In 1986 the city was alive, it was finding its new potential off the back of 10 years of searching, you can only get more excited about what else is to come.
Our playlist to represent everything going on in this year goes like this -
Kalima - Love Suspended In Time
Eric Random and The Bedlamites - Mogador Moon
Nico and The Faction - Fearfully In Danger
52nd Street - Tell Me
Jazz Defektors - Haki Panki
Anna Domino - Summer (Arthur Baker Remix)
A Witness - Sharpened Sticks
Miaow - Sport Most Royal
Edward Barton - Me and My Mini
biG fLame - Cubist Pop Manifesto 7"
Internationally and locally 1986 seemed to be a year for births and truly momentous occasions in human history. There was Oprah Winfrey's debut programme, the first Studio Ghibli film, the first episode of Catchphrase hosted by Roy Walker, Casualty aired its first episode on BBC, Alex Ferguson took over as manager of Manchester United and Usain Bolt, Lady Gaga and Emilia Clarke were born.
All positives so far, however it was also the year of the disastrous Chernobyl disaster, the first case of Mad Cow disease and after 20 years of imprisonment Ian Brady and Myra Hindley admit to the murders of two missing children, Pauline Reade and Keith Bennett.
Unemployment across the UK is at its highest since the war at 3,204,900, 14.4% of the population and is still in recovery after the recession of the early 80's. Back in sunny Manchester the central station is opened up as the G-Mex by none other than Queen Elizabeth - not sure why - but an interesting thing in itself.
The city was now in a real transition phase, the punk subcultures are dying out or what is left is a carbon copy of an outdated movement. The new drug MDMA has landed on the streets to impact a real change of pace and introduce the internationally renowned era of Madchester.
Courtesy of Central Library
The fact that nobody can agree what punk was or is may as well be a sign of its continued vitality or at least how much of nuisance it made. One way to look at it is that as an approach to culture. Punk really made a difference, to music, fashion and style industries. However there is an irony in that sense, the ethos of punk was to rip up the rule book and destroy those corporations, but in the end it only propped them up higher.
Courtesy of MDMA
The big pop event of '86 was the Festival Of The Tenth Summer which was organised by the infamous Factory Records. It was to celebrate 10 years of the label but more specifically 10 years on since that defining Lesser Free Trade Hall show by The Sex Pistols. The festival highlighted the breadth of activity that punk set in motion and the contribution that Manchester had made to the subculture. Punk may have started as a London style with heavy New York undertones, but it quickly took root in Manchester. The festival also showed how relations had moved forward in those 10 years with The Smiths releasing 'The Queen is Dead' and New Order working with Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen to show the continuing power of the North West.
The festival went on for 7 days between July 12th and 20th and included events like a Peter Saville artwork exhibition at City Art Gallery, a Kevin Cummins photography exhibition at The Cornerhouse, a book by Richard Boon, film and video curations at The Cornerhouse and a fashion show at The Haçienda by Andrew Obaje amongst a heap of other events across the city. It came to its conclusion with the tenth event, an all day festival at the newly opened G-Mex with bands like The Fall, A Certain Ratio, Wayne Fontana, OMD, Sandie Shaw, The Buzzcocks and The Worst just to name a few.
With Factory being the pop label of the city and in full power across 86' they released 29 projects from FAC 139 to FAC 168 which included 'Bizarre Love Triangle' from New Order, Happy Mondays second ever release 'Freaky Dancing' and multiple releases from Durutti Column, truly cementing their place at the top. However Factory started to really take notice of 'non-pop' options from Manchester, this is where our favourite track from this playlist comes, Kalima.
Kalima were a band formed of Ann and Tony Quigley and a host of other jazz musicians. They started out as the band Swamp Children but mutated into the band Kalima and ended up sharing their practise space with none other than ACR and New Order after being picked up by Factory Records in 1984. They go on to describe themselves as 'Manchester's only jazz band under 46'. Many presume that the relationship between Kalima and ACR was through Factory, but the 18 year old Ann Quigley had actually created artwork for the band previous to them sharing a studio space. The two bands met on their funk splinter away from post-punk with help from local DJ's Hewan Clarke and Colin Curtis bringing a real world music feel to the Manchester clubs like Berlin and Fevers. After years of success and an ever changing 8 piece band, a number of members left Kalima and that included their manager at the time Nathan McGough who went on to manage The Happy Mondays. A number of other albums came out after 1986 but I truly believe that the entirety of the Night Time Shadows album is exquisite.
As we mentioned Factory had already started to release debut Happy Mondays releases and they weren't the only soon to be international Mancunian legend at this time, The Stones Roses had started their journey too. Formed in 1983 they work tirelessly and created a big european following actually playing in Sweden in 85', but still nothing at home. So they went on their graffiti campaign and sprayed their name on walls from West Didsbury to the city centre, it got them plenty of negative publicity, but that's exactly what they wanted. They recorded 'Sugar Spun Sister' and "Elephant Stone' in December of '86 and the rest is history you already know.
1986 was also the year that saw MDMA come to Manchester and Dave Haslam says 'It was the spark that ignited Manchester, from spending a great night out, you could now have a life changing experience'. This drug coming onto the streets was a real change in attitude from the bygone punk ethos of ripping everything up to a 60's attitude of love. But that love was coming from the rough streets of Oldham and Whalley range in the shape of The Inspiral Carpets and James. The collation of all these elements is what got Madchester started and 1986 was one of the years that allowed for it to really begin. It blossomed on July 12th to 20th when Mancunian civic pride was at an historic high and this was the place to be for alternative pop music.
Manchester seems to be an enigma at this time, when you look at what was going on in London with the Pet Shop Boys creating electronic masterpieces, Vienna had Falco and America had Metallica. The underground was teeming with new music ready to bring on the era of the 90's with the likes of Sonic Youth, Swans , Beastie Boys and Lydia Lunch running New York, Laibach giving us a strange European sound, some Miles Davis and Big Black on the US west coast and Rough Trade taking over London it was a beautiful time.
Someone else to collate lots of new music together was New Musical Express. In 86' they released the C86 compilation cassette which featured new bands from British independent record labels at the time. As a term, C86 quickly evolved into shorthand for a guitar-based musical genre characterized by jangling guitars and melodic power pop song structures, although other musical styles were represented on the tape. In its time, it became a pejorative term for its associations with so-called "shambling" (a John Peel-coined description celebrating the self-conscious primitive approach of some of the music) and underachievement. The C86 scene is now recognised as a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK.
In that compilation were Manchester bands, A Witness, Miaow, and Big Flame, in 2006 an extended version of the compilation coined 'CD86: 48 Tracks from The Birth Of Indie Pop' included even more Manchester bands with Laugh and This Poison joining the roster.
The legacy of this release and the other releases by NME show the power of indie music throughout the country at that time and it especially shows that Manchester had sewn it's indie seeds into the fabric of its city with bands like The Smiths, Joy Division and The Fall. If they only had know what was going to happen over the next 20 years in Manchester.
Christa Paffgen, also known as Nico, part of the infamous New York band The Velvet Underground lived in Manchester from 1980 to 1987 and it is a sort of black hole of information, but the music that was made will always be remembered.
Eric Random is a multi instrumentalist and released a slew of records throughout the 80's. His story starts as a young man roadying with The Buzzcocks, then going on to be one third of The Tiller Boys, an experimental trio formed with Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley, they were a regular Manchester feature around 1978/79' with clear krautrock and Fripp influences.
Throughout the next few years Random played with a variety of different bands including Cabaret Voltaire and New Hormones until he created Eric Random and The Bedlamites. Between the years of 1982 and 1988 The Bedlamites became the backing backing band for Nico and played in a variety of boozers from Prestwich to Moss Side with the punters not knowing who she was. Eric was a traveller and went away to India for long stints to learn non western instruments and you can see what he learnt on the album 'Ishmael', we have included the track 'Mogadoor Moon' to truly show that. Whilst on an 11 month visit the Bedlamites recorded the album 'Camera Obscura' with Nico ,going under the name The Faction.
Nico at this time had been addicted to heroin for at least 15 years and she allowed her hair to grey and skin to wilt in an attempt to accept her reality away from the glamour that consumed her throughout the 60's. She had made many local friends including Mark E Smith and John Cooper Clarke who were also heavy users and the city was exactly what she wanted at that time of her life. James Young of The Faction said this, “Nico liked Manchester. It was a dark gothic city and was in a state of semi-dereliction at the time; empty Victorian warehouses, factories closing down. She said it reminded her of Berlin, the ruined city of her youth. Oh yeah, and the smack was cheap.” . Nico knew she was dying and in 87' left for Ibiza where she died the next year of a brain hemorrhage whilst riding a bike.
As we have said, punk was at that rotten stage of capitalism and so the next raw subculture had taken over England was Goth and New Romantic. We don't know if Manchester just had a different musical vision but there are no goth bands from Manchester. However the city supplied the subculture with a litany of clubs to supply the demand of the people.
The midlands was the home to Goth with bands like Human League, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan and Manchester's DJ's gave that option to everyone. Early clubs such as Pips and The Berlin Club got it started and by the late 80's there was something for a goth on every night of the week. Other clubs hosting Goth-centric nights included Placemate 7 on Whitworth Street, The Playpen (now 42nd Street) on a Tuesday, The Ritz on a Monday, Legends (now Fifth Avenue) on a Thursday, and on Wednesday, Devilles on Lloyd St – famous for its bucking bronco ride.
The Berlin Club was a regular spot for DJ Colin Curtis, Mike Shaft and Greg Wilson to pull the crowds of soul, RNB and jazz fans including a regular Giles Peterson, however 1986 was a year that someone took over that demographic. Foot Patrol, a large group of house dancers took over the dance floor of the predominantly black movers and shakers and brought the hip hop sound of America's west coast to Manchester. Moving across the city filling spaces in Hulme, Moss Ride and Levenshulme. Foot Patrol were primarily young black dancers, stylised by the term ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way.
The West Indian community of Moss Side centred around one building that consisted of two separate clubs, The Reno and The Nile, situated on the corner of Princess Road and Moss Lane East. This was the place for passing jazz musicians to play and the community to get together under the umbrella of music and dancing. DJ Persian was the in house DJ who was a massive influence to the DJ's we have already mentioned including Dave Haslam, Persian hailed from Jamaica and had his roots in The Reno from the early sixties and became the true musical driving force of the club.
While many credit the Hacienda with rave's explosion in the North, Manchester had been a hotbed long before, particularly in Moss Side and Hulme. Soundsystems up North were bridging the gap between clashes and raves for years, blasting everything from basement and dancehall to funk, jazz and early house music, whatever it took to get the people dancing.
Sadly these establishments were knocked down in 1986 but their story will never been forgotten. The remains of what was left of the clubs was excavated in 2017 and will be permanently stored at Manchester Museum.
From 1986 Dave Haslam was a resident DJ at The Hacienda and really made a name for himself in the Manchester music scene. But for the 10 years before that vocation he was an avid maker of zines. In every decade there is always someone who ends up being famous but made zines first and this time round it is his turn. His zine was called Debris and catalogued all the great local new music and wrote reviews on the releases and gigs. He also travelled around the north west seeing other bands and doing the same and including that in the zines too, most notably the likes of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Junior.
A cheap accessible zine in your local area is what makes all the difference. They often also included a flexi disk with them so you could sample the new music out there and then go buy the official thing when you knew you loved the band.
Karen Jackson of Central Station Design said, "At some point you need an incubator and a home for all this energy, which for us became Factory Records, Dry Bar and The Haçienda. Tony Wilson articulated the value of this energy, people like Kevin Cummins photographed and documented it, the bands soundtracked it, and we tried to paint it." Karen is part of Central Station Design alongside Matt and Pat Carroll and are responsible what the late 80's and all of 90's Manchester looked like, much like Peter Saville owned the aesthetics of the late 70's and mid 80's, it was now someone else's turn.
They were all from Salford and knew Shaun Ryder and the whole crew from being kids so when The Happy Mondays started making music they took it straight to the Carrolls to see what they thought. "The Carrolls could always paint what was going on my head", said Shaun. The cover of the Bummed album was when they started to get higher recognition, especially from the Saville and both Central Station Designs and Happy Mondays made it to the top of international pop fame. They then went on to do nearly all the Mondays artwork and work with Black Grape, James and the 24 Hour Party People film.
Claudette Johnson was born in Manchester. While a student, she became a founder member of the BLK Art Group with other artists like Keith Piper, Donald Rodney, Eddie Chambers and took part in their second show at the Africa Centre, London, in 1983. Her talk, and seminar, at the First National Black Arts Conference in 1982 is recognised as a formative moment in the Black feminist art movement in the UK.
Johnson's work has featured in important group exhibitions such as Five Black Women at London's Africa Centre Gallery in 1983, Black Woman Time Now at Battersea Arts Centre in the same year, and The Thin Black Line at the ICA in London in 1986. Reviewing her 1992 solo exhibition In This Skin: Drawings by Claudette Johnson, at the Black Art Gallery, London, artist Steve McQueen (at the time a student at Goldsmiths College) wrote: "What she does is to bring out the soul, sensuality, dignity, and spirituality of the black woman....Claudette Johnson's work is rooted in her African heritage. Her talent is as powerful as it is obvious.
Now enjoy this video if The Jazz Defektors running running around the grey streets of Manchester ending in a gang style dance off in The Hacienda with the backing of smooth jazz. This to me represents the hole of Manchesters 1986.