16 Oct 2013
Use Breathing Protection 
Use Breathing Protection

Factory Records had a grand history of cunningly conceived or lavishly produced Christmas presents (or sometimes both) but it wasn't always that way. In 1979, a small red box containing a couple of earplugs was the low-key gift ("Use hearing protection", geddit?) and it was attributed the number FACX 79. These items are especially rare. However, that wasn't the only item given away that year...

In addition there was a metal and cloth breathing mask in a sealed plastic wrapper bearing a small white-on-black sticker which states: "A Factory Product - For your protection Xmas 79/80". We were aware that these existed when one was spotted by our roving reporter at Factory/Hacienda exhibition held at FAC 251 shortly after it opened. However, full details of the item have remained a mystery until now, thanks to Julian in New York who recently contacted us. Masks were mailed out with a pink card with handwritten note by Tony Wilson.

Over to Julian for the full story:

"It was mailed to Larry Ottoway (NE England DJ and promoter) in December 1979 and is in the original mailing envelope. My presumption was also that the safety mask was related to (or, essentially, a variant of) FACX 79. The black and silver 'Factory Products' label on the face mask is nearly identical to the label on the earplugs and of course the two products could easily have been purchased from the same industrial supplier. I was wondering if other examples of the card had surfaced. It shows an altered wanted poster of the spies Burgess & Maclean and is inscribed, by Tony Wilson, I assume, on the interior, 'Larry, Seasonal Cheers, The FACTORY'."

Many thanks to Julian for the imagery and info.

View the full-sized image of the mask and card.

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A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

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