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Sunday 2 April 2023

Fifty Minutes Of ACR

In 1987 a friend made me a compilation tape which included two songs by Mancunian band A Certain Ratio- Shack Up and Do The Du. I've been listening to ACR ever since. They released their latest album, 1982, last Friday and it's fair to say the group have been re- energised in recent years, the result partly of a deal with Mute to re- issue all their albums. I'd been thinking of an ACR Sunday mix for some time and just as I ended up doing a pair of One Dove mixes a while back, I think I may need to come back to ACR for a second go. The mix here contains none of the punk- funk sound of their releases on Factory, the nervous, minimal, scratchy, demob suits and army shorts songs that made their reputation. Instead I've gone for a mix of dancefloor oriented songs spanning three decades.  The core trio of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson have regrouped several times since 1979, not least following the deaths of Rob Gretton in 1999 and singer Denise Johnson in 2020, but they're still creating and producing new music and are getting stronger and stronger. If they're playing near you, go and see them. ACR are a good night out guaranteed. 

Fifty Minutes Of ACR

  • Dirty Boy
  • Music Control
  • Mello
  • Be What You Wanna Be
  • Night People
  • Wedge (ACR Rework)
  • Emperor Machine
  • Taxi Guy
  • Won't Stop Loving You (Bernard Sumner Remix)

Dirty Boy came out in 2018 ahead of the group's acr:set compilation, with vocals from Barry Adamson and the sampled voice of one- time mentor, manager and label boss Tony Wilson.

Music Control was a collaboration between ACR's alter ego Sir Horatio and Chris Massey, DJ, producer and promoter from Stretford, a squelchy collision of punk- funk, acid house and mutant disco.

Mello came out in 1992 on Rob Gretton's new label Rob's Records, a slice of loved up Mancunian house.  

Be What You Wanna Be is from 1990's acr: mcr, a renewal of the group's sound and fortunes. They left Factory for A&M but 1989's Good Together failed to shift many copies  (a shame as it's an album with much going for it). acr: mcr is wall to wall brilliance, from Spirit Dance to Good Together to Tribecca, rhythms and pianos inspired by the records playing in the Hacienda. Personnel changes at A&M saw them leave not long after for Rob's Records. I saw them at Manchester Academy in autumn 1991, a gig packed to the rafters and with a crowd up for it from the moment ACR appeared on stage. A few songs in my then girlfriend decided this was the ideal opportunity to have an argument and walk out of the venue.  

Night People was on one of three EPs ACR released in 2021, thirteen tracks, with no filler, following the comeback album Loco, on Mute, from the year before. Night People was on the third of the three, ACR: EPR, and has a swampy Bowie/ Iggy in Berlin groove. 

Wedge is by Number, Ali Friend and Rich Thair's spin off from Red Snapper, a 2020 punk funk trip. The two bands swapped remixes, this being ACR's remix of Number. Number's Binary album came out in April 2020 and probably got a little overlooked with everything else that was going on in spring 2020.

Emperor Machine was a collaboration between ACR and Emperor Machine (Andy Meacham, who found fame first time around in Bizarre Inc). The self- titled track was on EPC in 2021 and is supercharged mutant disco/ punk funk. 

Taxi Guy is the closing song on 2020's Loco album, an album that showed they were right back on it and fired up. Jazzy, samba grooves and a mass drumming finale. Their vie gigs over the last decade have sometimes finished with the group ending up leaving the stage and walking into the audience, drumming and blowing whistles, as happened at Gorilla in early 2020.

Won't Stop Loving You is a remix of a song from acr: mcr by Bernard Sumner from 1990. Sumner stripped the song back to Jez and Denise's vocals, whipcrack 808 drums and house piano. Something of a desert island disc for me. 


Nick L said...

Great comp Adam, although I'd still take the original Big E single over Sumner's remix, great though it is. Retirement from teaching suits Martin doesn't it? He's a man on a mission these days.

Rol said...

Natasha Raskin-Sharp does a show on BBC Radio Scotland I listen to every week. It's the closest anyone on UK radio gets to Peel's eclecticism these days, though very different from Peel. I only mention this because she had an interview with Jez Kerr about the new ACR record on Thursday night's show. Available on Sounds if you're interested.

Tom W said...

As I've agreed to go see them at New Century Hall later this month and am largely unfamiliar with their output, this mix couldn't be better timed...

Swiss Adam said...

See you there Tom