Factory Records: Communications 1978-92 (Standard) Box set, Limited Edition
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While not meaning to under appreciate the importance of Factory records as a worthy model of independence, Communications does seem to underline a simple fact (ha!): that Tony Wilson's bespoke cottage industry devoted to promoting the excellence of its Mancunian stable really could get it awfully wrong at times. Besides the unimpeachable jewels of say Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire or even early James this box set contains some right old duffers. Mind you, when Anthony H and co. got it right, they REALLY got it right.
It seems hardly worth going on about the thoroughly documented, canonised and even biopic-ed Ballardian miserabalists, Joy Division. Martin Hannett's productions will always defy time. But let's face it, Curtis et al were, like Mike Oldfield with Virgin, almost the sole reason that Wilson's label became as iconic as it did. And New Order's forsquare disco tendencies floated them through the rest of the 80s. But there's plenty more here to make you believe that, at least for a spell, factory showed unwavering taste. The Durutti Column's spidery ambient guitars; A Certain Ratio's now-hipper-than-hell white boy funk; Section 25's minimal thunder; and let's not forget marvellous one-offs like...erm, Crispy Ambulance?
Factory's rather arch insistence on labelling not only their records but their venues and various multimedia offshoots with sequential catalogue numbers meant that while they traded under the banner of envelope pushing, they were also appealing in the main to a male fanbase who loved to COLLECT stuff. In truth the roster, which often, more by luck than judgement, captured some seminal acts at the earliest parts of their careers (The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, James, OMD) could also reflect on what the label was missing out on.
While the late 80s dance 'n' pills revolution found a spiritual home in the Northern metropolis, its purveyors here now seem remarkably lumpy. We'll gloss over travesties like Northside, but even The Happy Mondays seem a little clodhopping in retrospect, despite their Ibizan roots. Factory may have had the Hacienda as their temple of clubbing, but you'll find no 808 State or the like here.
Of course, it was Wilson's 80% bull spouting ratio that made Factory more alluring than 'quieter' yet just as important labels like Rough Trade, Mute or 4AD. Northern arrogance led him to proclaim about reinventing the musical wheel at least twice a month. For this reason alone this lump of nostalgia seems somehow misplaced. But for those that were there, Communications will undoubtedly bring a lump to the throat. --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
[TRACKS THAT APPEAR ON BOTH BOXSETS]
Joy Division / Transmission (3:36)
Durutti Column, The / Sketch For Summer (3:00)
X-O-Dus / English Black Boys (4:46)
Joy Division / Love Will Tear Us Apart (3:26)
A Certain Ratio / Shack Up (3:14)
Marcel King / Reach For Love (5:27)
52nd Street / Cool As Ice (7:48)
Cabaret Voltaire / Yashar (John Robie Remix) (7:31)
Quando Quango / Genius (6:25)
Happy Mondays / 24 Hour Party People (4:38)
Tunnelvision / Watching The Hydroplanes (3:52)
Distractions, The / Time Goes By So Slow (3:21)
Wake, The / Talk About The Past (6:25)
Railway Children, The / Brighter (4:55)
Miaow / When It All Comes Down (3:30)
Revenge / Seven Reasons (4:09)
James / Hymn From A Village (2:53)
New Order / True Faith (5:54)
Happy Mondays / W.F.L.Read more ›
No doubt some fans will have seen the track listing and felt disappointment that some crucial artists are missing (Abecedarians? The Wendys?) but, as Savage goes on to point out "to include everything would be impossible as well as barely listenable".
I may as well get my other gripes out of the way now: Section 25, Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio were three of the best bands of all time, never mind on Factory but this collection doesn't always showcase their best material - and is a wasted opportunity in that respect. Also there are a few pointless inclusions on here - how many people purchasing this will not already own "Blue Monday"? Zero. And "Get the Message (DNA Mix)"? The beginning of the end for Factory that one if you ask me.
Anyway, these are minor criticisms - this really is a rather well put together package - sleeve notes by Paul Morley at his more readable (no "Why are New Order?"-type stuff), 100+ words on each and every track by LTM's James Nice. And then there's the music...I think I'll let that speak for itself but here are a few hidden gems: "Baader Meinhof" (unless you're already a member of the Fac-2 Owners' Club), "English Black Boys (hadn't realised Dennis Bovell had ever done anything for Factory?), "Reach for Love" (of course,...Read more ›
This is a justifiable view. And perhaps to state the obvious this compilation would have truly fulfilled its purpose if it had leaned a little less on too many classic but familiar tracks by the Factory big three and only once or twice there's relief, when listened in sequence to get to a more "commercially appealing" tune.
Meanwhile and curiously, James and OMD, often forgotten in their association in retrospect fit quite neatly into the Factory canon if only for the endearing minimalistic production values.
The physical size, and style of the boxset,itself is to be commended as more condensed, wieldly and sturdy than the Heart And Soul or Retro boxsets, for two. Such issues often ignored or underrated with boxsets(!),
Overall, for reasons already given- near perfection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great for any factory fan, most bands on disc one sounding like joy division. Disc two lots of great new order songs, and disc three going into the rave scene of the 80s with the... Read morePublished on 3 Aug. 2011 by Iceberg01uk
The compilers of this often brilliant but ultimately frustrating collection have - considering the magnificent back-catalogue they've access to - made the fatal mistake of cowing... Read morePublished on 7 Jun. 2009 by Paul Ess.
Having bought a few Factory 12" singles during the eightees my perception of Factory Records was still "cool" some twenty years later. Read morePublished on 28 Feb. 2009 by Goran Ekstrom
I think it's good to release the best songs from the Factory-label, but this box is almost the same as the Palantine-boxset from 1990 ( The Story Of Factory Records 1979-1990).Published on 24 Dec. 2008 by R. VAN HEMERT