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CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1 - The Roots of Independent Music The Night That Changed It All Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch An Ideal For A Living FACTORY RECORDS Unknown Pleasures

10 14 17 24 29

CHAPTER 2 - The First Independent record labels ZOO RECORDS INDUSTRIAL RECORDS POSTCARD RECORDS 2 TONE RECORDS MUTE RECORDS

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CHAPTER 3 - The independent Music revolution ROUGH TRADE RECORDS The Cartel CREATION RECORDS John Peel Sessions Fanzines The Indie Chart C86 FACTORY RECORDS Blue Monday

CHAPTER 4 - The influence of Dance Music KLF COMMUNICATIONS HEAVENLY RECORDINGS FACTORY RECORDS - The Hacienda - Happy Mondays

38 42 46 50 54

62 68 70 76 78 80 82 85

90 94 98 100

CHAPTER 5 - The Fall of Independent Record Labels

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Factory Records Fall Rough Trade Records Fall And Rise Creation Records Sells Out

106 108 112

Aftermath

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CHAPTER 1 - The Roots of Independent Music The Night That Changed It All Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch An Ideal For A Living FACTORY RECORDS Unknown Pleasures

10 14 17 24 29

CHAPTER 2 - The First Independent record labels ZOO RECORDS INDUSTRIAL RECORDS POSTCARD RECORDS 2 TONE RECORDS MUTE RECORDS

ROUGH TRADE RECORDS The Cartel CREATION RECORDS John Peel Sessions Fanzines The Indie Chart C86 FACTORY RECORDS Blue Monday

CHAPTER 4 - The influence of Dance Music KLF COMMUNICATIONS HEAVENLY RECORDINGS FACTORY RECORDS - The Hacienda - Happy Mondays

62 68 70 76 78 80 82 85

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CHAPTER 3 - The independent Music revolution

38 42 46 50 54

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90 94 98 100

CHAPTER 5 - The Fall of Independent Record Labels Factory Records Fall Rough Trade Records Fall And Rise Creation Records Sells Out

106 108 112

The Aftermath

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Once Spiral Scratch had happened, everyone in a band felt empowered to do whatever you liked, on your own terms, and you could do it outside of London. Once it proved to be commercially viable, to actually be part of the music business, everything is up for grabs. And suddenly, we’re in a new world.

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In the 1970s, the music industry was controlled by the major record labels, and the notion of releasing a record independently seemed like an impossible dream. At a time when even The Sex Pistols were on a major label, the true act of rebellion was would be to do it yourself. It took an independent release from Buzzcocks in 1976 with the Spiral Scratch EP to begin a change in the game. The initial pressing of 1,000 copies was funded by family and friends and sold out immediately. The notion of independently releasing your own music was compelling, and it became a call to action.

The first peeoneers of independent music start rising as a reaction to the majors and the London punk scene, seen as an orchestration carefully co opted by the majors. 9


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THE NIGHT THAT CHANGED IT ALL How Punk Was Brought To Manchester And The World When about 40 people saw the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 4 June 1976, they came away inspired. But they were inspired in a very Mancunian kind of way. Many people in the audience that night didn’t look at the Pistols and so much think: "I want to do that..." but instead, they looked at the young Londoners and thought "Come on, I could do way better than that!" It’s thanks to that very Mancunian approach that we have some of the most thrilling music of the last 40 years. The creativity that sprang from the Lesser Free Trade Hall would loom large over the Manchester scene for decades. Without that 4 June gig – and the Pistols return visit six weeks later - there would be no Buzzcocks, Magazine, Joy Division, New Order, Factory Records, no ‘indie’ scene, no The Smiths, Hacienda, Madchester, Happy Mondays or Oasis. Maybe there would be no Nirvana or Green Day, no Suede, no Killers, no Arctic Monkeys, no Interpol or Savages, no Blur, no Pavement, no Radiohead, Prodigy, no Arcade Fire.

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The two people we have to thank for organising the gig are Bolton Technical College students Howard Trafford and Pete McNeish. Inspired by

an article in the NME about the Sex Pistols, they borrowed a car and headed for London in February ‘76, intent on tracking down the Pistols and their manager, Malcolm McLaren. Having watched the Pistols twice while in London, they invited the band to come up to Manchester to play a gig. They did it for slightly selfish reasons: they wanted their band, christened Buzzcocks during the London trip, to support them. Trafford and McNeish also changed their names that weekend – to Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley. "I know that it changed my life beyond a whole roomful of shadows of doubt," Devoto later told me. "Forever." Six months after their Lesser Free Trade Hall debut, Buzzcocks released the first independent punk record, Spiral Scratch, essentially creating indie music. Far from "getting away with it" they made it look easy. Buzzcocks’ effect on modern music is massive thanks to that one move. That’s before we’ve even mentioned their disarming, unique punk pop. Salford council clerk Peter Hook was so inspired by seeing the Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall he walked into Mazel’s – a music and electronics shop – and bought a bass the day after. The world of music would look, feel and sound very different had it not been for Joy Division. Very different indeed.


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Sex Pistols live at Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester 1976

Many people in the audience that night didn’t look at the Pistols and so much think: “I want to do that...” but instead, they thought “Come on, I could do way better than that!”

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Morrissey was there. He "penned an epistle" about it to the NME. Morrissey would never merely write a letter. He was slightly sniffy about what he saw: "Despite their discordant music and barely audible audacious lyrics, they were called back for two encores." He was sure he could do better. Tony Wilson? Mark E. Smith? Ian Curtis? They were at gig two – another hugely important event. Again – imagine a world without Factory Records, The Hacienda, Live At The Witch Trials and Closer. Makes you shudder. That’s why the Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester is so important - as an event, a moment in musical history and as a myth. Not because of the songs the Pistols played – essentially a few cover versions and a smattering of originals – but because of the effect they had on those who were there. The Sex Pistols themselves are, in many ways, the least interesting aspect of the story. What’s fascinating is to think of a world without the Lesser Free Trade Hall audience. A world without Peter Hook’s basslines, Pete Shelley’s winsome punk heartaches, Morrissey’s uplifting brand of misery, Factory Records’ selfdestructive, creative madness and Mark E. Smith’s... Mark E. Smithness. "That was the day the punk rock atom was split, no doubt about it,"says Steve Diggle of Buzzcocks. He was there on 4 June. Of course he was. "It was amazing to see. That’s where it exploded from, it changed Manchester and it changed the world.~“It was visceral, it was highly charged, it was alive, ” punk rock veteran and Buzzcocks’, Pete Shelley recounted on one night that truly changed music: The Sex Pistols’ show at Manchester’s Lesser Trade Hall on 4th June 1976. The show has been heralded as the day that punk music truly started in Britain and is considered a cornerstone in music folklore.

“ Punk was completely unknown. It was hard enough to get the records.”

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“Because it was so simple we told them how to do it and told everybody the secrets. You wanted other people to be having the same fun that you were having,” Shelley he added. The night in question has many accounts of whawt actually happened and Punktastic sat down with the man who put the gig on that night, Pete Shelley, to get a complete uncut story.In 1976, Shelley was studying at the Bolton Institute where he met future Buzzcocks frontman, Howard Devoto. In his own words, Manchester in the 70s was “black and white and pretty grim.” The pair were “complete outsiders” to the popular Manchester music scene and were struggling to form and establish a band.“Punk was completely unknown,” Shelley said. “It was hard enough to get the records.

They were like hen’s teeth, you couldn’t go into a shop and find them all racked up. Thankfully Howard had some records by The Stooges.”At the time, The Sex Pistols were far from the modern day icons they are today having only played a handful of gigs before the Manchester show. Shelley and Devoto found the Sex Pistols in the reviews section of a copy of NME in February 1976. It caught their eye because they covered a Stooges’ song. Devoto particularly like the quote: “We’re not after music, we’re after chaos!”As it resonated with the aims he had musically. That night the duo borrowed a car and drove to Reading to stay at a friend’s house- future Buzzcocks manager, Richard Boon.“We stayed the night and we went to London the next morning to find this mythical band,” Shelley gleefully reminisced. “There was no listing for them in Time Out so we phoned up NME and asked. They said their manager had a clothes shop at the end of the Kings Road, The World’s End.”“So we headed off and it was nearly closing time when we got there. We walked in and said ‘we believe you’re the manager of the Sex Pistols’ to which Malcolm McLaren was like ‘what’s going on here?’ We asked if they were playing this weekend, they did and we went to the gigs and chatted to Malcolm and the band. He said they said were trying to get gigs outside of London so it was ideal,” he continued. “ Punk was completely unknown. It was hard enough to get the records. They were like hen’s teeth, you couldn’t go into a shop and find them all racked up.”Shelley, at the time, was Vice President of the Students’ Union in Bolton but unfortunately, they weren’t interested to host a Sex Pistols show. Devoto attempted to use his connections in the live Manchester music scene as he wrote for listings magazine “New Manchester Review” at the time but still to no avail. The pair eventually found out for £32 you could hire out a little hall on top of the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. After all parties were happy the gig was agreed.“We booked the hall, we printed tickets, we tried to advertise it as best we could and then on the 4th of June Sex Pistols came up to play to an unsuspecting audience,” Shelley said.The original plan was for Buzzcocks to support the Sex Pistols for the show but they couldn’t get a bassist in time. However, Shelley, reveals a humorous tale of coincidence in how they met future bassist, Steve Diggle at the first show.“We were stood outside the venue and on this big blackboard read “Live from London: The Sex Pistols.” Malcolm McLaren was trying to drum up people to come in like the showman he was “roll up roll up” and that. There was this bloke outside waiting to meet somebody and he spoke to Malcolm on the door and said he was looking for a band because he answered an advert. Malcolm put two and two together and got five and brought him to us” Shelley revealed.“It later transpired in the interval that this guy wasn’t looking for us and had no idea who the Sex Pistols or Buzzcocks were at all. We offered him to stay for the show and he seemingly enjoyed it. The day after we practised together through two channels on a practice amp. And that is how we met our bass player Steve,” he continued. 16 days passed until the Sex Pistols returned to Manchester and on 20th June Buzzcocks played their first show.


an infamous question of “what punk meant to him.” A question that has been asked many times to many people and all come out with different and personal answers.“The important thing about punk was that it was an idea. You don’t need to go to a special school and learn how to do it. You just need the determination to know that was what you were going to do. It made it able to spread like a virus” Shelley pondered and then explained his point.“When the Sex Pistols played it changed everybody in the room. Nearly everybody went off to do something creative afterwards either in music or in art or journalism etc. It inspired people to have a go doing it to make the leap of faith from wanting to do something.“People’s attitudes were geed up into thinking that they could do anything and that’s what everybody did,” Shelley added. Throughout the interview, one thing was clear. Clichés aside, Pete Shelley, is one of the godfathers of punk rock and without him and his decision to bring the Sex Pistols to Manchester the music scene as we know it today might be a lot different.

CHAPTER 1 - THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC

“ It was different; the Sex Pistols were a great band to watch” Shelley explained. “There was a melody, it wasn’t one of those free form raucous affairs. It was visceral, it was highly charged, it was alive.“The Sex Pistols were the antithesis of music at the time. That’s why no one really saw it coming. It didn’t take being a musician seriously. There was a cavalier attitude of you just learn a few chords and you’re done. The show made punk accessible” the punk veteran discussed, in great admiration for the time. “It was completely different to the stuff they’d have on at the Student Unions. Most of the time people would go to the local hall to just sit on the floor” Shelley comically remarked. The impact of punk music was arguably the biggest impact a genre has ever had in music. The punk revolution brought a totally new breed of musician. Ones that were doing it because it was a direct expression of how they were feeling, no matter what ability or background they were. Any hint of anarchy in a band’s sound today can be traced back to punk and all can be traced back to the Sex Pistols’ show that night. The punk icon attempted to explain

THE STORY

Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall Concert Poster [1976]

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BUZZ COCKS’ SPIRAL SCRATCH

How Buzzcocks invented indie. With no industry support, they pressed and sold the EP themselves In January 1977 a young punk band called Buzzcocks walked into the Manchester branch of Virgin with a box of singles they wanted to sell. They had set up a label called New Hormones and paid for the records themselves with an early form of crowdfunding – borrowing £500 from a couple of friends and the guitarist’s dad – and their only ambition was to sell enough of the 1,000 copies they had pressed to be able to repay the loans. The Spiral Scratch EP ended up selling 16,000 copies and reaching the top 40 – there was no problem with the loans. More importantly, though, it proved that it was possible for artists to be in complete control of their music, from production to distribution, and in the process invented indie. These days, there’s nothing unusual about bypassing the record industry. In 1977, though, Spiral Scratch was game-changing. In its wake came a wave of British independent labels and a distribution network that meant that, as Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis puts it, “anyone could compete with the big boys, but that only happened because it was an undeniably great record”. Few who saw the first Buzzcocks show on 1 April 1976 would have felt they were in the presence of people who were about to reshape pop. Peter McNeish and Howard Trafford (who would become Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto) fronted a makeshift version of the band at Bolton Institute of Technology’s students’ union – they were studying there – and managed to annoy not just the venue, but their bandmates, too. Shelley and Devoto had been inspired to form Buzzcocks seven weeks earlier, when they read a live review in NME that would transform their lives. The headline, “Don’t look over your shoulder, but the Sex Pistols are coming!”, It was enough to convince them to borrow a Renault and drive 200 miles to Buckinghamshire to see the Pistols support Screaming Lord Sutch on 21 February. “Seeing the Pistols changed everything,” Devoto says. “We started to realise what songs we ourselves could write.” At this point, the Pistols were some way from becoming the band who outraged a nation. They were so short of bookings that their manager, Malcolm McLaren, agreed to the offer Shelley and Devoto put to him: they would put his charges on in Manchester, if they could be the support band. The problem was, the pair didn’t have a band. And when the night of the gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall arrived – 4 June 1976, with Shelley and Devoto having paid £32 to rent the room – they still lacked a permanent bassist and drummer and had to drop off the bill. But they quickly recruited bassist Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher, who joined while doing his O-levels as a way of avoiding “aggro” from his neighbours,

and when the Pistols returned to the Lesser Free Trade Hall on 20 July, Buzzcocks were ready. “I thought if I could join a band, I could get the drum kit out of the house,” Maher says. “How was I to know that my first gig would be supporting the Sex Pistols?” Shelley, who was 22, remembers the show for its “complete lack of adult supervision. We were literally doing it ourselves. McLaren said: ‘If Buzzcocks aren’t onstage in 10 minutes, you’re not going on.’ But he was shrewd enough to bring music journalists.” When the journalists’ reviews appeared, Buzzcocks were catapulted to national attention. Initially, they had no plans to make a record, but after the Pistols’ appearance on Thames TV’s Today show – swearing at the host, Bill Grundy – landed them on tabloid front pages and major labels started signing punk bands, Buzzcocks realised they had to make their mark or risk being passed by. “Record company scouts just didn’t venture up to Manchester,” says Richard Boon, their manager. “The place felt like the tide had gone out.” But what other options were there? To Shelley, the idea of manufacturing a record themselves felt “as infeasible as making a computer in your front room”. There were already British independents: the Damned’s New Rose had been released on Stiff, but that label had the advantage of being run by people with lots of experience in the music business, and the contacts that came with that experience. It was a rather different matter for a pair of students whose only experience of records was buying them and listening to them. “The Drones told us: ‘Don’t do it!’” Shelley says. “Because they’d gone the vanity publishing route in a previous incarnation and ended up with boxes of records in the garage.” However, the band’s new booking agent, Martin Hannett, wanted to become a producer and saw an opportunity in Buzzcocks. Boon started investigating pressing plants, to see whether they really could make a record, and as things started moving, Shelley began to think: “We can actually do this.” It helped that by now they had a set of songs that matched those of any London punk band, led by Boredom (“You know me – I’m acting dumb / The scene is very humdrum / Boredom! Boredom!” Devoto sings, while Shelley picks out a two-note solo). Devoto wrote the lyrics during night shifts at a tile factory, and Shelley wrote the tunes on his Woolworth’s guitar.


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The Buzzcocks

The idea of manufacturing a record themselves felt “as infeasible as making a computer in your front room”.

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Spiral Scratch record and sleeve, front and back [1976]


“My impression was that Martin didn’t know what he was doing,” Maher says. “But neither did we.” Devoto says of Spiral Scratch’s ramshackle, lo-fi sound: “As amateurs even we found it a bit amateurish sounding.” Boon thinks the amateurishness is all part of the EP’s charm: Buzzcocks were the anti-Fleetwood Mac, the antithesis of big-budget music.

“Suddenly the gap between wanting to do something and actually doing it seemed small”

Spiral Scratch provided evidence that punk was having an effect nationwide, that it wasn’t just confined to a small coterie in London. The means of Spiral Scratch’s release epitomised liberation through DIY. “Suddenly the gap between wanting to do something and actually doing it seemed small,” Jon Savage says. Devoto’s idea of providing recording details on the sleeve – “Breakdown, third take, no overdubs” and so on – further demystified the process of making records, making it seem accessible to scores of young groups. Two months after Spiral Scratch was released, the Desperate Bicycles formed, and released a first single with a sleevenote that read: “The Desperate Bicycles were formed in March 1977 specifically for the purpose of recording and releasing a single on their own label.” That note inspired Green Gartside of Scritti Politti to form his own band and release a debut single on which he itemised the costs of production and manufacturing. Buzzcocks had started something that couldn’t be stopped. Indie labels began to spring up nationwide: in 1978. “You could have a No 1 record and have nothing to do with the record industry,” he says. “It was tremendously empowering. It just shows what can happen if you’re stupid enough to believe that you can do something,” Shelley adds. “History is made by those who turn up.”

THE STORY

He took Spiral Scratch’s cover photo of the band on a Polaroid instant camera and the band assembled at Devoto’s shared flat in Lower Broughton to slide 1,000 singles into their budget picture sleeves. The first shop to take copies was Virgin in Manchester, which accepted 25 copies and sold them for 99p each (of which 60p went to the band). In London, Travis had just opened his Rough Trade shop. He took an initial 50, then ordered 200 more just two days later. “I knew I could sell them,” he says. “It was a sensational record.” Boon didn’t have the money to press more copies, so Jon Webster, the manager of the Manchester branch of Virgin, lent him £600 from the shop’s sales of coach tickets to a Status Quo gig. “So indirectly, the first British independent success story was financed by the Quo,” Boon says, laughing. Webster remembers those pioneering punk days as “the best time of my life”, and notes that, back then, a record shop could be a catalyst for spreading new music. “Because there was no distribution, almost no shops had these records,” he says. “When we handed out a photocopied list of all our punk singles at the [venue] Electric Circus, we were deluged with people from all over the north.” Soon enough, a copy of Spiral Scratch reached John

Peel, who duly played it; it became single of the week in the music papers, and sales exploded via mail order.

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“We were chalk and cheese,” Shelley remembers. “I said to him, ‘I never get around to things. I live in a straight line,’ That ended up in Boredom.” Shelly’s’s famous guitar solo – seen as the epitome of punk’s rejection of musicianship, came “out of the blue and seemed to fit. After we’d finished it, we fell about laughing.” Boredom, Breakdown, Time’s Up and Friends of Mine were recorded in 30 minutes just before Christmas 1976, with Hannett at the controls.

On December 28, 1976 the Buzzcocks entered a studio in their hometown of Manchester, England, and laid down four tracks just barely totaling over ten minutes, total cost: £500. The band/ label printed up 1,000 copies of the Spiral Scratch EP, they brought their friends over for a record assembly party. The first thousand copies sold out after its release on January 29,1977. Eventually they’d sell another 15,000, quite likely on the back of future “Boredom:”

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How the very first diy indie label, new hormones, was founded solely to release buzzcocks’s debut song.

“We thought it would be nice to hear what we sound like. It would be good if we could actually make our own record. It was like a mystical process. We found out that we could have 1,000 singles made for £500 with a picture sleeve and also including recording costs. It seemed feasible. We found this... Well, basically a hippy. He always wanted to be a record producer and his name was Martin, Martin Hannett. So we booked the studio and recorded Spiral Scratch. We thought “Well, we need a sleeve now.” That Christmas, my mum and dad had bought me a Polaroid black-and-white camera. Richard took the photo and we used that for the Spiral Scratch. We knew the people who ran the local Virgin store. We said, “Can you sell these?” Which they did. We sent a copy to John Peel. He played it. It was only about a month or so, we’d actually got rid of the whole thousand. So it was surprisingly easy!”

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- Peter Shelley [BUZZCOCKS]


Buzzcocks

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“We thought it would be nice to hear what we sound like.”

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An Ideal For A Living EP front and backand inside folds

An Ideal For A Living record and folded sleeve, four sides [1976]


Once it proved to be commercially viable, to actually be part of the music business, everything is up for grabs. And suddenly, we’re in a new world. In 1976, Joy Division released their debut EP An Ideal For Living, issued on their own label Enigma just after changing their named from Warsaw, and before their later signing to Tony Wilson and Martin Hannett’s Factory Records. The 4 track EP was recorded at Pennine Sound Studios in Oldham on December 14th, 1977, with the sessions being selffinanced by the band, on a budget of only £400.

On the 12 inch vinyl re-release of the EP, this controversial artwork was replaced by a more minimalist sleeve featuring an image of scaffolding. The reissue was necessary almost immediately, as the initial 1200 pressings were almost unlistenable due to the exponential degradation of audio fidelity resulting from the length of the 4 tracks on a mere 7 inch. This ultimately caused the stock of the vinyl to be thinned out with the resulting sound output becoming very muffled and quiet overall. Because of this, a two page disclaimer was sent out by

The reissue was necessary almost immediately, as the initial 1200 pressings were almost unlistenable due to the exponential degradation of audio fidelity resulting from the length of the 4 tracks on a mere 7 inch. This ultimately caused the stock of the vinyl to be thinned out with the resulting sound output becoming very muffled and quiet overall. Because of this, a two page disclaimer was sent out by drummer Stephen Morris explaining the problems with audio fidelity to select music journalists. The Nazi references did not just end with the sleeve’s artwork, as the opening track “Warsaw” can be considered an exaggerated biography of Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess. Hess had undertaking a solo flight to Scotland on May 10th, 1941, hoping to arrange peace talks with the Duke of Hamilton, but was immediately arrested upon his arrival and held in British custody until the end of the war. The track begins with “3 5 0 1 2 5 Go!” and features a chorus repetition of “31G”. “31G-350125” was Hess’s prisoner of war serial number after he was captured in Scotland. The “31” indicates the European theatre of war and the “G” naturally stands for “G” German.

THE STORY

The packaging was put together on singer Ian Curtis’ kitchen table with the help of his wife Deborah Curtis. Each copy had to have the sleeve folded along and bagged along with each copy of the 7 inch vinyl record. Adding to the Nazi controversy over the new band name “Joy Division”, An Ideal For Living featured a black-and-white picture of a blond Hitler Youth member beating a drum. The sleeve’s artwork was drawn by guitarist Bernard Sumner with the words “Joy! Division” printed in a German font. It certainly did not help that Sumner signed the work as Bernard Albrecht.

drummer Stephen Morris explaining the problems with audio fidelity to select music journalists.

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AN IDEAL FOR A LIVING

Once Spiral Scratch had happened, Joy Division decided to produce their first EP

Of the other 3 songs on the arguably punk EP, only “No Love Lost” with it’s undeniable krautrock influences indicated the band’s future development in defining the new wave of post-punk music emerging in Manchester and London.

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“It’s what everyone was doing, so how hard can it be?”

Joy Division


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How An Ideal For A Living was first produced independently by Joy Division in 1976

THE STORY

“It was a revelation. Up till that point, there was kind ofa bit of mystery about it, how to make a record. It involved people snorting coke in, mansions in Beverly Hills and all this lot. Got to do a record. It’s what everyone was doing, so how hard can it be? Our first mistake, in fact the biggest mistake that we made, was wanting to do four songs in one record. We didn’t realise that cramming that much music on a tiny little disc made it sound a bit shit. We thought, “It’ll be all right - value for money!” We went to Pips, number one in Europe, this disco in Manchester, which was doing New Wave nights, punk nights. “Put our record on, put our record on!” They’d been playing all this loud music and they put ours on and it sounded... -Na na na na- ... -What’s this shit?!- ” - Stephen Morris [ JOY DIVISION ]

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FACTORY RECORDS

How factory record was started in 1976 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus

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Factory Records was a Manchester based British independent record label, started in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, which featured several prominent musical acts on its roster such as Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, Happy Mondays, Northside, and (briefly) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and James. Factory Records used a creative team which gave the label and the artists recording for it, a particular sound and image. The label employed a unique cataloguing system that gave a number not just to its musical releases, but to artwork and other objects, as well. Wilson was a cultural reporter for Manchester’s Granada Television when in the mid-1970s he was given his own pop music show, So It Goes. He was galvanized by a 1976 Sex Pistols concert and booked the band on his show. Inspired by punk and the Buzzcocks, he decided to set up his own label, Factory Records, with Alan Erasmus, in the South Manchester suburbs, on Palatine Road.

His business model couldn’t have been more different to that of the established music industry. Wilson assembled a pool of talent to run the label. Martin Hannett, the old hippy who produced Spiral Scratch, would take care of the music and he recruited a talented art school graduate, Peter Saville, to create Factory’s distinctive look. With all the elements in place, the question now was, would it work? Joy Division’s and Factory’s debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was to be the testing ground. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ was The first album released by Factory in 1979, at the same time that their manager Rob Gretto joined the label. The album received great critical acclaim, the band appeared on the front cover of the UK music magazine the NME and recorded a session for influential BBC DJ John Peel. Wilson credits this success with turning the label into a “true business”.


The Factory [1976] Peter Saville, Tony Wilson, Alan Erasmus

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“The thing about Tony is you always got the impression he's got big, big, BIG ideas. He always thought big. Factory is not just about records, it's about everything.”

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FACTORY RECORDS

The Team Behind Factory Records

TONY WILSON (20 February 1950 – 10 August 2007)

ALAN ERASMUS (1949)

Was a British record label owner, radio and television presenter, nightclub manager, impresario and journalist for Granada Television and the BBC. Wilson was the man behind some of Manchester’s most successful bands. He was one of the five co-founders of Factory Records and the founder and manager of the Haçienda nightclub. Wilson was known as “Mr Manchester”, dubbed as such for his work in promoting the culture of Manchester throughout his career.

Alan Erasmus was the co-founder of Factory Records with Tony Wilson, which signed Joy Division and Happy Mondays. He also co-founded The Haçienda with Wilson, Rob Gretton and New Order, a famous Manchester nightclub which closed down in Summer 1997.

Wilson’s involvement in popular music stemmed from hosting Granada’s culture and music programme “So It Goes”. Wilson, who intensely disliked the music scene of the mid-1970s which was dominated by such genres as progressive rock and arena rock, saw the Sex Pistols at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, in June 1976, an experience which he described as “nothing short of an epiphany”. He booked them for the last episode of the first series, the first television showing of their revolutionary British punk.

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He started off his career as an actor, appearing in the British TV film Hard Labour by Mike Leigh. He also managed the bands The Durutti Column and Fast Breeder. His public profile during and since Factory Records has been remarkably low.


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PETER SAVILLE (9 October 1955)

The old hippy who produced Spiral Scratch, would take care of the music

A talented art school graduate, who created Factory’s distinctive look.

Was an English record producer and an original partner/director at Tony Wilson’s Factory Records. Hannett produced albums by a range of artists, including Joy Division, the Durutti Column, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and Happy Mondays. His distinctive production style utilized unorthodox sound recording and technology, and has been described as sparse, spatial, and cavernous.

Is an English art director and graphic designer. He came to prominence for the many record sleeves he designed for Factory Records, which he co-founded in 1978 alongside Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus.

Probably the best introduction to Martin Hannett’s psychosis is a quote from Peter Hook: “In the studio, we’d sit on the left, he’d sit on the right and if we said anything like ‘I think the guitars are a bit quiet, Martin, he’d scream, ‘Oh my god! Why don’t you just fuck off!’” Fuelled by heroin and marijuana, Hannett was brilliant, elusive and difficult all in one. He would request the band to do take after take, but rather than explicitly saying what needed to happen, he would vaguely demand, “do it again, but this time, more cocktail party” or “more yellow”. Once he famously asked for another take “slower but faster”, all in the same breath. While some of his behaviour was merely wild eccentricity, occasionally his antics would become obsessive, verging on the edge of (or spilling over into) lunacy.

THE STORY

MARTIN HANNETT (31 May 1948 – 18 April 1991)

Peter Saville designed many record sleeves for Factory artists. He was highly inspired by chief propagandist for the New Typography, Jan Tschichold, about whom he read in Herbert Spencer’s Pioneers of Modern Typography. In 1980, Saville designed cover for Joy Division’s last album, Closer. The album was released shortly after the punk-band member Ian Curtis’ suicide, featuring a controversial image of entombed Christ’s body. However, the cover was designed before the tragic loss of the band which was later proved by the rock magazine New Musical Express working on the feature based on the album, several months earlier. During 1980s Saville’s work took a turn from conventional graphic designing to unorthodox. A well-known design critic Alice Twemlow described Saville’s designing practice as that he would irreverently pick an image from some historical art and then de-contextualize and recontextualize it in another art.

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Unknown Pleasures record and sleeve front, back and poster [1979]


UNKNOWN PLEASURES Joy Division First release by factory records Factory’s 10 release (FAC10) from 1979 is arguably its most famous. The first of two records for the label by post-punk pioneers Joy Division, the album captures the sound-scape of Manchester at the end of a decade. Hannett’s unique production style, demanding the band play, “faster but slower,” is captured perfectly in every track. Peter Saville’s classic “exploding star” cover design acts as an eerie premonition of lead singer/lyricist Ian Curtis’s tragic suicide on May 18, 1980—the evening before the band was to start their first tour of the U.S. The original 10,000 copies of the iconic record feature a textured cover. One of, if not the most, well known record sleeves by any music artist ever.

The image that we now see representing CP 1919 in the 1977 edition of The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy is a stacked timing profile used to analyze the subpulse structures for patterns, which to the credit of Peter Saville and Stephen Morris, is expression of lonely beauty touching from a distance. The original image was found in a publication of a Cambridge University astrophysicist with Peter Saville inverting the image to create a dark and mysterious white shape floating in the black space. With the (at the time) revolutionary idea to not have any text on the front of the cover thus not informing the viewer of the artist or title.

THE STORY

But…exactly what is Pulsar CP 1919? It has more significance than most people realize. In fact, It was actually the first Pulsar observed! On November 28th, 1967 Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish observed pulses of radio waves separated by 1.33 seconds that originated from the same location on the sky in the constellation Vulpecula. Looking for explanations for the pulses they determined it could not be a man-made radio frequency interference, or instrumental effects. Despite doubting they found a radio signal from an alien civilization, they nicknamed the signal LGM-1, an abbreviation of “little green men“. Their pulsar was officially dubbed CP 1919 (Cambridge Pulsar 1919, with the “1919” being the Pulsar’s right ascension). The word “pulsar” is a contraction of “pulsating star”, with the star in this

case being a Neutron Star, a tiny city-sized star comprised primarily of neutrons resulting from the gravitational collapse of a massive star during a supernova. The pulsing occurs because the electromagnetic radiation is projected in beams (not unlike a lighthouse) emitted from the highly magnetized, rapidly rotating star, which are only visible when they are in our line of sight on Earth. Because of this discovery, In 1974, Antony Hewish became one the first astronomers to be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Sadly, Jocelyn Bell, who made the initial discovery while she was Hewish’s Ph.D student, was not awarded the prize.

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FACTORY RECORDS

A great debut album for the band as well featuring the dulcet tones of Ian Curtis over melancholic chords–the perfect combination.

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“The more this could be an enigmatic thing, the more it might evoke the title.”

Ralph Gibson’s photograph ‘The Somnambulist’. Unknown Pleasure’s inner sleeve


How The Cover Of Unknown Pleasures Was Designed The image was reproduced in the UK in 1977 as part of a big book called The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, where it formed part of feature on pulsars which were, of course, discovered by Cambridge researchers. It was here that Bernard Sumner - himself a graphic designer working at the Cosgrove Hall animation studios in Chorlton, Manchester - saw the image. “On my lunch break, I'd go to the Manchester Central Library, and get a sandwich at the cafe. They had a good art section and a good science section. I'd read through the books in search of inspiration. One of the images I found was the Unknown Pleasures image that clicked with me straight away.” Says Sumner.

Saville recalled: “[They said] we’d like it to be white on the inside and black on the inside. I took these elements away and put it together to the best of my ability. No one said what size or where - I had to figure out how. I contradicted the band’s instructions and made it black on the outside and white on the inside, which I felt had more presence. A textured sleeve was added to give the expanse of black a more tactile quality.” Saville added: “It was called Unknown Pleasures, so I thought the more this could be an enigmatic thing, the more it might evoke the title.” Meanwhile, Harold Craft, who had printed out the image in the first place back in the late 60s had no idea his work had been turned into one of the most iconic album cover designs in history. “I had no clue,” he told Jen Christiansen “So I went to the record store and, son of a gun, there it was. I bought an album, and a poster too, for no particular reason, except that it’s my image, and I ought to have a copy of it.”

THE STORY

When Joy Division were looking to release their debut album with Tony Wilson’s Factory Records in the summer of 1979, they went to the label’s inhouse designer Peter Saville to discuss the cover. The band approached Saville with a file of cuttings and offered up the plot of CP 1919’s radio waves and another enigmatic image of a hand emerging from behind a shadowy door, which was taken from a 1970 book of photos by Ralph Gibson called The

Somnambulist. This image would be used for the inner sleeve.

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“I don't think any of us really appreciated it at the time. We knew it sounded different but, in a way, we thought it sounded a bit too different, because it didn't sound like us!” Joy Division, recording session


How The Sound Of Unknown Pleasures Was Created

Something immediately noticeable about Joy Division is how much the bass sits at the front of the mix. Hook became known for his unique style of bass playing that incorporated mid-range tones and sometimes even drove the melody, leaving the guitar to sit further back in the mix, such as on Insight. Apparently this dynamic came to fruition as a result of the garbage equipment the band were working with in their early years, with Sumner preferring the tone of his guitar when the amplifier was cranked to 11, forcing Hook to play higher to have any chance of hearing his bass lines. Hannett

latched onto Hook’s trebly bass lines, diluting Sumner’s guitar work behind layers of reverb, and nestled them in unconventional locations in the mix. When recording was all done and dusted, the band was less than impressed with Unknown Pleasures. The loud, aggressive sound they had set out to create had been replaced by a dark, brooding, and downright depressing compilation of Hannet’s selfindulgent experimentation. While Curtis reportedly loved where Hannett had taken the record (most likely because the tone now delightfully complimented his tortured lyrics), the rest of the band felt a bit slighted. Most of the mixing had been done at inopportune times, like the early morning, with Hannett ducking into the studio to mix everything how he saw fit. He very much saw the album as a chance for himself to let loose and experiment, supposedly saying of the band, “They were a gift to a producer, because they didn’t have a clue. They didn’t argue.” After the album was released to critical acclaim, the band decided it was best to swallow their pride, ultimately opting to indulge Hannett one last time on their second, and sadly, final album, Closer, released a year later. Hannett’s work on Unknown Pleasures produced something so stark and brooding it pairs perfectly with the now-iconic album cover: a black background with a framed diagram of layered, successive radio pulses of the first ever recorded pulsar, or imploding star. To imagine the isolation, despair, and sheer magnitude involved in a collapsing star, one needs only to throw on Unknown Pleasures in pitch darkness and let the collaboration of aspiring but misguided punks, a tortured lyricist, and one lunatic producer fill in the darkness with the expansive space it is so chockfull of.

THE STORY

Hannett’s greatest achievement with Joy Division was, arguably, taking the aggressive songs they had been toiling away at and realising that they were so much more than a bunch of short, fast punk tracks. And this touch ensured that the Mancunian 4-piece would not be lost to the mists of time. Hannett’s effective (it doesn’t need to be said, but why not, let’s just say it: brilliant) use of panning was just another way he managed to make the album seem as though it was recorded in some dark, damp seaside cave in the midst of a winter storm. His extreme panning of the drum tracks moved the snare – which traditionally occupies the middle – all across the mix. While an instrument could attack on one side of the mix, the delayed release would be panned to the other side, creating a sound that was uniquely cavernous. Sure, Hannett’s experimentation with digital delay and Melos tape echo effects was revolutionary, but it was the outright absurd techniques he employed that allowed him to create so much space with so little. Furthermore, Hannett’s non-music samples – notably the antique lift on Insight and shattering glass on I Remember Nothing, now considered classic Joy Division soundbites – served to further embolden the sense of isolation and despair so present in Ian Curtis’ brooding narratives. Not to mention, on probably one of the more intense epics the album has to offer (New Dawn Fades), Hannett opens with an almost seemingly out of place guitar played backwards. Though, as the boys in Joy Division soon found out, it’s best to just let Hannett do Hannett, no questions asked.

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Martin Hannett had an audio vision of what he wanted to create, and he initially took Joy Division as the raw material of his ideal. Unknown Pleasures is what Martin heard in Joy Division. It’s not what Joy Division played, or necessarily the way Joy Division heard it.

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THE FIRST INDEPENDENT RECORD LABELS

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This was DIY, and it felt like a counter cultural movement set against all that the mainstream had to offer. These labels were pivotal in getting the new sounds to a generation hungry for change. Queues of hopeful bands waited to drop off demo tapes, and the first wave of indie bands emerged from the newly formed labels. It was a fantastically creative, if somewhat hand-to-mouth time, yet bands also had the freedom to make all the decisions about their image and musical direction themselves. These new indie sounds offered a defiantly oppositional stance to prevailing trends in popular culture.

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Independent record labels began to pop up all over the UK, each one with its own subculture and sound - from Factory in Manchester to Zoo in Liverpool, Postcard in Glasgow and London labels such as Mute, Beggars Banquet and Rough Trade. They were founded by people with no business experience, just a passion for music and a commitment to helping others achieve creative autonomy. These labels were cutting, releasing and distributing the music themselves. Bedsits became offices and basements became studios.

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ZOO RECORDS

In Liverpool, rising from the scene revolving around the Erics’ club, a new label was created The spirit of independence wasn't confined to Manchester. In cities across the country, scenes were popping up, all with their own local flavour. In Liverpool the first sprouts could be seen in the market stalls of the alternative fashion scene. But it was here in central Liverpool opposite the site of the properly world-famous Cavern Club there was another dank, basement cellar that became equally legendary. Eric’s, where the punks band played, but it was just the kind of sanctuary in the late ‘70s that would form the meeting place for the misfits who would guide the city’s independent scene.

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Bill Drummond, with his partner, Dave Balfe, decided to set up his own indie record label, Zoo, to showcase other bands emerging from Eric’s. Zoo was the vision of Bill and Dave to try and make 50 quid. It was inspired by Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch single, which was a very important single to many Northern musicians, to see that someone could actually do that, and have a kind of hit. “We just felt total amateurs. That’s the main thing we felt. We were running on ridiculous budgets. We were all basically subsidised by the dole. We would just about make 300 or 400 quid profit, if we were lucky.” Dave Balfe stated in an interview.

Zoo Records was a British independent record label formed by Bill Drummond and David Balfe in 1978. Zoo was launched to release the work of the perennially struggling Liverpool band, Big in Japan (the label’s first release being the From Y To Z and Never Again EP). The label also released two singles by Lori and the Chameleons, a Balfe and Drummond band which they formed after Big in Japan folded. Zoo Records went on to release early work from The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen. Only two albums were released on the label: a Scott Walker compilation put together by Julian Cope, called Fire Escape in the Sky, and a label compilation called To the Shores of Lake Placid. (In 1995, an American bootlegger took various Zoo singles and tracks from To the Shores of Lake Placid and released a bootleg titled The Zoo Uncaged). Fire Escape in the Sky had the catalogue number Zoo Two, while To the Shores of Lake Placid had Zoo Four. Zoo One was scheduled to be the Teardrop Explodes album Kilimanjaro (later released on Mercury Records) while Zoo Three was to be the same band’s album Wilder.


Bill Drummond

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“Zoo was the vision of Bill and Dave to try and make 50 quid.”

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“That’s how it worked then. It was simple.” Erics’ Liverpool, venue entrance


This is how Zoo Records operated Dave Balfe, a recently recruited bass player, asked me what I was planning on doing next. I said, “Forming a record label.” And he said, “Can I do it with you?” And I said, “Fine.” And he said, “What do you think we should call the record label?” And I said, “Bill’s Records.” And he said, “That’s a crap name.” And I said, “OK, so what do you think we should call it?” And he said, “The Zoo.” And I said, “Fine.” So we started recording and we ALMOST succeeded in recording bands that had never been heard of before and were never going to be heard of again. But people wanted to hear these bands again and the bands wanted to make more records.

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ZOO RECORDS

In 1979, this is how it worked at The Zoo.

THE STORY

Balfey and I would record the band in Liverpool. We’d take the tape down to London in the Balfemobile. We’d go round to the mastering rooms, Alan would master it and cut it, we’d take the acetate up to Lyntone pressing plant off the Holloway Road. We’d ask them to press up 2,000 copies of the record. They’d say, “It takes two weeks.” We’d drive back up to Liverpool. Kev Ward or Alan Gill would design a record sleeve. We’d have the sleeve printed down the Dock Road. Two weeks later we’d drive back down to London, with the sleeves, go into Lyntone, pick up the 2,000 records, drive round to Rough Trade record shop, go in, play it to Geoff. Geoff would say, “Great! I’ll have 1,000 copies.” We’d go out to the car, sleeve up the records, take it in, he’d hand us a cheque. We’d drive down to Beggars’ Banquet record shop, somewhere south, I’d play it to Martin, Martin’d say, “Great! I want 200 copies!” We’d hand it over, get a cheque. Drive back up to Liverpool. Go into Probe Records. They’d say, “It’s rubbish, but we’ll have all of what you’ve got left,” and we’d hand them over. Except we’d keep a box for ourselves. We’d give two copies to each member of the band, one for himself one for the mother. Then we’d go up to Mike at the bank. We’d hand in the cheques. Then we’d write out cheques and send them out to the studios, the printers, the pressing plant, the band, and then we’d send a copy out to each of the music papers, The Record Mirror, the Sounds, the Melody Maker, ...NME. A week later, it’d be record of the week in one of them, or most of them. The next day, Geoff would phone us from Rough Trade and say, “I want 1,000 more copies of that record.” That’s how it worked then. It was simple.

- Bill Drummond [ZOO RECORDS, KLF]

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INDUSTRIAL RECORDS

The label, inspired by the hippie movement, originated in a radical commune. Punk may have been the fire that sparked much of the independent spirit of the ‘70s, but it wasn’t the only game in town. The hippie movement had morphed into a collective of squatters and seekers who were experimenting with lifestyle and modes of expression. And from this scene sprang Throbbing Gristle and Industrial Records. The group created the label primarily for self-releases but also signed several other groups and artists. The label gave a name to the industrial music genre. The story begins in the 1970s Genesis P-Orridge and his partner, Cosey Fanni Tutti, formed the Coum art collective whilst living in a radical commune. Industrial Records began as an investigation. The 4 members of Throbbing Gristle wanted to investigate to what extent you could mutate and collage sound, present complex non entertaining noises to a popular culture situation and convince and convert. “We wanted to re-invest Rock music with content, motivation and risk. Our records were documents of attitudes and experiences and observations by us and other determinedly individual outsiders. Fashion was an enemy, style irrelevant.

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We wanted to also investigate music as a Business phenomenon and propose models for entirely new and innovative modes of commercial operation. A parody and an improvement. Industrial Records

was founded before any of the better known of the English Independents and was at its close the 3rd largest, yet the most elusive. We wanted to make music and records more effective and relevant to our Industrial society, and we wanted to make business more efficient and creative as well. Industrial Records Limited was born. Named as the most unromantic yet appropriate title we could envisage. Big records companies produce records like cars; we are connected to a contemporary social situation, not a blues orientated past style; we work hard for what we want, we are industrious; we parody and challenge large industrial companies and their debasing ethics and depersonalisation; we work in an old factory; industrial labour is slavery, destructive, a redundant institution so we call it the Death Factory. Music From The Death Factory, from the world, from life. Records in English also mean files, documents, as collected by Government agencies, employers, schools and police forces. Our Records are a combination of files on our relationship with the world and a Newspaper without censorship. Monte Cazazza suggested our business slogan should be INDUSTRIAL MUSIC FOR INDUSTRIAL PEOPLE. You Get what you deserve. Or do you?” [Genesis P-Orridge]


Throbbing Gristle

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“It was about being absolutely free, having no constraints or restraints on content. No predetermined sound being OK or sound being not OK.”

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“There were no samplers at that point. Nobody even knew the word ‘sampler’ then.” That’s basically what we built. Throbbing Gristle’s music equipment


How the sound and ethos of industrial record was established There were no walls on the bathroom or the toilet, so everybody could watch you. And clothes were all put in a box each night. Whoever woke up first got first choice. If you wanted money, you had to justify it to everybody else in the commune, and they would say, "Oh, can't you walk there?" "Can't you borrow a bicycle?" It was liberating. Every little bit that dropped away, we felt more freed and somehow more creative.

What’s the thing that holds down rock music the most? The drumming. Get rid of the drummer. What else? Lead guitarists are always trying to show off and do long solos, so the guitarist has to not be able to play. What else? No fancy music of any kind.

THE STORY

Performances became much, much more about transgressive behaviour. OK, so, you can masturbate in private, but why can’t you masturbate in public? It’s the same act and everybody knows what it is, so why is it suddenly shocking in one location, but totally acceptable in another? We started going deeper and deeper which, inevitably, is going to come up against the status quo.

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Anything that makes a sound is an instrument a kitchen fork, an old tin, a piece of wood, anything. We’d met William Burroughs in 1971 and were fascinated with his and Brion Gysin’s Cut-Up deals. And, again, we were thinking with the music, OK, maybe we can cut up rock music, too. So, Sleazy started to build gadgets, using Walkman tape recorders, that had just arrived on the scene. And it was six Walkmans put in series. There were no samplers at that point. Nobody even knew the word “sampler” then. That’s basically what we built. - Genesis P-Orridge [Throbbing Gristle]

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POSTCARD RECORDS

Glasgow’s melodic poppy sounds: the reactionary movement to punk Another unique city sound was emerging. This time, the scene revolved around Postcard Records, north of the border in Scotland. And the music was also really melodic, borrowing heavily from funk and Motown. It was seen very much as a reaction against punk. Postcard wanted to celebrate and borrow and steal bits of the past to create an incredibly refreshing, modern now. It had a wonderful magpie aesthetic. But it also had a richness to it that came from the talent of the people involved.

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The label was founded in Glasgow by Alan Horne, a self-styled boy genius who ran the whole operation from a shelf in his wardrobe in West Princes St. Alan Horne’s ideas about running a record company, what he could get away with, who he could annoy, who he could agitate. He was really dismissive of so much of what became known as post-punk. Postcard’s music had a much more poppy sound. It was much more accessible to radio, and that was probably what Alan Horne was looking for. He was looking for poppy acts because he liked that kind of music. Leading the way on the charm front were Orange Juice. And their fresh-faced frontman Edwyn Collins embraced everything that Postcard

stood for. Crucially, Postcard gave a platform to local post-punk bands – “The Sound Of Young Scotland” – characterised by rattly, lo-fi charms. “Yes, I understand confrontation. I understand aggression. But I’m not really interested in ripped clothes and air guitars. I’m going to do all that, but I’m going to do it with shortbread biscuit tins, ‘60s guitars, fringes, haircuts and charm.” Stated Alan Horne in an interview back in the 70s. The Postcard mantle is claimed by plenty of bands (some solely on the basis that they’re Scottish) but was apparent in the stripped-back sound of the Pastels or Shop Assistants, while today the likes of Camera Obscura clearly carry Postcard’s stamp. Paul Haig remains surprised by the legacy. “We didn’t really expect it to influence anyone,” he says. “Scottish indie resurfaced around 1986 and again recently. Maybe it’s a cult thing – after all, we certainly didn’t sell many records.” Horne’s apparent lack of interest in the band belies the undoubted role they played in defining his label’s independent-spirited legacy. It wasn’t just rattly guitars, it was the fact that beautiful music could be made on the shoestring budgets around in early-80s Scotland.


THE STORY

Alan Horne

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“I’m going to do all that, but I’m going to do it with shortbread biscuit tins, ‘60s guitars, fringes, haircuts and charm”

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Poor Old Soul EP sleeve and inner sleeve, front and back [1981]


Orange Juice, And The Release Of Poor Old Soul.

“We’d camp it up, just to annoy people.”

unrequited love where the resigned narrator might find himself sighing, “I’ll never be man enough for you,” delivered in a bashful, slightly camp manner. Indeed, when judged by the efforts of their imitators, Orange Juice were often described as fey. Actually, they were deliberately confrontational. “In 1981, we went on tour with The Undertones,” says Collins. “There was a load of skinheads, and the minute we’d come onstage they’d shout ‘Poofs!’ And we’d shout back: ‘Hare Krishna.’ Rather than go into denial, we’d camp it up, just to annoy people. Of course, later, once we were preaching to the converted, it was time to change course.” Exasperated by Horne, Orange Juice left Postcard in October 1981 for Polydor. They shelved a set of demos (released as Ostrich Churchyard in ’92) and re-recorded much of the work in cleaned-up fashion as their debut, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, released February 1982. The LP had considerable charm – James Kirk’s “Felicity”, and Collins’ “In A Nutshell” were gems of playful lyricism that managed to exude both vulnerability and toughness at the same time – but Adam Kidron’s production lacked the chaotic energy of the Postcard 45s.

THE STORY

Formed in Glasgow in late 1976, now considered the leaders of the Scottish neo-pop, Orange juice is the quintessential post-punk band: musically forward-thinking and largely ignored by the mainstream. Originally dubbed the Nu-Sonics, the group comprised vocalist/guitarist Edwyn Collins, guitarist James Kirk, bassist David McClymont, and drummer Steven Daly; following the formation of the Postcard label by Collins protégé Alan Horne, the quartet renamed itself Orange Juice in 1979, adopting the new moniker as well as an aura of romantic innocence as a direct reaction to the increasingly macho aggression of punk. As Postcard’s flagship band, Orange Juice quickly distinguished the label as a leading proponent of independent pop music; their 1980 debut single “Falling and Laughing,” recorded for less than 100 pounds, garnered massive critical acclaim, and subsequent releases like “Blueboy,” “Simply Thrilled Honey,” and “Poor Old Soul” further established the group as a major new talent. Soon, sessions began for a full-length album; however, in the midst of recording, Orange Juice left Postcard to sign to Polydor, which funded the LP’s completion. Collins’ lyrics and the manner in which he delivered them, mining conspicuously English tropes and mannerisms, Collins’ songs were often tales of

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2 TONE RECORDS

2 Tone Records was founded Inspired by Coventry’s multiculturalism and ska music. It was in the West Midlands that another young maverick in a bedsit was looking to the past to set up an indie label. This time, it was the ska records of Jamaica and the multiculturalism of his adopted city of Coventry that were the inspirations. It was here that the 2 Tone label was founded in 1979, just past the dog groomer’s. 2 Tone was ostensibly set up by Jerry Dammers. It was his idea, his brainchild. With a label which had a very specific identity and a specific remit, which was to be anti-racist, anti-sexist. Young people seized on that and said, “Yes, we understand that.” Along with his own band, The Specials, Dammers signed a number of local acts to the label including The Selecter and The Beat. Success was instantaneous. For that very, very brief period of time between 1979 and 1982, pretty much everything that the 2 Tone label put out became hits. There was a time, in 1979, early 1980, where there were three bands, all from a tiny label called 2 Tone, who were all on Top Of The Pops at the same time. Unlike the other independents of the time, 2 Tone was pop, and it had hits. But, in common with a lot of the other indies, it was driven by a charismatic Svengali figure.

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Jerry Dammers of the ska revival band the Specials started the record label in 1979. Chrysalis had wanted to sign the Specials, but Dammers arranged a label deal, for Chrysalis to fund 15 singles a year and release at least ten of those. The label spawned the 2 Tone music and cultural movement, which was popular among skinheads, rudies and some mod revivalists. The label stopped operating in 1986. The record label signed the Selecter, Madness and The Beat, but they all left within two years. 2 Tone Records acts signed a contract that allowed them to leave the label after releasing just one single, which was unusual in the record industry. Although 2 Tone Records was closely identified with the ska revival, efforts were made to broaden the label’s musical output, releasing recordings by artists such as singer-songwriter Elvis Costello and the funk-punk band the Higsons. Dammers, with the assistance of Horace Panter and graphic designers John “Teflon” Sims and David Storey, created artwork that was to become central to 2 Tone Records. The Walt Jabsco logo portrays a man in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, pork pie hat, white socks and black loafers. The fictional character was based on a photograph of Peter Tosh, a former member of the Wailers.


THE STORY

Jerry Dammers

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“I would say Jerry was a visionary. Mixing up rock music with ska music, and turning it into music that people could dance to, and music people could think about.

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52 Ghost Town sleeve and record, front and back [1981]

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Ghost Town : The Specials ’ creative peak and their last shining moment

The mood of the song is both pre- and postapocalyptic: the lyrics say the crisis is coming while the eerie, hollowed-out music says that it’s already happened and the band are just wandering the wreckage. During the fraught recording Jerry Dammers called it “the greatest record that’s ever

“The country was falling apart. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience.”

been made in the history of anything”. Greater than its prescience was Ghost Town’s artistry. Perhaps Dammers’ crowning achievement Ghost Town was a symphony of disquiet, combining Hammer-horror organ, rocksteady bass, baroque horns, doomy declamations and wailing, needling harmonies. The extended version of the song, meanwhile, found space for a mournful, profound solo from mainstay trombonist Rico that played out like a long, sad exhale over the ruins. “It was a combination of the first album and the second album, the complete history of the band gelled in one song,” said Dammers of the track, which he spent over a year composing and perfecting, often amid the slow, acrid collapse of his band. The track went on to top the UK charts, but, in the dressing room at Top of the Pops before what should have been a celebratory appearance, Hall, Golding and Staple announced to Dammers that they were exiting the group to form the Fun Boy Three. Almost inevitably, tensions tore the label and the band apart. But not before they’d had time to create their masterpiece. With record high unemployment leading to rioting in the streets, Ghost Town topped the charts. Within two short years, 2 Tone had burst out of its West Midlands bubble and taken the pulse of the nation.

THE STORY

Ghost Town proved the pivotal 2 Tone release, encapsulating the urban alienation, decay and the violent mood on the streets in 1981 – few would agree its reign at the top of the charts as Britain’s inner cities blazed was coincidental. It also destroyed the Specials. If More Specials was a dark, uncomfortable listen, the Specials were only reflecting the world that surrounded them. Their next release, Ghost Town, seemed to actually anticipate real-life events: only weeks after its release, a wave of riots spread across the nation, from London to Leicester, Portsmouth to Preston, while the gig the group performed in Coventry the evening of the single’s release was half-full, because the National Front were marching across the city that day, and concertgoers feared corresponding violence in the stalls. But Dammers had no gift for prophecy; as he explained to Alexis Petridis in 2002, you only had to open your eyes to see what was coming. In Glasgow, there were these little old ladies on the streets selling all their household goods, their cups and saucers. It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong.”

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MUTE RECORDS

In London, Daniel Miller had created a label to release just one record. During 1978, Daniel Miller began recording music using synthesisers under the name The Normal. Like many, Miller began taking an interest in synthesizers as tools for making pop music after hearing KRAFTWERK’s ‘Autobahn’. He was inspired to make electronic music himself but at the time, the equipment was prohibitively expensive. That all changed with the advent of affordable synthesizers from Japan manufactured by the likes of Korg and Roland. Already a fan of German kosmische scene, Miller’s sense of experimentation and an adoption of punk’s DIY ethic led him to buying a Korg 700s. Wanting to make a punk single with electronics, he wrote and recorded ‘Warm Leatherette’ b/w ‘TVOD’ for a one-off independent single release in 1978 and distributed them through Rough Trade Shops under the label name Mute Records. He needed a label name and chose ‘Mute’ after the button that came on the equipment that he had used as a film studies student. Daniel Miller had created Mute Records to release his debut single (‘Warm Leatherette’/’T.V.O.D’, which became a cult hit ensuring the future of the label), a pioneering electronic sound with a defiantly DIY attitude. Mute quickly established a reputation for releasing cutting-edge, chart-topping music. It has had an incalculable impact on popular music for four decades. Miller’s passion for a then-unfashionable form of music would ensure that Mute would ultimately achieve great things on a global scale. His love for electronic music led Miller to one of

the biggest finds of the ‘80s. Miller approached Depeche Mode in 1980, after seeing them perform in London, wanting them to record a single for his label; that first single was “Dreaming of Me”. Emerging out of the British electronic pop scene, Depeche Mode quickly asserted themselves as a radio-friendly pop group, and had hits with their next three singles. Their loyalty to Mute was reciprocated by the label’s rapid expansion to cope with their success. In defiance of the major record labels predictions of failure, Depeche Mode became a successful charting band worldwide. The band’s consistency was unbroken even by the departure of principal songwriter Vince Clarke. Martin Gore took over the main song writing role, opening the band up to different influences and sustaining their creativity as a band. With the label’s commercial success, Mute were able to back more experimental releases from Germany. Mute’s business ethos, where money made from record sales allowed acts to develop within a sympathetic creative environment free from interference, proved to be key to its artistic and financial prosperity. “Electronic music at that time was associated with prog rock bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Yes, a very overblown, fake-classical music which I hated as much as punk did. I wanted to harness that energy and spirit and put it into the kind of music that I really loved, which was electronic music.” [David Miller]


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THE STORY

Daniel Miller

“Wanting to make a punk single with electronics, he wrote and recorded Warm Leatherette b/w TVOD”

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Speak and Tell sleeve and record, front and back [1981]


Depeche Mode and the realese of Speak and Tell Miller’s dream became flesh and blood when he came across a young quartet from Basildon called Depeche Mode. Signed on a handshake 50/50 deal, while the group was a chart success, they fragmented after their 1981 debut album ‘Speak & Spell’. Miller released Depeche Mode’s first single in 1981, co-produced their first five albums, and continues to act as a sounding board for their albums to this day, making his relationship with the band their most enduring—which is why he is often referred to as their invisible member.

“They were kids with these really dodgy, home-made kind of New Romantic clothes. But each one had a little synth.”

THE STORY

Speak & Spell is the debut studio album by English electronic music band Depeche Mode. It was released on 5 October 1981. It was the band’s only album with Vince Clarke, and as a result, is much lighter in tone than their subsequent releases. The album title alludes to the then-popular “Speak & Spell” electronic toy. The album peaked at number 10 on the UK Albums Chart

Daniel Miller on the production of Speak and Spell: “It was the first time we’d spent a lot of time in the studio together, and that’s when I really started to appreciate the depth of their talent—when I saw how they were putting the tracks together. At the time, Vince [Clarke] was leader of the band. Dave [Gahan] was the frontman, but Vince wrote the songs, Vince did the arrangements. Martin [Gore] did a lot of the melodies, but it was really Vince’s band in that he was the driving force behind it all. I think Fletch [Andrew Fletcher] and Martin enjoyed doing it, but I don’t think they really took it seriously as a full-time thing until a bit later. Dave was the new guy in the band because he was auditioned; the other three all knew each other beforehand, so watching them at work was amazing. We all learned a lot during the making of that record, we had a lot of fun and we did it really quickly. It was the only record that Vince did with them, so it’s got his signature on it as well.”

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THE STORY

CHAPTER 1 -THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC


CHAPTER 1 - THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC

THE STORY

THE INDEPENDENT MUSIC REVOLUTION

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THE STORY

CHAPTER 1 -THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC


In the midst of shiny 80s sounds and shoulder-padded fashion, indie was anti-image and anti-flamboyance. Through many of the indie bands in this period, everyday life was repackaged in melody and poetic lyrics. It’s not hard to see why a generation of youth, disaffected from the times they were living in, sought refuge in the poetic haze of early indie. The bands were accessible too, and aspiring music journalists could meet their favourite indie stars at the small and intimate gigs where they performed.

THE STORY

It’s in the 80s that due to the gain in popularity of the genre, a stronger network was formed based upon independent institutions, such as the indie charts and the cartel set by rough trade, which pushed indie music into becoming not only a scene but also a set music genre.

CHAPTER 1 - THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC

Independent record labels provided a platform for some of Britain’s most ground breaking artists at this time, including The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Smiths, who would burst onto the scene in 1983 staging a mainstream intervention and starting a small revolution.

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ROUGH TRADE RECORDS

The label the epicentre of the indie business emerging in the late ‘70s

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Rough Trade Records is an independent record label based in London, England. It was formed in 1978 by Geoff Travis who had opened a record store off Ladbroke Grove. Having successfully promoted and sold records by punk rock and early post-punk and indie pop bands and began the label, which was informed by left-wing politics and structured as a co-operative. In 1978 the collective running West London’s Rough Trade record shop launched a distribution company called The Cartel. Building a co-operative network between the UK’s independent labels and empowering the alternative music industry. They’ve also started an adventurous, forward-thinking record label, and they’re splitting any profit generated 50/50 with the artists. Their business practices are informed by their ideology, and their ideology is informed by a DIY punk ethos, feminism and left-wing politics. “For a brief moment in time,” former comanager Steve Montgomery once said in a 2009 documentary, “we encapsulated everything that was right about the human race.”

After punk lit the fuse for Rough Trade, the company would assimilate with the shop’s local West Indian community by being committed reggae supporters, and they’d become synonymous with the stylistic adventurousness of post-punk and the emotionally expressive culture of indie music – a benevolently rebellious artform in a context where Margaret Thatcher is the Prime Minister and Eye of The Tiger is about to become a number one hit. Behind the still-running, splintered company is a turbulent story of debt, disagreements and bankruptcy. “When we opened the first shop in ’76, it was really to find a safe haven where we could escape the notion of having to be part of the everyday working world,” Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis says over the phone. “It was set up a bit like a commune, everyone was equal. We didn’t really have any aspirations for success. But, you know, we were living in England – a capitalist society – and we weren’t ignorant of that,” he laughs.


Geoff Travis

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The Smiths

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“The Smiths connected with a wave of young fans all over the UK who identified with the band's awkwardness with the world around them. It was an outsider spirit that came to epitomise indie”


The Smiths A very sharply-dressed 19-year-old lad from Manchester came into Rough Trade with a demo tape. It was Johnny Marr. A couple of days later, he was offered a full album deal. It was the start of Rough Trade acting and thinking like a proper record company.

The Smiths is an English rock band that formed in 1982 and separated in 1987. It was a musical quartet of lads from Manchester, originally founded by two people – Steven Patrick Morrissey (born on May 22 , 1959), the flamboyant and controversial singer and lyricist, and Johnny Marr (born October 31 ,1963), the ground-breaking wizard guitar player. The band were beginning to gig more, and had a new swath of demoes, including “Miserable

Their first single, “Hand in Glove”, was released in May of 1983 on Rough Trade, who had agreed to cut that single only and see where it went from there. The single did not chart, but it made an impact nonetheless, with its evocative cover art suggesting homoeroticism. “Hand In Glove” was then followed by “This Charming Man”, which reached number 25 on the British charts in November 1983, and then “What Difference Does It Make?”, reaching number 12 in January of 1984. It was at this time that The Smiths started cracking the chart positions and gaining a fanbase. In February 1984, their first album, simply dubbed The Smiths, sold 300,000 copies, taking second place on the British charts. Two songs, “Reel Around the Fountain” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” were considered controversial, because some tabloids claim that they evoked pedophilia, an assertion vigorously denied by the group. Although the duration of The Smiths’ heyday was brief—the first single “Hand in Glove” was released in 1983 and the group broke up in ’87—their immense influence continues.

THE STORY

The Smiths showed there was a market for alternative music. Their debut album went to number two, and a string of hit singles made the top 40. They were all released on the Indie label Rough Trade, and their success was a turning point for the independent sector. “The Smiths changed everything for independent record labels because Rough Trade managed to get The Smiths into HMV, and it was the first time that independent records had been available in those shops, so that opened up that market for us. So The Smiths, in the story of it all, were really, really important. And that next step that the indies made into mainstream consciousness.”

Lie”, “Handsome Devil”, and “What Difference Does It Make?” They used this demo to hopefully get signed by EMI, but they were declined. Not deterred entirely from making it to the bigtime, they then approached the indie label, Rough Trade.

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Hand In Glove record and sleeve, front and back [1983]


Hand in Glove, The Smiths’ First Single which “Hand In Glove” is the first of many songs written by the Mancunian singer about being a gay man, for example: “Lucky Lisp”, “Piccadilly Palare”, “Hairdresser on Fire”, etc.

It is said that after receiving a demo tape from his song writing partner Johnny Marr, Morrissey quickly wrote the lyrics within the span of two hours, leading to the track being recorded in February at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, the same studio where Joy Division recorded “Love Will Tear Us Apart” three years earlier.

Two months after the single’s release, the Smiths recorded the song again during aborted sessions for their debut album with producer Troy Tate. This version was recorded a tone lower than the original in the key of F# minor, and features a shorter introduction. The Smiths recorded the song again with producer John Porter in October at Manchester’s Pluto Studios. Morrissey rejected this version of the song. Due to impending deadlines, the version that ultimately appeared on the band’s first album The Smiths was a remix of the original master recording from the Strawberry Studios session. For this version, Porter increased the separation between Marr’s guitar tracks and Morrissey’s vocals, emphasised drummer Mike Joyce’s drum beat, pushed Rourke’s bass back in the mix, and created a more dramatic opening and conclusion to the song.

Their first single, “Hand in Glove”, was released in May of 1983 on Rough Trade, who had agreed to cut that single only and see where it went from there. The single did not chart, but it made an impact nonetheless, with its evocative cover art suggesting homoeroticism. The song’s lyrics describes a gay relationship in which it is commented on how people would react seeing the pair together in public. This an obvious reference to Morrissey’s thinly veiled sexuality, in

As further evidence of the track being a gay love song, is the controversial sleeve featuring a muscular man with the exposed buttocks of model George O’Mara by photographer Jim French.

THE STORY

"Hand in Glove" is a song by the English rock band the Smiths, written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. It was released as the band's first single in May 1983 on independent record label Rough Trade. It peaked at No. 3 on the UK Indie Chart but did not make the top 75 of the UK Singles Chart, settling outside at No. 124. A remixed version of the song was featured on the band's debut album, The Smiths, in 1984.

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If anyone can make a record, anyone can have a record label. And a lot of people did.

Rough Trade East, London


THE CARTEL

Within a few years of Rough Trade establishing itself as a label, the Cartel was created. The Cartel was a co-operative record distribution organisation in the United Kingdom, set up by a number of small independent record labels to handle their distribution to record shops. Pooling their resources in this way allowed them to compete with the larger distribution operations of the major record labels, and also to gain access to the larger shop chains. It was a distribution network run from their shop and it would revolutionise the independent record scene. The association of regional distributors included some of the most notable labels of the 1980s UK post-punk and indie scene: Rough Trade, Backs, Fast Forward, Nine Mile, Probe, Revolver and Red Rhino.

“Each of the regional companies would order and we would send the stock to their warehouse. And they would then sell it round to their local shops. The last time I counted, it was over 200 labels. And, if you think of the people who worked for those labels, the bands on those labels, we created 15 minutes for an awful lot of people and that, for me, was the politics of it.” ...........

THE STORY

The 1980s music scene in the UK saw a growth in small independent record labels or "indies", often formed by bands themselves, or by local record shops. The cost of technology and studio time was falling, making it possible to produce an album for a budget that didn't need the backing of an established label. Recording, publishing and pressing a record was now accessible to small labels, but distributing them into the shops was still difficult. The market at this time was based on vinyl, both albums and singles being important. Most record shops were still independent, i.e. local, rather

than national chains. This required a wholesale distribution network that had national reach to these individual shops. Regional distributors appeared, offering pressing and distribution deals to the small labels that would reach all of the shops in a region. Shops preferred to deal with only a handful of distributors and so the small distributors agreed to also distribute each other's stock, segregating the market by the geography of the shops, rather than by the content or particular labels. This was the beginning of the idea behind the Cartel. The idea was, you could walk up to the counter with a tape and, if the people at Rough Trade liked it, they’d put it out for you. And nearly everyone involved in Rough Trade was sufficiently well-versed in Marxism to know that owning the means of production was central to them getting off the ground.

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CREATION RECORDS

The label too understated to be commercial, too art to go pop, too pop to go art No independent record label enjoyed the kind of success that Creation Records did throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Hold its discography up to any other label over that period, and it would be tough to argue that anyone did it better). Following in the footsteps of successful indies like Rough Trade and Postcard, Creation was founded by a red-haired loud mouth named Alan McGee, along with his partners Dick Green and Joe Foster, as a home for music that didn't fit in the mainstream. And yet thanks to a 1984 single called "Upside Down" by a young Scottish band named the Jesus & Mary Chain, McGee found his label flirting with commercial success, which he would attain in full one decade later.

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McGee formed Creation Records following the culmination of various projects including fanzine Communication Blur, his own rock outfit The Laughing Apple (with future Primal Scream guitarist and long-time friend Andrew Innes) and his running of the venue The Communication Club. Initially, McGee wished to provide an outlet for like minded musicians and an opportunity for young bands to see their work on vinyl; primarily the label was in opposition to the “manufactured”

synth pop of the era that bore little resemblance to the work of his favourite acts including Public Image Ltd and the Sex Pistols. McGee started the label by putting out the “’73 in ‘83” single by The Legend! after taking out a £1,000 bank loan. Around the same time he started a club called The Living Room in Tottenham Court Road, through which he met several people who would go on to record for Creation. Distributor Rough Trade soon began funding releases. Creation was among the key labels in the mid 1980s indie movement, with early artists such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream. The Jesus and Mary Chain went to record for Warner Brothers in 1985, yet McGee remained as their manager. With the profits he had made from the band, he was able to release singles by label acts such as Primal Scream, Felt, and The Weather Prophets. McGee had enthusiasm and an uncanny ability to attract the weekly music media, and he was able to get a growing underground following. In their early days, he was able to project a notorious image of The Jesus and Mary Chain, which had often courted violence and loutish behaviour.


Alan McGee

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“We were great at picking up bands that no one thought there was any future in and making it good.”

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THE STORY

“Yeah, I’m painfully shy. The only way that I could get through those early years, was to be permanently drunk.” -Jim Reid

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Jim Reid


Jesus And Mary Chain, the first band signed by creation records Few bands have had such a huge effect on musical culture, as The Jesus and Mary Chain. Their attitude alone, dressed in black, angry with the world, playing short sets drenched in feedback, set the bench mark in the post Sex Pistols music scene of London. Their seminal debut album Psychocandy would go on to change the course of popular music, channeling the sneering angst and noise distortion of the live shows into hypnotic sweet melodies layered with dark lyrics that would beguile and bewilder.

The band formed in East Kilbride, a wasteland on the outskirts of Glasgow, Scotland in 1983, around the writing partnership of the Reid brothers, William and Jim. They soon moved to London and their “win or die trying” attitude and thrashing guitar sound, was bought to the attention of Alan Mcgee and Creation records, by Bobby Gillespie, vocalist with another Scottish band, Primal Scream. The first single “Upside Down” was released, and Gillespie joined the band as drummer. Gillespie pursued the Velvet Underground, single snare and floor tom sound that became prevalent on the recording of the Psychocandy album. In stark contrast to the adrenaline fueled 15 minute live shows, that often ended in violence and riot, (as the Reid’s inflammatory interaction with the thrill hungry crowd, saw them provoking utter chaos,) the slow throbbing noise pop Psychcocandy album,

In the context of mid-80s rock, the early Jesus and Mary Chain sounded like a bomb that wouldn’t stop going off: they subsequently made a string of great records, but it’s their tumultuous initial cocktail of Beach Boys melodies, lyrical ennui and rage and chaotic, incendiary noise that remains the most impactful. “I give them a gig, not expecting anything. They were all screaming at each other to the point of, like, it was like verging on violence at any moment.And I was just thinking, "Fuck. Horrible. Go away and sound check.” And then they just made this noise and it was fucking amazing. They started feeding back. I suppose the eternal debate will be, did they mean it or was it a fucking fluke? I really don't know. They’ve been featured in every major music magazine in the country, a number of their shows have ended in violence - all the essential ingredients for success. Bobby Gillespie always says this to me - “one of your greatest statements, McGee, this is truly art as terrorism.” They were charging people ten quid to get into the North London Poly, and playing for 15 minutes. But they were so pissed and went on so late they couldn’t even play, so it was like, you know... So no wonder there was a riot. All of those gigs were done pissed and then some. What was great about the Mary Chain is they were just anti-everything. They were nothing to do with the pop culture of the time which was Kajagoogoo and Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.” They were anti-all that”. Alan MacGee [Creation records]

THE STORY

Released into the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain became the darlings of British press, as they searched to find the owner of the post punk crown in the mid 80’s. With strong Velvet Underground influences, and a despondent but melodic wall of noise, they went on to become the inspiration for such critically acclaimed bands such as My Bloody Valentine in the early 90’s.

spawned such classics as “Just Like Honey” and “Some Candy Talking.” The Jesus And Mary Chain were one of the first acts to sign to Alan McGee’s fledgling indie label, Creation Records. Creation put out their first single, Upside Down, and it went on to be one of the biggest selling indie records of the 1980s.

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Upside Down record and sleeve, front and back [1985]


Upside Down, Jesus And Mary Chain’s First Single “Upside Down” is the first single from the Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain. The song was written by William Reid and Jim Reid, and was produced by The Jesus and Mary Chain. The b-side is a cover of a Syd Barrett song and was produced by Joe Foster. It is the band’s only early period release for the Creation Records label. And with about 50,000 copies sold it was the first success for the label.

When The Jesus and Mary Chain left indie Creation for Warner’s, they discovered the major label had a very different approach to running a business. “I wish we wouldn’t have signed to Warner Brothers records. It was the biggest mistake we made. Nobody really understood what we were about. It was a constant struggle to get anything done. It was like we spoke a different language from those people. We used to go into these marketing meetings and it was like... you know, mid 1980s. It would be a bunch of guys sitting in a room with, like. powder blue Armani suits with the sleeves rolled up and sort of blond streaked hairdos and all of that. Sitting around, like you’d walked onto the set of Miami Vice or something like that. I remember sort of having a discussion about Psycho Candy to people at Warner’s and I had to end up saying, “Look, I know you think it’s shit. “But just put it out and you’ll see, people will buy it.” [Jim Reid]

THE STORY

It is the band’s only early period release for the Creation Records label. And with about 50,000 copies sold it was the first success for the label. Creation put out their first single, Upside Down, and it went on to be one of the biggest selling indie records of the 1980s. The resulting press attention turned them into one of the biggest bands on the independent scene. “Britain in 1984 was fucking boring,” said Creation boss Alan McGee. “I like ABC, but that was as exciting as it got: Martin Fry and his gold lamé suit. Then we found the Mary Chain.” The Reid brothers from East Kilbride had been recommended by his pal Bobby Gillespie – who would soon step into the breach as the band’s drummer – and while McGee was lukewarm about them at first, he became convinced of their genius when they pitched up in London to perform live, though their avalanche of feedback at that gig turned out to be a mistake rather than a calculation. While the Mary Chain’s importance in the evolution of alternative rock is

sometimes downplayed these days, Upside Down was a landmark single, the cacophonous first appearance of one of the 1980s’ most important and influential acts. “Everything hasn’t been done,” Jim Reid told the Face. “No one has ever made a record remotely like Upside Down.”

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Psycho Candy did eventually shift thousands of copies and it went on to be one of the ‘80s’ most acclaimed indie albums. Even though it came out on a major.

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JOHN PEEL SESSION The John Peel show, aired by BBC 1, was the way to hear the records everybody in the independent scene was listening to. John Peel did not invent radio sessions. He did not produce or engineer the ones that bear his name. He made no money from their commercial exploitation. They are called Peel Sessions simply because out of the many thousands of live BBC sessions broadcast on dozens of different shows by Radio 1 they happen to be the ones that Peel and his successive producers chose to commission and broadcast. It was Peel’s longevity and range of enthusiasms that made them pre-eminent. A feature of Peel’s BBC Radio 1 shows were the famous John Peel Sessions, which usually consisted of four pieces of music pre-recorded at the BBC’s studios in Maida Vale. The sessions originally came about due to restrictions imposed on the BBC by the Musicians’ Union and Phonographic Performance Limited which represented the record companies dominated by the EMI cartel. Because of these restrictions the BBC had been forced to hire bands and orchestras to render cover versions of recorded music. The theory behind this device was that it would create employment and force people to buy records and not listen to them free of charge on the air. The BBC employed its own house bands and orchestras and it also engaged outside bands to record exclusive tracks for its programmes in BBC studios. This was the reason why Peel was able to use “session men” in his own programmes. Sessions were usually four tracks recorded and mixed in a single day; as such they often had a rough and ready, demo-like feel, somewhere between a live performance and a finished recording. If you wanted to find out more about the independent world, and indeed hear the records that everybody was talking about, the most

relevant radio show, and pretty much the only one, was The John Peel Show, produced at the BBC studios at Maida Vale. John Peel fanatically championed independent music when nobody else in broadcasting really gave it much of a chance. With help from John Peel, by the early 1980s a wave of bands started to emerge on independent labels, which were fast becoming home to the innovative and experimental. It was this enthusiasm, combined with his wide-ranging knowledge of most genres, and a deadpan delivery that matched his dry sense of humour, that made Peel such a compelling listen throughout the decades. That’s why teenagers tuned in under the covers, taped programmes, sent in demos. Indeed, as once-alternative acts like Gary Numan, Adam and the Ants and Human League stormed the charts, the broadcaster did worry. “The late 1970s was the only time the programme was fashionable,” he said. “I really didn’t like the experience. I felt rather as I imagine bands must feel when they become fashionable, that the audience expect certain things of them which they might not necessarily want to go on doing.” Peel had been there before, as Marc Bolan, Elton John and Rod Stewart had gone stratospheric and forgotten him and the role he had played in their 1970s breakthroughs, and kept a distance from his favourites The Fall and the Undertones, along with New Order and The Smiths, the two bands who did so much to define the alternative, DIY, indie ethos of the 1980s.


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“I don't think John Peel's place in this can be underestimated. It was huge. He was like a one-man crusade. There wasn’t anybody else on the radio in the way that he was promoting it. He played a massive part in the music education of our youth. My first band, when we got a Peel Session, we just thought we had died and gone to heaven. It was the best thing ever. It felt like we’d really arrived, you know?”

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FANZINES In the aftermath of the punk rock explosion and long before the internet, a new wave of fanzines emerged that were as important as John Peel and the NME for finding out about new music and what other people thought of it. The clue really is in the title here: to define “fanzine” you merely need the words “fan” and “magazine”. The result is a handy buzzword which, for decades, has been employed as a catch-all term to describe fanzines: non-professional and non-official publications produced by fans for fellow fans of a specific artist or musical genre. Fanzines are smallcirculation, self-published, and often inexpensive or free. The most important aspect of a zine is generally that the publication identifies as one.

postage and/or printing costs), fanzines are often equated with anorak-clad amateurs armed with reserves of staples, Letraset, glue sticks and unbridled enthusiasm. In the aftermath of the punk rock explosion and long before desktop publishing, the internet, file sharing or blogging existed, a new wave of fanzines emerged that were as important as John Peel and the NME for finding out about new music and what other people thought of it.

The technological innovations of the ‘70s made zines easier to create than ever. In particular, the rise of copy shops allowed zine-makers to produce their work cheaply and quickly. (Previously, zines had been produced using mimeographs, which push ink through a stencil to make multiple prints, but the process was impractical for large-scale production.) Steve Samiof, one of the people behind the popular punk zine Slash, told Dazed in an interview earlier this year that the copy shops of the ‘70s were “extremely inexpensive—you could pay under $800 for 5000 copies and that would be the actual printing cost.” In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the main hub of zine culture became the punk scene, and subsequently the alternative music scene in the 80s. These zines had a grungier, DIY aesthetic that reflected the subjects being covered. The dedication of the early punk scene allowed zines to get interviews with people who would go on to be big names before they had achieved fame. When punk started to gain popularity, many of the zines that previously helped define the scene shut down.

Initially most of these fanzines concentrated on articles about bands, interviews (often done by mailing the artist a list of questions), reviews of records and gigs, gig photos, coverage of local music scenes and so on. But they also increasingly became vehicles for non-musical content - personal and anti-establishment rants, collages, art, cartoons, poetry and “ranting verse”, short stories, socio-cultural, political and historical issues.

Such self-compiled opuses haven’t always been viewed in a positive light by the mainstream. Traditionally circulating either for free or else for nominal fees (mostly incurred to offset basic

Spelling mistakes, bad grammar and egomania were commonplace but nobody really cared. Fanzine writers were free to say whatever they wanted without having to worry about journalistic standards and conventions or the demands of owners, publishers, designers and production editors. In the beginning individual pages were written either on a typewriter or by hand (or a combination of both) - sometimes with the aid of Letraset sheets - and often illustrated with original drawings and artwork, as well as images and text cut out of newspapers or magazines, which were generally used with a sense of irony and literally stuck on to the rest of the content. The completed fanzine was then either photocopied and stapled together.


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It was very important to read fanzines because it was the way of finding out about new bands. And you could start getting a network of people. The aesthetic of them was basically hand done, typewritten, lots of scribbles, bright colours. It was also a great way to meet people, you would turn up to gigs, you wouldn't necessarily know anyone, but you could go up to anyone you wanted to and say,"Excuse me, would you like to buy a fanzine, 30p?"And then you'd strike up a conversation. - Amelia Fletcher

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INDIE CHART Started in the 80s the indie charts were a way to monitor what was and what wasnt selling in the independent industry, and a way to enable independent music to take itself more seriously. Within this new structure, there was success. Records being sold, money being made. So, it made sense to have a way of measuring what was selling well. “I know,” thought some bright spark, “We’ll have an indie chart.” This enabled the independent music industry to start taking itself a bit more seriously. The first weekly independent chart was published on 19 January 1980. The UK Independent Singles Chart and UK Independent Albums Chart are charts of the best-selling independent singles and albums, respectively, in the United Kingdom. Originally published in January 1980, and widely known as the "indie chart", the relevance of the chart dwindled in the 1990s as majorlabel ownership blurred the boundary between independent and major labels. In the wake of punk, small record labels began to spring up, as an outlet for artists that were unwilling to sign contracts with major record companies, or were not considered commercially attractive to those companies. By 1978, labels like Cherry Red, Rough Trade, and Mute had started up, and a support structure soon followed, including independent pressing, distribution and promotion. These labels got bigger and bigger, and by 1980 were having top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart. Chart success was limited, however, since the official top 40 was based on sales at large chains and ignored significant sales at the scores of independent record shops that existed. Iain McNay of Cherry Red suggested to the weekly trade

paper Record Business the idea of an independent record chart to address the problem, and the first independent chart appeared in 1980, published in Record Week, and later licensed to Sounds. The definition of whether or not a single was “indie” had depended on the distribution channel by which it was shipped—the record needed to be delivered by a distribution service that was independent of the four major record companies: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. In 1981, compilation of the chart switched to research company MRIB.The chart served to give exposure to the independent labels and the artists on those labels. In 1985, Music Week started compiling its own indie chart, but failed to meet the authority of the original chart. Other weekly music papers also published their own charts, often compiled from single record shops. By 1990, the significance of the chart had been diluted by major record companies forming their own ‘indie’ labels, with independent distribution, in order to break new acts via exposure from the indie chart. To be included in the indie chart, a record had to be distributed independently of the corporate framework of the major record companies; the genre of music was irrelevant. Large independent distributors emerged such as Pinnacle and Spartan, and there later emerged The Cartel, an association of regional distributors including Rough Trade, Backs, and Red Rhino.


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II came up with the idea towards the end of 1979. It seemed to me obvious to have a proper independent chart. And I approach the editor of a magazine called Record Business. I said to him, “Why don’t you do an independent chart? “Because you have all the data, it’s quite easy to do.” It was a proper compiled chart, and dealers could see what to order and maybe what not to order. But also it showed other independent labels around the world what was selling genuinely in the UK. - Iain McNay

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THE STORY

C86 Between 1981 and 1988, the British music magazine NME released a staggering thirty-six cassette compilations. These were created as giveaways, intended to be promotional items. Somewhere along the line, the C86 tape became emblematic of a particular movement in the independent music. C86 was a compilation of UK indie bands given away with the July 1986 issue of NME, and although its collection of performers demonstrated a wide swath of the assorted scenes brewing the time, the dominant impression was one of power pop, leaning heavily towards jangling, light psychedelia, or pastoral folk-rock. Its influence was immediate, and the title of the tape became shorthand for the large proportion of guitar-based bands cropping up during the second half of that decade, influenced in equal part by the American underground explosion (led by R.E.M. and similar acts) and the recent dominance of the Smiths in the UK scene. The C86 compilation has grown over time to take on something of a mythic significance. C86, spotlighting not just a sound but a collection of new performers making it, had an immediate impact upon British independent music, and it can be considered something of a bridge between the UK's 1960s-inspired, eclectic and often-underrated "new wave" acts of the early 1980s (XTC, Aztec Camera, Lilac Time) and the commercial explosion that would become "Britpop" by the early 1990s.

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It was five years before NME revisited this style of compilation. Put together by three staff journalists, C86 was a much more diverse collection than its predecessor, with contributions from several different labels, rather than just Rough Trade. In that, though, it simply reflected the growth and

greater diversity of the indie scene, which had burgeoned over the previous half decade. In a very curious twist, though, it was a particular style, fey and jangly, that became associated with C86, although it actually represented only a small portion of the music on the cassette. Quite how a C86 scene formed is an interesting mystery, but different pockets did rise around the country, with Bristol’s Sarah label issuing a number of singles by bands with a softer sound. It was an active rejection of traditional rock values, and a concerted move away from a testosteronefuelled sound which had been such a vital part of rock music. It remained very much underground, possibly as much by design as anything, and because of that it remained relatively obscure, although its influence could be seen in some later bands, such as Belle and Sebastian. Few compilations have had such an influence or documented a scene so thoroughly. C86 ended up as a sort of catchall term for a particular type of indie music. It was all jangling guitars, amateurish playing and fey affectations. Its fans were called cuties, and the music was criticised for sounding twee and shambling. But despite its detractors, the C86 scene had built up quite a following. Some critics called it the birth of indie pop, and this made the major labels pay attention.


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It was almost like a little rebirth of indie. It was given another little push and a shove. And, you know, it definitely gave you hope that, "We're going to do our own single, we can do it." or me, it feels like the golden age of indie, and it's a really trite, you know, thing to say. But looking back at it and talking about it, it feels like it. - James Dean Bradfield

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Blue Monday record and sleeve, front and back [1983]


BLUE MONDAY How New Order’s single Blue Monday was produced and released process. The more they sold, the more money they lost.

In the early 1980s, after the suicide of Ian Curtis, the remaining members of Joy Division became New Order and were initially criticised for sounding too similar to their former band. Tony Wilson sent them into the studio and gave them time to develop a new sound. Eventually they came up with Blue Monday, a record that not only sold over three million copies, but one that would have an immeasurable influence in both the evolution of electronic dance music and graphic design. This cultural landmark could only have come from an independent record label.

Peter Saville on the creation of the sleeve for blue monday “A major record label would never release Blue Monday, it is a seven minute long single. I mean, seven minute long singles are not played on the radio so not released. End of. It’s a seven minute long single, which is not on the album. Who would...? Why would anybody release that? Why would anybody want to do that? And nor would a record company release a product with nothing written on it. Nothing at all. And yes, it was expensive. But nobody asked. There wasn’t an accurate enough system within the company to cost things. Of course, had that been with a formal record company I would have taken it into the director of production who would have said immediately “what planet are you on? “This is more expensive than an album cover. “We do not have the margin in single sales to accommodate this kind of packaging. Take it away.””

The famous sleeve to Blue Monday is one of Peter Saville’s classic and distinctive designs that gave Factory’s records a look that the majors could only dream of. And it was phenomenally expensive to produce. It was something to do with having to individually cut out all the indentations present on the sleeve, that wasn’t part of the standard

Blue Monday was just one of a series of innovative record sleeves designed by Peter Saville that gave Factory a distinct identity. Independent labels didn’t allow profit to get in the way of creativity. It might have made no financial sense, but inventive packaging set the indies apart from the majors, and appealed directly to the fans.

THE STORY

In the 1980s the independent music scene was all about being different. And in Manchester on a grimy, unprepossessing corner, one independent label applied that philosophy to everything they did. Factory was run by scrupulously clean TV presenter Tony Wilson, who put his passion for releasing new and alternative music before anything else. Factory gave its artists the opportunity to realise extravagant and unusual concepts, and one band who benefited from this was New Order.

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THE STORY

CHAPTER 1 -THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC


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THE IMPACT OF DANCE MUSIC

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CHAPTER 1 -THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC


THE STORY

It’s 1989 and a new grassroots music craze is sweeping across Britain. Despite the authorities railing against ‘the zombification of a nation’, acid house and its bed partner ecstasy are influencing a wave of indie bands. On the eve of a new decade while original independent labels struggle in the wake of acid, young indie labels Heavenly and Creation are thriving.

CHAPTER 1 - THE ROOTS OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC

In the late 80s with the Madchester scene, as alternative music crossed over into the mainstream chart. This breakthrough was inspired by a merging of indie rock and the burgeoning acid house culture, and it was led by a new crop of bands such as Happy Mondays.

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KLF COMMUNICATIONS Using new cheap computer technology Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty completely changed how music was being created The KLF (also known as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The JAMs, the Timelords and other names) are a British electronic band started in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Beginning in 1987, Bill Drummond (alias King Boy D) and Jimmy Cauty (alias Rockman Rock) released hip hop-inspired and sample-heavy records as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, and on one occasion (the British number one hit single “Doctorin’ the Tardis”) as the Timelords. The KLF released a series of international hits on their own KLF Communications record label and became the biggest-selling singles act in the world for 1991.The duo also published a book, The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way), and worked on a road movie called The White Room. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty would form The KLF, the most successful UK independent singles band of the 1980s. The pair met whilst they were working at the Stock, Aitken and Waterman studios. Bill and Jimmy saw first hand how million-selling records were produced on a budget, using new, cheap computer technology that was completely changing how music was being created. They built their own studio in a squat in Stockwell and then, in true indie fashion, they had a go at writing their own hit record. They came up with Doctorin’ The Tardis and released it under the name The Timelords. By June 1988, it was number one. Doctorin’ The Tardis was produced by Jimmy and Bill and released on their own label, KLF

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Communications. It might have been a novelty dance record, but it had the DIY independent ethos right at its heart. It was an indie spirit forged in the early part of Bill Drummond’s career, when, in the late ‘70s he founded the seminal record label Zoo, home to the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes, But by the mid-80s, he’d left the indie world behind. And he was working for the enemy - the major label Warner’s. Over the next few years, Bill and Jimmy would release records as The KLF. With another number one, five more top tens, and a smash hit in America, for an 18-month period, The KLF were the biggest selling singles band in Europe. With no manager, no office. They had a lock-up, where they kept their costumes that they wore on Top Of The Pops, with the horns coming out of their heads. And a squat and a phone. And two visionary imaginations in Bill and Jimmy. And they sold millions and millions of singles. Suddenly, there was a sense of cash from chaos again rippling through the industry - that everything’s possible. It’s got nothing to do with guitars, it’s got nothing to do with people in suede or leather jackets singing about their girlfriends. It’s people doing something truly extraordinary that hasn’t been done before.


Bill Drummond

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Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond

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“Being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run… having no money sharpens the wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision.”


KLF or The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu The KLF were self-managed and owned their own label, KLF Communications. It meant they could indulge in the flights of fancy that conventional managers or labels might have vetoed. For example, in 1991, when the band’s “Stadium House” trilogy of What Time Is Love?, Last Train to Trancentral and 3am Eternal were worldwide chart hits, the band swerved the usual conventions of a sanitised press showcase. They invited the world’s media to a Scottish island where passports were confiscated, participants were dressed in billowing yellow robes and the event climaxed with the explosion of a 60ft wicker man.

Were the band sometimes taking the piss? Absolutely, and it looked and sounded spectacular. When the time came to rework What Time Is Love? for the US market, their behaviour bordered on trolling: America: What Time Is Love? was a nine-minute, stadium house, techno-metal extravaganza featuring Glenn Hughes, once of Deep Purple. The first 90 seconds explained how, 1,000 years previously, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu had discovered America, 500 years before Columbus. (The NME decided Single of the Week would not suffice, and declared the song Single of the Millennium.) After being asked to contribute a track to a compilation album organised by CND they delivered What Time Was Love? an explosion, followed by 99 seconds of post-nuclear rumbling. Even the band’s self-destruction was extraordinary. At the 1992 Brits (where they sent a motorcycle courier on to the stage to collect their Best British Group award), the KLF performed a thrash-metal version of 3am Eternal, fired blanks into the audience from a machine gun and closed with the declaration: “Ladies and gentlemen, the KLF have

During its late-’80s and early-’90s peak; a string of deliriously overproduced, sample-happy “stadium house” pop hits like “What Time Is Love?” and “3 A.M. Eternal,” which helped to make The KLF Britain’s biggest-selling singles act of 1991. Their first single, “Doctorin’ the Tardis” was a garish, willfully dumb mashup of the original “Doctor Who” theme song and Gary Glitter’s proto-jock jam “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2).” Despite being roundly panned by critics, the song went straight to the top of the U.K. pop charts, providing Drummond and Cauty with their first No. 1 hit and the blueprint for a manifesto they decided to share some helpful hints in how to make it big in the music biz in “The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way). Here is an excerpt:

THE STORY

Many a time The KLF attempted to be the undoing of their own success without ever really achieving it. Instead, intent on self-destruction, they somehow became untouchable. To some, they were artistic visionaries, to others, a novelty act – but that’s where their beauty lied. Extraordinarily selfaware of their place within music and the wider art world, The KLF’s mission was to confuse, and whether you loved or hated them you can’t dispute that that’s exactly what they did.

now left the music business.” They then dumped a dead sheep bearing the message, “I died for you – bon appetit,” at one of the aftershow parties. (Piers Morgan wrote, huffily, that the Brits proved the KLF were “pop’s biggest wallies”.) Three months later, they formally announced their demise via a back-page ad in the NME. Because they owned their own music, their farewell was more final than most – their entire back catalogue was immediately deleted and remains commercially unavailable – but the following years saw further activity. In 1993, they re-emerged as the K Foundation, recorded a mashup of Que Sera Sera and Happy Xmas (War is Over) with the Red Army Choir, and sabotaged that year’s Turner prize with the K Foundation award, in which they gave £40,000 (double the Turner prize money) to the Turner winner, Rachel Whiteread, for being the “worst artist of the year”. In 1994, they filmed themselves burning £1m on the Scottish island of Jura; three years later, they rebranded as 2K for a one-off 23-minute performance at the Barbican in London.

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“Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote to see it through… Being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run… having no money sharpens the wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision. There is no safety net to catch you when you fall.”

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HEAVENLY RECORDINGS Inspired by the acid house scene, Jeff Barret started his own label capturing the sound of the new emerging scene The illegal raves and stories of the drugs that accompanied them meant that battle lines were soon drawn between the authorities and the ravers, but for independent music-makers the new dance culture inspired a seismic change in the country’s musical landscape. Fired up by acid house, Londonbased music press officer Jeff Barrett wanted to start his own label, to capture the exhilarating, freethinking attitude he was experiencing on the scene. Launched in 1990, it has discovered and released artists including Manic Street Preachers, Saint Etienne,and others. Heavenly Recordings has previously been part of EMI and Sony but as of 2015 returned to being fully independent again. In the early 1980s Jeff Barrett worked as singles buyer for a record shop in Plymouth, where he bought independent releases from record shop / supplier Revolver in Bristol. After selling more records than any other customer in the south-west of England he was offered the position of manager of Revolver by owner Mike Chadwick. The shop enjoyed close ties with the emerging reggae, postpunk and trip-hop scenes of Bristol, as documented in the 2015 book Original Rockers by Richard King.

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During this time Barrett promoted early gigs in Plymouth by Creation bands The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Loft and The Pastels. This brought him to the attention of Alan McGee (Creation Records) who offered him the job of

general assistant at Creation in the summer of 1985 at the age of 23. He was the record label’s first fulltime employee and worked there for three years. Barrett left Creation in 1988 and founded the press company Capersville. In its short life, Capersville represented Factory Records (Happy Mondays/ New Order), several Creation acts (The House of Love, My Bloody Valentine) and many successful independent bands of the time (including The KLF, McCarthy and Inspiral Carpets). During this period, Barrett began promoted gigs and clubnights in London and started two short-lived record labels - Head and Sub-Aqua - releasing records by Loop, East Village and Laugh. Head was funded and distributed by Mike Chadwick’s Revolver Distribution. Inspired and invigorated by the energy of the acid-house club scene and also funded by Revolver, Barrett launched new label Heavenly in 1990. “It was never about careers, it was all about what was happening tonight. So if you’d asked me when we started [if Heavenly would last 25 years], I’m sure I would have spouted off some grand manifesto with glory attached to it, but the truth is there was never any plan.” Barret State. Two groups who were very much of that scene: Croydon’s Saint Etienne (‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’) and north London’s Flowered Up (‘It’s On’). Both releases gained attention in the media and in the clubs.


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“It was never about careers, it was all about what was happening tonight. The truth is there was never any plan.” Jeff Barrett

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Only Love Can Break You Heart record and sleeve, front and back [1991]


Saint Etienne and the release of Only Love can Break your Heart A young journalist and fanzine writer, Bob Stanley, had begun to make music with childhood friend Pete Wiggs and was keen to find a way of getting it released. Saint Etienne are an English band from London, formed in 1990. The band consists of Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. They became associated with the UK’s indie dance scene in the 1990s, beginning with the release of their debut album Foxbase Alpha in 1991. Their work has been described as uniting 1990s club culture with 1960s pop and other disparate influences. The name of the band come from the French football club of AS Saint-Étienne.

Saint Etienne were associated with the “indie dance” genre in the early 1990s. Their typical approach was to combine sonic elements of the dance-pop that emerged in the wake of the socalled Second Summer of Love (e.g. samples and digitally synthesized sounds) with an emphasis on songwriting involving romantic and introspective themes more commonly associated with traditional British pop and rock music. Early work demonstrated the influence of ‘60s soul, ‘70s dub and rock as well as ‘80s dance music, giving them a broad palette of sounds and a reputation for eclecticism. Years later, The Times wrote that they “deftly fused the grooviness of Swinging Sixties London with a post-acid house backbeat”. Their first two albums, Foxbase Alpha and So Tough feature sounds chiefly associated with house music, such as standard TR-909 drum patterns and Italo house piano riffs mixed with original sounds, notable by the use of found dialogue, sampled from 1960s British realist cinema.

THE STORY

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs were childhood friends and former music journalists. They originally planned that Saint Etienne would use a variety of different lead singers, and their 1991 debut album, Foxbase Alpha – influenced by sources such as club culture, 1960s pop, and OMD’s Dazzle Ships – features several vocalists, including Moira Lambert and Donna Savage. However, after working with Sarah Cracknell on “Nothing Can Stop Us”, they decided to make her the permanent vocalist, and

Cracknell has written or co-written many of the band’s songs.

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THE HACIENDA In the 80s The Haçienda was a nightclub and music venue in Manchester, England, which became famous in the Madchester years of the 1980s and early 1990s. The Haçienda opened in 1982, and despite considerable and persistent financial troubles survived until 1997—the club was mainly supported by record sales from New Order. The Haçienda is associated with the rise of acid house and rave music.

THE STORY

The former warehouse occupied by the club was at 11-13, Whitworth Street West on the south side of the Rochdale Canal: the frontage was curved and built of red brick. Before it was turned into a club, The Haçienda was a yacht builder’s shop and warehouse. Originally conceived by Rob Gretton, it was largely financed by the record label Factory Records and the band New Order along with label boss Tony Wilson. It was on the corner of Whitworth Street West and Albion Street, close to Castlefield, in the centre of the city. FAC 51 was its official designation in the Factory catalogue. New Order and Tony Wilson were directors of the club. The Haçienda was opened on 21 May 1982, when the comedian Bernard Manning remarked to the audience, “I’ve played some shit-holes during my time, but this is really something.”His jokes did not go down well with the crowd and he returned his fee.

A wide range of musical acts appeared at the club. One of the earliest was the German EBM band Liaisons Dangereuses, which played there on 7 July 1982. The Smiths performed there three times in 1983. It served as a venue for Madonna on her first performance in the United Kingdom, on 27 January 1984. She was invited to appear as part of a one-off, live television broadcast by Channel 4 music programme The Tube. Madonna performed “Holiday” whilst at The Haçienda and the performance was described by Norman Cook (better known as Fatboy Slim) as one that “mesmerised the crowd”. At one time, the venue also included a hairdressing salon. As well as club nights there were regular concerts, including one in which Einstürzende Neubauten drilled into the walls that surrounded the stage. In 1986, it became one of the first British clubs to start playing house music, with DJs Mike Pickering (of Quando Quango and M People) and Little Martin (later with Graeme Park) hosting the visionary “Nude” night on Fridays. This night quickly became legendary, and helped to turn around the reputation and fortunes of The Haçienda, which went from making a consistent loss to being full every night of the week by early 1987.

In the 90s The ‘people’s palace’ was at the epicentre of the Madchester scene in the 80s and early 90s and fuelled the rise of acid house music and rave culture. The growth of the ‘Madchester’ scene had little to do with the healthy house music scene in Manchester at the time but it was boosted by the success of The Haçienda’s pioneering Ibiza night, “Hot”, an acid house night hosted by Pickering and Jon DaSilva in July 1988.

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However, drug use became a problem. On 14 July 1989, the UK’s first ecstasy-related death occurred at the club; 16-year-old Clare Leighton collapsed and died after her boyfriend gave her an ecstasy tablet. The police clampdown that followed was opposed by Manchester City Council,

which argued that the club contributed to an “active use of the city centre core” in line with the government’s policy of regenerating urban areas. The resulting problems caused the club to close for a short period in early 1991, before reopening with increased security later the same year. Amid escalating drug use, the club also gained a reputation for gang violence and when Factory Records went bankrupt in 1992, its demise seemed inevitable - although it would not close for another five years. Dave Haslam and Elliot Eastwick were the last DJs ever to play there on June 28, 1997. It was later demolished to make way for a block of flats. Security was frequently a problem, particularly in the club’s latter years. There were


Although security failures at the club were one of the contributing factors to the club eventually closing, the most likely cause was its finances. The club simply did not make enough money from the sale of alcohol, and this was mainly because many patrons instead turned to drug use. As a result, the club rarely broke even as alcohol sales are the main source of income for nightclubs. Ultimately, with spiralling debts, The Haçienda eventually closed definitively in the summer of 1997.

Following a number of years standing empty, the Whitworth Street West site was purchased from the receivers by Crosby Homes. They chose to demolish the nightclub, and reuse the site for the construction of domestic flats. The iconic name was kept for the new development, with The Haçienda name licensed from Peter Hook, who owns the name and trademark. The nightclub was demolished in 2002—Crosby Homes had acquired the property some time before that and, on Saturday 25 November 2000, held a charity auction of the various fixtures and fittings from the nightclub. Clubgoers and enthusiasts from across the country attended to buy memorabilia ranging from the DJ booth box and radiators to emergency exit lights. The DJ booth was bought by Bobby Langley, ex-Haçienda DJ and Head of Merchandise for Sony Music London for an undisclosed fee.

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several shootings inside and outside the club, and relations with the police and licensing authorities became troubled. When local magistrates and police visited the club in 1997, they witnessed a near-fatal assault on a man in the streets outside when 18-year-old Andrew Delahunty was hit over the head from behind with what looked like a metal bar before being pushed into the path of an on-coming car.

The Hacienda

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HAPPY MONDAYS The band which captured the madchester acid house scene The Hacienda came to be at the centre of the acid house scene. It was buzzing and amongst the legions of revellers here were The Happy Mondays, who absolutely fell in love with the scene. The Happy Mondays had started off as an indie guitar band, but, after a few years spent hanging around The Hacienda, they mashed up their original sound with the dance grooves of acid house. Ever the man with the feel for the zeitgeist, Factory Records boss Tony Wilson signed them up. Factory was once again taking a risk, signing a band that a major wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole. Tony Wilson trusted his artistic judgement and supported his bands in their creative efforts. With The Happy Mondays, he was right to do so on both counts. By the time Happy Mondays crashed into the top five with Step On the following year, alongside the Stone Roses, they’ve were leading indie music into a new era. Happy Mondays are an English rock band formed in Salford in 1980. The band’s original line-up was Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul Ryder (bass), Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Gary

Whelan (drums). Mark “Bez” Berry later joined the band onstage as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta joined the band as a guest vocalist in 1990. The band were signed to Factory Records after passing a demo tape to Phil Saxe, a trader at Manchester Arndale who was on friendly terms with Mike Pickering, a DJ at the Haçienda nightclub. Saxe became the band’s manager. The group’s work bridged the Manchester independent rock music of the 1980s and the emerging UK rave scene, drawing influence from funk, house, and psychedelia to pioneer the Madchester sound. “Well, he let us make music, you know? I think everyone else thought we were pretty shit. You know? So... He let us, Tony let us make music. You know, find ourselves. Your ideas counted. You’re coming out with an album and you turn around to the guys at the record label and say, “I want a guy who’s a DJ in Ibiza to produce our flagship record.” He would go, “Not a chance!” And independent record labels let you do things like that.” states Shaun Ryder looking back to those days.


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THE STORY

Happy Mondays

“Well, he let us make music, you know? I think everyone else thought we were pretty shit. Your ideas counted.”

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By the mid 90s, in a bid to break the stranglehold of American grunge bands, the music press construct Britpop and push two bands, Oasis and Blur, to the top of the pile. The key thing that separates Britpop bands from the previous generation is the mindset. These bands, who grew up in the Thatcher era, want to sell (and make) a million. Bands with an old indie ethos, are still breaking through but will switch from independent labels to majors, thus guaranteeing international recognition.

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The 90s see the fall of some of the most succesful independent labels, such as Factory records and Creation records, which due to years of financial mismanagement were forced to either close down their business or sell their shares to majors. The spirit of the DIY boom had all but gone and indie becomes a genre rather than an alternative approach to making and releasing music. The late 90s are dark days for indie.

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FACTORY RECORDS’ FALL How Factory Records went bankrupt in 1992, after years of financial mismanagement On 22 November 1992, Factory Records was finally declared bankrupt, ending one of the most fascinating stories in British music. Here we take a run through the rise and fall of the legendary label and the people behind it. In 1973 Tony Wilson, a Manchester born Cambridge graduate, returned to his home city to persue a career in journalism. He took a job as a reporter with Manchester’s independent station Granada Television and became known for his ‘Kamikaze Corner’ in which he would undertake various stunts for the public’s viewing pleasure, including a stab at Hang-gliding which was later recreated in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People. In July 1976, Wilson was given the chance to combine his burning passion for music with his television career when he landed the presenter’s job for a new Granada music and culture programme entitled So It Goes. Brought in to rival the BBC’s established music vehicles Top Of The Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test, the show gave Wilson the platform to premiere a clutch of new bands who were emerging from the burgeoning punk scene, a scene which Wilson himself had fallen in love with.

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This love affair started in earnest just a month before So It Goes hit the airwaves for the first time,

when Wilson had been present at the Sex Pistols‘ now legendary gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. Tony subsequently gave the band their television debut on his show which also introduced the likes of Iggy Pop, Blondie, Patti Smith and The Jam to the north of England. Everything Factory did was conceptual; it had a catalog number for everything, including a notepad (FAC 7), an unfinished egg timer design (FAC 8), its anvil logo (FAC 47), and even a lawsuit (FAC 61). There will never be another be another label like Factory—for good reason, arguably, as it went bankrupt. But it left a massive mark on popular culture. His initial - then revolutionary - philosophy was that a record company could actually be geared to serve the people that recorded for it. Thus, Wilson pioneered the now indie-standard 50/50 profits split between label and artists, and the far more bold (and certainly not copied) “non-contract contact”, which gave the workers ownership of their own products. “That document that states ‘We own nothing. The musicians own everything’ in the end made Factory bankrupt, and resulted in my entire catalogue being owned by somebody else,” says Wilson now. “But I can’t regret it, because the idea was not to own the past but to present the future.”


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THE STORY

“We own nothing. The musicians own everything’ in the end made Factory bankrupt, and resulted in my entire catalogue being owned by somebody else,” says Wilson now. “But I can’t regret it, because the idea was not to own the past but to present the future.”

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ROUGH TRADE RECORDS’ FALL AND RISE In the late 80s was forced to close due to bankrupcy, the label will reopened in the late 90s With the label having a considerable influence on the cultural zeitgeist and The Cartel handling a great number of credible but commercially viable releases from artists such as Joy Division, The Smiths and Depeche Mode, you’d have thought Rough Trade would be in rude health. But by 1982, the business was in deep shit, and with the shop’s future under serious threat, three employees chipped in to buy that division of the business on the condition that they could keep the name. Even after considerable research, it’s hard to understand exactly what drove Rough Trade towards its bankruptcy in 1991, with Travis and The Cartel founder Richard Scott’s accounts tending to vary considerably. “The distribution company got too big, that’s where Rough Trade crashed,” comes Travis’s side of the story. “It was so successful that it became a monster that the management didn’t have the expertise to control. Interest and investment of major labels in the UK indie scene in the late 1980s, as well as overtrading on behalf of Rough Trade’s distribution wing, led to cash flow problems, and eventually to bankruptcy, forcing the label into receivership. However, Travis resurrected the label in the late 1990s, finding success with the Libertines, the Strokes and Antony and the

Johnsons. The roster has been diverse, ranging stylistically through alternative rock, post-punk and new wave, garage rock, and psychedelic rock, but also art pop, folk, electronica, and soul. But amid the chaos, in 1987 Travis had become business partners with Jeanette Lee, a former member of Public Image Limited who’d worked at the counter of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s Acme Attractions shop during punk’s formative years. With the Rough Trade label in a precarious state, the pair made a foray into artist management, enjoying success with bands such as Pulp and The Cranberries during the 90s. Despite the troubles of its past, today Rough Trade is still going strong, and Travis sounds audibly excited about the label’s current roster, which includes artists such as Dean Blunt, Parquet Courts and Micachu. He and Lee are also now shareholders in Rough Trade’s Williamsburg shop – the biggest record store in New York City. “So we’re kind of reunited,” he says, quashing suspicions of animosity between the two companies. “We’re absolutely separate but completely intertwined. It’s a good relationship, really.”


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“But you know how politics work, I though we were one company, but people make their positions of power, By dividing and ruling. And that’s what really happened.”

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CREATION RECORDS SELLS OUT The wait for some of Creation's bands to deliver that amazing music had left the label constantly teetering on the brink of collapse. Mindful of the plight facing his heroes here at Factory, McGee was also painfully aware of his own label’s precarious finances. They were releasing bucket-loads of great records and having one hell of a party, but it was clear to Alan that he needed to confront the situation head on. In 1992 a £2.5 million deal gave major label Sony a 49% stake in Creation. “It changed everything for me as a human being. I mean, you’ve got to understand I never got into music to make money. And then one day I woke up and I had two million quid in my bank account, right? You know... Overnight. Cos Sony just went and put a couple of million in, right? And I was like, “God, I’ve got a bit of money, it’s great.” states Mc Gee, owner of the label who found himself forced to sell the shares to sony to keep his label going. These days, McGee is still involved in Creation – but, having sold his legendary record company to Sony in 1999 (before founding, then closing, Poptones), it’s Creation Management which takes up most of his time. “On Creation selling out to Sony and the infiltration of marketing types and money men I think that all through that time they were having financial problems. The press always blame [the costs involved with My Bloody Valentine’s] ‘Loveless’ but that’s a load of shit. I think their ambitions and their vision far outstripped the financial income and they were just running around.” McGee was running around, going to America and Europe and doing deals and basically everyone was just kind of winging it all the time. It came to the point where they got sick of doing that. Sony came in with an offer and they went for it. I remember Alan McGee calling me up after ‘Screamadelica’, and saying “listen, I’m sorry

man, I’ve let you down, I’m gonna sell the label to Sony”. He felt that he’d failed. I just said ‘give me the money’! I think you do a deal with these people and they want more and more and more and more, and also if you sell it to a big record label they don’t really want you putting out the Felt records or the Slaughter Joe records or the Pastels records. They want the Primal Screams and the Oasises and the My Bloody Valentines. They want the bands that are big acts, so really the Creation Records Story, I guess it’s about the death, the end of the independent thing. You had a label full of personalities and mad, wild people, none of them had been involved in record companies or corporate things before, they were making it up as they went along, so it truly was an independent thing. In the late 80s and early 90s it was a wee bit more experimental and weirder. There were more outsiders, chancers, and lunatics involved in it, and those terms pretty much defined McGee and Dick themselves. Then in the mid-nineties those people left or were asked to leave and there was a new influx of people who’d worked at other record companies who came in and it changed. It was like a different place, pretty soulless to be honest with you. Suddenly you had a marketing department. How do you market Liam Gallagher or Primal Scream? It is what it is, you don’t need to convince anybody that it’s fuckin’ great ‘cos it is fuckin’ great. They brought in a lot of people who had no passion for rock ‘n roll or for music. They could have working at Coca-Cola or Levis or fuckin’ selling baked beans to be honest with you. So it did change for the worse.


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“We were always on the verge of bankruptcy. I think we were technically bankrupt for years, really, to be honest. People realised we were putting out amazing music, so they always cut us slack”

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BRITPOP

The British music press began to champion bands much closer to home in an attempt to create a new scene. The defining moment where indie finally goes overground is when the term Britpop is coined. The term Britpop was used in the ‘60s, it wasn’t a new term, but in the ‘90s I think someone at the NME decided to recoin a group of bands who were hanging around the London area, in the Camden area, and call it Britpop because it was commercial. Britpop was EMI’s answer to their flagging sales. A brilliant campaign, but that was definitely a major record company. Blur saved EMI, suddenly Blur were EMI’s new Beatles. However, for Sony, Oasis were a defiant vindication of their multi-million pound investment in McGee’s indie intuition.Britpop was a UK-based music and culture movement in the mid-1990s which emphasised “Britishness”, and produced brighter, catchier alternative rock, partly in reaction to the popularity of the darker lyrical themes of the US-led grunge music, an alternative rock genre, and to the UK’s own shoegazing music scene. The most successful bands linked with the movement are Blur, Oasis, Suede and Pulp; those groups would come to be known as its “big four”. The timespan of Britpop is generally considered to be 1993–1997, with 1994–1995, and a chart battle between Blur and Oasis dubbed “The Battle of Britpop”, being the epicentre of activity. While music was the main focus, fashion, art, and politics also got involved, with artists such as Damien Hirst being involved in creating videos for Blur, and being labelled as Britart or Britpop artists, and Tony Blair and New Labour aligning themselves with the movement. Though Britpop is viewed as a marketing tool, and more of a cultural moment than a musical style or genre, there are musical conventions and influences the bands grouped under the Britpop term have in common, such as showing elements from the British pop music of the 1960s, glam rock and punk rock of the 1970s, and indie pop of the 1980s in their music. Britpop was a mediadriven focus on bands which emerged from the independent music scene of the early 1990s — and was associated with the British popular cultural movement of Cool Britannia which evoked the Swinging Sixties and the British guitar pop music of that decade.

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In the wake of the musical invasion into the United Kingdom by American grunge bands, new British groups such as Blur, Pulp and Suede launched the movement by positioning themselves as opposing musical forces, referencing British guitar music of the past and writing about uniquely British topics and concerns. These bands were soon joined by

others including Oasis, The Verve, Supergrass, Cast, Sleeper and Elastica. Britpop groups brought British alternative rock into the mainstream and formed the backbone of a larger British cultural movement called Cool Britannia. “The Battle of Britpop” brought Britpop to the forefront of the British press in 1995. By 1997, however, the movement began to slow down; many acts began to falter and break up. The popularity of the pop group the Spice Girls “snatched the spirit of the age from those responsible for Britpop”.Although its more popular bands were able to spread their commercial success overseas, especially to the United States, the movement largely fell apart by the end of the decade. Britpop superstars Oasis, Pulp, Blur, The Verve, Supergrass and Elastica all hailed from indie backgrounds, while the much-feted Creation label (home to Oasis, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals and many more) was hailed as one of the cornerstones of what the UK media referred to as “Cool Britannia”, the resulting exposure leading to label boss Alan McGee and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher famously taking tea with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at No.10 Downing Street. Indie music continued to cast a long shadow in the early years of the new millennium. Respected imprints such as Heavenly, Creation and a revitalised Rough Trade promoted many of the era’s movers and shakers. Most of the alumni of the musical moment that lasted from around 1992 to 1998 are now scattered. Only the Gallagher brothers have remained pretty much where they always were, delivering their strait-laced facsimiles of classic rock to a vast audience whose attachment to the anthems they first heard 10 years ago seems unshakable. Most of the musicians and associates who once shared their company, however, have taken paths that have led them well away from the places they occupied in the mid-1990s. The world these people built, however, has endured. It’s where just about every worthwhile British band aspires to be: that speedy production line that takes promising musicians from their local pub venue, introduces them to the NME, and then - if everything goes to plan - inducts them into the head-rattling world of mainstream celebrity. The idea that there was ever an “underground”, where bands could ply their trade without paying any attention to the world of commerce, seems almost laughable. With Britpop making headlines, what once had seen itself as proudly anti-authoritarian had become firmly part of the establishment.


90s music magazines’ covers

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“Ambition was all, I think, in the early ‘90s and the mid-’90s. To be ambitious was OK again”

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The Aftermath

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Indie’s next huge success came from the way fans were using social media to communicate genuine grass-roots enthusiasm about their new favourite band.

THE STORY

Indie music still exists now in local scenes as well as on a national scale. There still a need for independent labels and, the spirit of rebellion that inspired the DIY movement of the 1970s still exists today, it exists in local scenes and in labels and artists who are still rebelling against is the idea that success is only tied with fame or money.

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Despite the fall of independent record label, which happened in the early 90s, more completely new independent labels emerged and keep on existing today. They've learnt from the mistakes of old and are excellent at artist development. New bands also heralded a new way in which music was being discovered.

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