A Light that Never Goes Out

Section 25 – Haunted

Last week, the day after we recorded our podcast. I went to a local thriftstore and to my surprise I stumbled upon a DVD amidst all usual movies that you typically find. A DVD about Manchester’s famous Factory records called “24 hour party people”. I didn’t even know this existed. It’s a documentary but re-enacted in the form of a movie, by accomplished and known actors. There’s plenty of old footage as well.

The leading role and narrator is Steve Coogan (a British actor and comedian) as Tony Wilson. The flamboyant founder of Factory records.

Tony Wilson was a journalist, and had a TV show about upcoming artists and music. The thing was:  in 1976 there were only 2 or 3 people in the UK that decided what music would be featured on Nationwide Television. And these people didn’t like Punk. So for one year long, the most exciting bands of the time were only to be seen on Granada Television, a local channel from Manchester, on Tony’s Music show.

After this TV show came to an end, Tony remained employed by Granada as a presenter but also had a record label, Factory records, and a steady club night (Factory night) in The Russel Club in Manchester. The club nights featured the most popular punk and post-punk bands and the very first one, with The Sex Pistols, only had 42 people in the audience. But some of those 42 people would become the most influential people in British post-punk history.

For in the audience were future members of the Buzzcocks Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (who organized the gig and opened for the Pistols); a nascent version of Joy Division; co-founder of Factory Records Martin Hannet; Mark E. Smith of The Fall, Mick Hucknall of Frantic Elevators and later Simply Red; and a one Steven Patrick Morrissey, who would form The Smiths. Here is a clip from that concert, re-created for the movie:

Tony Wilson later opened his own club: The Hacienda. In which the bands from Factory Records would play and people could hang out. It was a disaster because nobody came. The Hacienda only became popular when rave culture kicked off. But then visitors were buying XTC, and not drinks at the bar of the Hacienda. So they still made little to no money.

Fun fact (although no fun for New Order themselves): All revenue of the monster-hit Blue Monday went into paying the bills for the Hacienda club which lost £ 10.000 a month – New Order did not see a dime.

So in the end, Tony himself and Factory made little money, despite the enormous popularity and cultural significance of both club and label. Also it did not help that Tony didn’t actually have contracts with the bands that would tie them to the label. Basically: Everyone was free to fuck off and do something else when they wanted. It was about total artistic freedom. They didn’t care that Factory wasn’t making money. It was about being connected to the great bands that they featured, and the love for Manchester.

The biggest band on the label was Joy Division. But there were many, many others that were making great music. I never knew this by the way, but the band name Joy Division comes from a group of women with whom German SS officers would make 100% Arian babies. That group of Women was called the Joy Division. The band and Tony Wilson were accused of being nazi’s but stated: “Joy Division does sound happy doesn’t it”? The Happy Mondays are named in the same sentence as Joy Division as most influential acts on Factory Records, by Tony Wilson.

The Happy Mondays were bridging the post-punk era into the 90’s. These guys (the Ryder brothers) were 200% Rock and Roll. Not easy, since Shaun especially was a heavy drug addict. In this period the Manchester scene was transformed into MADchester. At raves, people were applauding the DJ, the medium. Not the bands anymore.

I first thought to pick a track by the Happy Mondays, but decided on a track from a Belgian and Dutch extension: Factory Benelux. I picked one of the first three singles that they put our on the Benelux label, “Haunted” by Section 25.

Of Blood and Wine – Feast of Blood

Insta Outcast Of Blood and Wine is a new Goth Rock band. From their social media it looks like they started out recently, about a year ago. They are a trio, with Marquis Nosferaatu on bass, Count Kristoffer on guitar and Lord Crobath is the singer. He has an impressive vocal range, from deep bubbly grunts to a falsetto able to deliver high notes with precision. They describe their style as Old school goth’n’roll with heavy metal vibes.

They hail from Finland, which is, as we know since season one, the world leader in heavy music. No surprises there, but the real surprise to me is that this band, who have released several video clips on YouTube, are still almost undiscovered. We’re talking 350 followers on Instagram, another 75 Facebook followers and only 48 monthly listeners on Spotify in August. A hidden gem!

Soon, this will change. They are about to launch their debut EP and these guys deserve more attention if you ask me, so if you liked what you heard go check out their newest video clip, for The Smoke on Youtube. Just remember where you heard them first!

Lycia – Nothing (Wake)

As far as goth music goes, I know of nothing that compares to Lycia, Well, maybe Dead Can Dance, but not really. Lycia is a band from Nevada (!). I would imagine this kind of music would be made in areas that have long nights, and winters, but no. Arizona.

They started quite late and recorded their first album of 6 songs on a 4-track taperecorder. Yes very punky, but if that is the source material, you can never go up in quality afterwards.. Also the release was on cassette through Orphanage records in 1989. Why the hell on cassette.. Yes it was the end of the vinyl era, and CD’s took over. But cassette? I own the reissue (only a 100 copies pressed, lucky me) of Wake on red translucent vinyl, but it still sounds like a cassette tape, what a shame. This concludes my audio snob rant….

After Mike VanPortfleet started Lycia in 1988 as a solo project, and had a few members come and go.

They released great albums, and were also touring during their peak in 1995. During one of their tours, Mike was becoming sick and found out that he has late-onset type 1 diabetes. That pretty much derailed everything that they were doing back then. The Lycia momentum was growing, but that stopped them from touring and made them more of a studio band from then on. More bad luck was on the way, because they saw a decline in the late 90’s.

The music scene had become mostly about dance music, and bands weren’t as important anymore. There just wasn’t that much interest in what they were doing anymore.

But still: For over two decades, LYCIA has been pioneers of “darkwave,” and made their own “reverb-drenched”, gothic take on dreampop. I definitely feel that they are one of the best and boundary-pushing acts within the darker music genres.

The Smiths – There is a Light That Never Goes Out (1986)

In this song, we find front man, Morrissey, in the passenger seat of a potential romantic partner’s car. He begs the driver, “Don’t drop me home.” In fact, Morrissey is so captivated by his company that he says that he would not care if a “double-decker bus” crashed into them, as to die by the side of his sweetheart would be “such a heavenly way to die.” Morrissey idolized James Dean, and this is a narrative straight from the 1955 James Dean film, Rebel Without a Cause.

The song’s intro was lifted from The Rolling Stones’ cover of “Hitch Hike”, originally by Marvin Gaye. Johnny Marr explains: “There’s a little in-joke in there just to illustrate how intellectual I was getting. At the time everyone was into The Velvet Underground and they stole the intro to ‘There She Goes Again’ – ‘da da-da-da, da-da!’ – from The Rolling Stones’ version of ‘Hitch Hike,’ the Marvin Gaye song. I just wanted to put that in to see whether the press would say, ‘Oh it’s the Velvet Underground!’ Cos I knew that I was smarter than that. I was listening to what The Velvet Underground was listening to.

For comparison, I have put the intro’s of Marvin Gay, The Stones, and Velvet Underground and The Smiths back to back, so you can hear what Johnny Mar is on about.

‘This song was recorded in 40 minutes. When we all got together, one-two-three-four, it was the first time all four of us had heard what it sounded like. It was magical”. The song is accompanied by a synthesizer string arrangement. Morrissey didn’t want to use synthesized strings at first, but due to a lack of funds, he eventually came around to it.

A great band from Manchester, yet missing on Manchester’s famous Factory label. Back in 1983 both Tony Wilson of Factory and New Order producer Rob Gretton agreed that the Smiths’ demo was crap, so The Smiths ended up with London based Rough Trade Records. They did stay real Mancunians right until the end though. Many of their songs feature references to their home town. For instance their last album, Strangeways Here We Come is named after Manchester’s prison, which was called Strangeways back then.

The Look of Love pt. 1 – ABC (1982)

According to ABC lead singer Martin Fry said this is an autobiographical song about losing love.:  “This song is genuinely about the moment you get your teeth kicked in by somebody you love, fucking off. You feel like shit but you have to search for some sort of meaning in your life.”

You can also hear Fry mention his own forename in the lyrics when he sings: “They say ‘Martin, maybe, one day you’ll find true love.'” So, since the lyrics were inspired by Fry’s real-life break-up, perfectionist producer Trevor Horn insisted that the female voice replying “goodbye” to Fry in the second verse should be the actual woman in the relationship who had left him.

This song was actually inspired by Smokey Robinson. In his 1971 song “I Don’t Blame You At All”, he sings, “What I thought was the look of love, was only hurt in disguise.”

The Look Of Love Pt 1 and Part Four are on the album.” So what happened to parts two and three? You’ll find them only on the 12″ single, together with 1 and 4. Clever marketing. Part Two is an instrumental, Part Three is a remix, and part 4 is a shortened version.

Horn did another remix, “The Look of Love (Part 5),” with the Fairlight synthesizer. This 12-inch single, which was issued to club DJs, just might have been the first ever pop song being remixed with scratching and it was among the earliest remixes to be based upon samples:

By the way, Martin Fry was born in Trafford, Manchester. He was also the guy that played Max Headroom in the clip for Paranoimia by Art of Noise:

Pink Industry – What I wouldn’t Give (1985 from “New Beginnings”)

We’ve saved a nice and dreamy piece for last. I think this is a relatively modern sounding record, but it’s from 1985. A bit of background on Pink Industry: Jayne Casey was the leading figure in three successive Liverpool bands: Big in Japan, Pink Military and Pink Industry. Big in Japan were briefly around during the first punk explosion, but they left a mark with a theatrical sense of humor in their music, that was quite unusual at the time. After the band broke up, Casey went on to Pink Military, and then Pink Industry.

Together with Ambrose Reynolds, who was also an early member of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. There’s the Trevor Horn Connection again. It seems more and more that Trevor and also The Sex Pistols are recurring themes here, but for a good reason.

Fun trivial fact: Did you know that the singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Holly Johnson, first wanted to call the band “Hollycost”??? I’m not joking. Luckily Ambrose’s eyes wandered off to  a poster of Frank Sinatra, of the book named “Rock Dreams”. While Ambrose reads the title he said jokingly “we could just as well call the band “Frankie Goes to Hollywood, I don’t care” and they went with that name.

Anyway, back to Pink Industry:

Jayne Casey has a unique voice and Pink Industry was more interested in electronics than previous activities. In fact, they may well have been too far ahead of their time, as they never got much recognition.

After the demise of Pink Industry, Jayne Casey took her distance from the music scene and got involved in an arts center in Liverpool. In the early 90s, she resurfaced on “You’ve Got The Love”, a techno track by G Love. You may be familiar with this very early house/rave track…

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