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on 7 June 2009
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 to ill-conceived, well dodgy ideas of commercialism.
Ie: including 7 tracks by the awful Happy Mondays; the completely worthless (and insulting!) 'World in Motion'; another re-mix that we just don't need of the over-rated 'Confusion'...
This level of laziness/pandering is inexcusable.

Briefly: CD 1 is the finest series of music thus far committed to disc. CD 2 ditto but slightly less so. CD 3 sees an alarming drop in quality but still contains a few gems. CD 4 is a stinker.
Major good things: finally the superb 12" 'Temptation' on disc; 'Hymn From A Village', 'Ceremony', Section 25's 'Looking From A Hilltop', the Distractions 'Time Goes By So Slow'...
Major bad things: all of CD 4, too much Mondays (one representative track would've been more than enough), nowhere near enough critical perspective (compiler Jon Savage is usually reliable - he's obviously been caught on a bad day) and the usual Paul Morley contributions, which are now unfortunately - in relation to Factory Records anyway - morosely repetitive and meandering.
Morley's own epic: 'North by Northwest' suffered identical faults to this set but was a worse offender; he had a much bigger pond over which to cast his net.
I like Morley a lot but enough already; his seemingly inevitable outpourings have become as predictable as the label instinctively and resolutely wasn't.

Baddest bad in the world: with all the Crispy Ambulance to choose from - they pick 'Deaf' - their worst song.
Bestest best in the world: 'Tell Me' by Life. The most beautiful, energetic recording ever on Factory Records; this, by all that's good in the world, is the crucial reason why '1978 - 1992' SHOULD exist.

'Communications' should be the greatest compilation of music ever released (the Zoo compilation 'Uncaged' currently holds that noble distinction). The first two discs comfortably achieve this, but an overall lack of objectivity and lazy over-reliance on their most profitable but artistically suspect turns designate it (hurtfully) a middle of the field also-ran.
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VINE VOICEon 19 January 2009
If you already own "Palatine" of course (which this reviewer doesn't - his younger self saw compilations as a sell out!) you might not want to bother with this release. Many have already commented (Amazon reviews and elsewhere) upon the similarity between this and that aforementionmed previous Factory box set but, in his compiler's note to "Communications" Jon Savage admits that "Palatine" was a starting point on which he was trying to improve - so one way to approach this is as "Palatine" mk 2.

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,...typified the Factory sound by being atypical). Also, disc 4 has a nice early nineties home-tape/Balearic feel to it - probably the only one of the four discs you could play at a house party without raising eyebrows.

So, a creditable attempt by Rhino to round up my all-time favourite record label. Factory re-invented music and now more than ever is the time for re-invention - so check it out.
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on 16 September 2009
A lot of people have made mention that the 'Communications' box set is simply a rehash of the 'Palatine' box set. This isn't strictly true (though there is some overlap). I searched all over on the net to find a definitive list that showed what tracks the two box sets shared, and what tracks were exclusive to each set. I wasn't able to find the information, so I made the list myself since I own both box sets on CD. Here's the list for those who are interested:

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. (Think About The Future) (7:12)
New Order / World In Motion (4:31)
Electronic / Getting Away With It (5:16)

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark / Electricity (3:32)
A Certain Ratio / All Night Party (3:14)
ESG / You're No Good (3:11)
James / Folklore (2:51)
A Certain Ratio / Flight (6:05)
Section 25 / New Horizon (6:04)
New Order / Ceremony (4:25)
Stockholm Monsters / Happy Ever After (3:07)
Quando Quango / Tingle (5:30)
New Order / The Beach (7:18)
Section 25 / Looking From A Hilltop (4:38)
A Certain Ratio / Skip Scada (2:09)
Kalima / Sparkle (3:41)
New Order / Confusion (4:42)
Fadela / N'Sel Fik (7:10)
Joy Division / Wilderness (2:37)
Stockholm Monsters / Partyline (5:50)
Happy Mondays / Kuff Dam (3:06)
New Order / Age Of Consent (5:15)
Durutti Column, The / Otis (4:15)
Durutti Column, The / The Together Mix (6:07)
Northside / Shall We Take A Trip (5:28)
Steve Martland / The World Is In Heaven (Classical Version) (4:02)
Wendys, The / Pulling My Fingers Off (4:03)
Cath Carroll / Moves Like You (4:14)
Northside / My Rising Star (6:27)
Happy Mondays / Step On Remix '91 (4:27)
Joy Division / Atmosphere (4:11)

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark / Electricity (Factory Version) (3:45)
Section 25 / Looking From A Hilltop (Megamix) (8:10)
New Order / Confusion (8:13)
Northside / Shall We Take A Trip (4:24)
Cath Carroll / Moves Like You (Remix) (6:33)
Happy Mondays / Step On (5:18)
Joy Division / Digital (2:51)
Cabaret Voltaire / Baader Meinhof (3:23)
Joy Division / She's Lost Control (4:54)
Section 25 / Girls Don't Count (4:28)
Crawling Chaos / Sex Machine (5:39)
A Certain Ratio / Flight (6:04)
Names, The / Nightshift (3:37)
New Order / Ceremony (Original Version) (4:37)
Minny Pops / Dolphin's Spurt (2:51)
John Dowie / It's Hard To Be An Egg (3:09)
Crispy Ambulance / Deaf (3:57)
Section 25 / Dirty Disco (5:19)
New Order / Everything's Gone Green (5:34)
Durutti Column, The / Messidor (2:31)
A Certain Ratio / Knife Slits Water (LP Version) (7:36)
Royal Family And The Poor / Art On 45 (4:49)
Swamp Children / Taste What's Rhythm (6:06)
New Order / Temptation (8:58)
New Order / Blue Monday (7:29)
Quando Quango / Love Tempo (7:55)
Stockholm Monsters / All At Once (2:57)
Life / Tell Me (3:10)
Durutti Column, The / Without Mercy (Duet) (2:33)
Kalima / Trickery (4:28)
A Certain Ratio / Sounds Like Something Dirty (6:56)
Happy Mondays / Freaky Dancin' (3:45)
Biting Tongues / Compressor (4:52)
New Order / Fine Time (4:45)
Happy Mondays / Hallelujah (Club Mix) (6:29)
Happy Mondays / Kinky Afro (3:59)
Durutti Column, The / Home (5:39)
Electronic / Get The Message (DNA Remix) (5:27)
Northside / Take 5 (4:12)
Other Two, The / Tasty Fish (3:51)
Happy Mondays / Sunshine And Love (Lionrock Remix) (7:19)

As you can see, out of 90 total tracks, 21 appear on both boxsets (23%). That still leaves a lot of material on both box sets to be enjoyed.
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on 15 March 2011
This is an excellent compilation which reeks and an alternative universe of different hits happened some time ago. There's a satisfaction in digging through substantial, and frequently subversive works of also rans. The turnover of bands unsigned (he he) by Factory is suggested here although i'm sure that aficionados or (ahem) snobs will have preferred some other obscure tracks/artists to appear.

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.
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on 4 September 2016
Fearless and Peerless


Rob Jones

As label legacies go The Factory Box Set (Rhino) has few rivals! 63 tunes on 4CD’s gel the genius of Happy Mondays, Joy Division & New Order + their respective spin offs i.e. Electronic, Revenge & The Other Two! A mass of Mancunian mavericks e.g. The Durutti Column, A Certain Ratio & James also star with northern nuggets such as OMD, Cabaret Voltaire & Section 25. Northside, Cath Carroll, Crispy Ambulance, The Distractions, Marcel King & many more support the visions of the late Tony Wilson & his Factory Records crew! It is 30 yrs since the Factory story started & although the Happy Mondays Sunshine & Love single marked the end for a brave business the music lives on. Factory was peerless & fearless-go get this LP & the 24 hour Party People DVD NOW!.
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on 3 August 2011
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 likes of the happy Monday's. All in all well worth a listen or two.
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on 13 January 2009
I think its about time for a good factory records round up. Palatine was a while ago and hasn't been available for ages so why not. The tracklisting is a tad familiar with the usual new order/joy division tracks but there are definitely some hidden gems in there. Definitely worth a purchase by any new fans unfamiliar with the rest of the factory back catalogue.
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on 13 November 2008
With the increase in interest around Joy Division and New Order following the film "Control" and the deluxe album releases for both artists,it's about time we saw an authoritive overview of the Factory label itself.This boxset has been compiled by Jon Savage,includes an essay by Paul Morley and art work by Peter Saville and it moves chronologically through the history of the label.
What is Factory to us? There was so much more than Joy Division/New Order or the Madchester days of the Happy Mondays.We are reminded of A Certain Ratio and Durutti Column,great one off singles by OMD and the Distractions,the emerging dance influences from America on many latter Factory acts.The well known artists and tracks are here and plenty of the lesser known ones ,whose work has most recently been kept in print by the LTM label.Everything about Factory ,the acts ,Tony Wilson ,Rob Gretton,Martin Hannett and others were special and still influential and loved today.
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on 28 February 2009
Having bought a few Factory 12" singles during the eightees my perception of Factory Records was still "cool" some twenty years later. Well, after having listened to the four CDs a couple of times now I will have to revise that opinion to "mainly a british seventees and eightees indie pop record company with a few good electro pop releases". Box is nice with a printed book describing all the tracks and a (sorry) stupid how-great-we-where text written in an annoying look-how-great-I-am-with-words style, probably written for the local fan club, i.e. you can barely get through it. I would much rather have had a more detailed history of Factory Records.
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on 24 December 2008
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).
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