This book hasn't received as much attention as most other Factory-related titles, but for anyone intrigued by the label's story, this is one of the key publications. Lindsay Reade was a crucial participant, and details her own role in formally working for the label (shortly before her divorce from Tony Wilson), as well as many more personal recollections. Numerous myths surrounding Factory are given a new, convincingly clear-eyed level of correction. But rather than debunking the myths, Reade's alternative viewpoint may well serve to deepen them.
For readers interested in Factory Records and the 1970s-80s Manchester music scene more broadly, this book is a treasure. Reade is a gifted author who writes sensitively and perceptively about others and their interactions, as well as offering candid reflections on her own life and work. Inevitably, Wilson's gigantic personality dominates much of the book, and here is the most rounded and human depiction of him to appear in print. However, central Factory personalities who, in other publications, are slightly marginalised, receive due attention here, particularly Alan Erasmus, Bruce Mitchell and Vini Reilly.
Although Wilson and Reade divorced in the 1980s, they remained close friends until Wilson's death in 2007. Much of the book concerns his final year, and Reade movingly details how she, along with Mitchell, Reilly and Erasmus, supported Wilson closely through his illness. While often highly emotional, the writing remains controlled. The sheer chaos of Factory's existence also ensures plenty of humour.
I read this book purely out of interest and was moved. I later completed an academic piece on Factory Records and Reade's book was indispensable. However, for others reading this book for research purposes, a note of warning: it's worth making notes as you go along, because there is no index and the chapters do not follow a strict chronological order. I had to read it in full a second time for that purpose. Doing so was, again, a pleasure, as well as an insight: not just because the book is so rich in music history, but because its reflections on love and friendship seem so, well, wise.
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