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If you've ever wondered what Factory Records was about, here's your chance to find out
on 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.