2 Dec 2003
May I have the envelope please... 
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the result of the Cerysmatic Factory Top Ten Competition. In traditional fashion the runner up is announced first and it is Mike Stein from the USA (who wins a special consolation prize):

My Top 10 (for what its worth...)

1. FAC 183 - New Order "True Faith": New Order's highest chart position at the time and still one of their best pop singles. Peter Saville's artwork for both the standard and remix 12"s remains his best. Enough said.

2. FAC 34/FACT 35 - A Certain Ratio and ESG recording with Hannett in New Jersey: Factory goes to New York for the first time and records two seminal dance punk records across the river at EARS in New Jersey with Martin Hannett [->] at the knobs. One of the resulting ESG recordings would go on to become a Larry Levan favorite ("Moody") and another one of the most sampled records in hip-hop history ("UFO"). The equally groundbreaking ACR LP ("To Each") would forever be shrouded in myth due to the resetting of Hannett's mixing board settings by a studio engineer.

3. FAC 126 - "Alan Goes to Moscow": In true Factory fashion, an absolutely beautiful poster commemorating absolutely nothing. Alan's trip was a failure and it took another five years for Factory Classical to become established. Nevertheless, the poster works quite well in my living room!

4. FACT 275 - New Order "Technique" artwork: Saville goes Warhol to bring us some of his brightest and most memorable sleeves. The LP artwork, along with the "Fine Time," "Round & round," and "Run 2" singles were Saville's hottest streak for New Order.

5. FAC 242 - Happy Mondays "Madchester" EP: Hallelujah indeed! The Madchester frenzy begins leading to two years of NME front covers on the Mondays and Roses, along with countless MTV specials and magazine articles exploiting the scene surrounding the Hacienda. The single not only proved Hannett's continued viability, but launched the still on-going careers of Paul Oakenfold and Andy Weatherall, who produced the remixes for FAC 242R.

6. FACT 14 - The Durutti Column "The Return of...": Factory's way of "killing us softly with his song." The LP was an ahead of its time paradox of punk anarchy and Vini's tranquil guitar all wrapped in sandpaper. John Lydon threatened to destroy your record collection with a sandpaper sleeve but instead opted for a metal canister. In a Wilsonesque act of situationist fandom, Factory actually executed the concept.

7. FACT 75 - New Order "Power Corruption and Lies" artwork: Saville moves a step forward from his Graphica Industria phase to juxtapose Fantin-Latour's "Roses," a nod to 60s flower power, with Saville's self-invented color coded numbering schema for the computer age. The result was the perfect sleeve for New Order's movement (Movement - get it?) to sequencer driven pop. Saville's color coding concept was also brilliantly carried on New Order's associated "Blue Monday" (FAC 73) and "Confusion" (FAC 93) singles as well as Section 25's "From the Hip" LP (FACT 90).

8. FACT 210 - Cath Carroll "England Made Me": An ashamedly underrated LP. An eclectic mix of Cath's soulful voice with dance pop, Brazilian rhythms, and a touch of Steve Albini. Like many Factory productions, it was expensive to make and didn't sell well!

9. FACT 250 / FAC 213 - Joy Division "Substance" and "Atmosphere" artwork: It is extremely difficult to limit the number of Joy Division / New Order sleeves from this list, but Saville's work for the "Substance" retrospective and its accompanying single "Atmosphere" was again timeless. The posters for the album and single incorporating the Jan Van Munster sculptures are particularly stunning. As always, Saville's artwork would not be as special were it not backed with some of the best pop gems of the last century.

10. FAC 331 - Ben Kelly board room table: Quite simply an ultra modern and expensive table that the Mondays broke! One of Factory's greatest examples of hedonism and corporate waste - well before the dot com boom. It also made for a great scene in "24 Hour Party People" with Paddy Considine (playing Rob Gretton) trying to strangle Steve Coogan (playing Tony Wilson).

Thanks very much to Mike. But now, the winner – Andrew James from Blighty:

My 10 — Not a top 10, 'cos no way is 'Can't Afford To' better than 'Flight', but 10 good reasons to like the label.

New Order Play At Home. Long before Big Brother and Wife Swap, Channel 4 was known for innovative programming, and once a week in late 1983 (?) let various groups loose with cameras and total editorial control. Siouxsie and the Banshees created a surreal homage to Alice In Wonderland, Level 42 waxed lyrical about the Isle of Wight, and New Order chatted to their mates about Factory in this one hour documentary. Includes priceless footage of a naked AHW explaining "praxis" to a fully clothed Gillian Gilbert — in the bath — and Bruce Mitchell in the Hacienda bar, regaling sundry Fac artists with tales of Wilson’s parsimony.

Fact 204 The Guitar and Other Machines Durutti Column Martin Hannett and Vini produced some sublime moments to be sure, but for me, DC’s greatest producer was Stephen Street, and this was the best of their collaborations. Their "White Rabbit" from around this period is equally good, but you have to get the original 12" version on The City Of Our Lady single, and not the watered-down mix tacked on to the Domo Arigato reissue.

Fac 92 Reach For Love Marcel King Why wasn’t Marcel King a huge star?

Fact 210 England Made Me Cath Carrol They spent zillions making it, then only had 47p left to promote it. An overlooked masterpiece.

Fac 104 Tube special Madonna, Martin Fry, plus the Factory All-Stars. And Leslie Ash, post-Quadrophenia, pre-collagen injections, if I remember correctly.

Fac 201 Dry All the style bars of the 90s owe Ben Kelly.

Fac 52 Waterline ACR ACR: always the bridesmaids, never the bride. This was 20 years ahead of its time. And quite a few months before Blue Monday.

Fac 118 Can’t Afford To 52nd Street. Though often accused of being raincoat-wearing miserablists, Factory were always diverse, and never more so than with 52nd Street, who were closer to Five Star than Fad Gadget. Diane Charlemagne later enjoyed success with The Key and sang backing vocals for Goldie. If your friends tell you the label was po-faced, show 'em the video for this.

Fact 219 Flyaway Kalima, like 52nd Street, are rarely mentioned on the Faclist. Am I allowed to say "overlooked" again? For me, though, groups like Kalima and the Jazz Defektors (and John Dowie and Steve Martland) are what make Factory more interesting than, say, Sarah and InTape. This compilation is a good place to start.

Factus 17 Young, Popular and Sexy Various Artists Michael Shamberg's finest moment (and pretty much the Factus swansong). Includes Shark Vegas' fantastic "Pretenders of Love". And "No New Order".

Nice one Andrew. Your Cerysmatic Factory mousemat is on its way.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

Factory Records

The Durutti Column