Indie Originals: The New Hormones Story

The story of New Hormones records 1977-1983

Posts Tagged ‘New Hormones

Factory’s shadow

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The story of New Hormones is, first and foremost, a story about Manchester. Yet, as Ian Runacres, frontman with the label’s ‘nearly men’ Dislocation Dance, points out, “For those outside Manchester the assumption is that Factory was it.”

“I think New Hormones actually had better bands than Factory,” says ex-Ludus drummer, Graham ‘Dids’ Dowdall. Runacres concurs: “New Hormones was a better label than Factory; of that I have no doubt.”

“Factory boy through and through”, Nathan McGough, naturally disagrees: “New Hormones was important because it was the first independent in Manchester if not the UK. But it hasn’t left the same footprint on Manchester [as Factory].”

For Liz Naylor, New Hormones and Factory had a “really complicated’ relationship. “Factory we all just used to call ‘Fat Tory’ records and they were like the mill owners. There was a real, palpable sense of their power in the city,” she says. “I don’t wholly suggest that Tony [Wilson] went out to do that, and certainly not Rob [Gretton], who was a lovely feller. But that was just how it was because they achieved success quite early.”

With Factory’s power came a sense of exclusion. “I think it’s to do with Saville’s graphics in a way,” says Naylor. “It sends out an aesthetic that says ‘No’. There was something much more approachable about Richard – he’d be around and you’d see him around. I think Tony, because he was on telly, had a kind of distance. I went to Palatine Road [Factory HQ] maybe twice and I felt quite intimidated by being there.”

[Factory] really did have their heads up their own arses,” reckons CP Lee. “It wasn’t deliberate, it was just the way they were – deadly earnest – and it went hand in hand with what we used to call intense young men with minds as narrow as their ties. Then you’d go to New Hormones and it would be Nico jacking up in the bog. Liz and Cath trying to get five quid together to write the next City Fun. And Richard… Just complete madness.”

“New Hormones was more of a family thing than Factory,” says Graham Massey, whose Biting Tongues recorded for both labels at different stages of their career. “Tony always had this media connection as well that sort of widened it out. It didn’t feel quite as cottage industry. Two different styles, definitely.”

Despite Factory’s pre-eminence, relations between the two camps were friendly: “Both labels looked on each other quite affectionately,” recalls Runacres. He felt that New Hormones and Factory “had a common purpose. We were comrades. A tangible example was my loan of Vini Reilly’s amp for a gig in Liverpool, (or did he lend mine?).” He also recalls how on the Dislocation Dance US Tour, “Tony Wilson helped to finance the hire of our backline when the New Hormones cheque bounced. For that, I’m forever in defence of Tony’s reputation.”

Tony and Lindsay Wilson lived on Broadway, just round the corner from 569 Wilmslow Road, home of Richard Boon, Ian Runacres and Pete Wright. “They used to pop in all the time,” says Runacres. “The first time I met Tony Wilson, he was sitting on the floor in the front room [at 569 Wilmslow Road] showing someone out of Dislocation Dance how to solve the Rubik’s Cube,” recalls Ken Hollings.

“[Tony and I] were very close friends,” says Boon. “We’d just hang together.”

Lawrence Fitzgerald recalls an early encounter with the two men: “I remember being in a kitchen with Tony Wilson and Richard Boon, chatting. It was quite obvious where the ideas came from. Tony Wilson, I don’t think he had an original idea. They came from Richard.”

“Tony was a fan. Richard was different: he was an innovator,” believes Runacres.

But, says Albertos and Durutti Column drummer, Bruce Mitchell, “If Wilson stole an idea he would make it work.”

Yet, if New Hormones sometimes lacked the wherewithal to implement its ideas, conversely sometimes Factory’s conceptualism got in the way of the music and the individual bands.

During Biting Tongues’ spell with Factory, Howard Walmsley recalls Tony Wilson complaining about a bill from the record producer while happily spending much more on the sleeve designer. He says this was indicative of “A value system that didn’t actually understand the thing that seemed to be at the centre of it, the music.”

“Factory had a sort of set image. If you signed with them you had to have their image. And you had the Martin Hannett sound put on you as well,” says Andy Diagram. “Raincoats and dour and miserable Manchester,” is how Fitzgerald defines the house style.

“Half the bands were forced into it,” believes Eric Random. “Or they’d end up promoting a weaker version of something else.”

“One tends to think of all the Factory bands being quite the same,” agrees CP Lee. With New Hormones, “There wasn’t a house ident. It was definitely a whole mess of individuals. Which possibly led to its eventual demise.”

“If New Hormones had had the same resources as Factory, it would have left a bigger mark,” believes Runacres. “Some Factory releases trade on the label, they don’t stand up so well by themselves.”

“There was no great vision with Factory, which is odd because Factory has this reputation of being a visionary label,” says Massey. “A lot of it [was] front,” he reckons.

The signing of Biting Tongues could be seen as evidence of this lack of vision: “Factory didn’t know who we were,” remembers Walmsley. “They had no idea who we were or what we did. But they did it.”

“If some of the New Hormones bands had been on Factory and vice versa the world would have been a different place,” believes Runacres. “In some ways better.”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

The Beach Club: inspiration for The Hacienda

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In April 1980, a collective of friends based around the offices of New Hormones records in Manchester launched a new club night in the city. The group included Richard Boon (New Hormones label chief and Buzzcocks manager), Eric Random (then a member of Pete Shelley’s side project, The Tiller Boys), Sue Cooper (accountant for Buzzcocks and New Hormones), Lindsay Wilson (Tony Wilson’s ex-wife – now Lindsay Reade) and Suzanne O’Hara (Martin Hannett’s girlfriend). Held each Tuesday (“there may have been some exceptions”, says Boon), The Beach Club would showcase “cult, weird films with cult, weird bands,” he explains.

“Although Lindsay Reade might dispute this, I think I found the venue for the Beach Club,” says Liz Naylor, who together with partner Cath Carroll, published City Fun fanzine, put together from a desk at the New Hormones HQ at 50 Newton Street. Oozits, formerly known as the Picador, “used to be a really disreputable, scuzzy gay club,” recalls Naylor. “It was completely horrid. It was a complete firetrap. And it had a sort of seedy ambience that was perfect.”

Oozits was situated on Newgate Street in Shudehill, close to Manchester Victoria railway station. “It was a very seedy area,” recalls Manchester music historian and ex-Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias frontman, CP Lee. “There were dreadful hardcore porn shops that had wooden windows because they were always being set on fire or kicked in.”

“At the Beach Club, you’d walk in, go up a really nasty, rickety flight of stairs, pass a really horrible toilet, go up some more stairs and there was the room where they showed the films. On the top floor, you had the bands,” recalls Naylor. “It could have out-seeded the club in Blue Velvet,” reckons Dislocation Dance drummer, Dick Harrison.

The club’s name was inspired both by the Situationist slogan, ‘under the pavement: the beach,’ and by a poster belonging to Richard Boon’s friend Jon Savage for a 1960s exploitation movie called Horror on Party Beach. “It was a kind of rock’n’roll/Annette Funicello film, but with atomic creatures coming out of the sea and ripping teenagers to shreds,” explains Ken Hollings of Biting Tongues, one of the groups who played the club.

Not everyone got or cared about the references, recounts Naylor. “At the time we just thought, ‘oh, The Beach Club: let’s go there.’ We were 20 years old or whatever – it’s just somewhere you go and get drunk.”

The club’s founders had much more ambitious and idealistic motives, however. “When I asked Richard why he set up the club, he talked quite a lot about really needing to carry on the impetus of the Factory, about creating a space,” says Naylor. “There was nowhere which had that sense which the Factory at the PSV did, of a community,” says Boon. [Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus’s Factory at the PSV (aka the Russell Club, Hulme) ran from May 1978 to September 1979].

For Eric Random, “One of the reasons for starting the Beach Club was to do things like Certain Random Cabaret [a joint performance with members of A Certain Ratio and Cabaret Voltaire] – entertaining with the films, but also mixing the groups together. Different combinations of people would play at certain times. They were all just little experiments really. Nothing was focused to anything in the future. They were one-off things.”

Sue Cooper’s father ran film distribution company, Contemporary Films, as well as London’s Phoenix Cinema. “Through her family connections she could track down which distributor had what and she knew what to say,” explains Boon. “Don’t know where we got the projector: probably from the Manchester Film and Video Workshop, which was basically a guy called Bob Jones.”

“We had to become a registered film club,” says Random. Members paid 25p to join. “It was such a small space that it was quite limited musically as to what we could put on. I enjoyed putting the films on more than anything,” he recalls.

Screenings included art house staples such as Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising, Cocteau’s Orphee and Tod Browning’s Freaks. “In the days before video there wasn’t much of an outlet for this kind of film,” says Cath Carroll. “Admittedly, there was the Aaben in Hulme, which was excellent, but it tended to show much drier fare,” she adds.

Bands were allowed to pick the films that appeared the night they played. “Or I’d give them a choice of so many films,” says Random. “Eraserhead was our choice of movie,” recalls Ian Runacres of Dislocation Dance. “We had an argument about whether it should be Pepe le Moko or Orphee,” says Dick Witts of The Passage.

“It was like a sandwich – film, band, film, band – it just went on for hours,” says Fraser Reich (aka Fraser Diagram of The Diagram Brothers). “The Beach Club was fantastic: very original.”

CP Lee played the Beach Club with an Albertos offshoot, (“probably The George Sugden XI”). “I remember thinking, Richard’s doing what we used to do in the 1960s – put a band on with a film showing at the same time; dancers; just weird shit. It was great!”

“Watching the films there felt rather illicit and underground,” recollects Carroll. “There was a bit of a frisson when they showed A Clockwork Orange because it was still banned,” confirms Fraser Diagram. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Ai-No-Corrida also found their way to the Beach Club’s screen.

“People wanted to see them, you know. It seems ridiculous now you can watch them on TV,” says Random.

“All the Factory crew came down the Beach Club,” remembers Peter Wright, who managed Dislocation Dance and later helped Boon out with the running of New Hormones. “A lot of the bands that played at the Beach Club were Factory bands,” adds Random. New Order played their first ever gig at the club on July 29, 1980, disguised as The Names. They wanted a sympathetic crowd for their debut. “I think everyone in the audience knew them,” says Random.  “I just remember them being terrible and shambolic,” says Naylor. “They sounded like Popol Vuh,” reckons Boon.

The roll call of Beach Club veterans stretches from the Diagram Brothers and Kevin Hewick to the Mudhutters and Royal Family and the Poor. “I remember seeing Section 25 and having to walk out of the room because they were so loud,” says Naylor. One surprising and very well-known name also chalked up at a gig at the Beach Club, as Eric Random recalls: “I remember we tried to book Blurt and the agent said if you’re having Blurt will you have this other band that we’ve got. I said ‘alright, we’ll have them as support’. So we get there and there’s this huge artic – you couldn’t even get it in the same street. The band had endless equipment. Blurt saw this and left in the end. It was a complete disaster… So U2 ended up playing there, but I left, I didn’t watch them.”

The Beach Club didn’t last long. “It seemed to go on forever, but I think it only lasted six weeks or so,” says Carroll. “We were running out of music to put on,” recalls Random. The precise date of the final Beach Club is unclear, although a Melody Maker article from February 28, 1981, refers to the club as having closed down “when attendance began to drop.”

“The flyer for the last night was the last page of Horror on Party Beach, a detourned page from the comic of the film,” recalls Boon. “The last panel was a speech bubble saying ‘There’s nothing go on here but the recordings. Let’s Fuck. The End’.”

Eric Random says that, “Afterwards, somebody sneaked in and carried on the name for about a year.”

Despite its short lifespan, The Beach Club has left its mark.

“It was as important in changing clubbing in Manchester as the Hacienda,” reckons Graham Massey (Biting Tongues, 808 State). “It was the first time Manchester focused in that arts way, because it had cinema and everything as well. It had that feel.” For Biting Tongues drummer, Eddie Sherwood,  “It was more than just a club where you went and got drunk and watched a band.”

“Looking back it was probably the best club night in Manchester at the time,” says Andy Diagram. “[The Hacienda] took the idea of the Beach Club and made it bigger, “ believes Naylor. “We didn’t give it a catalogue number, possibly a mistake,” muses Boon.

The former site of the club was razed several years ago and a car park built over it. But the memories and influence live on. Under the pavement…

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Individually dressed

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One criticism levelled at New Hormones is that many of its sleeves lacked the strong visual appeal and brand identity of contemporaries such as Factory. “Ludus aside, New Hormones records tended to be indifferently dressed, which doesn’t always reflect well on the music within,” reckons James Nice, whose label, LTM Recordings, has reissued a lot of Manchester post-punk material.

This critique is “possibly true’ admits Malcolm Garrett, Buzzcocks’ pioneering sleeve designer and co-founder of assorted iMaGes, the agency that created distinctive cover art for early 80s pop giants such as Duran Duran and Simple Minds. “Richard has a genuinely more eclectic taste and gave much freer reign to each artist to develop their own visual persona, not always with any real sophistication or finesse,” he says in Boon’s defence.

For CP Lee, “That’s the essential charm of it: do the sleeve yourself. We’re not going to get Malcolm Garrett, here’s a pencil and some paper – you do it.”

“Budget was an issue a lot,” explains Ian Runacres. “Richard was into graphic design, but his approach was ‘how can I get something interesting, but which doesn’t cost a lot?’” “Richard and Linder were both brilliant in terms of packaging and design ideas,” believes Peter Wright. The sleeve for Diagram Brothers’ Some Marvels of Modern Science is a case in point. “Richard introduced us to the idea of a tangram, these triangles that you put together to form different shapes,” recalls Simon Diagram. “We invented a font, me and Simon, which, thank God, no one else has used – it’s very hard to read,” says Boon. Images of toasters and the atomic bomb were juxtaposed “to make some obtuse comment about technology,” he explains.

Some Marvels remains one of Boon’s favourite New Hormones sleeve designs: “It was a good collaboration with the musicians and it sort of made its point.” Slip that Disc by Dislocation Dance is another. “Cool. Totally ripped off from Parlophone. That was when we were getting on better with the woman at Rank Xerox. Most of it was done on the photocopier.” Another jacket for the same band was less successful: “I didn’t like the horrible yellow back of Music Music Music. That was me getting the wrong Pantone number,” admits Boon. The label boss’s other pet hate is Cruisin’ for Santa: “It was just in a white sleeve with a sticker on it because we were trying to trim costs.”

Despite the occasional faux pas, for Garrett the theory of allowing each band to develop its own visual identity was sound. In his own designs he says he tried to steer clear of a recognisable ‘style’, “Seeking instead to establish and develop a separate identity, if you will, that I hoped would be distinctive, relevant and individual to each band.”

Garrett also tried to apply this philosophy to his work for New Hormones (he was briefly involved with the label when it returned to action in 1980, putting together the mechanical artwork for print for Big Noise from the Jungle, and, more significantly, the cover art for ORG 5). “The Decorators sleeve was in many ways typical of a number of sleeves I did around that time that drew reference from a suitably evocative photograph that I found in a some obscure book in my library, which I had amassed book by book from junk shops and the like over the years,” the designer recalls. “Its mood was eerily ‘romantic’ in a way I suppose, with a face at a broken window. It may well have been a still from a horror movie (used without permission), but I was not interested in anything ‘spooky’, merely its inherent sense of mystery.

“It has been said that some of my work displays what has been called a ‘pop constructivist’ mentality. It’s safe to say I like bright colors and geometric designs. I like optical ‘games’, which give a sense of physicality to otherwise flat, hard-edged designs. That kind of approach didn’t seem relevant for The Decorators and the brooding, narrative style of the lyric writer, Mick Bevan.”

While New Hormones sleeves were all about the individual artist, for better or worse, “The personae of the bands at Factory were certainly subservient to the overarching persona of the label itself, with the caveat that Joy Division and New Order really were the persona of the label embodied in vinyl, so their visualisation was indistinguishable from Factory itself. Almost every other sleeve could equally have been for this band alone: the vision was a much more singular vision,” suggests Garrett. “This was true certainly up until Central Station and Happy Mondays shook things up again in the late eighties,” he concludes.

Classic New Hormones sleeves:
ORG 1 – Richard Boon’s homage to Walter Benjamin.
ORG 5 – Malcolm Garrett brings out the brooding mystery of Mick Bevan’s songwriting.
ORG 10 – Postmodern Parlophone pastiche. Dig those trumpet players!
ORG 11 – A child’s skin being burned off in silver and blue.
ORG 14 – Gods Gift go Edvard Munch.
ORG 17 – Richard Boon’s fold together Diagram Brothers biography is a marvel of modern design, even if the ‘Tangram’ font is “very hard to read”.
CAT 2 – The best of a plethora of great Ludus sleeves: Pickpocket came in a plastic wallet with SheShe, a booklet of lyric and photo montage fragments by Linder and photographer Christina Birrer.
CAT 3 – A plastic ‘transistor radio’ containing photos of DJ ‘Mike Barnes’ (CP Lee), Radio Sweat bumper stickers, and other ephemera.

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:41 pm

“An open house to derelicts”

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Richard Boon began renting the office at 50 Newton Street when he was managing Buzzcocks. “I was living in a shared house and it didn’t seem appropriate to be working from it. So I found a cheap office,” he recalls.

“The offices were hardly salubrious. You knew they weren’t exactly rolling in it,” remembers Lawrence Fitzgerald. “Looking back, it could have been the 1930s, the architecture of the building and our maverick but impoverished lifestyles somehow became blurred,” says Ian Runacres.

“Chaos,” is Paul Emmerson’s memory of the New Hormones HQ. “Just insane really,” says Lix Naylor. “Random was pretty out of it quite a lot of the time.”

Boon had invited Naylor and Cath Carroll to run their City Fun fanzine from his office. “Richard’s invitation of free rent and phone was not just generous, but a great opportunity to perch and gripe whilst watching the scene go by,” says Carroll. “We liked drinking as well. And Richard liked drinking and speed and they were probably the things that bonded us,” believes Naylor.

“Richard Boon’s kindness” is Carroll’s favourite memory of 50 Newton Street: “He used to buy us halves when we were broke, even though he wasn’t too far behind owing to a failure to put out Wham!-style records. Least favourite memory but still entertaining was the incredibly bad tempered lift operator, Tommy. He seemed to be well past retirement age and had a grudge against the world that going up and down in a lift all day did nothing to wipe clean.”

“He was a complete cunt,” says Naylor. “A one-armed armed, belligerent Irish ex-soldier.” “Grumpy old sod. Probably had a very interesting story,” says Boon. Was he a potential New Hormones signing? “I didn’t have Bob Last’s wit.”

To add to the general mayhem, Boon also let out a large connecting room to self-styled doctor of theology, Alan Wise, and Nigel Baguely (“his waster sidekick” – Naylor). Together they promoted a lot of new wave and art rock gigs under the banner of Wise Moves. “Alan Wise is one of the most bizarre people you’ll ever, ever encounter,” reckons Naylor. “The James Young book about Nico is fantastic on Alan Wise – it nails him exactly.”

“Ideally they were supposed to be there to pay half the rent, because I couldn’t afford the whole rent,” explains Boon. “Did they pay? Now and again.”

By 1982, Wise was also managing Nico. “She was an extraordinary presence,” says Naylor. Boon’s favourite recollection from Newton Street involves the German chanteuse: “She comes in the office to wait to be picked up by the road crew – the van’s running late. She’s sat reading this book, she keeps bursting out laughing: Nico, what are you reading that’s so funny? And she says, ‘Bleeeak Houuuuse’.”

Another bohemian figure lurking in the shadows was Steven Patrick Morrissey. “He just used to sit in the corner ogling Linder – Starstruck,” laughs Eric Random. Lawrence Fitzgerald recalls seeing the future Smith in a “trilby and long trenchcoat.” Others have no recollection of his being there at all. “In those days Morrissey was a bit like Zelig – he was present at all these major events – at the Russell Club, at the New Hormones offices – but no-one noticed him,” says Runacres.

“He was in and out the office quite a lot, because he was big mates with Linder,” says Boon. “He gave me a cassette of him singing very quietly fragments of songs. And I’m sure some lyrics ended up on Reel around the Fountain and the Hand that Rocks the Cradle. And there was a Bessie Smith song, a blues called ‘Wake up Johnny’. And the trope, which I quote myself on endlessly, is a couple of months later Johnny knocked on Morrissey’s door and woke him up.”

The tape may still exist: “If only I could find it,” says Boon. “He would kill me if I put it on Ebay!”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

New Hormones Discography

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RECORDS
ORG 1 Buzzcocks: Spiral Scratch EP 01/77 (reissued “in unlimited edition” in August 1979)
ORG 2 Linder/Jon Savage: The Secret Public (A3 collage fanzine) 01/78
ORG 3 The Tiller Boys: Big Noise From The Jungle (7″ EP) 02/80
ORG 4 Ludus: The Visit (12″) 03/80
ORG 5 The Decorators: Twilight View / Reflections (7″) 07/80
ORG 6 Eric Random: That’s What I Like About Me (12″) 09/80
ORG 7 Dislocation Dance: Perfectly In Control (7″ EP) 10/80
ORG 8 Ludus: My Cherry Is In Sherry / Anatomy Is Not Destiny 10/80
ORG 9 Diagram Brothers: Bricks / Postal Bargains (7″) 04/81
ORG 10 Dislocation Dance: Slip That Disc (12″) 08/81
ORG 11 Eric Random: Dow Chemical Company/ Skin Deep (7″) 05/81
ORG 12 Ludus: Mother’s Hour / Patient (7″) 06/81
+No-one wanted ORG 13
ORG 14 Gods Gift: Gods Gift (12″ EP) 07/81
ORG 15 Dislocation Dance: Music, Music, Music (LP) 10/81
ORG 16 Ludus: The Seduction (2×12″ LP) 02/82
ORG 17 Diagram Brothers: Some Marvels Of Modern Science (LP) 11/81
ORG 18 Eric Random: Earthbound Ghost Need (LP) (03/82)
ORG 19 Dislocation Dance: Rosemary / Shake (7″) (05/82)
ORG 20 Ludus: Danger Came Smiling (LP) (09/82)
ORG 21 Diagram Brothers: Discordo (10″ EP) (06/82)
ORG 22 Dislocation Dance: You’ll Never, Never Know / You Can Tell (7″) (10/82)
ORG 25 Gods Gift: Discipline / Then Calm Again (7″) (10/82)
ORG 30 Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias: Cruising With Santa (7″) (10/82)

CASSETTES
In 1981, New Hormones released a series of three limited edition cassettes (500) that came with a booklet, badge, stickers and a sweatshirt offer.

CAT 1 Ludus: Pickpocket 07/81
CAT 2 C.P. Lee Mystery Guild: Radio Sweat 08/81
CAT 3 Biting Tongues: Live It 09/81

NORTHERN LIGHTS
Audio magazine, created and compiled by Shaun Moores
NL 3 10/81 (see image in Graphic Design/Packaging section for track listing)
NL 4 (Northern Lights, February 1982) 02/82 (Included two live tracks by Danse Society, a feature on Biting Tongue Howard Walmsley and an interview with original Hacienda manager Ginger a few months before the club opened. A full tracklisting can be found here).

(Shaun Moores: “There were four issues – the last two of which were distributed and funded by New Hormones (as a result of a loose contact I had with Pete Wright and Richard Boon – through knowing one or two people in Dislocation Dance). The first two issues were very much ‘home made’ and I distributed those myself, by taking train rides to Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield – and approaching record shops in person.” According to Moores, the two ‘home made’ issues included an interview with The Passage and a live recording of Cabaret Voltaire at Plato’s Ballroom in Liverpool. As this link to Northern Lights 2 shows, the second tape (a limited edition of 150) featured live tracks by Eric Random and Dislocation Dance, by permission of New Hormones. A full tracklisting for the first Northern Lights can be found here.

UNRELEASED
Records
ORG 23 Ambrose Reynolds: The World’s Greatest Hits (mini-LP) – later issued by Zulu records
ORG 24 Reserved for Ludus
ORG 26 Biting Tongues: Libreville (LP) – later issued by Paragon Records)
ORG 27 Dislocation Dance: Remind Me (single) – later issued by Rough Trade
ORG 28 Reserved for Ludus
ORG 29 Gods Gift: Clamour Club

Cassettes
CAT 4 Ambrose: 20 Golden Great Assassinations

REISSUES
Biting Tongues: After The Click (Retrospective 1980-1989) (includes tracks from Live it and Iyahbhoone, originally released on Northern Lights issue 3) (ltmcd 2371)
The Diagram Brothers: Some Marvels Of Modern Science + Singles (ltmcd 2480)
Dislocation Dance: Music Music Music / Slip That Disc! (ltmcd 2461)
Dislocation Dance: Music Music Music (Vinyl Japan ASKCD 96)
Ludus: The Visit/The Seduction (ltmcd 2333)
Ludus: Pickpocket/Danger Came Smiling (ltmcd 2338)
Eric Random: Subliminal 1980-82 (compilation) (ltmcd 2437)
CP Lee and Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias: Radio Sweat (the complete CP Lee Mystery Guild recordings for New Hormones, plus unreleased Albertos live tracks and rarities) (Overground B000005ZFZ).

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Fun with the Crones

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City Fun fanzine began life as a collective venture (a bit like the MMC of print). Liz Naylor recalls buying the second issue in “about 1978: I was at a Fall gig at Droylesden Town Hall and bought a copy. It was Roneod [mimeographed] and it was kind of crude and it printed everything than anybody ever sent in. I was just 16 and a rather angsty teenager. So I wrote something I find incredibly embarrassing. And they printed it.”

Naylor then got involved with the running of the publication and also brought her girlfriend of the time Cath Carroll on board. “At that point we had collective meetings and it was all very open,” she says. The City Fun collective was founded by “a guy, Andy Zero – I’ve no idea what his real name was – who was a total hippy and lived in a place called Mossley which is on the outskirts of North Manchester and worked in a wholefood shop or something,” recalls Naylor. “There was a guy called Martin X who didn’t live anywhere, who was a kind of bizarre vagrant, who was quite old. He was probably in his late 30s then. And he managed The Distractions at the time. There was a guy called JC and a guy called Neil. I mean it was the culture where you’d have to have assumed names because everyone was signing on. And JC and Neil had a squat in Hulme, about two minutes walk away from The Factory. Anybody could crash there. So [City Fun] came out of a hippy/Hulme squatter type milieu.”

“[Andy Zero] secured distribution through this indie mag distributor who lived several bus rides away in North Manchester and who seemed to sell the stuff that more mainstream distributors would not touch, for reasons moral and/or economic,” remembers Cath Carroll. “After a couple of years, it was just us and Andy and we became so insufferable that he left,” she says. “I was a very young punk and I was utterly disdainful of his kind of hippyness,” admits Naylor.

After their power struggle with Zero (“makes it sound like the Conrad Black empire,” laughs Naylor), the two women decided to make City Fun more professional, publishing monthly rather than on an irregular basis. The content also became more focused: “It sort of emerged that you just got endless poems sent by people and Andy was very much like, ‘we print everything’ and we were like, ‘no, this is just shit, we don’t want people’s poems’,” explains Naylor: “A bit of quality control.”

Stuart James remembers Naylor and Carroll’s reviews of bands as being “Very funny – just very honest.”

City Fun held a couple of fundraising gigs, including Stuff the Superstars in the summer of ‘79 with a line-up that included Joy Division, The Fall and the Frantic Elevators. “Various bands were supportive of us and one of the big bands that was supportive of City Fun was The Fall because they were outside of the emerging power base of Factory Records. And they have remained so,” says Naylor. “There was a very close relationship with The Fall and there was quite a close relationship with New Hormones,” she adds.

“[City Fun] was a very important alternative voice in Manchester at the time,” believes Naylor. The only other ‘underground’ periodical was The New Manchester Review, “which was run by a load of hippies as far as we were concerned,” she says.

Carroll and Naylor took great delight in winding up the Factory Records crowd in print. “We always thought Tony [Wilson] saw right through the Factory baiting – we were clearly obsessed – but he [claimed] he took great offence, which is not what we wanted,” says Carroll. “We were particularly keen on writing about Vini Reilly, with particular reference to his hey nonny-no haircut and gentle minstrel-like persona. He came up to us when we were selling City Fun at the Hacienda- it had just opened- and asked if we were the ones who wrote the pieces. Vin may seem like a gentle creature but he had hard man Wythenshawe Slaughter and The Dogs connections and can take care of himself very nicely. We were wondering if we’d escape with teeth but he bought us a drink and said how much he enjoyed reading what we wrote. And thus began a delightful friendship.

“In fact, everyone at Factory took it very well. Peter Hook was always exceptionally civil, except when we were extremely rude and grumpy once backstage at a Joy Division/Distractions gig and he called us couple of bad names, which made us very happy,” grins Carroll.

As well as commenting on the music scene in City Fun, Naylor and Carroll soon got involved at the sharp end, badgering Alan Wise into giving their band Gay Animals some support gigs. They also started representing Ludus under the name Crone Management. The name came from Linder, recalls Naylor. “Linder was forever reading feminist literature both fiction and non-fiction and I think it came from one of those early feminist books about reclaiming language: ‘the word crone has always been associated with witches…’ The whole management thing was just complete concept. I don’t think we did anything. Linder just liked the idea of having us because me and Cath were very posey: Cath would wear a black cape and I would wear a full male suit. We’d go to the Beach Club absolutely dressed up and Cath took to wearing white face make-up to look more deathly.”

The Crones had an important role to play in Ludus’s notorious gig at the Hacienda on November 5, 1982, when Linder opened up a meat-lined dress to reveal a large black dildo. “When I saw Buck’s Fizz I was so angry. I thought ‘I’m going to take my skirt off at the Hacienda’, recalls Linder. “I wanted meat – I felt strongly as a vegetarian that eating meat was wrong,” she adds.

“With Liz Naylor from Crone Management I went to the Harmony Centre [one of only two sex shops in Manchester]. It was family run. We told the owner we wanted a dildo. I don’t think either of us really knew what one was. He asked what colour and at the same time Liz said pink and I said black. He asked what we wanted it for. I said it’s for stage. He disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a thing called ‘Spunky the spraying penis’ – ‘It’s a little too theatrical’, we said. Eventually he produced a fairly standard black dildo. So we bought it went for a cup of tea at Kendall’s. Liz got it out and said ‘looks fine’.”

On the night of the gig, a cocktail called the Bloody Linder was on sale in the club’s Gay Traitor bar. ‘Bloody’ tampons and cigarette stubs were left on each table. Naylor and Carroll handed out chicken gizzards wrapped in gay pornography. “The management of the Hacienda freaked out because they didn’t want their Ben Kelly designed floor to get bloody,” recounts Linder. “We were shown the door very quickly.”

“That was a great performance piece,” reckons Richard Boon. “Just a fantastic piece of work.”

COPYRIGHT JUSTIN TOLAND 2007/2008 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Written by justintoland

February 3, 2008 at 1:32 pm