Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Factory (The Story of the Record Label) - Mick Middles

They say never judge a book by it's cover and this is certainly the case with Mick Middles 'Factory (The Story of the record label)'... Or at least the title is rather misleading - seeing as nothing is actually released on Factory until around page 140. What we actually have is Middles (a Manchester based music journalist) recounting the pre and post-punk Manchester scene from the 70's onwards. Legendary local bands such as Slaughter and the Dogs, The Distractions and Albertos y Los Trios Paranois thru to The Buzzcocks, Warsaw/Joy Division and Factory stalwarts A Certain Ratio and The Durutti Column are covered in detail. As the book progresses more coverage is given to Middles associations with Joy Division and New Order... Indeed, 'Factory...' is actually an updated version of the imaginatively titled 'From Joy Division to New Order' which was released in 1996.

Only in the final third of the book do you feel you're actually reading about Factory Records, and there are some fascinating details about Factory's (mostly self-imposed) financial difficulties. For example, allowing the Happy Mondays to record the follow-up to 'Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches' in Barbados (where they became partial to crack) and letting New Order record Technique in Ibiza - the two albums costing Factory 1 million pounds... Later, Factory were in the ludicrous position with New Order of owing Bernard Sumner 500K for New Order/Electronic but being owed 500K by Peter Hook (Revenge) and 500K by Steve Morris/Gillian Gilbert (The Other Two). In addition, Factory were losing money on the Hacienda having taken out a bridging loan in Germany at 8% above base rate and being caught with their pants down as the property market crashed. With drug wars in Manchester putting off potential mortgage providers, and interest rates up and high as 15%, Factory were now paying 23% for the Hacienda... As negotiations about a London Records takeover stalled, Factory went under owing around 2 million pounds.

Middles also covers the London Records subsidized 'Factory Too' - a period not well documented elsewhere and it was interesting that both Oasis and Pulp were passed over due to lack of financing...

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