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Thursday 6 January 2022

Factory Made Her

More Factory today, partly because I've had this photo sitting unused for two months and following yesterday's post it made sense to use it. This is the door to a building on the corner of Princess Street and Charles Street in Manchester, near the legendary Lass O' Gowrie pub and just behind the old Oxford Road BBC building (now demolished). Factory bought the building in 1989 and began to undertake expensive renovations to turn it into the new Factory headquarters, moving the running of the record company from Palatine Road and various rooms above the Hacienda into prestigious new premises. At this point they'd already proved that running the most famous nightclub in the world and a bar (Dry 201) were not easy matters financially but undeterred they went ahead. The top floor was the boardroom and famously had a very expensive, Ben Kelly table for board meetings, a table suspended by wires from the ceiling. The HQ, Fac 251, opened in 1991. During a photo session with Happy Mondays, various members of the group sat on the table which promptly broke the cables and the very expensive table crashed to the floor. 

This is a picture of the table (not mine I hasten to add). 

In happier times before its renovation Factory covered the entire building with posters to promote Bummed, the Happy Mondays 1988 masterpiece (again, not my picture). 

After Factory went bust the building was sold to pay creditors and by 1993/4 it had become Paradise Factory, a gay nightclub with DJs laying over three floors. It was in dancing here I first spoke to my future wife (but that's another story). Later on, around 2005, it became another nightclub- Factory 251 (which Peter Hook has some involvement with as backer/ promoter/ owner and Ben Kelly involved in redesigning the interior). In a neat turn of the wheel, my daughter has been clubbing here. These days it mainly plays indie and rock 'n' roll. The Trip Advisor reviews are fairly uncomplimentary about the manager and the bouncers but my daughter had a good time on the occasions she's been. 

Yesterday's Factory post and music were from the early years, the 1978- 1981 period, a time which is easy to romanticise and look at with dewy eyes. Early 90s Factory is less so- they lost their way a little with their signings, refused to release dance music (which is one of the most bizarre decisions Wilson made- he could have had Ride On Time among others, million selling singles. Mike Pickering was urging them to do it. They decided not to). Some of the groups could be underwhelming (Northside, The Wendys, The Adventure Babies all had a decent single/ songs in them but they don't really stand alongside to Tunnelvision, The Distractions, ACR and Durutti Column). Cath Carroll, local face, musician and music journalist, should have been a massive star. Wilson certainly thought so. Factory released two singles by her group Miaow before she went on to make a solo album called England Made Me, an album which tied together early 90s synth pop, moody dance music and bossa nova, it's a forgotten gem. 

In March 1991 Select Magazine gave away a free cassette, The Factory Tape (Fac 305c). Cath had two songs on the tape, the Brazilian rhythms, horns and whistles of Next Time (Edit) and a seriously good piece of northern dance music called Moves Like You. Both would be on England Made Me when it came out in June.

Next Time (Edit)

Moves Like You


The Swede said...

So much of this stuff passed me by at the time. Moves Like You is really good.

Anonymous said...

Great to read your exhibition review. It is amazing to see the influence of Factory on their city. Now there is a trend at the Turner Art prize for awarding community based collectives. Perhaps, if things were different and just back in the day, they would have been acknowledged more seriously. I don't suppose it would have bothered Factory much then, as it seems they were driven by the shear joy of shared creativity and bloody-mindedness.
Incidentally I have a Fac 7 (onion skin and thermographic grey) containing their newsletter and Fac 5 sticker, kindly sent to me when i wrote to them following Ian Curtis's death. A small thing that i have always kept. Long time ago.

JC said...

Was delighted last year to get my hands on a Miaow compilation. You've inspired me to head to Discogs to find a copy of 'England Made Me'.

Khayem said...

Select magazine had some pretty decent cassette giveaways and The Factory Tape was a good example, though your comment reminded me that the bands were distinctly 'non-dance', as I recall even using more 'indie' mixes of New Order and Happy Mondays. The Cath Carroll songs were really good, she deserved greater commercial success but I guess may have been on the wrong label to achieve that, if that was an aspiration.