Thursday, 23 February 2017

Unspecified Compilation #1: Oh, Manchester...

There's a hell of a lot dust flying around here. If there's one thing I am terrible at – it's keeping this place up to date. I'm sure you've heard it all before. Recently, I rediscovered my Innerspace posts from back in the day. If you are a regular reader (first of all, thank you so much!) you may remember the Innerspace series. It was basically a short-lived monthly series in which I would compile (with help from my soul brother Mr. Daniel Lee Harvey) a selection of songs based around a theme. That died out and turned in to Ultimate Cinemageddon. Eventually that stopped for whatever reason and I stopped compiling songs even though music is probably a bigger passion for me than cinema and craft beer! I basically had an itch to restart Innerspace albeit in a new form and not really under the guise of a specific series. So ladies and gentlemen here is the first in what could potentially be a series of new compilations. Kickstarting with something I love and adore – Manchester.

  Although my dad's side of the family is Welsh / Scouse, I've always seen Manchester as my spiritual home. Before I met the greatest person in my life (my beautiful Jeanny of course!), I even had a “dream” of living and working in inner-city Manchester. A city that isn't trying to show off like Liverpool (a city I do love by the way!) with it's Capital of Culture title and shiny buildings. Manchester has that perfect mixture of contemporary, the old and sometimes scruffy. Manchester is never as beautiful as it is when it's overcast. Yes, that's poncey, but I remember the afternoons, mornings and evenings spent in the alleyways and alcoves of the city during my Graphic Design education at Salford (two completely different places by the way!) just marvelling in the honesty and gloom of the city. I remember the early morning hours after nights out just revelling in the silence. My love for the place began before that in my high school years. Going to Wigan on a Friday night and spending the hangover (and my mum's money!) on Saturday in Manchester. I wouldn't be able to do that now of course. I just need to have a couple of beers to feel sluggish the next day. Another major role to play in my discovery and love for Manchester was the music and culture.

My dad rented Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People a.k.a The Greatest Film of all Time one night and I was instantly hooked. Naturally, next came the Joy Division period of my life and there I was picking up a guitar and getting so impressed with myself when I had learnt Hooky's bass line to She's Lost Control. My dad had always been a fan of Morrissey so he and The Smiths had been implanted in to my psyche from a young age and thus planted the seed. I don't get to visit Manchester all that much now being in Germany, but when I do, it's always a special and somewhat spiritual experience. You'll find me in the Brewdog bar sinking a couple of beers and then making my way through the usual haunts such as Fopp!, Piccadilly Records, The Night & Day Cafe and other historically significant places I won't name off here because I already sound like a pretentious tit. I own the hipster label thrown at me so who the fuck cares, right?

Anyway, the idea to start with Manchester for this series was thanks to getting a tad homesick by reading Hooky's Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, The
Ha├žienda: How Not to Run a Club (still need to get round to his recent New Order book.) and Mark E. Smith's Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith. What better way to pay tribute to the city by putting together a small selection of my favourite tracks. No, There isn't any Oasis (for good reason.) or Joy Division (too hard to pick a favourite.) and yes, there are a few Factory related songs scattered throughout!
1.The Smiths- Barbarism Begins at Home (Taken from Meat is Murder)

A classic Smiths song for me. My all time favourite is This Night Has Opened My Eyes, but I thought that was too obvious and why not kick things off with a bit of a jig? Of course you have Morrissey's scathing attack on the school system juxtaposed perfectly with an almost disco / funk vibe. We all know Morissey was backed up by talented and unique sounding music, but this is Joyce, Rourke and Marr at their finest.

2. A Certain Ratio- I Need Someone Tonite (Taken from the I Need Someone Tonite 12”)

Possibly the most underrated band on this compilation. Things may have started a bit funky, but this is taken to a completely different level. That bass line for a start! You listen to a lot of that electroclash stuff that was popular in the 2000's and all you hear is ACR. True pioneers.

3. The Fall- Iceland (Taken from Hex Enduction Hour)

Ah, Mark E. Smith! Ah, The Fall! OK, when you have released 30+ studio albums alone as well as seeing more lineup changes than Shaun Ryder has had drug dealers, not everything is going to be great. In fact, there's a fair few Fall songs that are downright AWFUL! This however, isn't. I have really no idea what the lyrics are about, but that almost constant pace and rhythm is mesmerising and kinda reminds me of LCD Soundsystem's All My Friends. I think James Murphy owes a lot to the likes of Mr. Smith!

4. The Durutti Column- Messidor (Taken from LC)

Vini Reilly may be odd. Really odd in fact, but my goodness is he a wonderful guitarist. There's something so bittersweet with this piece of music. Gloomy, yet beautiful. Much like Manchester itself. Words can't do this track justice.

5. 10cc- Good Morning Judge (Taken from Deceptive Bends)

It's time for a little pick me up and I think this is just right. A jolly little number from a band that I really need to investigate further. First became aware of this wonderful tune thanks to the fantastic re-edit from Mock & Toof which was part of RVNG Intl's RVNG of the NRDS series. This is one of those tracks you can just loop!

6. Dr. John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell- It's Only Make Believe (Taken from This Time It's Personal)

I am a MASSIVE fan of the original Stranglers lineup and Hugh Cornwell doesn't get the credit from his peers he deserves. I also love John Cooper Clarke's poetry. When I found out they were teaming up together I was confused as I was excited. When I learnt they were collaborating on an album of covers, I was even more confused. This rendition of Conway Twitty's classic is beautiful. In fact, the whole album is a must. Definitely one of the best of 2016!

7. Happy Mondays- Tart Tart (Taken from Squirrel And G-Man: Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out))

Aside from coming from the album with best name ever, this a fucking beaut of a song. Happy Mondays are another band who don't get the credit they deserve when it comes to the music. The pills, thrills and belly aches get all the attention. This is just a perfect party track when you're on the right side of fucked. Brilliant video too.

8. New Order- Angel Dust (Taken from Brotherhood)

New Order, but no Joy Division or at least Warsaw!? Are you fucking mad!? No, it was just hard to pick a Joy Division track and in all honesty, I'm more of a fan of New Order. This isn't even my favourite New Order track, but it just seemed to fit in the context of this compilation. That's not to say it isn't a great track. Why would I put it in here if it wasn't?

9. Doves- Firesuite (Taken from Lost Souls)

You don't hear much nowadays about these chaps and you rarely hear Lost Souls getting mentioned. I recently discovered this album and this track and just fell in love with it. Much like Messidor, it's an instrumental track that has a melancholy beauty to it. Great to listen to this as you're traversing the Northern Quarter on a rainy day.

10. 808 State- Techno Bell (Taken from ExEl)

What a banger this one is. The album itself is one of the greatest electronic albums ever in my opinion. I'm reminded of Mr. Oizo for some reason with this one. This is one of those songs you hear now in most electronic music. Some of the sounds in this are phenomenal.

11. The Manchester Mekon- The Cakeshop Device (Take from the A Manchester Collection compilation)

We're ending on a high with probably my favourite song on the compilation. There's something really charming about this one. Another track that seems to have a range of emotions. The Manchester Mekon are a recent discovery for me and a band I am surprised lasted for such a short amount of time. An unsung hero in Manchester's musical heritage. You play this in an indie club now and you're going to blow minds.

Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen. It's not the most original selection of tracks I know, but I didn't want to come across as one of those “Oh my god I am so cultured!” types. I hope these songs move you and all albums these tracks come from are highly recommended from me!

Oh, Manchester...
Here's to the next one. If there is a next one! Oh by the way, you can still download the Innerspace compilations here.