is, because you’ll have been suspicious of everyone at some point in the film. The only drawback, and I’m not making an excuse for the inevitable Hollywood re-make, was that reading the captions drew my attention away from watching the action and acting.