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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Nov 2019 > Factory Records

Factory Records

The archetypal indie label’s first year is preserved in boxset perpetuity via its first 10 numbered records and objects. Gary Tipp gives a FAC

USE HEARING PROTECTION 1978-1979 RHINO

Given the label’s insightfully arch, achingly cool habit of giving catalogue numbers to all of its creative output and not solely its vinyl releases, the history of Factory is best and most comprehensively told through its artefacts rather than solely through the records it sold.

This 40thanniversary boxset is released to mark the label’s inception and is made up of the first 10 catalogue items. Of which four were vinyl, three were gig posters, one was a documentary, while the other two were office stationery (notepaper and envelopes) and a sculpture from Manchester artist Linder Sterling called The Menstrual Abacus, which is presented here as an A4 art print. Luckily, the Haçienda nightclub was as late as FAC51, or else it would have been a bugger to squeeze into the confines of this boxset.

Factory was launched in response to Manchester’s fast-growing music scene, which had burgeoned in the wake of punk and thanks to the self-financed release of local heroes Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch, which proved you didn’t need the London-based major labels to make waves. In keeping withpunk’s DIY ethos, Tony Wilson, a local television presenter and cultural theorist, threw his life savings into the label that he called “an experiment in art”, alongside the band manager and part-time actor Alan Erasmus.

Use Hearing Protection’s first 10 numbered records and objects roughly document Factory’s first year and a bit, from a The Durutti Column gig poster dating back to May 1978 (FAC1) to Joy Division’s imperious Unknown Pleasures (FACT10) released in June 1979.

Alongside Wilson and Erasmus, the presence of the label’s two other main influencers is readily felt here. Graphic designer and the man responsible for the label’s visual identity Peter Saville is understandably ubiquitous and it’s his work we see not only on the record sleeves but also on the gig posters. To accompany FAC1, the typographic FAC3 announces a Joy Division/Cabaret Voltaire gig in October 1979, while FAC4 is a Factory listing for December 1979. Dig deeper and you’ll discover that FAC4 was actually bashed out by Wilson in the style of Saville (who had missed his print deadline).

Alongside Saville, another man whose singular stamp is all over Factory’s output is the maverick producer Martin Hannett, a crazed genius responsible for the sonic identity of vast swathes of Manchester’s recorded output post punk. A drug-crazed genius, his mitts are all over the production controls of the Joy Division (Digital & Glass) and The Durruti Column tracks on the 2x7" FAC2, the emblematic, ultra-rare A Factory Sample EP. He is also the man in the boothbehind the two other 7" singles included here, All Night Party by A Certain Ratio (FAC5) and the one-off release Electricity by badly dressed synthpioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (FAC6). He also shaped Joy Division’s sound on Unknown Pleasures (FACT10).

Factory’s first 10 numbered records and objects are bolstered by a 60-page book and a white label 12" by The Tiller Boys (originally earmarked as FAC3 but never released) together witha never-before-heard Joy Division interview, which proves to be a curiously addictive listen.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Tonight, we're gonna party like it's 1999… Issue 32 of Long Live Vinyl brings you an exclusive first look inside the huge new 15LP Prince boxset as members of the Purple genius' band and his closest friends tell the story of the original 1999 album. We also hear from Estate Manager Michael Howe why this is only the beginning for Prince collectors. Pick up your copy to find out which releases are coming next from the Paisley Park vault. Elsewhere, in our packed interviews section, we sit down with Elbow, Big Thief, Adam Green and Jason Isbell to chat about their new albums, as well as delving into the history of the legendary Palm Tree label, Island Records, as they celebrate their 60th birthday. Fab Four fans should check out our Essential Beatles solo albums collector's guide. Plus we visit the Premier League referee who's running his own record shop, as well as taking an in-depth look at The XX's Mercury Prize-winning album xx. If all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of new album, reissue and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today!