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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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

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