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People, Places, Products and Praxis

James Brook 2009

“And you, forgotten, your memories ravaged by all the consternations of two hemispheres, stranded in the Red Founded in 1978, factory records was a emulated worldwide, this programme, an archetype
Cellars of Pali-Kao, without music and without geography, no longer setting out for the hacienda where the roots seminal independent record label, based of the succesful marriage of music and design, was
think of the child and where the wine is finished off with fables from an old almanac. Now that’s finished. You’ll in manchester in the north of england. a product of Saville’s vision: “Factory became the
never see the hacienda. It doesn’t exist.” Formed in the wake of punk, it released records by platform for me to propose how I thought popular
bands such as Joy Division, New Order, A Certain culture should be” he says.
Christopher Gray Leaving the 20th Century Ratio, The Durutti Column, Happy Mondays,
(with text appropriated from the Formulary for a New Urbanism by Ivan Chtcheglov)
and Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark. Like the “It was a fantastic idea to differentiate our little
label 4AD Records, Factory used a creative team cottage-industry record label by having sleeves that
– most notably record producer Martin Hannett were glossier, more expensive and more beautiful
and graphic designer Peter Saville – which gave the than those of the multinationals” said Wilson in
label, and the artists recording for it, a particular 2007, the year of his untimely death, “Great idea,
sound and image. The label employed a unique only we never had it. We just did what we wanted to
cataloguing system that gave a number not just to do. And then post-rationalised it.” This appropriation
its musical releases, but to artwork and other objects of the Marxist idea of praxis was central to Factory’s
and projects. often idiosyncratic working methods.

Factory Records began not with a record, but with a Essentially, Factory was more than just a label – it
poster: when recently-graduated graphic designer was a cultural institution. Not only did it produce
Peter Saville approached Granada TV presenter Tony some of the most acclaimed records of the period it
Wilson to discuss sleeve designs for the nascent also gave rise to some of the most stimulating
Factory Records in 1978, Saville presented an idea artwork and design of the late twentieth century.
for a poster for the first four nights of the Factory With built projects such as The Haçienda it pushed
club that appropriated diverse sources including Jan design further than any record label, offering the
Tschichold’s ‘New Typography’, the colour scheme public an opportunity to engage with design as never
of black and yellow of the UK’s National Car Parks before. For many of the post-punk generation
and a warning sign stolen from Manchester Factory became an aesthetic education; not only
Polytechnic’s workshop. He suggested the poster be were Factory followers introduced to the nuances of
given Factory’s first catalogue number, fac 1. The design language but to cultural ideas such as
poster was delivered late, with several spelling Situationism and praxis. Factory’s legacy still
mistakes; Wilson paid him twenty Pounds, and a resonates today, influencing a generation with a
new approach to pop music design was born. blueprint to create, and to aspire for more out of life.

Over the next fourteen years, Factory created and

sustained a visual profile that was admired and


This page, clockwise from top:
A Certain Ratio, detail from Fac 22, 1980: Jeremy Kerr,
Simon Topping, Peter Terrell, Donald Johnstone and
Martin Moscrop

A certain ratio are a post-punk band formed of the actor Anthony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock’s
in 1977, in manchester. The band’s name is taken 1960 film, Psycho.
from the lyrics of Brian Eno’s song The True Wheel -
from the album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). A Certain Ratio’s most well-known single is Shack
Originally inspired by Eno, Wire, The Velvet Up, facbn 1, which was the first release, in 1980, on
Underground and punk, they soon added funk and Factory Benelux, a collaboration between Factory
dance elements to their sound as they developed a and Les Disques du Crépuscule – an independent
parallel enthusiasm for Parliament. The group’s label based in Brussels. An underground hit in
longest serving members have been Martin Moscrop New York, the success of Shack Up led to A Certain
and Jeremy Kerr. Their sound was given propulsive Ratio’s first gigs at legendary New York clubs such
funk form by the arrival of drummer Donald as the Danceteria and The Roxy. Shack Up had
Johnson, who replaced a drum machine. Johnson originally been recorded in the 1970s by the group
recalls “That was the thing that attracted me. The Banbarra and was a Northern Soul/Funk favourite
whole point was that they were using the wrong in the UK. In Shack Up, A Certain Ratio melded
instruments to make the right rhythms. I wanted to the two traditions – Punk and Northern Soul – of
free them up, to start doing other things.” their collective Manchester upbringing. One of
punk’s more funky products, Shack Up combines a
The band began their career on Factory Records dancefloor groove, sly humour, and Northern post-
and were managed by Tony Wilson. Their first industrial alienation all in one go.
release on Factory was a 7-inch single All Night Party,
fac 5, which featured a sleeve designed by Peter Continuing the USA connection, A Certain Ratio
Saville. For the single, A Certain Ratio gave Saville went on to record their first studio album, To Each...,
a selection of images to use, including the 1966 fact 35, with Martin Hannett at Ears, New Jersey,
photograph of the controversial American comedian the album mixed funk, dub, percussion and
and satirist Lenny Bruce found dead from a drug electronics and was instantly hailed as a classic.
overdose. The band, who were fans of Bruce, thought Whilst at Factory, the band released five studio
that the image was suitable for the sleeve, given albums and twelve singles; their last album, Force
Bruce’s lifestyle and the violent subtext of the song. fact 166, was released in November 1986 to positive
The subject matter led Saville to design a sleeve based reviews but soon after, the band left Factory, and
on Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, in which eventually signed to the major label A&M.
horrific images are used to comment on the de-
sensitizing effects of violence in the media. The other
side of the sleeve, as well as the record label itself,
featured another image chosen by the band: a still


At nearly seven-and-a-half minutes, blue leads to an extended outro. The b-side, The Beach, is
monday, fac 73, is one of the longest tracks an instrumental version of the a-side with added
ever to chart in the uk. It is recognised as the studio effects.
biggest selling 12-inch only single of all time, but
as Factory Records were not members of the British It could be argued that Blue Monday is one of the
Phonographic Industry association, it was not most important crossover tracks of the 1980s pop
eligible for an official gold disc. music scene. Synthpop had been a major force in
British popular music for several years, but Blue
The roots of this timeless electro classic lay in the Monday is arguably the first British dance record to
purchase of a brand new Emulator 1 sampling exhibit an obvious influence from the New York club
keyboard costing £4,000 and a cache of favourite scene, particularly the work of producers like Arthur
records. According to Bernard Sumner “The Baker (who collaborated on New Order’s follow-up
arrangement came from Dirty Talk by Klein & single Confusion, fac 93 and again on the single
MBO, the beat came from a track, Our Love off a Thieves Like Us, fac 103).
Donna Summer LP, there was a sample from
Radioactivity by Kraftwerk, and the general influence The single’s complicated die-cut sleeve (with silver
on the style of the song was Sylvester’s You Make inner sleeve) was based on the Emulator’s 5-inch
Me Feel (Mighty Real).” floppy disk, epitomising its metronomic, proto-
techno feel. It was designed by Peter Saville and
The song begins with a distinctive kick drum intro. allegedly cost so much to produce that Factory
Eventually, Gillian Gilbert, fades in a sequencer Records actually lost money on each copy sold. The
melody. According to band interviews in the video sleeve was soon changed to a similar non-die-cut
NewOrderStory, she did so at the wrong time, so the design that would cost no more than a regular sleeve.
melody is out of sync with the beat; however, the The sleeve does not display either the group name
band considered it to be a happy accident that nor song title. Instead the sleeve’s spine simply reads
contributed to the track’s charm. The verse section ‘fac seventy three’ and, on the front and back
features the song’s signature throbbing synth bass cover, the legend ‘fac 73 blue monday and the
line overlaid with Peter Hook’s bass guitar leads. beach new order’ is represented in code by a series
Blue Monday is an atypical hit song in that it does of coloured blocks, the code is also employed on
not feature a standard verse-chorus structure: after a Confusion, another New Order release from this time
Clockwise from top: lengthy introduction, the first and second verses are period. The key enabling this to be deciphered was
Fac 73 New Order Blue Monday, 1983
contiguous and are separated from the third verse printed on the back sleeve of the album, Power,
Fact 75 New Order Power Corruption and Lies, 1983
Fac 93 New Order Confusion, 1983 only by a brief series of sound effects. A short Corruption & Lies, fact 75.
breakdown section follows the third verse, which

6 B is for Blue Monday A FACTORY ALPHABET 7

In 1979, factory released a certain ratio’s These objects are another example of Factory’s
debut album, the graveyard and the willingness to produce unique items that went
ballroom, fact 16c. The PVC packaging that beyond normal expectations, and is also a reflection
housed the cassette was designed by Peter Saville of Factory’s interests in new formats: in 1985,
and is designed as a clutch bag or strapless purse, The Durutti Column released the first CD-only
in reference to the word ‘ballroom’ in the title. The popular music album with their Domo Arigato,
cases were made by an importer of thermoplastic fact 144, live album; later, when the Factory back
bags, an acquaintance of Saville’s, and came in catalogue was released on CD, a cardboard ‘car
several different colours, including green and orange. carry case’ was included so that the owner could
take the CD without the bulky plastic ‘jewel’
From 1984, always keen to offer something new and case. Factory Records pioneered the use of Digital
interesting for the record-buying public, Factory Audio Tape as a commercial medium: in 1987,
launched a series of boxed cassettes, designed by The Durutti Column’s The Guitar and Other
Peter Saville Associates, for a limited section of its Machines fact 204, became the first commercially
roster. Individual board boxes housed a cassette tape released pre-recorded Digital Audio Tape.
that sat within a black plastic tray accompanied
by miniature replicas of the original artwork. The
first of these releases was for New Order’s Low-life,
fact 100c; it contained a set of four postcards
of photographic portraits of the band, held in a
This page: A selection from Factory’s series of boxed cassettes, semi-transparent paper folder, with the information
released between 1984-1987
for the album over-printed, in two colours.
Opposite page: Fact 16c A Certain Ratio The Graveyard and The Ballroom, 1979

Twenty-two cassettes were released in the series

before Factory discontinued them in 1987. These
were originally designed to work as a set, with
each colour coded for the particular band or artist:
white for New Order, purple for Joy Division,
green for Section 25 etc. They instantaneously
became essential items for collectors; the rarest
boxes are Substance , fact 200c, by New Order
(which strangely seemed to be mainly available
through Woolworths), Educes Me, fact 190c, by
Wim Mertens and both releases by Section 25.


John dowie was one of the inaugural acts
on factory records. Dowie was born in 1950
in Birmingham and is a comedian, musician, and
writer. He began performing stand-up comedy
in 1969. In 1978 he contributed three comedic
songs to the very first Factory music release, A
Factory Sample, fac 2, along with Joy Division,
The Durutti Column, and Cabaret Voltaire. In
1981, a 7-inch single followed, It’s Hard to be an
Egg, fac 19, which Dowie described as “a flop.”
The single was announced eighteen months before
it appeared, and was recorded at Strawberry
Studios in Stockport with Martin Hannett and
Steve Hopkins (aka The Invisible Girls). “The
mix and most of the music was recorded after I’d
gone back to London, as if I were dead” joked
Dowie, “What’s the obverse of a tribute?”

The release has unusual packaging, even by Factory

standards: the disc is white vinyl with a ‘yolk’ printed
on the label, and is packaged in a clear plastic sleeve
with a real white feather. The feathers were sourced
This page: Fac 19 John Dowie It’s Hard to be an Egg, 1981 from a local market by Alan Erasmus and were
Opposite page: Fact 89 John Dowie Dowie, 1983
glued on by hand. This novel package transformed
surreal comedy into an art object. Reviews were
positive, but Factory’s ‘first major assault on Radio
Two’ failed to ignite and sales were modest.

Dowie’s final Factory contribution was a VHS video,

fact 89, released in 1983 and entitled simply Dowie,
a recording of a live performance at the Edinburgh
fringe festival. The cover featured an illustration by
Ralph Steadman.


Electronic were a ‘supergroup’ formed by In 1989, when Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant
new order singer and guitarist bernard heard of their budding partnership through sleeve
sumner and ex-smiths guitarist johnny designer Mark Farrow he suggested a collaboration.
marr. They co-wrote the majority of their output The fruits of this union became Getting Away
between 1989 and 1998, collaborating with Neil with It, fac 257, Electronic’s debut single which
Tennant on three tracks in their early years, and was released in December 1989 and sold around a
former Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos on nine quarter of a million copies. It was a Top 40 hit in
songs in 1995. America the following spring, and after a support
slot for Depeche Mode in August 1990 their chances
The two first met in 1984 when the Smiths of anonymity soon vanished. Instead, Sumner and
guitarist contributed to a Quando Quango track Marr took a more commercial direction, blending
that Sumner was producing. However, despite synthesizers, guitars and analogue technology whilst
achieving mainstream success with the singles retaining the template of modern alternative rock.
This Charming Man and What Difference Does It As well as its fusion with rock and pop, Electronic
Make? Sumner didn’t initially recognise Marr, continued their interest in dance music by inviting
Clockwise from top: and both were surprised to discover that they DJs to remix their singles and album tracks; this
Fac 257 Electronic Getting Away With It, 1989 had several musical touchstones in common, was a trend that continued throughout their career.
Fact 290 Electronic Electronic, 1991
Fac 328 Electronic Feel Every Beat, 1991
including New York dance music, early Rolling
Stones singles and Neil Young album tracks. The sleeve for Getting Away With It was designed by
Peter Saville Associates and is notable for the fact
Electronic finally materialised in 1988, when the that this was the first time Saville had used stock
New Order frontman suggested Marr add guitar photography for a sleeve, in this case, an image of
to a solo album he was planning – this was quickly a tumbler of whiskey. The cover employs the visual
abandoned when the idea of joining forces for a language of modern print advertising with the title
full-time group emerged. The band were inspired and name of the band positioned as a caption would
by contemporary dance music like Italo house appear. This ironic selling of a ‘supergroup’ as a
and acts such as Technotronic (Sumner remixed product or commodity is interesting in the context
Technotronic’s Rockin’ Over the Beat single in 1990), of Factory, given that when the label was established,
their initial concept was to release white label records overblown 1970s supergroups such as Emerson
on Factory and remain an anonymous entity, in Lake and Palmer, were a prevailing trend that the
contrast to their considerable reputations with label – and punk in general – were reacting against.
The Smiths and New Order. The track Lucky Bag
and the name Electronic itself are two vestiges of
this initial approach.


Reading about Music Digital print, 2009
Writing about Music Digital print, 2009


Mark farrow is a graphic designer, known Farrow found a corporate rationale, partly born
for his designs for sleeves of the pet shop out of low budgets – to the problem of packaging
boys, spiritualized, 808 state, orbital, liza ‘faceless’, technology-led dance acts, using wittily-
minnelli, manic street preachers and sourced stock photography to create a collect-the-set,
others. Like many designers servicing the brightly-coloured family of highly hip designs.
post-punk Manchester music scene, he began his
career as a music fan who got to know musicians But it is for his work with the Pet Shop Boys that
– in his case the Stockholm Monsters: in 1982, he Farrow is most associated, having defined the
was commissioned to design the 7-inch single for this graphic identity of the group for almost all of
new Factory signing. He made an exuberant their releases in a period of over twenty years. The
statement using mock-leather paper and foil stamp first Pet Shop Boys sleeve to be designed by Mark
printing, emulating the binding of an antiquarian Farrow was for the 12-inch remix of West End
book. The single, Fairy Tales, fac 41, was available Girls. Farrow says “I hated the original sleeve – the
in two colours, green and burgundy and established fact that there were two different typefaces, one
his reputation at Factory and beyond. of the typefaces had three different sizes in it, just
everything about it I loathed and detested. I had
Farrow went on to design several sleeves for Factory the whole Factory ethic in my head. So the first
including I Need Someone Tonight, fac 72, by A thing I did was strip all the type off it, and we just
Certain Ratio; The Durutti Column’s Another had the coloured blocks and the background.”
Setting, fact 74; and Bad News Week, fac 157 by
Section 25. The fold-out sleeve with five spot- In 1991, in an echo of Farrow’s initial collaboration
colour printing for Happy Ever After, fac 58, by with the Pet Shop Boys, Farrow was commissioned
Stockholm Monsters was the most expensive to design a sleeve for the 12-inch remix of
to that date and Farrow recalls that he got a Electronic’s Get the Message, fac 287r. Farrow’s
“bollocking” from Tony Wilson about the cost. sleeve bears no relationship to the original sleeve,
designed by Johnson/Panas, instead , Farrow
Farrow’s long-term aim had been to design a appropriates the style and iconography of
Clockwise from top left: corporate identity for a record label. His chance contemporary motor-cross bike racing graphics.
Pet Shop Boys Actually, 1987
Pet Shop Boys Introspective, 1988
came through DeConstruction records set up by
Fac 58 Stockholm Monsters Happy Ever After, 1982 Pete Hadfield and Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering. At
DeConstruction logo, 1990 DeConstruction Farrow’s minimalist treatments
Haçienda fifteenth birthday poster, 1997
echoed the contemporaneously evolving house music
sound, which was defined by its deconstruction
of disco music. In his work for DeConstruction,


Rob gretton was born in 1953 and grew
up on the post-war satellite estate
of wythenshawe, south of the city of
manchester and one of the largest council
housing estates in europe. Gretton was one
of a generation who found a way out through
either pop music or football and was best-known
as the eccentric manager of the bands Joy Division
and New Order. He was also a partner in Factory
Records, proprietor of the Rob’s Records label
and a co-founder, along with Tony Wilson, of The
Haçienda in Manchester. He was portrayed by Paddy
Considine in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People,
which documented the rise and fall of Factory
Records, and by Toby Kebbell in the 2007 film
Control, a biopic of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

Gretton’s involvement with the Manchester scene

began when he contributed £200 to co-finance
Slaughter and the Dogs’ first single, the punk classic
Cranked Up Really High. Between 1996 and 1999,
This page, clockwise from top Rob Gretton managed his last Manchester fledglings
Fac 511 And you forgotten Memorial event poster, 2004
Gabrielles Wish, signing them to his own label,
Slaughter and the Dogs Cranked Up Really High, 1977
Gretton at the Factory Club Rob’s Records. The dance-tinged label had scored a
Opposite page: Rob Gretton hit in 1993 with Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) by Sub
Sub featuring vocalist Melanie Williams.

A loyal supporter of Manchester City FC, he died

in May 1999 at age 46 as the result of a heart attack.
And you forgotten A Memorial Event for Rob Gretton
was held in the Ritz, Manchester on May 23 2004,
the event was given the Factory catalogue number,
fac 511 by Tony Wilson because “Rob would have
been 51 this year...”


Martin hannett was born in north evident from his dub influences was the mixing of
manchester in 1948. He first came to musical the bass and drums higher in the mix than usual,
attention when, as Martin Zero, he produced the and placing the other instruments further back.
first independent punk record, the Buzzcocks’
Spiral Scratch EP. Under the same moniker he As a producer, Hannett obsessed over drum
produced early records by punk poet John Cooper sounds, never being content until they completely
Clarke, whose Salford monotone was complemented coincided with the sounds that he heard in
by drum machines, simple synthesiser motifs and his head. He demanded clean and clear sound
Hannett’s own bass playing. As Martin Zero, separation not only for individual instruments,
Hannett appeared on Top of the Pops playing bass but even for individual pieces of Joy Division and
on Jilted John’s eponymous single, which he also New Order drummer Stephen Morris’s drumkit.
produced. Morris recalls “Typically on tracks he considered
to be potential singles, he’d get me to play each
Hannett was an original partner in Factory Records drum on its own to avoid any bleed-through
with Tony Wilson and is best-known as the producer of sound.” He also reputedly had Morris set up
who helped develop Joy Division’s recorded sound. his kit on a first floor flat roof outside the fire
Hannett’s trademark production, which is most escape at Cargo Recording Studios, Rochdale.
apparent on Joy Division’s debut album Unknown
Pleasures, fact 10, and its follow-up, Closer, fact 25, Hannett worked with U2, Orchestral Manœuvres in
is sparse and eerie, complementing frontman Ian the Dark, Jilted John, World of Twist and others. He
Curtis’ baritone vocals. worked briefly with New Order, and fellow-Factory
Records bands Stockholm Monsters and Happy
Hannett’s meticulous production, heavily Mondays. A rift formed with Factory and he sued
influenced by dub, created a space at the heart of them in 1982 over a financial dispute; the matter was
Joy Division’s sound, pitting the band’s spartan, eventually settled out of court. At this point,
jagged instrumentation against a spacey void, the Hannett’s career had spiralled into decline due to his
latter being created by adept studio manipulation. heavy drinking and drug use, especially his use of
For these purposes, Hannett often utilised looping heroin. His weight doubled and he died of heart
technology to treat musical notes with an array failure in 1991 at the age of 42. Hannett is survived
of digital filters – in particular, delay units. His by a wife, daughter and a son.
techniques are especially prominent in regard to the
band’s drum and synth sounds, which use the echo
and digital reverb effects, the notes echoing and
reverberating through a spare sonic backdrop. Also Opposite page: Martin Hannett in the studio


I fagiolini is a british solo-voice wanted to record etc and to do the more pop thing of
ensemble specialising in renaissance and getting the audience to identify more closely with the
contemporary music. They released one album performer. I spoke to Bruce about it, he mentioned it
on the Factory Classical label in 1990, The Art to Tony who said that Alan Erasmus had had a
of Monteverdi, fact 316, which was reviewed by similar idea a while ago but no one to implement it.
Stewart Maconie in the NME in January of the Wilson gave me carte blanche to do the whole thing.
following year: “Few Northside fans will be set I was a kid in a sweet shop. I chose the artists and
alight by I Fagiolini’s rendition of Monteverdi’s with them organised the recordings, editing etc. It
secular works which is a pity, since its clean, was important for the music to be twentieth century
elegant lines are infinitely preferable for chilling with at least one British piece on each CD – the
out to than Ambient House or that crap Enigma point being that you didn’t have to have a world cup
single. I wouldn’t know a good Monteverdi from or a shit disco beat over the top or another bollocks
a Swans b-side but it sounds terrific to me.” version of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to make
excuses for classical music to an already patronised
The Factory Classical label was launched in 1989 and assumed dumbed-down audience. Beyond that
with five albums by composer Steve Martland, the the musicians could do what they liked. I was proud
Kreisler String Orchestra, the Duke String Quartet, of it – it was one of the first attempts at getting more
oboe player Robin Williams and pianist Rolf control into the hands of the musicians and saying
Hind. Composers included Martland, Benjamin any one who wants to do it can.”
Britten, Paul Hindemith, Francis Poulenc, Dmitri
Shostakovich, Michael Tippett, György Ligeti and Designed by Peter Saville Associates, the series was
Elliott Carter. Releases continued until 1992 and to have its own distinctive house style within the
included albums by Graham Fitkin, vocal duo Factory catalogue. Saville looked at classical labels
Red Byrd, a recording of Erik Satie’s Socrate, Piers Deutsche Grammophon and ECM for the visual
Adams playing Handel’s Recorder Sonatas, Walter codes and packaging of this genre. There was a
Hus and further recordings both of Martland’s conscious desire to package the artists in a
compositions and of the composer playing Mozart. contemporary manner that placed the emphasis on
Clockwise from top left: the performers. Factory had previously packaged
Fact 316 I Fagiolini The Art of Monteverdi, 1991
John Metcalfe (the viola player for the Durutti pop records in the fashion of classical records, they
Fact 236 Robin Williams, 1989
Fact 266 Steve Martland, 1989 Column) was the project co-ordinator on the first were now doing the inverse: presenting classical
I Fagiolini wave of releases on the Factory Classical label. He music as pop.
says “My job title was misleading. I’d always had an
idea to do a classical label run by and for artists to
have a say in their repertoire, design, the way they


Joy division formed in 1976 in salford, the band to quit their regular jobs. The non-
greater manchester. Originally named Warsaw, album single Transmission, fac 13, was released in
the band consisted of Ian Curtis (vocals and November. Despite the band’s growing success,
occasional guitar), Bernard Sumner (guitar and vocalist Ian Curtis was beset with depression and
keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing personal difficulties, including a dissolving marriage
vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion). and his diagnosis with epilepsy. Curtis found it
Producer Martin Hannett contributed significantly increasingly difficult to perform at live concerts,
to the band’s sound on record – though the band and often had seizures during performances. Words
initially disliked the ‘spacious, atmospheric sound’ and images such as ‘coldness, pressure, darkness,
of Hannett’s production which did not reflect their crisis, failure, collapse, loss of control’ re-occur
more aggressive live sound. in Curtis’s lyrics. In 1979, NME journalist Paul
Rambali wrote “The themes of Joy Division’s music
Although inspired by the energy of punk, Joy are sorrowful, painful, and sometimes deeply sad.”
Division rapidly evolved from their initial punk
rock influences, to develop a sound and style that In May 1980, on the eve of the band’s first US tour,
pioneered the post-punk movement of the late Curtis, overwhelmed with depression, committed
seventies. Joy Division’s debut album, Unknown suicide. In 1980, Joy Division’s posthumously
Pleasures, fact 10, was released in 1979 on Factory released second album, Closer, fact 25, and the
Records, drawing critical acclaim from the British single Love Will Tear Us Apart, fac 23, became the
press. Reviewing the album for Melody Maker, band’s highest charting releases. In 1982 Factory
writer Jon Savage called Unknown Pleasures an released a compilation of previously unreleased
“opaque manifesto” and declared “(leaving) the Joy Division material, Still, fact 40. The hessian-
twentieth century is difficult; most people prefer covered sleeve, designed by Peter Saville/Grafica
to go back and nostalgize, Oh boy. Joy Division at Industria, with its austere, block-printed lettering
least set a course in the present with contrails for in Copperplate Gothic, had a simplicity that aims
the future—perhaps you can’t ask for much more. at longevity – the eternal. The release of Still was
Indeed, Unknown Pleasures may very well be one of seen as a fitting conclusion – and memorial – to Joy
the best, white, English, debut LPs of the year” Division, whose remaining members went on to
form New Order.
Joy Division performed on Granada TV in
July 1979, and made their only nationwide TV
Opposite page, clockwise from top:
appearance in September on BBC2’s Something
Fact 40 Joy Division Still, 1982
Else. They supported the Buzzcocks in a 24-venue Fac 23 Joy Division Love Will Tear Us Apart, 1980
UK tour that began that October, which allowed Fact 25 Closer, 1980


Ben kelly is an interior designer based occupying the entire ground floor, Dry 201
in london, initially working within the boasted a 24 metres bar of slate and steel – the
fields of retail and leisure. He established his longest in Manchester. The design contrasted
reputation producing innovative spaces including old and new with ‘found objects’, including a red
three seminal buildings for Factory Records: the plaster curtain – a hint of the bar’s previous life
legendary night-club The Haçienda, fac 51; a as a furniture warehouse – playing a theatrical
continental-style bar Dry, fac 201; and the Factory part in an otherwise functional scheme.
headquarters, fac 251, in Charles Street.
The Factory headquarters, fac 251, opened in
For The Haçienda, his first project for Factory, 1990, were located in a disused textile warehouse
opened in May 1982, Kelly created a stark three- on another run-down site in central Manchester.
dimensional version of Factory Records’ visual Despite the structure being virtually rebuilt, the
aesthetic. The cavernous space was painted in blue original brickwork was retained and was boldly
and grey tones with an emphasis on the diagonal and featured in the design. A full-height entrance
vertical, with ‘hazard’ stripes painted on columns. with raised lintel, a bespoke metal gate and Kelly’s
The space was both flexible and dynamic with visual trademark glazed bricks visually connected the
compositions of colour and texture everywhere. dedicated functions of each floor: warehouse, office,
Directional and warning markings created an boardroom. Original features were juxtaposed
inside/outside tension – bollards and cats-eyes with contemporary and appropriated materials:
demarcated the dance-floor. A set of enigmatic floorboards were recycled as wall panelling,
codes allowed patrons to engage in design as I-beams were saturated with paint, while glazed,
never before: neon bar signs referenced notorious industrial bricks and blue glass added planes of
British spies and from outside, the only clue to intense colour. Most dramatic of all, the zinc-clad
what lay within was the granite nameplate with staircase bulkhead emerged into the top-floor
the hand-carved legend ‘fac 51 the haçienda’, boardroom like an oversized industrial conveyor
inlaid with silver leaf and red enamel paint. belt. The building was awarded first place in
the 1990 Pantone European Colour Awards for
After the success of The Haçienda, Factory use of colour in architectural/interior design.
Communications became unofficial figureheads
for the regeneration of Manchester’s city centre. A
frequent request from fans and patrons was for a
Opposite page
place to go prior to clubbing, and so Dry 201 was
Top: Fac 51 The Haçienda
conceived, opening in July 1989. Sited in a vast, Centre: Dry 201
steel-framed building on Oldham Street and Bottom: Fac 251 The Factory Headquarters


In may 1985, new order released their long-time Saville collaborator Trevor Key – of the
third studio album, low-life, fact 100. One drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris is on the front
of the most acclaimed records of the post-punk era, cover and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert is on the back;
it marked the point where the band’s fusion of rock the inside sleeve featured two more close-ups – of
and electronics became virtually seamless. As the vocalist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook –
band became more accessible – even chart-friendly and no information. Information such as the band
– New Order’s sound and stark image continued to name, song titles, catalogue number and album
evolve, setting a template that the band would title is contained on an almost disposable semi-
follow for the rest of their career. transparent tracing paper sleeve that wraps around
the main sleeve with typography that is a direct
The most obvious progression in Low-life is the quotation of Josef-Müller Brockmann’s Der Film
songs. In previous releases, New Order had poster of 1960. For the typography, Saville used the
weaved instrumental experiments amongst 1928 font Neuzeit. He says: “I used Neuzeit because
the more conventional tracks: Low-life is more I felt ‘new time’.” At that particular moment, Saville’s
flowing, more continual, and makes a broader use of Neuzeit on Low-life was shocking – and
statement. When boiled down to its essence, that groundbreaking – it also represented the beginning
statement is that electronic-based dance music of Saville’s move away from the appropriation that
doesn’t have to be cold, distant, or robotic. With had informed his previous work.
Low-life, New Order began to stake out two
emotive territories – the crowded dancefloor and The album was preceded by the release of the
the lonely, isolated bedroom. Songs written from full-length version of The Perfect Kiss, fac 123, as
these disparate points of view seamlessly meld a 12-inch single. Atypically for New Order, who
together, reinventing the band as a newly-complex had never included a single on an album before, an
creature, and pushing Low-life into territories only edited version of The Perfect Kiss also appears on
hinted at in the first two New Order albums. Low-life. The track is said to be about the death of
Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, and the words
The album’s sleeve, designed by Peter Saville, is seem to bear this out – ‘pretending not to see his gun
Clockwise from top left: the only New Order release to feature photographs / I said let’s go out and have some fun’. Yet instead of
Fact 100 New Order Low-life, 1985
of the band members on its sleeve. After some a funeral dirge, The Perfect Kiss is a full-on, hands-
Front cover: Steven Morris
Inner sleeve: Bernard Sumner nudging by the band’s new US record company in-the-air dance track, complete with burping frog
Inner sleeve: Peter Hook (they had recently signed to Warner Bros) to make sound effects, cowbells and handclaps. This meshing
Back cover: Gillian Gilbert themselves more accessible and give the band a ‘face’, of disparate emotions, which was once described as
New Order responded with a cover that consists ‘tears on the dancefloor’, is one of the factors that
of nothing but faces. A photographic portrait – by makes Low-life such a compelling record.


Asperger’s Lullaby Digital print, 2009
Colours Digital print, 2009


Clockwise from top left: Madchester was an alternative rock genre conquered the consciousness of the country, with
Halluçienda poster, Julian Morey, 1991
that developed in manchester towards the four of the defining singles of the movement being
Fac 232 Happy Mondays Wrote for Luck, 1989
The Haçienda end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s. released: Move by the Inspiral Carpets, Pacific by 808
Fac 242 Happy Mondays Madchester Rave On, 1989 The music that emerged from the scene mixed indie State, the Madchester Rave On EP, fac 242, by the
rock, psychedelic rock and dance music. Artists Happy Mondays and Fools Gold/What the World is
associated with the scene included The Stone Roses, Waiting For by The Stone Roses. The Happy
the Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets, 808 Mondays record, featuring the lead track Hallelujah!,
State, James, The Charlatans, A Guy Called Gerald featured the term ‘Madchester’ on its sleeve, which
and others. At that time, The Haçienda was a major was designed by Central Station Design.
catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city
that was called the ‘Second Summer of Love’. The Madchester scene was groundbreaking in
the way it brought together dance music and
The Haçienda opened in May 1982, for the first few alternative rock. In the 1990s, this became a
years of its life it played predominantly indie music commonplace formula, found frequently in even
– and was mainly empty – but gradually began the most commercial music. Although not totally
featuring more disco, hip-hop and electro; in this a Factory phenomena, the roots of the scene in The
respect, the club enjoyed a relationship of mutual Haçienda, the dominance of the scene by Factory
influence with its part-owners New Order as the band the Happy Mondays, and the visual identity
band became immersed in the New York club scene. created by Factory designers Central Station –
In 1986, The Haçienda became the first club in the which became ubiquitous on t-shirts the UK
UK to take house music seriously with the opening over – put Factory at the centre of this brief-lived
of Nude night on Fridays. The night quickly became scene that re-invigorated the fortunes of both the
legendary, and helped to turn around the reputation city of Manchester and of Factory Records.
and fortunes of the club, which went from making a
consistent loss to being full every night of the week
by early 1987.

The Happy Mondays were formed in Salford in 1985

and were signed to Factory Records. In October 1988
they released the single Wrote for Luck, fac 212,
which, although commercially not a hit, was
recognised as a significant record nationally within
the indie and dance communities respectively. By the
following November, Madchester seemed to have


Clockwise from top left:
Fact 200 New Order Substance, 1987
Fact 275 New Order Technique, 1989
Fac 183 New Order True Faith, 1987
Fac 193 New Order Touched by the Hand of God, 1987 New order melded post-punk and hidden within the shrink wrapped package, either
Inner sleeve and front cover electronic dance music to become one of on the disc itself or on an inconspicuous part of
the most critically-acclaimed bands of an inner sleeve, or in a cryptic colour code. Saville
the 1980s. Although shadowed by the legacy of said his intention was to sell the band as a “mass-
Joy Division in their first years, their immersion produced secret” of sorts, and that the minimalist
in the New York City club scene of the early 1980s style was enough to allow fans to identify the band’s
introduced them to dance music. New Order was products without explicit labeling. Also adding to
Factory’s flagship band, and their minimalist album this air of mystery is the fact that many New Order
sleeves and non-image reflected the label’s aesthetic song titles have nothing to do with the lyrics. In
of doing whatever the relevant parties wanted to do, some cases, songs with normal titles appear to have
including New Order not wanting to put singles had their titles swapped with other songs. Other
onto the albums. song titles such as Thieves Like Us, and Cries and
Whispers were taken from the titles of old movies.
New Order’s music treads a fine line between rock
and dance, which can be seen on key tracks such as From 1981 to 1989 New Order recorded five studio
Temptation, fac 63 and True Faith, fac 93. They have albums for Factory, these albums were supplemented
heavily influenced techno, and were themselves by non-album singles, 12-inch remixes, b-sides and
influenced by the likes of Kraftwerk, Cabaret a career-spanning compilation album, Substance,
Voltaire and Giorgio Moroder, and they have also fact 200. New Order’s output was not marketed
significantly influenced electro, freestyle and house. in a conventional manner: releases would appear in
Bassist Peter Hook contributed to New Order’s the stores with little announcements or advertising
sound by developing an idiosyncratic bass guitar and limited press coverage (Factory, famously, never
technique. He often used the bass as a lead answered their phone). This changed with the release
instrument, playing melodies on the high strings of Technique, fact 275, which, untypically, had a
with a signature heavy chorus effect, leaving the marketing campaign, that featured, for the first time,
‘actual’ basslines to keyboards or sequencers – this billboard advertising. The campaign was given its
tension between ‘natural’ instruments and own catalogue number, fac 271. A final album for
electronics being a defining characteristic of the Factory was scheduled for release as fact 300, but
New Order sound. in 1992 Factory declared bankruptcy and the album
was eventually released as Republic on New Order’s
New Order album covers were all designed by Peter new label, the paradoxically-named London Records.
Saville, rarely showing the band members or even
providing basic information such as the band name
or the title of the release. Song names were often


Octavo/8vo were a british graphic design Talking about their experience of working for
company founded in 1984 by mark holt, Factory, Mark Holt and Hamish Muir have
simon johnston and hamish muir. During said “A remarkable thing about Factory was the
their time working together they designed and complete creative freedom they gave their designers.
produced some of the UK’s most exciting graphic Throughout the period of our working relationship,
design. They also published a series of typographic they never interfered with design (except once
journals called Octavo, in which Michael Burke rejecting a complete job at the final proof stage
was invited to be co-editor and an associate of – The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly, fact 244).
the studio. Preferring the term ‘visual engineers’ Something along the lines of ‘music is our bag,
to designers, 8vo largely practiced a typographic- graphics is yours’. They were happy to see designs for
led form of communication; much of their work the first time when they were delivered, printed and
was produced using pre-digital tools and often finished. Scary indeed – the weight of expectation
utilised techniques of rendering the typographic was immense. But this working relationship brought
content in camera, offering a multi-layered reading about some of our best work. We designed each job
experience and enabling them to keep a tighter knowing there could be no excuses, striving to make
control over the finished product. A good example the next job better than the one before.” Years later,
of this working process is the collaged artwork for Wilson referred to 8vo as The Durutti Column’s
The Durutti Column’s Circuses and Bread, fbn “Graphic Magicians.”
36, which was shot on 8 x 10-inch transparency
and supplied directly to the printer in Belgium.

Clockwise from top left: 8vo produced the artwork for many Factory sleeves
Octavo Issue 4, 1987
and promotional material and were an integral part
Octavo Issue 5, 1988
Fact 274 The Durutti Column Obey the Time, 1990 of the Factory design family. Principally designing
Haçienda seventh birthday poster, 1989 for label stalwart The Durutti Column, 8vo
produced sleeves for releases including Say What
You Mean, Mean What You Say, fac 114; Domo
Arigato, fact 144; The Guitar and Other Machines,
fact 204; and Obey the Time, fact 274. 8vo also
created some of the legendary Haçienda birthday
posters, whilst still finding time to set the tone for
late 1980s design in the United Kingdom before
they disbanded in 2001.


Praxis is the process by which a theory, As used by Brazilian educator and theorist of critical
lesson, or skill is enacted or practiced. In pedagogy Paulo Freire, praxis is a synthesis of theory
Ancient Greek the word praxis referred to activity and practice in which each informs the other. Praxis
engaged in by free men. Aristotle held that there is also a dominant theme in the political philosophy
were three basic activities of man: theoria, poiesis of Helmut Fleisher.
and praxis. Three types of knowledge corresponded
to these three kinds of activity: theoretical, to which In the Channel Four television documentary New
the end goal was truth; poietical, to which the end Order: Play At Home, Factory Records owner Tony
goal was production; and practical, to which the end Wilson describes praxis as “Doing something
goal was action. Aristotle further divided practical because you have the urge to do it, inventing the
knowledge into ethics, economics and politics. reasons later.” Elsewhere, Wilson has been quoted as
He also distinguished between eupraxia (good saying “You learn why you do something by doing
praxis) and dyspraxia (bad praxis or misfortune). it. The Theory of Independence was discovered in
the act of putting out your own records, doing very
The concept of praxis is important in Marxist well, being friends with your artists and not ripping
thought. In fact, philosophy of praxis was the name them off. And by 1981, we were all doing it.” Which
Clockwise from top left: given to Marxism by nineteenth century socialist perfectly sums up the Factory ethos.
Karl Marx
Antonio Labriola. Marx himself stated in his
Antonio Labriola
Tony Wilson Theses on Feuerbach that “philosophers have only
Aristotle interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to
György Lukács change it.” Simply put, Marx felt that philosophy’s
Paulo Freire
validity was in how it informed action.

Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic

Georg (or György) Lukács held that the task of
political organisation is to establish professional
discipline over everyday political praxis, consciously
designing the form of mediation best suited to clear
interactions between theory and practice.


Released by factory records in december A hand-typed press release, for A Factory
1980, a factory quartet, fact 24, was a double Quartet, from the year of release, reads:
lp with a cover price of ‘five guineas’. Each
of the four sides was devoted to a Factory artist. Disc ‘As yet untitled. Basically, it’s another
one featured three tracks by The Durutti Column Factory Sample, only this time a double 10"
and seven tracks by Kevin Hewick whilst disc two featuring 4 bands / 15 minutes each.
featured four tracks by Blurt and three tracks by 1. The Royal Family.
Royal Family and The Poor. The sleeve was designed A remarkable S.I. influenced outfit from
by Peter Saville. The runout grooves on each of the Liverpool who, with sing along numbers like
four sides read: side a: ‘for who it says’, side b: “Vanneigem Mix,” rose such comments as;
‘yip yip yip’, side c: ‘n.a.r.g’., side d: ‘the mode of ‘They show The Gang of Four to be the bubble
production etc.’ The sleeve was designed by Tony gum band we always thought they were.’
Wilson, based around a set of Polaroid photographs, – R. Boone.
also taken by Tony Wilson. The sleeve was embossed 2. Blurt.
to represent the borders of the Polaroid images. Sax based dance band from Stroud –
Jesus Christ Stroud! Fronted by former
Factory’s first recorded release was A Factory Sample, anarcho beat poet – reformed.
fac 2, a double 7-inch EP featuring tracks by Joy 3. The Durutti Column.
Division, The Durutti Column, John Dowie and An extended piece being prepared by Vinny
Cabaret Voltaire. The cover was designed by Peter Reilly, Stephen Hopkins and Mr. Hannett.
Saville who used a motif that had been sourced from 4. Kevin Hewick.
a leaflet on industrial standards, it was printed in Kid comes from Leicester. Writes singles
silver and black in an edition of 5,000. Tony Wilson about hay-stacks and finding needles, and
suggested the plastic-sealed gatefold format, which apart from the fact that he likes Sylvia Plath
was inspired by record packaging from the Far and Clem Burke, he has a lot going for him.
East. The single came with a set of four stickers that Interested in frail specifics, yip, yip, yip’.
represented each of the bands. A Factory Sample and
the later A Factory Quartet announced a standard of
detail for Factory releases that went beyond normal
expectations and would set the foundations for the
development of the visual language that would come
to define Factory products. Opposite page: Fact 24 A Factory Quartet, 1980


The durutti column took their name Later, in 1987, The Guitar and Other Machines, fact
from spanish revolutionary buenaventura 204, was the first ever commercially available album
durruti. Another inspiration for the name of to be released on Digital Audio Tape. Perversely it
the group was Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti, was also promoted with a 7-inch flexi-disc – a relic
which was a 4-page Situationist comic by Andre of a bygone age. In 1995, the Factory Too album Sex
Bertrand, given away at Strasbourg University in and Death, facd 2.01 also appeared in interactive
October 1966. The image of the two Situationist CD-Rom format.
cowboys from Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti
was also used, in a slightly modified version, on Musical experimentation, too, has always been the
a poster, fac 3.11, given away to members of the keynote of The Durutti Column’s music. Able to
now defunct ‘Durutti Database’. flit from classical on Without Mercy, fact 84, to
house on Obey The Time, fact 274, via opera on
Centred around Vini Reilly, a classically-trained Vini Reilly, fact 244, it has never been possible to
pianist and virtuoso guitarist, the then five-piece pin Vini Reilly down. Tony Wilson recalls trying to
band recorded two tracks for A Factory Sample, discourage Vini from singing on Durutti Column
fac 2, the first music release on Factory Records. releases (his voice is, famously, an acquired taste) by
The band’s debut album, released in 1980, The Return getting him an Akai S500 sampler: “It’s expression
of the Durutti Column, fact 14, featured a sleeve and you can’t forbid it; it’s his dance. And there
made of sandpaper; this, like the title of the record, are even Durutti fans who like Vini’s singing. But
was inspired by a Situationist joke: an artist’s book they’re off their heads. and there are things you can
made by the French artist and theorist Guy Debord do, like get him a sampler and stand back. Which is
in collaboration with the Danish artist Asger Jorn, what we did, and we stood back in amazement.”
Mémoires – which had a sandpaper cover, designed
to destroy other books on the shelf (The sandpaper
sheets, glued by hand – by a strapped-for-cash Joy
Division – to the cover of fact 14, dried in warped
peaks and troughs and were potentially even more
damaging to other records).

Always at the forefront of technology thanks to

Factory’s innovative – but sometimes misguided –
Opposite page, clockwise from top left:
policies: in 1985, The Durutti Column released the
Vini Reilly
first CD-only popular music album with their album Fact 144 The Durutti Column Domo Arigato, 1985
Domo Arigato, fact 144, recorded live in Tokyo. CD front and back


Information Digital print, 2009
Always Now Digital print, 2009


Peter saville is perhaps the most well- treated his artwork for Factory acts such as Joy
known graphic designer of his generation. Division and Orchestral Manœuvres In The Dark
He was part of a triumvirate of designers that as form of self-expression to articulate whatever
emerged in the early eighties that had roots within happened to obsess or interest him at the time.
the post-punk music scene: Malcolm Garrett with
the Buzzcocks, Magazine and Duran Duran; Neville In the early 1980s, Saville turned to classical art
Brody with Cabaret Voltaire and Fetish Records; historical references, juxtaposing them with complex
and Peter Saville with Factory Records. Saville and coding systems. For the cover of New Order’s 1983
Garrett both studied at Manchester Polytechnic, album Power Corruption And Lies, fact 75, he
whilst there, Saville was inspired by the work of combined a nineteenth century Fantin-Latour flower
typographer Jan Tschichold. According to Saville painting with a coded colour alphabet. Having
“Malcolm had a copy of Herbert Spencer’s Pioneers seen a floppy disk for the first time, he conceived
of Modern Typography. The one chapter that he the sleeve of Blue Monday, fac 73, as a replica.
hadn’t reinterpreted in his own work was the cool, Notoriously, Factory had to pay more to print the
disciplined ‘New Typography’ of Tschichold and its record’s sleeve than it could sell the single for.
subtlety appealed to me. I found a paralled in it for
the new wave that was evolving out of punk.” Time and again, Saville’s work has intuitively
touched a nerve: the headstone-like rusted metal
Saville first met Tony Wilson at a Patti Smith sheet for Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, fac
concert in 1978. This meeting resulted in Wilson 23, and the funereal image used on Closer, fact 25,
commissioning the first Factory poster, fac 1. were both designed before the tragedy of Ian Curtis’s
Having long admired the ‘found’ motorway sign suicide. Saville’s experimental collaborations with
Clockwise from top left: on the cover of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, the first photographer Trevor Key using the Diachromatic
Fact 223R New Order Fine Time Remix, 1988
album he bought for himself, Saville based the photographic silk-screening process on New Order’s
Fac 223 New Order Fine Time, 1988
Fac 3 The Factory club poster, 1978 Factory poster on a found object of his own – an 1989 album Technique, fact 275, and the singles
Peter Saville industrial warning sign he had stolen from a door at Fine Time, fac 223, and Round & Round, fac 263,
Manchester Polytechnic. Saville became a partner captured the spirit of the drug-fuelled club nights
of Factory Records along with Wilson, Rob Gretton of 1988, the hey-day of acid house, which had
and Alan Erasmus. As a co-founder of the label, he influenced these tracks, prompting Saville to reflect
was given an unusual, if not unprecedented level that this was “the first time that a New Order cover
of freedom to design whatever he wanted, just as reflected something that was actually going on in
the bands were with their music: free from the youth culture.”
constraints of budgets and deadlines which were
routinely imposed on designers elsewhere. Saville


Thick pigeon was perhaps one of the more Too Crazy Cowboys was recorded with Stephen
mysterious artists to record for factory. Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. The album
The group was essentially a vehicle for songwriter was originally to be called ‘Two Crazy Cowboys’
Stanton Miranda and arranger Carter Burwell as announced on a promotional poster, fac 131.
plus a rotating roster of guest musicians. Based in The cover was designed by American conceptual
New York, the duo recorded a handful of oblique, artist Lawrence Weiner, who was commissioned by
minimalist singles for Les Disques du Crépuscule Michael Shamberg, head of Factory’s transatlantic
(a label, based in Brussels, that had strong links operation, Of Factory NY. Shamberg also
with Factory) in 1981-82 before moving sideways to commissioned work for Factory from a range of
Factory for their first album Too Crazy Cowboys, contemporary American artists and filmmakers
fact 85, in 1984. The second Thick Pigeon album, including John Baldessari, Robert Breer, Jonathon
Miranda Dali, appeared on Crépuscule in 1991. Demme, Robert Frank, Barbara Kruger, Robert
Longo and William Wegman. The cover features a
Operating on the fringes of synth music and wedge-shaped die-cut in the top corner and is typical
art rock, Thick Pigeon’s use of studio-generated of Weiner’s stark angular text and graphic work.
effects, treated vocals and techno rhythms are like
a precursor of today’s electronica scene. The two Lawrence Weiner was also commissioned to design
founding members have worked in various careers two posters for Factory: one for a New Order concert
since the demise of the band: multi-instrumentalist at the Paradise Garage, New York in July 1983, the
Carter Burwell has gone on to provide soundtracks other for a Section 25 concert at the Ritz in New
for around 50 films including Being John Malkovich, York in February 1985.
and more recently Burn After Reading and In Bruges,
whilst New York-based singer Stanton Miranda
has played in the band ckm, put together by the
visual artist Dan Graham, with Christine Hahn
(ex-Malaria) and Kim Gordon (later of Sonic Youth);
she has worked with The Durutti Column and Sonic
Youth; and is also an actress and performance artist.

Opposite page, clockwise from top left:

Fact 85 Thick Pigeon Too Crazy Cowboys, 1984
Front and back cover
New Order poster, Lawrence Weiner, 1983


Joy division’s debut album was released in lines on a white background. It presents exactly 100
1979 on factory records. Unknown Pleasures, successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered (a
fact 10, was produced by Martin Hannett at pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star
Strawberry Studios, Stockport. The album sold that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation). The
poorly on release, but due to the subsequent success image was suggested by Bernard Sumner and the
of the 1980 single Love Will Tear Us Apart, fac 23, cover design is credited to Joy Division, Peter Saville
Unknown Pleasures became much more well-known and Chris Mathan. The back cover of the album
and is now considered to be one of the strongest contains no track listings, leaving a blank table
debut albums ever, capturing not just a city, but a where one would expect this information to be. The
moment in time. Factory boss Tony Wilson had initial release came in a textured sleeve.
so much faith in the band that he contributed his
£8,500 life savings toward the cost of producing the The original LP release contained no track
initial run of 10,000 copies of the album. information on the labels, nor the traditional ‘side
one’ and ‘side two’ designations. The ostensible
There was no contract at Factory but as Peter Hook ‘side one’ was labeled ‘Outside’ and displayed a
says “We had a sheet of paper saying that the masters reproduction of the image on the album cover,
would revert to us after six months if either of us while the other side was labeled ‘Inside’ and
decided not to work with each other. That was it. displayed the same image with the colors reversed.
It was amazing the agreement lasted so well.” The Track information and album credits appeared
album was Joy Divison’s first breakthrough, on on the inner sleeve only which also includes an
the opening track, Disorder, Ian Curtis sings ‘I’ve uncredited photograph; the image is by an American
been waiting for a guide to come and take me by photographer, Ralph Gibson, it is untitled and
the hand’, the following nine tracks are a definitive comes from the photo series The Somnambulist
northern Gothic statement: guilt-ridden, romantic and is taken from the book with the same name.
and claustrophobic. Martin Hannett’s production for
the album is a reflection of Manchester’s dark rainy The sleeve was printed by Garrod and Lofthouse
spaces of the late 1970s: vacant industrial buildings, who also printed many early Factory albums, singles
cars speeding along urban clearways and the glow of and other items. They were responsible for the
orange streetlights. printing and construction of various classic sleeves –
for Factory and others – often bearing the enigmatic
The album cover is one of the most iconic cover inscription ‘G+L’. Like Factory, the company went
images of the post-punk era. The cover image comes into liquidation in the mid-1990s.
from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of
Astronomy, and was originally drawn with black Opposite page: Fact 10 Joy Division Unknown Pleasures, 1979


This page: Fred and judy vermorel were writers and black or grey cassette. The label on the cassette reads:
Fac 198 Vermorel Stereo/Porno, 1988
music journalists. Together, they waged a ‘Would everybody wash their hands before...’ A card
Front and back cover
Opposite page: tactical campaign at Britain’s national publishers came with the release: ‘From the city that brought
Fact 30 The Sex Pistols The Heyday, 1980 association, the British Phonographic Industry you Strangeways. Seasonal Greetings and a seasoned
(BPI), the policing mechanism that seeks to control cassette. Love, Factory.’
pop music in Britain. Factory (who were not
members of the BPI) released Vermorel’s Stereo/
Porno single, fac 198, ‘specially commissioned for
the BPI Awards 1988’. A poster, Bums For BPI,
bearing the Factory number fac 199 also appeared.

The single is a great piece of electro/orchestral

melodrama and has a brilliant lyric with vocals from
Ginny Clee, who also became to the cover star of
fac 198. She recalls “My publishing company of the
time Warner/Chappell put me together with a
writing duo called The Vermorels. They were a
husband/wife team who had made their name as pop
commentators having written a book on the Sex
Pistols. I could talk for hours about this partnership
as it was almost the end of me but this page isn’t long
enough. The good that came out of it was a single on
Factory Records called Stereo/Porno. It wasn’t a hit
but it did end up in The Victoria and Albert Museum
in their Best Record Covers of all Time exhibition. The
designer was Peter Saville, the photographer Fred
Vermorel and the naked ass... mine!”

The Sex Pistols – The Heyday, fact 30, is billed as ‘A

Factory Records Documentary Cassette’, it contains
interviews by Fred and Judy Vermorel with Sid
Vicious, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Johnny Rotten
and Malcolm McLaren’s Grandmother. The cassette
comes in a black vinyl pouch with either golden,


Clockwise from top left:
Peter Saville, Tony Wilson and
Alan Erasmus outside The Factory, 1978
Tony Wilson with beard, 2007
Tony Wilson at The Haçienda, 1985

Anthony howard wilson, best known (The Stockholm Monsters, named after Swedish
as tony wilson, was born in 1950 in salford, youth riots of 1956). Wilson recalled in 2001 “We
lancashire. He was a record label owner, radio all wanted to to destroy the system but didn’t know
presenter, TV show host, nightclub manager, how. We knew about Strasbourg and the Situationist
impresario and journalist for Granada Television tactics of creative plagiarism and basing change
and the BBC. Wilson was the founder and manager on desire. The Situationists offered, I thought then
of The Haçienda nightclub, and was one of the and I still think now, the only future revolution
five co-founders of Factory Records. Wilson was I could imagine or want.” Factory sponsored the
sometimes called ‘Mr. Manchester’ because of his ICA’s Situationist International exhibition catalogue
work in promoting the greater cultural status of in 1989 and in 1996 hosted the Situationist
Manchester throughout his career. He was also International conference at The Haçienda.
known as ‘Wilson ya wanker!’ – a statement that
was bandied around Manchester for almost thirty He never made a fortune from Factory Records or
years and one that he seemed to relish – but a The Haçienda, despite the enormous popularity
mixture of self-deprecation and super-confidence and cultural significance of both endeavours. Both
was always a major part of the Wilson brand. Factory Records and The Haçienda came to an
abrupt end in the late 1990s. Wilson made several
Wilson’s involvement in popular music stemmed attempts to start new versions of Factory – none were
from hosting Granada’s culture and music as successful as the original.
programme So It Goes. Wilson saw the Sex Pistols at
the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall, in June 1976, In 2007, Wilson developed renal cancer and had
an experience which he described as “nothing short one kidney removed. Despite the surgery, the
of an epiphany.” He booked them for the last episode cancer progressed, and a course of chemotherapy
of the first series, probably the first television was not effective. Wilson died of a heart attack,
showing of the then-revolutionary British strand a consequence of his condition, in Manchester’s
of punk rock. Christie Hospital on Friday, 10 August 2007 aged
57. Following the news of his death, the Union Jack
Wilson had an interest in Situationism, the ideas of on Manchester Town Hall was lowered to half mast
The Situationist International, a small group as a mark of respect. As with everything else in the
of international political and artistic agitators with Factory empire, Tony Wilson’s coffin was given a
roots in Marxism, Lettrism and the early twentieth Factory catalogue number – fac 501.
century European artistic and political avant-gardes.
Situationist references around Factory Records range
from the obvious (The Haçienda) to the tenuous


Clockwise from top left:
X-O-Dus press shot, 1975
Flyer for The Factory featuring X-O-Dus, 1979
Fac 11 X-O-Dus English Black Boys, 1980
Front and back cover

Hailing from hulme and moss side, hit the shops at the end of April 1980, it received
x-o-dus were regulars at the russell club, favourable reviews in Sounds, Melody Maker and
the original home of the factory club the NME. X-O-Dus were also favourably reviewed
night. Initially formed in mid-1975, the founder in the Manchester listings magazine City Fun (date
members were Honey, Leddy, Trevor Bell, and unknown): ‘First on are X-O-Dus, possibly the
shortly after, Dave Reid. The aim of the band was to most underrated Reggae band in the country, not,
play the kind of music which they themselves wanted as I’ve said before, I don’t claim to know a great deal
to hear and that was not being played by others at about the subject, the sooner someone who does
the time: a progressive reggae, a new, young sound takes the time to write in, the sooner we’ll be able to
which could be understood and enjoyed by black give bands like X-O-Dus the coverage they deserve.
and white alike. Manager Mr Dunlop’s movement of Ja People
seemed very impressive, if the size of the supporters’
In early 1979 the band changed their management entourage is anything to go by, X-O-Dus must be
and in June, recorded their ‘rainy city reggae’ at Cargo highly regarded in reggae circles. Now with a single
Studios in Rochdale. Tony Wilson heard the resulting out on Factory, which I have listened too and did
tape and the song English Black Boys made such an appreciate, and getting radio play, apparently the
impression on him that the band were offered a deal lout (John) Peel thinks it’s great as well, so there ye
for a single almost immediately, making X-O-Dus the go. Come on all you Lee Perry impersonators, let’s
first reggae band to sign to a leading independent have a full-size X-O-Dus feature/interview.’
label. It was decided that the single should be a
12-inch, comprising English Black Boys – which The sleeve for English Black Boys, was designed by
clocked in at just over ten minutes – as the a-side, and Peter Saville and, typically for a Factory release,
a new song, See Them A’ Come as the b-side. was available in two different versions: a dark grey
textured card sleeve, and a light grey regular card
Factory engaged the dub producer Dennis Bovell to sleeve. The single had ‘for j anderton’ scratched in
mix the single. Bovell, who had previously worked the run-out groove – a reference to James Anderton,
with The Pop Group and also with Janet Kay on the the disputed head of Manchester Police.
hit single Silly Games, was busy with other projects,
including the album Cut by the Slits, and the release
was delayed until the following year. X-O-Dus
performed at the Leigh Festival, Zoo Meets Factory
Halfway and at the Moonlight Club showcase but
fac 11 was their only record on Factory, and is the
label’s sole reggae release. When the single eventually


Clockwise from top left: Cabaret voltaire was an experimental an album and the group signed to and remained
Fac 82 Cabaret Voltaire Yashar, 1983
electronic group from sheffield. Initially with the label until 1982. With Rough Trade they
Cabaret Voltaire, 1980
composed of Stephen Mallinder, Richard H Kirk released several acclaimed musically experimental
and Chris Watson, the group was named after the singles and EPs, including Nag Nag Nag, Silent
Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland Command, and Sluggin’ fer Jesus, and albums such
that was a centre for the early Dada movement. as The Voice of America, 1980, and Red Mecca, 1981.
The band formed in 1973 and experimented widely
with sound creation and processing. Their earliest Yashar was among their last recordings with
performances were dada-influenced performance founder member Chris Watson in October 1981,
art; in one incident, Mallinder was hospitalised after and appeared on the transitional album 2 x 45.
the band had objects thrown at them. However, the
arrival of punk brought a more accepting audience Yashar, fac 82, was labelled as a ‘(re)production
for their industrial, electronic sound. The group of john robie overdubs/mix’. Remixer John
performed at the Factory on 2 June 1978 during the Robie was a New York-based musician and keyboard
opening run at the Russell Club, before releasing programmer whose previous credits – with Arthur
their debut EP Extended Play on the Rough Trade Baker – included the seminal electro singles Planet
label in November. Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force
and Play At Your Own Risk by Planet Patrol. He
The fourth side of A Factory Sample, fac 2, was remixed New Order’s Sub-culture, fac 113, and later
their second vinyl release and was recorded at their co-wrote and co-produced New Order’s Shellshock,
own studio, Western Works, in Sheffield. Stephen fac 143. The reworked Yashar 12-inch was released
Mallinder says: “We had already done Baader by Factory US and Factory Benelux in July 1983.
Meinhof and wanted to get it out, but it didn’t really The cover was a generic ‘factory records giant
fit in on Extended Play, so it was a good opportunity. single’ sleeve which was designed by Anthony
Sex in Secret was done specially for fac 2. I think Wilson with record labels designed by Mark Holt.
both tracks, and specifically the titles, which were
intended to provoke a response, seemed to fit The next Cabaret Voltaire releases apeared on
with Factory’s sensibilities. I think Tony wore his Virgin, and saw the band stripped down to a duo
Situationist heart on his sleeve.” of Kirk and Mallinder who released progressively
more commercial music. Yashar, their final release
Although they had contributed two tracks to on Factory can be viewed as a transition between
A Factory Sample, and would have co-headlined the the band’s earlier more cut-up experimental sound
cancelled American tour with Joy Division in May and their embracing of new technologies and a move
1980, Rough Trade were the first to offer to finance towards dancefloor-orientated tracks.


Released by factory in august 1990, zimba is guesting on their track Lazyitis (One Armed
a 12-inch single, fac 278, by indambinigi. The Boxer), fac 222. The single made the Top 50 but
single is a one-off collaboration between guitarist Denver contracted pneumonia whilst filming the
and DJ Steve Lima and Karl Denver. The cover video. He subsequently released a dance version
erroneously reads ‘indambinig’, Lima recalls “We of Wimoweh, fac 228, on Factory which was
were actually meant to be called ‘indambinigi’ but produced by Mike Pickering and Graeme Park.
someone at Factory mispelt it.” Zimba with its b-side Shengali is a mixture of beats
and ethnic vocals, it was produced by Steve Lima
Denver, a champion of World music had had a hit and written by Karl Denver and Steve Lima.
record with his 1961 version of Wimoweh with the
Karl Denver Trio which showed off his falsetto The artwork for Zimba, which was released on
yodelling register; Denver claimed to have discovered vinyl only, was by Central Station; the designers
the song in South Africa during his days as a seaman abandoned their trademark neo-psychedelic
but it had already been a hit, in 1951, in the hands of work that epitomised their ‘Madchester’ phase
American folk group The Weavers, and in 1961, The and adopted a more restrained style. The cover
Tokens had re-recorded it, with new lyrics, as The design has a muted colour scheme with a
Lion Sleeps Tonight. The Karl Denver Trio version typeface (Gill Shadow) that is almost – but not
displayed Denver’s vocal gymnastics to full effect quite – an echo of the early Factory sleeves.
Clockwise from top left: and its success propelled the group into the upper
Fac 278 Indambinigi Zimba, 1990
reaches of British show business.
Karl Denver yodelling
Fac 228 Karl Denver Wimoweh 89, 1989
During the early 1960s Denver was a familiar figure
on both radio and the concert stage, performing in
what one reviewer called his “eardrum piercing,
multi-octave range.” There were further small hits for
the Trio in 1964, but their music sounded decidedly
old-fashioned compared with that of the Fab Four
and the numerous beat groups who now dominated
the pop scene. Although The Karl Denver Trio faded
from the media limelight, they continued to perform
in cabaret at home and overseas.

There was a brief, unexpected return to the charts

in 1989 when the Happy Mondays had Denver


“The hacienda must be built.”

Compiled, edited and

designed by James Brook




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