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1978 Eh, What Happened?

1978 was of course a harsh and heavy year for social politics and the equality for all people in the UK. A series of strikes from Firefighters to bakers and the a large part of the BBC brought chaos through panic buying and loss of information throughout the nations. This led to what has now gone down in history as 'The Winter Of Discontent', with lorry drivers, train staff, and so many public and private unions going on strike due to the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan freezing all inflation.

Anna Ford became the first female newsreader for ITN and Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to play internationally for England. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Ripper continued to wreak havoc throughout the dales with a total of 3 known murders to occur in the first half of the year.

However back in good old Manchester we saw the first ever IVF baby born in Oldham, Piccadilly Records opened its doors for the first time, Warsaw changed their name to Joy Division and the "Rock Against Racism" movement made its way up to the north.

Throughout the 70's Manchester had totally lost its industrial roots and those mills and worker houses that were homes to most of the city were being knocked down to make way for new concrete jungle developments. The parts of the community who had always worked in those mills were now jobless and unemployment went through the roof lending itself to a very coarse atmosphere that incited unnecessary and unexpected violence.

However, the insurgency of the punk ethos ripped through the city and created a focus on music. Thousands of people say they were at Sex Pistols show at The Lesser free Trade Hall in 1976, we know that Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks were there along with Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. Hook admits that the day after the gig he went straight out and bought a bass guitar. Quietly skulking in a corner was none other than Steven Patrick Morrissey complaining they weren't as good as his beloved New York Dolls.

At the second Sex Pistols show in Manchester -6 weeks after the first- there was Tony WIlson of Factory Records in attendance along with the now legend Mark E Smith. Shyly in the background was Ian Curtis who was accompanied by his wife Deborah. Curtis had yet to meet Sumner and Hook but Deborah Curtis later described the effect the gig had on her husband: “It reaffirmed Ian’s belief that anybody could become a rock star.”

So this gig really started off the long journey of Manchester music, which still beats on today with the success of Factory Records and Madchester. So 1978 saw the screaming baby of Manchester music take its first steps.

With The Buzzcocks most definitely influencing more Northern bands than The Sex Pistols who else would headline a huge festival in Alexandria Park?

Rock Against Racism (RAR) was a meeting of musicians, artists and political activists. Working together, they promoted racial harmony and understanding in the fraught political environment of the late 70s – a time of major social and economic instability.

Anti-immigrant graffiti regularly adorned the walls of housing estates and demonstrations (such as the infamous ‘Battle of Lewisham’) could easily descend into rioting – sending terrifying shockwaves throughout communities. This, alongside the infamous ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’ signs that adorned many pub entrances well into the 70's seemed to typify a widespread acceptance of racist ideology in the UK.

Additionally, RAR sought to distance itself from the impression of white entitlement synonymous with certain figures of the musical elite – rock stars like Eric Clapton, who had made a declaration of support for the far-Right Conservative MP Enoch Powell, during a Birmingham concert in 1976. The blues guitarist is quoted as drunkenly saying: “I think Enoch’s right, we should send them all back.”

From myself looking into such a specific time and place it feels like those words that Eric said on stage truly lit the match that had been there for generations. RAR rallied throughout 1976 to 1982 and organised national Carnivals and tours, as well as local gigs and clubs throughout the country.

In 1978 Manchester held the Northern Carnival in Alexandria Park over a long weekend allowing the communities to come together and unite under the flag of RAR. Bands like Steel Pulse, Buzzcocks, China Street, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Misty in Roots played in front of 40'000 fans over that weekend.

The backlash on youth subcultures was not just on the punks but everyone in the community. The Electric Circus, based in Collyhurst, which you could compare to New York's South Bronx, was the home for all outcasts. Of course the local politicians didn't like any of it and quickly targeted The Electric Circus and took away their food license which stopped them from playing out of normal opening hours, so they were forced to close. They wouldn't leave without a big party though, John The Postman, Warsaw and Buzzcocks side band Magazine are some of the now legends to play the closing party. That was at the end of '77, the place that so many called home had gone only after 9 months of it being there, So '78 really started at a low.

Punk provided an expressive sanctuary for LGBT+ communities in post-industrial Manchester, and bands like Buzzcocks (fronted by openly bi-sexual Pete Shelley) and clubs like The Ranch, a bar owned by renowned drag artist and entrepreneur Foo Foo Lammar, pivotal in building the scene.

The jubilant scenes are in stark contrast to the struggles faced by the LGBT community in the 1970s, when homophobia and prejudice was still rife.

Homosexuality had only partly been decriminalised in 1967 and even by the 1980s, attitudes were such that the then Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable James Anderton was able to keep his job after describing gay people as 'swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making' at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1986.

In January Warsaw changed their name to Joy Division so they wouldn't be confused with London band Warsaw Pakt, their gigs so far had to been lack lustered at best said Peter Hook, "The gigs usually just ended in fights with me in the middle". Until the day they came dead last at a Stiff Records battle of the bands event where they got noticed by the famous Tony Wilson who brought them onto his brand new label Factory Records.

In May another future Manchester musical legend Morrissey made his public debut as the singer for the Nosebleeds at the Ritz where the Smiths would launch their careers four years later. The Nosebleeds were originally called Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds but after releasing the energetic but largely forgettable single “Ain’t Bin To No Music School,” Ed Banger quit to be replaced by the then-president of the British branch of the New York Dolls fan club.

The opening of The Factory in the spring of '78 signaled the end of Manchester's punk period and brought in the new post punk ethos. It was also the beginning of the rebirth of the city, it was no longer a dreary industrial town but instead becoming an international city that was at the centre of alternative music, dance culture and then Madchester. The mythical town of Madchester was still over 10 years away but WIlson's indefatigable presence united the warring factions that made up the Manchester music scene. In Wilson's own words "Manchester is the coolest city in the world, the birthplace of the industrial revolution as well as punk rock and later house music, none of which were actually true but which served the purpose of instilling a sense of civic pride and regional self reliance in a town used to living in the shadow of the cultural capital of London."

At the time these were the underground/DIY people of the city, but they made it big and that's not necessarily what we are here to show you. We want to tell you about the people that were at these gigs and friends with these musicians but who may have been forgotten.

City Fun was possibly the biggest of the homemade zines flying around the city from 1978 to 1984, telling you about all the stuff going on in the city, the bands you should check out and the bars you should hang out in. After co-curating an exhibition called "The History of Manchester's Post Punk Fanzines" Dave Haslam confirmed that after talking to the City Fun editor at the time - Liz Naylor - that the zine was totally created by Morrissey. In some issues even reviewing singles from The Smiths, does sound like him doesn't it.

After looking and reading through lots of issues of City Fun we came across this poem that is simply titled 'The Last Laugh', recite it out loud in a John Cooper Clarke bark and enjoy the feelings of a year simply put into a page of words. Then can we find out who Bernard is please?

As the city centre was getting over the punk wash and post-punk was being curated in back rooms by Tony Wilson, Rochdale had a whole different set of ideas. With Rochdale splitting itself between the classic cotton worker houses and the countryside dales it seemed to keep hold of the late 60's hippy movement that really only took hold of the small town a few years prior.

Cargo Studios was the epicentre for this continuing hippy movement and with Krautrock becoming super popular within these circles, the music coming out was strange and wonderful. Mudanzas were the main band in that scene joined with others like Tony Crabtree, Tractor, Accident On The East Lancs, Local Heroes, Potential Victims and Untermensch, just to name a few. "It Started In Rochdale" is a fantastic compilation album that shows you the true power of the music scene there throughout the 70's.

Cargo Studios became much popular in the year of 1978 as it became the place that Joy Division recorded all of their albums with John Peel always snooping around somewhere in one of the backrooms. It then became the place to record with The Chameleons, OMD, Fast Cars, The Fall, Inca Babies, Homegrown and so many more going there.

Head to their website to read their full story.

Unfortunately time forgot it like it forgets everything and has gone into disrepair since, but they got their blue plaque and it will be remembered for a long time to come.

Sitting here in 2021 I find it awfully strange to think that there isn't much to say about South Manchester because it just wasn't what we know now. Hulme was an urban jungle where the artists lived, Salford was a mess of smashed up houses and North Manchester was left alone. Rochdale was as we know where everyone came to record, but going a little bit further north you get to Bury. A place that is known as a market sized town, it's pretty much all there is there.

Like Rochdale it straddles on the border of working town and countryside as it spills over into neighbouring Lancashire. So where else could be better for a free music festival?

And so Deeply Vale Festival was born, starting with an audience of 300 camping for two days in 1976 watching space rockers Body and John Peel favourites Tractor, the festival grew to 3,000 in 1977 (bands including Andy McCluskey's Pegasus, a forerunner of OMD in 1977). By 1978 and 1979 there were 20,000 people watching bands and camping for six days.

As with the 1970s festivals, Deeply Vale hoped to bring together music of all styles, to create new styles and genres and maybe break a few. Since music seems to follow trends set in history by names such as the Beatles, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Doors and many others who broke the musical mould of the 1950s and 1960s turning the times into a psychedelic outlook on life. Deeply Vale has been credited as a catalyst for many bands who have formed since the 1970s festivals. Amongst people who claim to have been in the audience and inspired to pursue a musical career include Andy Rourke of The Smiths, David Gedge from the Wedding Present, Dave Fielding, Mark Burgess and Reg Smithies from the Chameleons, Jimi Goodwin from the Doves, Boff Whalley from Chumbawamba Steve Cowen from the Mock Turtles and Ian Brown from the Stone Roses.

The Deeply Vale Festivals were the first of the hippie music festivals to mix punk bands on the bill in amongst festival stalwart like Steve Hillage, Nik Turner, the Ruts, Misty in Roots, Tractor (who had already achieved some notoriety as a John Peel band), Here and Now, Alan Wild (now with Physical Wrecks) and The Fall.

The Fall were regulars at the festival at a young age (and Mark E. Smith held the event in high esteem), and Durutti Column played their fourth ever gig on the Deeply Vale Festival stage. Both these bands were introduced by a young Tony Wilson who had just started his own record company and offered to help his friend Chris Hewitt by appearing at Deeply Vale in 1978.

Our mix contains so many of these strange little unknown bands from that year, many played at Deeply Vale and some had even broken up by that time and died a death with The Electric Circus.

We've included a John The Postman single, 'Louie Louise Slight Return Vol.7' which is a live single from the night that The Electric Circus actually closed down, which was saved and put onto John's real only release that graced us in '78. Plus, he is a real postman!

We've also got Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias who were essentially a comedy pop band. One of their members was Bruce Mitchell who was prevalent in the Manchester music scene from the early 70's in bands like Greasy Bear, he then joined the Alberto's and as that band folded in 1981 he got on board with Vini Reilly's band The Durutti Column.

Here is our playlist featuring the wild and wonderful music made in Manchester in 1978!

Godley & Creme - Group Life

The Passage - New Kind Of Love

Steve Miro - Up And About

Gerry & The Holograms - Gerry & The Holograms

John The Postman - Louie, Louie - Slight Return Vol. 7

Accident On The East Lancs - Tell Me What Ya Mean

Danny & The Dressmakers - How Hot Is A Match? (Live At Deeply Vale)

Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias - Heads Down, No Nonsense Mindless Boogie

Mudanzas - Ebow

Bill Normal On Banjo - My Fathers Woolly

Salford Jets - Pretty Babe

Listen to the full mix and enjoy, we will see you next month for the next installment of Eh, What Happened?

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