Feature / Playlist: Factory Records – A complete Spotify discography

FOLLOWING the success (well, relatively) of our John Peel playlist, in which we compiled all the Festive 50 tracks for every year John ran that feature all in one place (well, the ones from Spotify anyway), we’re delving into the catalogue of Manchester’s Factory Records.

It’s a story that’s been well told in lots of different ways. Named after the New York club and started by Alan Erasmus and local TV journalist Tony Wilson as a club night in 1978, it morphed into a record label with the addition of Slaughter and the Dogs’ tour manager Rob Gretton, who then invited lauded producer Martin Hannett on board.

Running it with virtually no business acumen, following artistic whims, opening a nightclub (the Haçienda) which lost money hand over fist and cost a small fortune to design, Wilson let the bands own their music and didn’t believe in contracts. As such it was no real surprise when the company filed for bankruptcy in 1992.

The labels roster was a who’s who of Manchester music, the major acts being Joy Division – then New Order, A Certain Ratio and The Durutti Column at its outset – also releasing early recordings by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and James. As the late 80s and 90s hit, the label released records by various New Order side projects (Revenge, The Other Two, Electronic) and Happy Mondays, Northside, The Wake and many more.

With this playlist, we set ourselves the challenge of trying to include something from every release on Factory. Obviously there are some gaps, notably Peter Hook’s Revenge project, and Gillian and Stephen’s The Other Two; a shame, as both had their merits.

Also missing largely is releases form the Factory Classical canon, save for one from pianist Ralf Hind. Again, a shame, as in some cases there were pretty exciting releases from (at the time) young British contemporary composers such as the late Steve Martland and Graham Fitkin.

We’ve included tracks from the Factory associate label Factory Benelux, that did largely what it says on the tin – release Factory records in Belgium, but also later found a home for the likes of longstanding Factory acts Section 25 and Stockholm Monsters.

Although we’ve limited ourselves to one track per release (even albums), we have in some cases added two if it was released with different tracks on Factory Benelux, and we’ve also added some remix tracks here and there for separate releases. There are one or two compilations on the label, in which case we allowed ourselves a track from those as well – “1963”, from New Order’s Substance, being a case in point.

Stylistically, the playlist flies all over the place: from Rolf Hinds’ classical folk song, through the punk/funk of early A Certain Ratio and the dark post-punk of Joy Division; through the soul jazz of Karima and Royal Family and the Poor, to the baggy of Happy Mondays and Northside, the indie pop of The Railway Children and The Wake and the acid house-influenced Technique and dance of The Other Two.

Find yourself a quiet 16 hours or so, and dive in.

Do follow our profile and like our playlists, and catch the John Peel Complete Festive 50s playlist (with more than a thousand likes) here.

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