30 May 2017
SAVILLE - the partner's story 
Peter Saville - the partner's story

Here we have a transcript of the story of Peter Saville (with asides on Martyn Atkins and Stephen Horsfall) as written by Tony Wilson around 1981. Constructivism - check; Praxis - check; hip bourgeois hedonism - check. We'll assume the reference to a FAC 48 coffee table was a gentle jape.

SAVILLE: The Partner's Story

The first time I met Saville was February or March '78 . It was the Apollo Theatre, Manchester, a Patti Smith gig - after she'd gone off - artistically. He said he was at the Poly and was interested in doing graphics work that tied in to music. I took his phone number. Nice suit, nice girlifriend. Bit smooth - sharp eyes tho! The Factory club started in May '78. we needed a poster. His track record at that point; one smart brochure for AMEK1 the Salford PA people, and a nice piece of Neon for the Smirks. AMEK had just brought out a new desk. He had failed to complete the second brochure. Perhaps it was because he was doing our poster (FAC 1; yellow and black industrial constructivist/mid-fifties Jan Tschichold). Perhaps not, perhaps it was the difficult birth. That comes later.

FAC 1 poster

After the club: (there were two more posters FAC 3 and 4 (white seriffed type on black - same tune as John Foxx). For some strange reason these posters were always late and usually went up after the gig. Lateness/brute inefficiency became our house style. It's a process called praxis; do something and then find out why you did it. The inefficiency/dedication dialectic was like that and Peter played his part.

FAC 1 poster

We then needed to put a record out, Autumn '78. No-one else would. Praxis. It was FAC 2, a company concept (hand made imitation of Thailand double plastic backed tissue paper for double 7" EP. Saville used silver and black definitive Hi-tech. (c.f. Record Mirror quote on video Chapter 7). Why the lovely sleeves - then and now. Well if you're putting out the best music, it seemed sort of obvious to put out the best sleeves - not just in Indieland. Anywhere. As one of those praxis things it's not clear whether it was for our fun or THEIR (that presence in record shops) value for money. It can in fact be seen, Saville artwork in particular, as a kind of hip bourgeois hedonism. Often is in the comics. Tough. The coffee table is black and red (FAC 48) and will be on mail order (approx £75.00 by Autumn).

FAC 2 A Factory Sample

For Factory Mr Saville then did his black on black OMITD sleeve (FAC 6). He offered his thermographic conceit to A Certain Ratio first in the coffee bar of the Royal Exchange, March 1979 but the brats turned him down settling for their dead Lenny Bruce and my four Anthony Perkins in a Saville-Warhol piss-take.

FAC 6 OMD Electricity

A rags to riches story; or rather a mid-Cheshire Bowie to an echt Anthony Price. There followed the odd hand-made sleeve (FAC 18 - five months for the right tracing paper) X-O-Dus (FAC 11) took Denis Bovell seven months to mix, and Peter Saville nine months to design. You have to feel a slight twinge of pity for the poor musicians in all this but they are now warned at the outset.

FAC 18 Girls Don't Count

The Joy Division stuff was usually pretty prompt. Mostly because the one of Saville's partners who managed Joy Division had a bigger stick than the others. Though Transmission 12" - FAC 13 - took 14 months. By this time our hero has gone to Din Disc; apparently it's nearer to the Zanzibar than Factory. Now Factory and Dindins and even, in the extremest of bad taste (not the sleeve, the music) Roxy Music, and lots more late artwork. House style. There was the OMITD first album in the perforated metal outer, the only one we didn't like to see going to a nasty Major - or Minor Major. Incidentally, the first mono set was Barney's idea.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Dindisc)

A small mention for Factory's other designers. Mr Atkins whose upcoming Tunnelvision single sleeve (FAC 39) is very fine but who now seems to have deserted to the Liverpool camp which is if anything even more depressing than E.G. retreads. And back in Manchester Steven Horsfall newly elected to the RCA and bitter at the way Saville neutralised his label for the ESG single (FAC 34). He's done FACT 14/Durutti Column/FAC 17 embossed & FACT 24 the Factory Quartet2. Sadly this sleeve was lambasted in January's Peter Saville backlash in the comics. Peter ducks as well as he weaves. The sleeve for ACR's "To Each" was designed by the group with the help of T.G. Sleazy3; it was an anti-arti-Peter effort. "Typically arty farty Factory/Saville sleeve" said the comics. And he thought it was revolting (FACT 35).

FACT 35 To Each

And to close I won't indulge in aesthetic adulation of a friend. Sickly. Just like to say, I do think he's the best typographer in town, any town, Factory's company address will not be changing on the new notepaper as Palatine looks too good in the new 30's Italian typeface to change it - apparently. The birth... well when this show4 opened in Liverpool a month ago, I happened to be in Liverpool working for the people I work for so I went along; thought I might be able to find out if he'd done the rough for the Section 25 album. Great opening; cheap wine, expensive accents, and our lad's display. A blank wall. Dada; no just late - not there. No sleeves - no Peter. When the exhibition closed, on a blank Factory wall, and still no Peter, I noticed that Peter's mum, standing in the doorway ready to leave was taking it very stoically. Though it seemed that she like me had been here before. Waiting for Peter. I asked her if his peculiar habit ever troubled her or drove her to physical violence. She smiled and said no, and said she was just glad he was alive. This seemed a bit over the top but she explained that he had been a Caesarian and had his blood changed twice. I'm a caesarian too, but I didn't get any of that. If I had I would have written this next week. "Likely to do well - but often late for school", it should also be pointed out that Peter is a catholic. There is a mafia but it's not the one you think it is.

But is it art?


1 - More on AMEK at langley-design.com

2 - there is no other known evidence of Stephen Horsfall having worked on FAC 17 or FACT 24 but I would be interested to know if this did indeed happen.

3 - cover painting by Ann Quigley

4 - the Cover Versions exhibition at the Bluecoat, Liverpool in 1981, see thebluecoat.org.uk

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