19 Dec 2019
The PKRP Cerysmatic Factory Favourites Playlist 

The PKRP Favourite Cerysmatic Factory Playlist is available now via Spotify and Apple Music for your musical factorial edification and here are the Playlist Sleevenotes:

Wim Mertens - No Plans No Projects

A prolific minimalism composer from small-town Belgium doesn't sound like a typical place to start a Factory Records playlist. But then No Plans No Projects isn't a typical Wim Mertens piece either. Built around a simple keyboard refrain, this superb track from the Educes Me album bursts into life around halfway through with LOUD synths and portentous piano. Mertens's other contribution to Factory was the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway's arthouse movie The Belly Of An Architect (Fact 195), while Educes Me holds the accolade of having one of the most sought after (and expensive) formats - the boxed cassette in the yellow case has been known to fetch up to a £200!

OMD - Almost (Hannett Mix)

The Wirral duo's sprightly iconic debut single Electricity has always been a favourite of mine, but this lo-fi Hannett mix of its attendant b-side has stayed with me since its release. Electricity has just been reissued in a new sleeve with a Vince Clarke remix of Almost on the b-side - it should have been the main attraction, not relegated to a flip. I've always liked the strange hissing sound and off-beat drum machine, the plaintive sorrowful lyric and vocal, Saville's braille sleeve and of course the fact Tony Wilson released the single for his then wife Lindsay. It really should have been a double a-side. Either track could have been a hit with a spread of radio play.

Joy Division - These Days

All those amazing and iconic album-tracks and I go and pick an often-overlooked b-side - is this bloke for real? Thing is, Love Will Tear Us Apart will always be one of the most important singles ever and needs no introduction. You'd need a heart of estuary mud to hate it. But tucked away on side two of both formats is what I consider to be one of three very important Joy Division tracks and the link to where the band were heading at the time. Isolation, Decades and These Days demonstrate the band's increased interest in electronics at the time, before Ian's sad demise. Almost 40 years on and still nothing on Movement comes close to any track on the second JD album Closer, with the possible exception of the synth-layered Doubts Even Here, but head to New Order's sophomore set Power Corruption and Lies and preceding single Everything's Gone Green and the link becomes a little more obvious. I love how this song bustles along - great drumming and driving bass from Morris and Hook.

Fadela - N'Sel Fik

Back in the '80s, when global sounds permeated the curious music-lover's conscience via John Peel's interest, Peter Gabriel's Real World and related WOMAD festivals, the public remained a bit nonplussed with the emotional synth-pomp of North African Rai. Wonderfully off-kilter and at odds with typical 4/4 beats being peddled across the pond, N'Sel Fik became a frequently dropped track at the more eclectic parties in Manchester and London. It's tenuous link to rave-culture is derived from the opening line of Fadela's lovely song being lifted and dropped onto "We Are E", a huge breakbeat tune issued in 1991. I suspect the originator was less than pleased with being associated with 'being on one' but it's a decent enough and sought after hardcore banger. Fac 197 itself remains a regular go-to when I'm playing out.

The Durutti Column - What Is It To Me (Woman)

In truth, I could have picked dozens of DC tracks to pop on this playlist but What Is It To Me (Woman) has always captivated me. It demonstrates everything great about the interplay between guitarist Vini Reilly, drummer Bruce Mitchell and attendant guests, including harmonica maestro Rob Gray. Taken from the Stephen Street-produced The Guitar and Other Machines (Fact 204) released in 1987, this track has aged very well and benefits from not being quite so drum-heavy as other tracks on the otherwise pin-sharp GOTM. It's more future jazz than art-rock (or whatever The Durutti Column were being tagged in those days) and is as contemporary as anything in Reilly's enviable and essential canon.

Marcel King - Reach For Love (NY Remix)

For a short spell in Factory's existence, the label acted as a springboard for soulful club tracks with a house twist. Soon-to-be M People luminary Mike Pickering made a decent fist of it with his Quando Quango project (Genius is just that, Love Tempo and Atom Rock were also rightfully regarded), while Section 25, New Order and A Certain Ratio embraced new technology to create the likes of Looking From a Hilltop, The Perfect Kiss and Life's A Scream. Straight out of the blocks came this bruising rework of former Sweet Sensation, er, sensation Marcel King's glorious Reach For Love. Velveteen vocals and a big-stringed 'n' synthed-up arrangement were given an overhaul by revered producer Mark Kamins, who coincidentally had mixed two of the aforementioned Quando singles. Its flip-side Keep On Dancin' was a favourite of mine for a while but this song translates better when pumped through a decent sound-system. Great record.

X-O-Dus - See Them A Come

When it came to sound-system mixes, reggae dub-lord Dennis Bovell certainly fitted the bill. The great man's deft touch can be found on one of the most collectable 12" on Factory, X-O-Dus's epic English Black Boys (Fac 11). It's such a shame that an album never materialised after such a fine landmark debut record, although LTM Records did curate a rather fetching round-up of studio material some years back. My personal preference, as with many Factory singles, is its speaker-scaring b-side See Them a Come. This is some serious heavyweight material and when piped through a capable mixing desk, is eight straight minutes of pure rib-cage rattling reggae euphoria.

Kalima - Take It Easy

I've got a soft spot for the unsung Kalima, a soul-jazz collective born out of the remains of the rather more avant-garde Swamp Children. Along the way, Kalima issued a handful of unjustly ignored singles like The Smiling Hour, Whispered Words and Weird Feelings, as well as a string of albums that had one foot in the golden age of crooners and one in the latter day Acid Jazz age. The band's final Factory album Feeling Fine (Fact 249) is perhaps their most consistent, least 'trad' set and includes some remarkable musicianship and decent songs, including this cracker. Languid, woozy and slinky, Take It Easy surpasses the album's curious single choice Shine and, in fact, most of the band's mostly likeable catalogue.

Section 25 - Inspiration

One of the first Factory albums recommended to me by one Nick Clarke who ran Rhythm Records in Plymouth during the early to mid '80s was Section 25's crystalline From The Hip. Fact 90 remains one of my all-time favourite LPs and still sounds timeless to this day. When most synth acts from the decade pummelled the hell out of our earholes with leaden drums, the Blackpool outfit wove featherlight beats with hopeful and er, inspirational songs that took the band to another level. many cite the single Looking From a Hilltop as the key track on this album but I'm positive that this epic closer made far better use of the available New Order-donated technology.

Stockholm Monsters - Partyline

The original scallies and Perry guys and gals weren't afraid to get all controversial and political on our asses with songs like How Corrupt Is Rough Trade?, Your Uniform and this stunning electro post-romantic belter. Issued as a 12" only, one can't help thinking that a radio 7" might, MIGHT, just have landed the Stockies with a minor cult hit back in the day. Somewhat unlike their usual edgy alternative jangle-pop, Partyline is the sort of tune that Pet Shop Boys or New Order might have made if they'd upped the speedball dosage at a Top of the Pops rehearsal. I love this record. Its flipside, Militia, is also essential, making this one of those archetypal Factory singles that works on both sides.

The Railway Children - Brighter

And here's another landmark single. Wigan's oft-forgotten songsmiths The Railway Children knocked out several sprightly singles and a pair of decent albums for both Factory and latterly Virgin Records. Brighter sported great b-sides in History Burns and Careful and sounded like a Top 10 hit all summer long. Great sleeve from Johnson Panas too. How, HOW, did this not strike a chord with the then radio DJs? It still sounds like a burst of summer some thirty years later.

The Wake - Torn Calendar

Melancholy is something that Factory Records was very good at. In Scotland's The Wake, they had it in litres. The band's debut album was Harmony, a solemn post-punk postscript that inadvertently invented twee-pop without actually being 'pop', while celebrated single Talk About The Past earned plaudits aplenty from media to fanbase. But it was the peerless much-delayed Here Comes Everybody LP that really put The Wake amongst the indie pigeons. The entire album is nothing short of a sad-face masterpiece, with the slightly trippy pretty Torn Calendar leading the field of many many centrepieces and would-be singles.

The Names - I Wish I Could Speak Your Language

My first non-JD/NO Factory single purchase was Fac 29, the exemplary Nightshift by Brussels-based rock 'n darkwavers The Names. Along with its powerful boundary-crossing flip I Wish I Could Speak Your Language, here was a 7" single that delivered some of Martin Hannett's most brutal production, without compromising the band's delicate and austere lyricism. Everything about this song demonstrates everything about those involved - the huge smash-snare drums typified by Hannett's dextrous hands, urbane almost paranoid lyrics and subtle uses of synth and guitar hooks. The Names' track record might not have spawned 'hits', but their concise canon contains few misses.

New Order - Everything's Gone Green

This is the record that kickstarted indie dance-music, no arguments. The likes of Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, Friendly Fires and The Rapture probably wouldn't have had their 15 seconds / minutes / hours / years of exposure without this truly majestic record. It doesn't say or do much but it does everything. Never mind Blue Monday or Temptation, Everything's Gone Green remains New Order's first active foray into disco hi-hats and club mixes. Extended for a Factory Benelux 12" with new b-sides, EGG is not only one of New Order's most important records, it remains a masterclass by Martin Hannett who was ultimately swiftly spurned by band and label soon after they'd figured out how he operated his studio toys. Its attendant double 'A' Procession is also prime New Order material from the Movement sessions.

John Dowie - Idiot

Often dismissed as too surreal but revered by the likes of Stewart Lee (and myself), Birmingham's rather edgy humourist looked a bit like Jasper Carrott but couldn't have been more different. His attachment to Factory was all too brief with just three odd grin-worthy vignettes on the label's very first release, the double-7" A Factory Sample, and a lone headline single, the somewhat pub-singalong It's Hard To Be An Egg coupled with its 'visual' flip Mime Sketch. All five Factory tracks formed part of his then live poetry shows and were finally gathered together with his half-dozen Virgin label EP tracks and a slew of hilarious live tracks on the album An Arc of Hives. "I'm the kind of idiot who always ends a sentence with question. Don't I?" - we've all met someone like it and there are even more of Dowie's Idiots around nowadays.

Happy Mondays - Weekends

My first encounters with the Mondays were the Factory 'Supertent' gathering in Finsbury Park in 1987 when the band performed a somewhat chaotic set wearing huge parka jackets and puffing on suspect smoking material and the passable single Delightful, aka the Forty-Five E.P. I've always been of the opinion that Ryder's charges were more talented than people gave them credit (or abuse) for. But Delightful didn't help their cause. The two b-sides however certainly did, especially the song Oasis which eventually ended up in re-recorded form on their debut album Squirrel and G-Man 24 Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out). Recorded with a certain John Cale, 24 Hr (etc, etc) is an unexpected funky treasure in Factory's late canon. Perhaps a little more grown-up than the more familiar Madchester material, the gritty street funk of Kuff Dam (Mad Fuck backwards) and Tart Tart became a regular go-to for me at parties, as did Weekends (or Weekend S as it appears on some copies). Its odd galloping rhythm and barbed lyrics is short, sweet and might have made a hit-single in a parallel universe.

Minny Pops - Dolphin's Spurt

Dutch semi-industrialists with a near 7ft tall singer might not sound very Factory, but Minny Pops's brief honeymoon in Manchester spawned two pin-sharp electro-dance singles and an album for sister-label Factory Benelux. With the man Hannett at the helm for this single, both sides of the Dolphin's Spurt 7" are on point to this day, danceable and timeless, littered with its producer's trademark effects and atmospherics and lyrically insistent, nagging and a little confrontational. It's almost impossible to make out the words spat out by singer Wally van Middendorp but who cares? He's bigger than all of us.

Royal Family and the Poor - Visions

Liverpool's Mike Keane was the north-west's resident anarchic occultist, renouncing conventional mass-media and musical practice in favour of creating early demos and live shows of ritualistic chants, highly charged howling and the odd song here and there. After a few personal struggles, Keane's Factory output remains something of a treasure chest. Debut single Art on 45 was a sort of funky My Favourite Things and has since been given the nod by Maximo Park's Paul Smith and first album Temple of the 13th Tribe had a helping hand from Peter Hook and Stockholm Monsters' Lita Hira. For me though, sophomore set We Love The Moon - the Project Phase 2 continues to be Keane's masterpiece. Recorded with Pink Industry's Ambrose Reynolds, WLTM includes the superb Pagan Way (which still isn't on Spotify after all this time) and the 'hit' Visions, a glorious example of Keane's occasional foray into sensitive pop songs.

The Distractions - Time Goes By So Slow

Rightly acclaimed as one of Factory's most charming and rewarding singles, Time Goes By Slow was issued just after the band had already signed to Island. Musically and lyrically embedded in both '60s pop charm a la Adam Faith or The Hollies and post-punk favourites Buzzcocks, The Distractions followed up TGBSS with a handful of singles and a long-forgotten album Nobody's Perfect before taking a lengthy hiatus into the 21st century. More recently, the band have been busy writing and recording for Exeter-based indie Occultation, including the rather splendid sophomore album The End Of The Pier. For me, Fac 12 remains one of Factory Records' most important and timeless early singles.

A Certain Ratio - Waterline

A staple of the band's live set to this day, the funky near-instrumental Waterline was and still is a bit of a game-changer. Unmistakably ACR, the exclusively recorded Fac 52 single ushered in their post-Hannett future with an ankle-deep bassline, vocodered vocals, tight handclap drums and some speaker-bothering effects and atmospherics. Alongside the attendant album Sextet, Waterline with its bonged up and dubbed out flip Funaezekea turned the conventional Brit-funk sounds and ideals into the unconventional. And you can't get a much more unconventional ending to a track than the final 45 seconds on this 12".

- sleevenotes by Paul Pledger/Flipside Reviews for Cerysmatic Factory

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