Looking at my CD collection (what is left of it that hasn’t been culled and handed over to the Care In the Community), boxed vinyl (some old, some new, some reissues, some blue…. vinyl), and download list on my Macbook (and taking up too much memory on my iPhone), I ask the question, how much reduced would this overall collection be if it was minus all the stuff that has come out of Manchester.
What is it about that city that made it such a go-to place for exciting, fresh, indie music? Because, let’s be clear, it is almost always ‘indie’type stuff that rules there. (Though have added a cracking tune by sixties beatnik songsters the Hollies for measure of goodness).
I may well have some electro and techno made by Manchester based acts in my collection (or, people born in Manc but now, as is almost inevitably the case to almost ridiculous levels, Berlin based). In fact, Demdike Stare and Autechre immediately come to mind. And so without further ado, below check out this site’s very own selections for 10 (in no particular order).
The Fall — Cruiser’s Creek
Everyone has a different favourite Fall track– personally think that, despite the odd weirdly ridiculous repetitive thing, the cult post punkers have kind of lost it in recent years, alas–, and this site’s choice is the stupefying, wandering about, catchy-when-it-really-shouldnt-be, good-time, Stranglers-like riff ‘n roll tune Cruiser’s Creek.
FSOL — Slider
‘ISDN’ was recorded live over the ‘net and it was all very original back in 1994. Slider has the IDM (bet they hate that term?) twosome at their most open-received and improvised. And it’s wonderful. They were invited by some publication or other to review the Stone Roses album ‘Second Coming’, and said of that album’s opening sounds of trickling water and junglist nature samples, “if we recorded this on one of our tracks we’d be crucified!” Or words to that effect.
The Stone Roses — This Is the One
This the sound of a band a long way from that dodgy second album circa ’95, and getting booed off the stage at a Dublin heavy metal gig in ’85. This track, released roughly sometime during the period in between is a standout. That debut album remains a nice mix of the retro and the modern, the effortless and the direct, the political and the subtle. Heavy jangle.
The Hollies — Here I Go Again
Oasis — Rock n Roll Star
Yep, those first sounds on that only Oasis LP worth having. Back when they were hungry, despondent, curious, bitter, funny. ‘Definitely Maybe’– even the title a little unsure of the path laid out before it– is the sound of a band grounded in its roots, wanting to break out yet equally wanting to hold on to their everyday lives of alcohol, clothes, good vibes and madcap happenings. It packs a delinquent, dont-give-a-fuck punch, displaying influences from ‘Sgt Pepper’ to glam to them Stone Roses. Not a classic, though, mainly because it houses two b-list tracks, Digsy’s Dinner, and Married With Children. oh so close. Still, bar those this is always a most enjoyable listen.
Autechre — Tri Repetae
Sean Booth and Rob Brown started to come into their own around the time of their third LP ‘Tri Repetae’. That industrial complexity mixed with turquoise coloured beauty began to sound more, well, complex and deadly beautiful. This one possibly still their finest LP. But oh, haven’t they delivered no end of distinctive electro-industrial treats down the years. In a more perfect world they’d have been on TV more often, had their records on ‘best-of album’ lists, big features in broadsheets, and won loads of prizes etc. Maybe they’re happy to let Radiohead take all the credit.
Trus’me — It’s Slow
This ‘un found on the 2013 LP ‘Treat Me Right’, released via Trus’me’s own Prime Numbers imprint. This is tight-switch house music of shadowy late night desire. A most enjoyable album.
The Smiths — Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
A rare case of a group breaking up at the top of their game. Each of their four LPs different, the last of them ‘Strangeways Here We Come’ an assured, glinting piece of modern indie-pop brilliance, that sounded like nothing else around at the time– experimenting on ideas and themes the group had hitherto not experimented on. Morrisey was still likeable back then, too. This is big eighties alt.pop done only in that way the Smiths could have done it.
New Order — State Of the Nation
Not included on the 1986 LP ‘Brotherhood’ (but available on the download version), this single represents the more focused power of New Order. (Unfortunately they let their focus drop once or twice, recording the occasional weak song, or got involved in an in-joke that probably made a bit of sense at the time). But, back in the 80s, even allowing for these things, the group generally remained a top singles band. They also put out a handful of still recommended LPs. ‘Brotherhood’ in particular reps the group’s strange attraction; a collection of different personalities and sounds that shouldnt really work but does. And yet, at the same time this is the sound of something about to collapse in on itself at any minute. It didn’t. Well, not for a few years yet.
Factory Floor — A Wooden Box
Like ‘I Feel Love’ sent on some sort of super collider charge. This an early Factory Floor cut, and remains one of their finest. Sometimes I wish New Order would put out stuff like this nowadays. You just know they’re capable of it.
Joy Division — Dissorder
Blimey, this must have sounded great back in the late 70s. Someone once suggested to me Joy Division and New Order are two completely different bands. Nonsense, you can almost hear the natural progression headed towards what they would become as New Order, surely?.