Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Manchester Issue (three Spotify playlists of finest mancunian music)

Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain is a book with all the most famous pictures of Manchester artists by Kevin Cummins

Last weekend, I got the chance to talk with Kevin Cummins, the legendary Manchester photographer who defined the image of so many mancunian rock artists, from Joy Division to New Order, from Happy Mondays to Stone Roses, from Morrissey to Oasis. We talked about football (he is a City supporter), about digital pictures, about Control and 24 Hour Party People (Kevin didn't like any of them), about the famous 1976 Sex Pistols concert who started the Manchester rock scene. Coming back from our meeting, I did need to listen to some music from Manchester. So I build these three playlists...

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Playlist #1
PRIDE OF MANCHESTER (Mammoth version)
(431 tracks, about 1 day)

The first thing I did has been to look for some good charts/history about mancunian music. I found an interesting website, called Pride of Manchester, with a long history of the local music scene: decade by decade, starting in the 1930s. So I created a mammoth playlist with songs taken from these pages. The best part is the one about 1950s and 1960s, really detailed, full of references to UK charts, anecdotes, LPs, etc. The bad starts with the recent decades: some exclusions look very bizzarre (Oasis, for example) and last years are poorly covered. Besides, the history involve some acts that are only "partially" mancunian, like the american Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Graham Nash is a former-Hollies emigré) and  Monkees (one member, Davy Jones, is from Manchester)...

Including music by: 
George Formby Jr., Grace Fields, The Houghton Weavers, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Hollies, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Herman's Hermits, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Bee Gees, The Monkees, Georgie Fame, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Barclay James Harvest, Hotlegs, McGuinness Flint, Peter Noone, 10cc, The Chosen Few, Thin Lizzy, Buzzcocks, Elkie Brooks, John Cooper Clarke, Frankie Valli, Sad Cafè, Phil Lynott, Joy Division, Godley & Creme, New Order, ABC, Kajagoogoo, The Smiths, Limahl, The Colourfield, Sandie Shaw, Mike & the Mechanics, The Stone Roses, Swing Out Sister, The Fall, The Railway Children, Happy Mondays, Morrissey, Inspiral Carpets, Electronic, England New Order, Northside, The Charlatans, MC Tunes, 808 State, The Mock Turtles, The Other Two, Saint Etienne, Black Grape, Monaco, Doves, Primal Scream, James, Ian Brown, Tim Burgess, Tim Booth, Gorillaz.

Listen to it on Spotify: HTTP Link, URI. (SR0158)

Playlist #2
(69 tracks, about 4 hours)

I was not completely satisfied with the previous playlist and I wanted something a little thinner and "selected":  thirty-six Bee Gees songs or twelve ABC's in one playlist, for me, are too much. So I kind of remixed and 69ed it: asking some help to, I made a countdown chart of the Top 69 songs from the mammoth playlist. With a simple rule: no more than three songs each artist. And some exclusions dictated by personal taste. The result is below and I can say I like it. If you wanna spend an afternoon with Manchester sound, I think it's a honest, varied and relatively complete selection.

69. The Charlatans – Blackened Blue Eyes
68. Elkie Brooks – Pearl's A Singer
67. The Colourfield – Thinking Of You
66. Monaco – Shine (Someone Who Needs Me)
65. The Fall – Victoria
64. Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Yeh, Yeh
63. Saint Etienne – I Was Born On Christmas Day
62. Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders – Game Of Love
61. Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5
60. Freddie & The Dreamers – I'm Telling You Now
59. Electronic – Get The Message
58. The Mock Turtles – Can You Dig It?
57. 808 State – In Yer Face
56. Ian Brown – Time Is My Everything
55. Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape
54. Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas – Bad To Me
53. Barclay James Harvest – Hymn
52. The Fall – Mr Pharmacist
51. Mike & The Mechanics – All I Need Is A Miracle
50. Happy Mondays – Twenty Four Hour Party People
49. Swing Out Sister – Breakout
48. Electronic – Getting Away With It
47. Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?
46. Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels
45. Primal Scream – Kill All Hippies
44. Ian Brown – Keep What Ya Got
43. Happy Mondays – Kinky Afro
42. Herman's Hermits – I'm Into Something Good
41. The Hollies – He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother
40. James – Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)
39. Limahl – Never Ending Story
38. The Charlatans – The Only One I Know
37. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio
36. The Yardbirds – Heart Full Of Soul
35. Ian Brown – F.E.A.R.
34. ABC – The Look Of Love (Part 1)
33. Doves – Catch The Sun
32. The Hollies – The Air That I Breathe
31. Buzzcocks – What Do I Get?
30. Primal Scream – Country Girl
29. The Hollies – Bus Stop
28. 10cc – I'm Not In Love
27. Happy Mondays – Step On
26. The Monkees – Daydream Believer
25. The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?
24. The Stone Roses – Made Of Stone
23. New Order – Temptation
22. Buzzcocks – Orgasm Addict
21. Morrissey – Suedehead
20. Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
19. Bee Gees – How Deep Is Your Love
18. 10cc – Dreadlock Holiday
17. The Yardbirds – For Your Love
16. The Monkees – I'm A Believer
15. Doves – Black And White Town
14. The Stone Roses – Fools Gold
13. Morrissey – Everyday Is Like Sunday
12. New Order – Ceremony
11. The Smiths – This Charming Man
10. Doves – There Goes The Fear
9. Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive
8. Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
7. The Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums
6. Morrissey – First Of The Gang To Die
5. Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?
4. Gorillaz – DARE
3. New Order – Blue Monday
2. The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
1. Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Listen to it on Spotify: HTTP Link, URI. (SR0159)

Playlist #3
THE GREATER MANCHESTER (50 years of mancunian music by 50 artists in 50 songs)
(51 tracks, about 3 hours)

There were some problems left. First of all, the exclusions. Not only Oasis, but also Durutti Column, Magazine. A lot of guys from 90s and 00s, like David Gray, Elbow, Lamb, Badly Drawn Boy, Starsailor, Delphic, I Am Kloot, The Ting Tings. And, why not?, Simply Red and Take That, too. They are all in Spotify: why to cut them off? So I made a third playlist. It belongs to the classic 1-artist-1-song category and features what I think are the most important 50 mancunian artists in the last 50 years. All of them. Or almost. From the Greater Manchester area (hello Verve!) and without hybrids (no Monkees, no CSNY, no Thin Lizzy, no Gorillaz, even if the Shaun Ryder-sung Dare is very good). I put the songs in chronological order: take it as a little historical abstract of all that great music Manchester gave us. Before and (especially) after that famous Sex Pistols gig.

Appetizer (bonus track):
1949 Ewan MacColl – Dirty Old Town

The list:
1963 Herman's Hermits – I'm Into Something Good
1964 Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders – Game Of Love
1965 Freddie & The Dreamers – You Were Made For Me
1969 The Hollies – He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother
1970 Van Der Graaf Generator – Killer
1977 Barclay James Harvest – Hymn
1977 Elkie Brooks – Pearl's A Singer
1977 Bee Gees – Stayin' Alive
1978 Magazine – Shot By Both Sides
1978 10cc – Dreadlock Holiday
1978 Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?
1979 Sad Café – Every Day Hurts
1980 John Cooper Clarke – Evidently Chickentown
1980 The Durutti Column – Sketch For Summer
1980 The Fall – Totally Wired
1980 Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
1983 New Order – Blue Monday
1986 The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
1986 The Railway Children – Brighter
1987 Swing Out Sister – Breakout
1989 808 State – Pacific 202
1990 Happy Mondays – Step On
1990 Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels
1991 The Mock Turtles – Can You Dig It?
1991 Electronic – Getting Away With It
1991 The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored
1991 Simply Red – Stars
1993 James – Laid
1994 Oasis – Live Forever
1995 Black Grape – Reverend Black Grape
1995 Tim Booth – Dance Of The Bad Angels
1995 Take That – Back For Good
1997 Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?
1997 The Seahorses – Love Is The Law
1998 The Verve – Sonnet
1999 David Gray – Babylon
2000 A Guy Called Gerald – The First Breath
2001 Lamb – Gabriel
2001 Ian Brown – F.E.A.R.
2002 Badly Drawn Boy – Something To Talk About
2002 Starsailor – Poor Misguided Fool
2002 Doves – There Goes The Fear
2003 Alfie – People
2003 I Am Kloot – Proof
2003 Tim Burgess - Oh My Corazon
2004 Morrissey – First Of The Gang To Die
2005 Nine Black Alps – Unsatisfied
2005 Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World
2008 The Ting Tings – That's Not My Name
2009 Delphic – Counterpoint

Listen to it on Spotify: HTTP Link, URI. (SR0160)

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