Daniel Meadows - Factory Records 1979-1980
32 pages, staple bound,14cm x 20cm,
printed in the UK
Café Royal Books
I tend to keep the promotional emails from Café Royal Books, even if I don’t always buy the treasures they advertise. The example photos they include are nearly always moments in time that contain a mood I recognise, in a way that more iconic photos don’t.
The black and white pamphlet books which contain seldom seen photos documenting mainly British public life of the past few decades have a post-punk or even pre-punk fanzine quality, a printed, democratic space.
This collection, the most recent of several collaborations between Daniel Meadows and Café Royal is built around Manchester’s newly minted Factory Records on the cusp of the 1980s, featuring some well known faces and others who happened to be there, too.
Here’s author and journalist Jon Savage in a DJ booth at a venue in Miles Platting, north east of Manchester. Note the Pop Group poster beneath the sleeve for nuovo prog band Sky and uber prog god Rick Wakeman. Things weren’t as clear-cut post punk as archivists would have us believe.
Buzzcocks on a busy stage. A municipal looking technical operative, tie neatly tucked into his shirt is holding a mains wire, presumably to save it being trodden on and disconnecting the PA. We forget that young punks depend on old gits to keep the electric running if they want to make a noise.
The sainted Ian Curtis of Joy Division wearily looking for the way out of the venue from the stage. It’s easy to project emotions and motivations on to the singer’s face, knowing what happened to him, but other pictures in the pamphlet show a more northern English side to a young man who never mastered Iggy’s twisted form on stage. Curtis’s awkward stance connecting him in a direct way with other poor young men without the bus fare home.
Tony Wilson would perhaps have delighted in the idea of himelf as the smart-mouthed straight man from Wheel Tappers and Shunters Social Club, as professionally northern as Manchester’s rain. This picture captures the un-self-conscious mischief maker before he mythologised himself into something unrecognisable in the 1990s.
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