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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Jul-18 > LABELLED WITH LOVE: FACTORY

LABELLED WITH LOVE: FACTORY

MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY AFTER IT CLOSED, IT’S STILL MANCHESTER’S FAVOURITE FACTORY. CLASSIC POP SPEAKS TO THE KEY FIGURES BEHIND ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST ICONIC LABELS AND REVEALS HOW FACTORY RECORDS AND ITS HAÇIENDA NIGHTCLUB PUMPED OUT THE SOUNDS, SLEEVES AND SPIRIT THAT DEFINED AN ENTIRE EPOCH OF BRITISH MUSIC CULTURE… G A
Peter Saville, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus pictured in 1979, outside Manchester’s Russell Club which hosted Factory theme nights
© Getty Images

A Salford headmaster looked down at a teenage dosser named Bernard Sumner. “You’ll end up working in a factory!” was his famous prediction. The joke being that by the time Sumner and his mates found their Factory, its owner, Tony Wilson, described the daily work as “the art of the playground”.

Or so the mythology goes. For the story of Factory Records, Joy Division, The Haçienda and everything around it has been told and retold from so many embellished perspectives, it was even a 2002 film – 24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan as Wilson.

It all began in the spring of 1978, when the original Factory began puffing its newwavy steam over Manchester’s bleak skyline.

Not yet a record label, for one year ‘Factory’ was a theme night at the Russell Club in one of Manchester’s toughest neighbourhoods.

“The Warholian name of this enterprise”, wrote an early reviewer in Sounds, “must seem like something of an enormous joke to the local residents of Hulme, Manchester’s disastrous answer to Stalinist architecture.”

For the door price of 79p, punters got to see three new bands, including the likes of Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, The Fall, Magazine, Throbbing Gristle, Wire, Human League, Gang Of Four, Mekons, OMD, Echo & The Bunnymen, Ultravox, The Teardrop Explodes, Simple Minds, The Cramps, The B-52’s, Suicide and a host of Northern bands.

Meeting and greeting in the crowd, the party host was Tony Wilson, the face of Greater Manchester prime-time news show, Granada Reports. The organising, however, was mostly left to Alan Erasmus, Factory’s nuts-and-bolts man, whose flat on 86 Palatine Road became the production office. The third partner was student graphic designer Peter Saville, whose iconic Factory logo, thus catalogued as FAC 1, was actually a gig poster. Although earning a good salary from his day job at Granada Television – which included a music show, So It Goes – Wilson soon learned running small gigs was a thankless hobby, even with Erasmus and Saville doing the hard work. “There is no more painful experience”, Wilson later described, “than when you’ve got a club and you’ve got a band on, you’re paying 40 quid for the club and £110 for the band, and there’s two people who bought tickets.”

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About Classic Pop

In the new issue of Classic Pop magazine we catch up with Johnny Marr to hear about the former Smiths and Electronic star’s superb new solo album Call The Comet. Tom Bailey tells us why he's returning to pop with a new album after years exploring dub and world music – remarkably it’s the former Thompson Twin frontman’s first solo LP. Also making a much-anticipated comeback is Swing Out Sister – Classic Pop talks to 80s icon Corinne Drewery and other half Andy Connell as they break what is effectively a decade of studio silence with Almost Persuaded. Elsewhere, we tell the story of the legendary Factory Records label and serve up a buyer’s guide to the work of Blondie and Debbie Harry. The ever-industrious Neil Arthur tells us about his new project Near Future and gives us details of a new Blancmange album plus we also catch up with Jaki Graham for the inside story on her diverse new album When A Woman Loves. New albums from Tom Bailey, Erasure, Years & Years and Let’s Eat Grandma get the once-over alongside reissues by David Bowie, The Cure, Public Image Limited and George Michael. We also jostle our way to the front to review live shows including Beck, Echo & The Bunnymen and Blossoms. Enjoy the issue!

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