One Album Wonders Northside's Chicken Rhythms

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 23, 2015 03:55pm | Post a Comment

My introduction to the quartet named Northside came in my second year of college, I believe, a few years after the release of their only album, Chicken Rhythms. As a teenage fan of all things Madchester, I'd heard of them, of course, but it wasn't until Liz lent me a cassette that I was able to give it a listen. Although I was at first dismissive of what seemed to me to be by-the-numbers Baggy, over time the album unexpectedly grew on me.

Northside were formed in 1989 by Warren "Dermo" Dermody (vocals and United supporter) and Cliff Ogier (bass and City supporter). They were soon after joined by Michael "Upto" Upton (guitar) and Paul Walsh (drums). Upton was soon after replaced by Timmy WalshAll were residents of either Blackley or Moston, in Manchester's Northside. In August they recorded a demo at The Cutting Rooms, part of Abraham Moss College

Northside received some airplay byTony the Greek’s program on Piccadilly Radio and Craig Cash on KFM, Stockport. They capitalized on their growing local fame with their September live debut at Manchester’s Boardwalk which sold out. Not long after, Tony Wilson visited them at their rehearsal space and offered them a contract with Factory and they accepted. They closed out the year opening for Happy Mondays at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in November and a performance (supported by Paris Angels) at the Haçienda's Christmas party. In early 1990, Northside were profiled on the Granada documentary, Madchester – The Sound of the North

In April Northside headed to the capital to record their debut single with producer Ian Broudie, "Shall We Take A Trip" b/w "Moody Places," released on Factory. It was very much of the time, with wah-wah guitar, funky drumming, and vocals sung in the style of The Stone Roses' Ian Brown or The Charlatans' Tim Burgess. A not at all veiled paean to LSD, it was predictably banned by the BBC and climbed to No. 50 on the singles chart.

Second single, "My Rising Star,” was both less derivative and less distinct but no less winning. It reached No. 32 in the charts and spent seven weeks on the charts. 

Northside Chicken Rhythms

Chicken Rhythms was released in 1991 (some re-issues also included "My Shining Star"). The album's cutesy artwork, designed by Manchester's Central Station Design, suggested strangely that Northside were some kind of twee boy band. Their third single, "Take 5," climbed to No. 40 in the UK (and No. 1 in Canada). It was 
released on 1 June, the same day they played Leeds’s Elland Road Stadium with Happy Mondays, The Farm, and The La’s.

Northside began working on demos for a follow-up but Factory went out of business in 1992 and the follow-up was never completed. Northside went their separate ways in 1996. In 2003, Dermo and Ogier formed Silent Partners, with Malc Law (drums) and Danny Yates (guitar). Ogier left and was replaced by Dom Morrison.

In 2006, following the reformation of Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays, Dermody, Morrison, Yates and new drummer Spencer Birtwistle (The Fall)
 played as Northside on a handful of dates. In 2014, the original line-up of the band re-formed but so far no new material has emerged.


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One album wonders: World of Twist's Quality Street

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 24, 2014 08:00am | Post a Comment

World of Twist
are one of the greatest one album wonders, on par with The La’s and The Sex Pistols — if unfortunately much more obscure than either. Although they’ve been broken up for more than twenty years, their cult still remains small although it seems inevitable that they will some day be granted the adoration which they so deserve. It seems only a matter of time before an excellent documentary on them screens at Don’t Knock the Rock or appears on video. 

As with many one album wonders, though not prolific as recording artists, the World of Twist’s members were involved in music for many years. From 1977-1979, Dave Conner (vocals), Gordon King (bass), James Fry (guitar), Julia Adamson (guitar), and Tony Ogden (drums) played in a punk band called The Blackout when all were art students in Art & Design at Stockport College in Greater Manchester.

Around 1982, King and Fry followed the latter’s older brother, Martin (of ABC) to Sheffield, then one of the most musically interesting cities in the UK (see Made in Sheffield). Over the next few years the line-up grew to included Ogden, Andy Robins (synthesizer), and Rory Connolly (saxophone). After Robins quit they were joined by Andrew Hobson (bass) and Nick Philips (organ) and by 1984/’85 they had a repertoire of about a dozen songs which they recorded as demos. Three songs from 1985 were released in 1992 after World of Twist had split up.

World of Twist - "The Sausage" (1985)

As the Sheffield scene grew increasingly predictable and homogeneous, solidified around bleak, industrial post-punk sound, World of Twist were increasingly and defiantly at odds. They opened started a club, The Wigwam, at which aimed to meld Northern Soul vibes with the aesthetic of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Aside from Julian Cope and Dexys Midnight Runners, they weren't just out-of-step with Sheffield, but music of the era. 

In 1988 the band gave up on Sheffield and Hobson, King, and Ogden moved to Manchester where they shared a house with Martin Wright of Laugh. Fry moved to London to pursue photography and Ogden took over vocals. New members of World of Twist included Alan “Adge” Frost on synthesizers and visual effects, Julia “MC Shells” McGreechin on “swirls and sea noises,” and Angela Reilly on visual effects. Before long, Nick Sanderson (formely of Sheffield’s Clock DVA and later, Los Angeles’s The Gun Club) came along to fill Ogden’s vacant drum kit.

World of Twist gained attention in part for their live show, inspired by that of The Residents and progressive rock bands and which included an elaborate set pieces and effects. Their live show was described by various writers as “a dry ice fantasia” and “ a mesmerizing mix of Bacofoil, ancient technology, and Brylcreem” but because they were danceable, based in Manchester, and this was the late 1980s, that World of Twist were to be lazily lumped in with the Madchester/Baggy scene was inevitable. In reality, only fellow pastichists Happy Mondays approached the breadth of World of Twist’s bricolage, drawn as it apparently was from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, bubblegum, Detroit proto-punk, glitter rock, Joe Meek, Krautrock, mod, and space rock

A series of demos were recorded at the beginning of 1990 but the only label which showed interest was Virgin subsidiary Circa — then known for sort of adult alternative and sophisti-pop bands like Hue & Cry, Neneh Cherry, Julia Fordham, and Millions Like Us but as with all majors, Virgin were eager to sign a band from Manchester, which they did with World of Twist. In August, World of Twist sold out Manchester’s International 1. On 22 September, the newly-signed band recorded a Mark Goodier Session at Studio 5 in London.

World of Twists’s debut single, “The Storm,” was released 15 November, 1990. It was famed producer Martin Hannett’s last production work — he died in April 1991 of heart failure brought on by obesity and drug abuse. The band made their national television debut on Channel 4’s The Word. Guest Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood described them as great and likened them to "The Velvet Underground on acid." On the other hand, when it was reviewed on BBC's Juke Box Jury, a bit normal guest Bernard Sumner derided them as "a bit 'we are weird'." 

Although hotly tipped and huge at home, “The Storm” failed to connect outside the north and only reached #42 in the charts. On 23 December they sold out the Manchester Ritz, supported by Laugh, who’d recently changed their name to Intastella.

By the spring of 1991 World of Twist’s fame had grown sufficiently to the point that they sold out the London Astoria on 27 March, 1991 — supported by Saint Etienne (whose then-new singer, Sarah Cracknell made her live debut with them that night) and Sensurround. On 29 December, World of Twist returned to Sheffield for a homecoming band, supported by another band who’d left Sheffield in 1988, Pulp. Five recorded songs from the show were shown on Granada. On 25 June, they recorded a Peel Session

Music writer Simon Reynolds summed up World of Twist’s sound as “kitsch-adelia” but their next single, albeit again seemingly delivered with tongue-in-cheek, was the stomping "Sons of the Stage,” released the same month they again played The Leadmill again with Pulp, the then growing increasingly kitschadelic themselves. 

On 30 September, 1991, the World of Twist released the “Sweets,” dripping with saccharine  and ironically promoted with packs of cigarettes. The two singles did less well than "The Storm," climbing only to #47 and #58, respectively. Still the band were earning themselves fans, sometimes in high places.

Saint Etienne’s debut, Foxbase Alpha, was released the same month as "Sweets" and the lyrics of “London Belongs to Me” included the lines:
To the sound of the World Of Twist
You leant over and gave me a kiss
It's too warm to even hold hands
But that won't stop us from making plans

Likewise, Noel and Liam Gallagher were so enamored of World of Twist that they considered naming their dadchester band Sons of the Stage before settling on Oasis. They also used World of Twist's James Fry as their photographer and Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye went so far as to record an unremarkable World of Twist cover. 

Tony Ogden (image source: Die Rache)

What was to be World of Twist’s only album, Quality Street, was released on 28 October, 1991. It included a cover of The Honeycombs“This Too Shall Pass Away” and nine, single-quality originals. However, the mixing and production of the original release were problematic. In a 2005 interview with The Guardian, Ogden claimed, “We spent £250,000 making an album with the smallest bollocks in pop history.” (A 2013 re-issue does wonders in correcting the mix and adds a disc of extras.) Quality Street only reached #50 in the charts (which were then populated with artists like Amy Grant, Bryan Adams, Roxette, and Seal) and their label dropped them. They had a meeting with Alan McGee and seemed like an excellent fit at Creation, but they didn’t sign. Ogden had let it be known that he no longer wished to sing or appear on stage.

NME announced World of Twist’s split in the 27 June, 1992 issue. Ogden became something of a recluse, moving back to his parents’ home in Stockport. He continued to write music as a solo artist (listen here) and later, as Bubblegum Secret Pop Explosion, who released the digital EP Escape in the Love Machines in 2005. Ogden also collaborated with Mum & Dad on 2000’s “Dawn Rider.” Fy, King, and Sanderson continued to perform together in a new band, Earl Brutus. The Pre New are comprises of Fry, King, Laurence Bray, Stuart Boreman, Stuart Wheldon, and Vincent Gibson.

Although World of Twist failed to top the charts or even record a second album, their influence could be heard several bands and scenes that followed. In 1992, the British music press tried to make a thing out of the so-called Glam Revival (The Auteurs, Denim, and Suede). In 1993 they pushed the junk-shop retro-futurist Crimplene Scene (Pulp and Saint Etienne). The more interesting bands of Britpop combined influences drawn from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ’80s. In 1995, Romo briefly attempted to correct for New Lad with some New Romantic revivalism. In 1997, U2's the sound and video of "Discothèque" suggested that the Irish veterans had discovered World of Twist.

Ogden died suddenly, at the age of 44, in 2006. Sanderson died after a long struggle with lung and lymphoid cancer on 8 June, 2008. According to his obituary, his idea of heaven was driving a train whilst listening to Steve Hackett’s Spectral Morning. In 2009, artist Jeremy Deller created a piece, Procession, which included a “We Miss the World of Twist” float. In 2012, Saint Etienne again sang about World of Twist in their song, “Over the Border,” which recounts a break-in to Peter Gabriel’s house by late Nick Sanderson. It's only a matter of time now before the rest of the world catches on. 

Special thanks to World of Twist (library) for keeping their legacy alive.


We cannot walk the floor at night in peace -- a look back at Perry Boys

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 29, 2013 04:56pm | Post a Comment

18 May was the 104th birthday of Fred Perry. As someone who'd generally rather poorly play any sport than watch others, no matter how good, this occasion in and of itself didn't mean much to me. Fred Perry was, I've read, a great tennis player but I reckon his name conjures up images of tennis shirts rather than tennis players. And for anyone remotely aware of youth subcultures, Fred Perry shirts have been part of many style tribes' uniforms. In fact, Fred Perry was so popular with a Mancunian tribe that arose in the late 1970s that they came to be known as "Perry Boys."


Lacoste (left) and Perry (right) in their creations (image source: Modern Gentleman Magazine)

The tennis shirt was invented in 1929 by French tennis star Jean René Lacoste but Fred Perry introduced several innovations to the article of clothing. As with Lacoste, Fred Perry shirts only came in white when they were introduced in 1952. The now signature twin-tipping was reportedly introduced to placate the demands of West Ham United football fans. When members of the Mod subculture adopted the shirt, more colors were added to cater to their tastes. (Fred Perry also invented the modern wrist sweatband although there's no excuse for wearing those off the court). 


In the latter half of the 20th century, changing attitudes toward casualwear turned men’s formal codes upside down. Fifty years earlier, the sight of a man in his shirtsleeves had been seen as borderline pornographic (see Partie de campagne) and vests were worn to hide the sight of suspenders -- since they're properly worn as undergarments. Then, after World War II, wearing blue jeans and an undershirt in public became accessible. In the 1950s, Casual Fridays regrettably became a thing where bosses attempted to create a false sense of freedom amongst their wage slaves. The period also saw an explosion of youth subcultures.

Whereas middle class subcultures like Beatniks, and Trads often seemed to dress down, working class subcultures have almost always dressed up. The smart Fred Perry shirt was thus favored by working class subcultures like Skinheads (and Suedeheads) in the 1960s; (Northern) Soul Boys, Punks and Rude Boys in the 1970s; Casuals in the 1980s; Britpoppers in the 1990s; and Chavs in the 2000s. The brand’s importance to various British youth subcultures was highlighted in filmmaker Don Letts’s documentary series, Subculture (2012).


As aforementioned, there was also the Perry Boy subculture. With roots in the Soul Boy subculture, Perry Boys emerged as something distinct around 1977 and '78. This is probably sacrilegious to say for some Mancunians but Perry Boys were seemingly almost certainly influenced by their peers and rival subculture -- the Scallies of Liverpool. For most of the 1970s, Liverpool FC placed at or near the top of the First Division. Scallies followed their team to the continent and would graft and shoplift so that they could wear expensive and exclusive labels. Meanwhile, back in the North, Manchester United, spent most of the decade trying not to get relegated. Though Perry Boys came to be primarily associated with football hooliganism, when they first appeared it was naturally away from the terrace in nightclubs such as Manchester's legendary Pips.

As with all the best youth subcultures, music played a central role for Perries. The Perry soundtrack included Disco, Soul, Roxy Music, David Bowie and neo-psychedelic post-punk bands. Favored American neo-psychedelic bands included Athens's R.E.M., Milwaukee's Plasticland, Rhode Island's Plan 9, St. Paul's Hüsker Dü and Los Angeles's Paisley Underground (The Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, Rain Parade, and The Three O'Clock) as well as Liverpool's Echo & the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes. Local post-Punk bands with Perry Boy elements in their audience included Joy Division, The Chameleons, Crispy Ambulance, Magazine and Vibrant Thigh. And they liked The Cramps. Tellingly, few if any bands from London made the grade. 


Relatively few Perry Boys seem to have made stabs at making music although nearly all that did so formed around 1980 and in several cases included members who went on to achieve considerable success later on in other bands. One of the few bands to be sometimes actually be described as made up of Perry Boys (and a Perry Girl) was Stockholm Monsters, who formed in Burnage in 1980. 


That same year Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets both formed and their members and fans were drawn from the tribe. Also in 1980 future members of the Stone Roses formed The Patrol --  although Ian Brown has made clear that he and John Squire were, properly speaking, Scooter Boys and not really Perries.

Happy Mondays - 1983

In 1981, The Patrol's Si Wolstencraft joined pre-Smiths Andy Rourke and Johnny Marr in Freak Party, who made one demo, "Crak Therapy." It's generally agreed upon that Oldham-based The Hungry Sox's singer, Dave "Kaiser" Cartey, was a Perry Boy. Further tangling the web -- Hungry Sox's bassist, Gary "Mani" Mounfield (also a Perry Boy) had played with Inspiral Carpets' Clint Boon in The Mill and later went on to join The Stone Roses and Cartey went on to sing in John Squire's short-lived pre-Stone Roses band, The Waterfront


The aforementioned Pips was a multi-story nightclub with different floors catering to different scenes including, at some points, Roxy Music fans, Bowie Boys, Gays, and at one point and on one floor, Perry Boys. They came from neighborhoods like Collyhurst, Failsworth, Moston, Prestwich, and Salford.

"Dress - casual but smart" -- Pips coupon from 1979

There was considerable overlap between post-Mod Perry Boys, Scooter Boys, and Soul Boys. Some Perries viewed themselves as the true inheritors of Modernism rather than the self-proclaimed Mods who -- contrary to the entire ethos of original Mods -- were in the slavish fetishists of the past rather than the modern. And as with the original Mods (but not so much the revivalists) they also shared an interest in modern (and Classic), black American music.

In 1986, another legendary local club, The Haçienda, launched a night called Nude. DJs Mike Pickering (of Quando Quango and M People), Martin "Little Martin" Pendergast (and later Graeme Park) introduced much of Manchester (including Perry Boys) to Chicago House music which in 1987 finally helped the club become profitable.


As with any healthy subculture, Perry style evolved over the years. In addition to Fred Perry, the Town Boys (as they were also sometimes known) also favored (preferably burgundy-colored) Peter Werth shirts, Fila Borgs, raglan sleeve shirts, Harrington jackets, Sergio Tacchini and later replica football kits. Preferred trousers included Levi’s 501s or Sta-Prest, Lee corduroys, and Lois jeans. Popular shoes included Adidas Stan Smith, docksiders, Kios, and Kickers. Other approved labels included Aitch, French Connection, FU, and Second Image. The most popular hair style was the wedge – preferably with one eye covered. 

By 1982, some like-minded Londoners, known as Chaps, began to show similar traits to Perries and Scallies. Eventually the three subcultures blurred into less-locality-specific Casuals.


There was a dark side to Perry Boys too -- hooliganism. In the US, youth style tribes (with the notable exception of street gangs) rarely violently clash except in films like The Warriors and S.E. Hinton novels. In England on the other hand, it sounds like they're all raring to battle and go out of their way to do so.

Perries with hands against the wall

The Fall seemed to bait them with their song, "City Hobgoblins." The Chameleons' Mark Burgess blamed Perries for some of the violence at Joy Division gigs. In a 1986 interview with Melody Maker, Morrissey recounted being terrorized by them, calling them "the most vicious people." (In an earlier interview with Record Mirror, on the other hand, his Smiths bandmate Johnny Marr sang their praises, claiming "...the Perry Boys in Manchester have got so much more class than anybody else in the world. I stole all my fashion ideas from them.”


In the late 1980s, some Perries and Casuals adopted flares as part of the changing wardrobe. One of the first was Stephen "Cressa" Cresser, an associate of The Stone Roses, The High, and Happy Mondays. He, Al Smith and Little Martin began jokingly referring to themselves as The Baldricks and, promoted by the Roses' manager Howard Jones, The Baldricks were taken seriously enough by the London media mentioned in an '87 edition of i-D and then profiled the subsequent year in the same publication. Around the same time Acid House and the drug ecstasy made their way to the UK resulted in the birth of the so-called Madchester scene.

Photo of "The Baldricks'" flares

Happy Mondays in 1987

By 1988, the London media could no longer ignore the buzz emanating from the north and Madchester and Rave became national phenomena -- culminating in the UK's so-called "Summer of Love." London, which had spent most of the '80s focused on itself and its homegrown New Romantic, New Pop, and Sophisti-pop movements was now enthralled with the north and soon London bands like Blur and Flowered Up appeared owning considerable stylistic debts to Manchester. Not sure what to make of the northerners, they wrote of "Acid Casuals," "Psychedelic Scallies," "Cosmic Scallies," "Psychedelic Scoundrels," and "Baggies." Though Liverpool had its share of psychedelic-leaning bands (e.g. The Boo Radleys, The La's, The Farm, The Lightning Seeds, Rain, The Real People, Shack, The Wizards of Twiddly), most of the media attention was shifting to Manchester and soon "Madchester" would be applied to bands regardless of their sometimes non-Mancunian origins.

The Fred Perry-favoring Quangos

Fred Perry the tennis star passed away 2 February, 1995 – not forgotten as a tennis player but definitely better recognized for the iconic clothing label named after him. By then, so-called Lad culture was the latest echo of Perry Boy's most trad elements. More recently ripples of Perry Boy culture can be seen in bands like Manchester’s The Quangos but for the most part, Perry Boys remain fairly obscure. Unlike many UK subcultures, I've never heard of any American Anglophiles adopting (and invariably cartoonizing) this particular culture. 


Even in the UK Perry Boys seem fairly obscure. Whereas Scallies had fanzines like The End and What's the Score? and have been the subjects of books like Kevin Sampson’s Awaydays (1998), Andy Nicholls’s Scally: Confessions of a Category C Football Hooligan (2002), and Dave Hewitson’s The Liverpool Boys are Back in Town (2008); the Perry Boy legend is almost entirely kept aflame by Ian Hough who wrote Perry Boys: The Casual Gangs of Manchester and Salford (2007), Perry Boys Abroad (2009), and maintains

In the US, Fred Perry's exposure has been much more limited although Bill Murray wore it in Broken Flowers, Don Cheadle wore it in Iron Man 3, and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) can be seen wearing it in a video about his and Mannie Fresh's OMFGOD project.


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SF DJ Dance Party Temptation Pays Tribute to Manchester's Rich Musical Legacy

Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2010 11:23am | Post a Comment
"And God Created Manchester (Pt 1)" from Rock Family Trees

As the above excerpt from the the Rock Family Trees series about the history of the Manchester music scene (see Pt 2 and Pt 3) nicely outlines, and as most of us Smiths/Joy Division etc. fans already well know, Manchester, England has an incredibly rich musical legacy. It spans several decades with a seemingly never ending stream of talented bands and artists including (to name but a handful) New Morrissey, Manchester UnitedOrder, The Stone Roses, James, 808 State, The Durutti Column, The Happy Monday, The Inspiral Carpets, The Fall, Autechre, The Ting Tings, and Herman's Hermits.

Also well aware of this are the music loving folks who throw the ongoing Bay Area electro/80's/indie/goth themed Temptation party. So for tonight's (sure to be hella fun) Temptation party at Cat Club, the theme is Manchester and that's what the DJs will be spinning all night long. I caught up with Temptation DJ/promoter DJ Damon, who co-produces the Bay Area club night with Dangerous Dan and Skip, and who holds a special place in his heart for Manchester's rich musical history to ask him about tonight's party and Manchester music in general.

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Posted by Billyjam, July 15, 2009 01:54pm | Post a Comment
Joy Division
I think Ian Curtis, the late, great lead singer of Joy Division, would have approved of this Caribbean steel band cover of Joy Division's classic song "Transmission." It's by Steel Harmony and was part of Jeremy Deller's Procession from a couple of Sunday afternoons ago in Ian Curtis' hometown of Manchester England. Although, judging by the reaction, or lack thereof, by most of the crowd, I would say that this inspired cover went mostly underappreciated. 

To compare this instrumental steel band version with the original version, below is the band performing it live 33 years ago in Salford, Greater Manchester. "Transmission" was played onstage in the film 24 Hour Party People (available on DVD at Amoeba) in a scene where Curtis suffers an epileptic fit. Orginally a single, the studio version of the song can be found at Amoeba on several Joy Division releases, including the JD collections Substance and The Best of Joy Division. There are also several live versions out there, including one on Joy Division: The Peel Sessions, recorded in 1979. Over the years numerous other artists have covered the song, including UK electropop stars Hot Chip, the Minnesota slowcore group Low, and of course, most recently Steel Harmony.

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