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Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records [Kindle Edition]

James Nice
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1978, a 'Factory for Sale' sign gave Alan Erasmus and Tony Wilson a name for their fledgling Manchester club night. Though they couldn't have known it at the time this was the launch of one of the most significant musical and cultural legacies of the late twentieth century. The club's electrifying live scene soon translated to vinyl, and Factory Records went on to become the most innovative and celebrated record labels of the next thrity years.

Always breaking new ground, Factory introduced the listening public to bands such as Joy Division, whose Unknown Pleasures was the label's first album release, New Order, Durutti Column and Happy Mondays. Propelled onwards by the inspirational cultural entrepreneur, Tony Wilson, Factory always sought new ways to energise popular consciousness, such as the infamous Hacienda nightclub, which enjoyed a chequered 15-year history after opening in 1982. Factory's reputation as a cultural hub was also bolstered by its fierce commitment to its own visual identity, achieved through the iconic sleeve designs and compaigning artwork of Peter Savelle.

However, the lofty reputation of Factory's musical and artistic ventures were only sporadically converted into commercial success, and when London Records pulled out of a takeoever bid in 1992 because of the absence of contracts, the fate of Factory Communications Ltd was sealed. But the label's downfall has done nothing to quell interest in the Factory legend, as films such as 24-Hour Party People and Control attest. Yet despite the perennial interest, the definitive and authentic story of Factory Records has never been told -- until now.

Shadowplayers is the most complete, authoritative and thoroughly researched account of how a group of provincial anarchists and entrepreneurs saw off bankers, journalists and gun-toting gangsters to create the most influential record label of modern times. Based on both archive and contemporary sources, the book tells the full story of Factory's inventive, idiosyncratic and tragic personalities, and ultimately, the acclaimed and much-loved music it produced.

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Review

`Familiar Manchester music saga retold in epic detail' 4 STARS -- Q Magazine

`...detailed history unfolds the tangled tale of how Factory produced music that helped to shape the scene way beyond Manchester's Hacienda' -- Waterstone's Books Quarterly

'...a very good way to immerse in its strange and inspirational story' 4 STARS
-- Mojo

"Shadowplayers is an immaculately researched history of a label born in 1978 with Joy Division and whose later peaks- New Order, the Hacienda's acid house hedonism and Happy Mondays- are as interesting as the famous, financially induced troughs" - Ben East -- Metro Scotland

"Shadowplayers offers a meticulously researched year-by-year account of the label's beginnings, its triumphs and eventual dissolution. Nice brings an encyclopaedic zeal to his recollections of such fleeting musical oddities as Crawling Chaos, Swamp Children, Biting Tongues and The Wendys, alongside Factory's more famous players." --The Independent

Factory was no Motown, you're reminded of the distictly patchy nature of much of their musical output but this is an extraordinary story, well told.
-- Word Magazine

Shadowplayers is an immaculately researched history of a label born in 1978 with Joy Division
-- Metro Scotland

`Knockout Read' --The Coventry Telegraph, 8th June 2011

About the Author

James Nice is an author, journalist and record-label owner. He once worked for Factory Benelux and now administers much of the former Factory catalogue. James Nice is the author of Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records, published by Aurum in 2010.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1302 KB
  • Print Length: 564 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1845136349
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (1 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845137256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845137250
  • ASIN: B0077FAXQC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #215,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spectacle of the Alternative 3 Jun. 2010
By RJW
Format:Hardcover
The definitive book on "the most culturally sophisticated label in the history of recorded sound". James Nice delivers the actual story of Factory; facts not myths. With a chapter for every year and two chapters for 1980 - bands, stories and connections previously overlooked are all featured. So often reduced to Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and The Hacienda the story here is expanded so that The Wake warrant numerous entries in the index and The Durutti Column story is woven throughout the text and links to Belgian label Les Disques du Crepuscule are explored.Based on numerous author interviews the story from 1976 -1992 is comprehensively covered with no artist considered too small to have their part in the unfolding story portrayed.
The book may become darker and darker as the end approaches but you still leave it inspired by Factory's love of beauty and 'art over commerce' and wondering why people demand so little these days from their bands and labels.James Nice is never afraid to be objective and critical and consequently the love and admiration that the author obviously feels for the subject carries a lot of weight. When something is praised you know it is deserved.
Shadowplayers is the much needed literary equivalent to Matthew Robertson's Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album and should be read by anyone with an interest in the musical landscape of the late seventies, eighties and early nineties and anyone intrigued by those who choose to take the path less travelled.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, fascinating, in some ways horrifying 5 Aug. 2010
By Peter Lee TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book. It's a chunky brick of a thing, encased in a shocking pink cover with tastefully embossed silver bits, but what matters is the content. And oh, what content.

The book tells the story of Factory Records from 1976 - when the Sex Pistols first played in Manchester and Tony Wilson and friends founded the Factory Club in Hulme - right through to its dissolution in 1992. It's a fascinating story, impeccably researched and wonderfully written, which concentrates on the facts rather than the anecdotes. The story is, in some ways, horrifying: a record company run with good intentions but no written contracts, and business decisions often made on personal prejudices (such as Wilson's insistence that Dry Bar should be opened in Manchester's then run-down Northern Quarter rather than close to the university on account of the fact that he disliked students) and gut feelings as opposed to market research.

The focus throughout is Factory rather than one particular aspect, so readers hoping for the detailed story of Joy Division, New Order or the Hacienda may be disappointed, but their stories are told excellently elsewhere. I recently read - and thoroughly enjoyed - Peter Hook's book about the Hacienda, and in some ways I see that book and this as companion volumes. In this book you'll find all Factory bands are covered almost equally, with plenty on the likes of Section 25 and The Durruti Column as well as New Order and Joy Division themselves, but as this book concentrates on the record company and its numerous spin-off projects they're almost characters rather than the story itself.

Towards the end when Factory begins to collapse the story darkens, and the end is always looming on the horizon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - a real book about Factory 30 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
Finally someone has written a real history of Factory Records that doesn't fall into the trap of unquestioningly re-hashing the myths. James Nice has produced a history of the Manchester label that gives a more substantial version of events than those previously published. Nice includes the part played by the 'lesser' lights among the Factory artists - Section 25, Stockholm Monsters, etc. - and isn't afraid to be critical of the decisions made by the company.

As a thorough and relatively academic work, 'Shadowplayers' offers a nice counterpoint to the entertaining, but one-dimensional version of events in 'Twenty Four Hour Party People' etc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive label biography 21 Jun. 2010
Format:Hardcover
Comparable in scope to David Cavanagh's Creation Records biog My Magpie Eyes Are On The Prize, Shadowplayers is a major work that is the ideal companion to the DVD of the same name.

James Nice is ideally placed to write the definitive account of the label, having worked for Factory's Benelux arm, as well as curating his own label, LTM, which has re-released much of the material that Factory recorded in its short life, and safeguarding the legacy of many of the artists, including The Durutti Column, Northside, Biting Tongues, Section 25 and Revenge.

Scholarly but accessible, and shot through with mordant black humour, the book is a terrific primer for anyone with even a passing interest in post-punk, and absolutely essential reading for all Factory aficionados.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Colin McCartney TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Balanced, well-paced, candid. If you've ever read the liner notes of any LTM Records (the author's own label) releases then you'll know exactly what to expect from this - and you won't be disappointed. James Nice expands these strands to 546 densely printed pages.

Wisely, Nice avoids re-telling the stories everyone already knows (Ian Curtis's suicide, Blue Monday sleeve, blah blah). Instead, he studiously assembles nuggets of information from previously published articles (some of which you will remember, some of which you won't) and his own interviews.

James himself admits that he is a fanboy, albeit a connected one - having worked for euro-Factory's sister-label Les Disques du Crepuscule. But when a fanboy writes as well as this, who needs what passes for so-called journalism?

Criticisms? Well, the black and white pictures in the middle of the book aren't up to much - I've seen most of them elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Nice has lots more Alan Erasmus photos lurking in Bonusprint envelopes in his Welsh dresser drawers. "A Factory Pictorial" should, perhaps, be his next project? Also, although you already know the ending, it's still a bit of a downer. There's no attempt to provide any pseudo-philosophical uplifting summation of the label's legacy by way of a conclusion: no big deal, just a bit depressing. The reader is left to make up his own mind.

My own opinion on the label (for what it's worth)? Commerce and uncompromising art didn't mix and the end result was that a lot of artists and suppliers who put their faith in Factory, went unpaid. That was wrong - irrespective of how immaculate the finished product appeared to be.

If you're a fan of the label then you need this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Praxis makes perfect
I've finally got round to reading this and I have to say it is the most thorough book about Factory that I've come across. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Slaz
5.0 out of 5 stars ... this as Christmas gift and it wasa hit an excellent read for those...
Bought this as Christmas gift and it wasa hit an excellent read for those interested in the Manchester music scene - Madchester the home of Factory Records and some of the best... Read more
Published 5 months ago by D. Spratt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great love it
Published 11 months ago by Julie Fell
4.0 out of 5 stars How Not to Run a Record Company
Written by a Factory insider, this is an enjoyable, well-paced journey through the history of the famous Mancunian label. Read more
Published 11 months ago by African Soul Rebel
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultimate account
If this was a course of reference for a study into Factory this is the bible. Anyone with even a passing interest or mere awareness in the label should go to this- the story told... Read more
Published 18 months ago by M. J. Farnworth
1.0 out of 5 stars missing pages
why are the pages from 115 to 146 missing in the book ?
has anyone else recieved a copy like this ?
Published on 17 April 2013 by nicholas evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill buy!
My husband hasn't put this down! One of the best chrissie presses he got I think! He is totally engrossed!
Fab read if you remember this era fondly!
Published on 5 Jan. 2012 by Bstr
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good to be forgotten
An absolutely exhaustive piece of work by someone who never lets sentiment get in the way of digging out the warts and all facts behind the FACs! Read more
Published on 7 Jan. 2011 by Mr. Simon J. Barratt
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a Factory book not solely about JD, NO and HM
There's been many books released on Factory and its many bands. However, none come anywhere close to the quality of this one. Read more
Published on 28 Aug. 2010 by Nigel Bate
5.0 out of 5 stars Factory - A key period in music
If you were like me in the late '70's early '80's music was key in your personnel life. It was the Thatcher years and times were very tough. Read more
Published on 6 Aug. 2010 by Brian Kendrick
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