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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spectacle of the Alternative
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...
Published on 3 Jun 2010 by RJW

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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 15 months ago by nicholas evans


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spectacle of the Alternative, 3 Jun 2010
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 (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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. There's a feeling of inevitability, as Wilson's doggedness to continue with projects to their bitter end sees his company fall into oblivion, spending spiralling out of control, bands relied upon to shore up business ventures at the expense of their own salaries, and the mis-management is shockingly revealed. In some respects it reads almost like a thriller.

If any criticisms are to be made I'd have liked a few more pictures maybe - sometimes record covers are described as being beautiful or terrible, and a picture would have been good, but then again the internet is always at hand - and the few which are included are all in black and white, but they're sufficient. Also, I'd have liked maybe a catalogue of the FAC numbers, as several things are referred to initially by their name and number, then later just by their number, but this is just a niggle.

This is a superb biography of a sadly missed record label, and a reminder of how not to run a business. Buy and read this, and if you want to know more about the likes of the Hacienda or the bands you can then read other books.

Excellent.
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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
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
By 
CA James (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill buy!, 5 Jan 2012
This review is from: Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records (Paperback)
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual: 546 pages by Factory Records' unofficial curator, 18 Sep 2010
By 
Colin Mccartney (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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. If you're an obsessive, why not order the (possibly) forthcoming solid marble cover, Peter Saville/Ben Kelly-designed edition with sandpaper pages and then...don't pay for it? Revenge.

Apart from Bernard Sumner's memoirs (and, of course, not forgetting my aforementioned pictorial idea?), there surely can't be many more books about Factory Records/Joy Division/New Order that need to be published?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good to be forgotten, 7 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. Simon J. Barratt (Biggar, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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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! Clearly an enthusiast for Factory records the author weaves the story of this mercurial but troubled label into the whole Manchester and national scene through the 70s 80s and 90s. Time and again the chronology of events surprised me, and yet when I checked they were spot on. If the label baffles, intrigues or fills you with happy memories you need to read this book. Simply DEFINITIVE.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a Factory book not solely about JD, NO and HM, 28 Aug 2010
By 
Nigel Bate "FAC 51" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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There's been many books released on Factory and its many bands. However, none come anywhere close to the quality of this one. There's plenty on ACR, Section 25 and Durutti Column so it caters for all tastes and is not just focussed on Joy Division, New Order and the Mondays like all the other Factory related books. It's a bargain at this price and it really should be sellng for more and making more money for the author it is that good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factory - A key period in music, 6 Aug 2010
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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. I'm from Liverpool so I experienced it from the front line. Music was an escapism. I experienced the truly exciting times of the evolution of punk (Eric's) which really did have a major impact on music but then some of the major bands during this era (Clash, Pistols, The Jam, Stranglers & Siouxie) started to play the big venue circuit. The fans were disillusioned with this so a sub culture was created both in Liverpool and Manchester with Factory having a huge influence and of course the introduction of the Hacienda. At the time the Hacienda for me, was the ultimate club in this country.
When I read 'Shadowplayers' it took me right back to those heady times. The attention to detail is right there for everyone to read and understand. Joy Division, New Order, Echo & the Bunnymen & A Certain Ratio. Ahhhh! Bliss. Thanks Tony!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal, 1 Aug 2010
By 
Mr. Neil Horner "Northern Muse" (Cheshire,UK.) - See all my reviews
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No need to harp on about this - it is the book which was waiting to be written (much as I love the last Morley one) and it should be read while listening to the various compilations and reissues from the Benelux and Crepescule labels on the fantastic LTM imprint, as well as the Glasgow New Order set. In a personally diabolical year, it is this sort of thing that has kept me going (and friends like Steve, Wolf, Dawn, Frosty, and now Rossy (slight return)). Magnificent!
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Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records
Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records by James Nice (Paperback - 1 Jun 2011)
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