I’m sure I’m not the only one who holds The Haçienda in high regard, even though I never made the trek up the M6 to these hallowed grounds of Greater Manchester. Perhaps it was the romanticism of a club that had its own Factory Records catalogue number; FAC51, or the bands who had performed there. Maybe it was the raconteur Tony Wilson, or designer Peter Saville, who had been associated with the club. Maybe it was just the single ‘Blue Monday’, clothed reportedly in the most expensive sleeve of all time. Whatever it was, The Haçienda holds a special place for many. Even though the club has made way for The Haçienda apartment block, one thing any developer can’t take away is the music that was played within those walls. Cherry Red is evoking these memories in releasing FAC 51 THE HAÇIENDA 1982. A collection taking the form of 55 songs, with over 5 hours of music that’s “been sequenced roughly in the order DJs would have played the songs”, so all that’s left to do is sit back and take in the music.
Before we start, perhaps I should add that this is not an homage to the label, but an acknowledgement of what was played at the club. If you want to recreate your own retro night, this is the ticket. Opening proceedings are Suicide and the long version of their 1979 single ’Dream Baby Dream’. Here Martin Rev and Alan Vega’s electro-punk outfit might’ve been an influence that members of New Order took onboard when they had toured America, playing NYC in 1981 following the death of Ian Curtis the previous year. Continuing, avant-garde techno band Implog‘s play their highly rated ‘Holland Tunnel Dive’ – a very left-field telling – and as each disc is spun, the listener will find that this echoes the feel of the club in the early 80s. With The Teardrop Explodes ‘Colours Fly Away‘, The Associates ‘Love Hangover‘ and Culture Club’s Extended Dance Mix of ‘I’m Afraid Of Me‘ among the tunes that are featured, we finish off with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Fives 12″ of ‘The Message‘. This seems a very suitable evening at The Haçienda on any night and from here we have a further 3 set lists to explore, so let’s hope these fill our plates amply.
It’s said in the blurb that came with this release, that the “4CD book set celebrates the roots of The Hacienda, coinciding with its 40th anniversary”, so it was not unsurprising that disc 2 begins its passage with the ‘version’ of Gregory Isaacs ’Night Nurse’, this being an instrumental allowing your brain to fill in the vocal spaces left. Jamaican-born Dennis Brown continues with his 1982 single ‘Love Has Found Its Way’, a performer Bob Marley had cited as his favourite singer, dubbing him “The Crown Prince of Reggae”, which would prove influential to thousands of reggae singers who would follow. Here, it seems we have entered an entirely different club vibe and as the sounds of Annette Peacock’s ‘Pony’ and Mathilde Santing’s ’Behind A Painted Smile’ play, this belief is nailed to the mast. Following these tunes, another different feel is offered as The Pale Fountains ‘Thank You‘ begins. It’s clear that this is a sequence very much of its time, as Tears For Fears ‘Mad World’, brushes shoulders with Siouxsie and the Banshees ’Slowdive’, Trio’s ‘Da Da Da’ and Bow Wow Wow’s ‘See Jungle’ and slightly later on Blancmange continue with their 12” to ‘Living On The Ceiling’. These are just a representation of what is in store and as disc 2 ends, another change in pace plays its part, as The Temptations ‘Ball Of Confusion’, Laura Lee, the classic ’War’ by Edwin Starr and finally Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Apache’ take their turn. It’s clear that this is not your usual club mix, but as a playlist compiled by DJs playing The Hacienda, is this any surprise?
The third disc takes quite a dark turn as Iggy and the Stooges ‘I’m Sick Of You’, begins proceedings before the skyline of 80s Manchester comes into view and Factory Records’ very own Swamp Children continue with their ‘You’ve Got Me Beat’. Here Ann Quigley provides vocals, as the band’s jazz style plays out underneath. This darker hue is shaping up to be something quite different to those tunes I had heard before, but don’t remain too comfortable as Wakefield’s Fiat Lux provide their little heard synth-pop in the guise of ‘Feels Like Winter Again’ and I find myself laughing at the sheer joy of this presentation. This band’s saxophone and keyboard player Ian Nelson proves to be the younger brother of Bill Nelson of Be-Bop Deluxe, famed throughout the 70s for their progressive electronic rock, which came of age with the release 1978’s Drastic Plastic. I can hear the dulcet tones of John Cooper Clarke in the obscure ‘Night People’, perhaps a number used in the smoochy segment of a night. Then a bass line familiar to Peter Hook comes through, but it’s not Peter Hook – it turns out to be Manchester’s very own Stockholm Monsters and here I have found new friends, in a sound I hold very close to my heart. I’m feeling this band might’ve been influenced by the sounds of Joy Division in the later 70s, remoulding these in their own image. We can find a funk feel on Royal Family and the Poor’s ‘Art On 45’. A band influenced by the situationist philosophy, reading lines fitting this thinking, amid a stripped-back funk. This soon rolls into 23 Skidoo’s ‘The Gospel Comes To New Guinea’, at which point darker clouds really seem to have assembled. A single first released in 1981, bore all the signs of an industrial post-punk funk, that would be later heard from the likes of A Certain Ratio, Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire among others. How this was received on a night spent in The Haçienda, I can only imagine. Only halfway through this disk which seems to be my sort of night. The Higsons up next, as a younger Charlie Higson provides vocals on ’Conspiracy’. This is a ska-toned number, which with a fast-paced humour, asks “…who stole my bongos, did you steel my bongos…”, a tune I can see going down very well, on a boozy night in Greater Manchester. The Psychedelic Furs follow with‘Mack The Knife’, which leads to Simple Minds with ‘Someone Somewhere (In Summertime)’. But soon this dive into 80s indie becomes a ride into 80s funk, via Chaz Jankel and ABC, as it becomes ‘Tough‘ with Kurtis Blow, this proves that it’s going to be ‘A Night To Remember’, as Shalamar leads the way, culminating in The Barry Gary Orchestra’s ‘Thunderbirds’, as punters gather belongings and make their way to the exit. Hell, that must’ve been an incredible night.
Can we make this any better, I am thinking as I turn to the final disc, and that unusual club mix I referred to earlier, is turning out to be almost a blueprint for how DJs compile their sets today. Another collection of songs of a darker hue appears on disc four, starting with Jah Wobble’s ‘Fading’. This seminal bassist, familiar on his earlier work with Public Image Limited in the late 70s, creates a grounding to these proceedings. Unashamedly moving into The Birthday Party’s ‘Release The Bats’, which roars onto the dance floor. This is an incredible shot in the arm, as Nick Cave’s post-punk outfit from down-under creates a gothic splendour, followed by Killing Joke’s ‘Empire Song’, a menacing alt-rock single with probably one of the best lead guitars to this day. It’s becoming clear as The Fall’s ‘Marquis Cha-Cha’ begins, that this selection features a heavy rhythm section, one that is compounded by early Dead Or Alive and their ‘It’s Been Hours Now’. Pete Burns howling sounds sweeter than when S.A.W. took over production and is a great deal darker. This leads aptly into Sisters Of Mercy’s ‘Alice’, displaying Andrew Eldritch’s spoken vocal technique throughout a number I remember vividly being played at alternative nights. This was their debut single, where fifth member was Doktor Avalanche, otherwise known as a BOSS DR-55 drum machine. Also part of this set is Gang Of Four’s ‘I Love A Man In Uniform, sharing this disc with the tribal drums of Big Country’s ‘Harvest Home’ and the not-dissimilar beats provided by the homegrown sounds of Lancaster’s Section Twenty Five, on their ‘Matrixmix’ of ‘Sakura’.
As I began listening to this fourth disc, I asked “can we make this any better” and just over half way through I’m finding this question answered categorically. The sounds are getting darker and I’m building my own Haçienda in my mind’s eye. So even with Blue Zoo, Heaven 17 and Defunct’s ‘Walking On Sunshine’ among those tracks still to come, Peter Hook’s endorsement of this compilation was well-founded. I’ve yet to listen to the final number, Dexys Midnight Runners ‘Come On Eileen’, a number that marked my coming of age, but I’ve dealt with that now. It was the Now series of compilations that were the order of the day growing up and other than the output from the BBC, it wasn’t until Channel 4 began broadcasting The Tube in 1982, that music beyond the mainstream became truly music for the masses. Celebrating 40 years since The Haçienda began, from 11–13, Whitworth Street West, in Greater Manchester, here is another reason to avoid those regular compilations and celebrate the alternative.