Of the many compilations released in 2011, one of the most eclectic and compelling collections of music was on Fac. Dance 01, a double-album featuring twenty-four tracks from the much missed Factory Records’ back-catalogue. Given how much I’d enjoyed Fac. Dance 01, I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this compilation. Indeed, I would’ve done so earlier, but circumstances unhelpfully intervened. Now somewhat belatedly, I can tell you about Fac. Dance 02, which Strut Records released on 3rd September 2012. For anyone new to Factory Records, the its predecessor Fac. Dance 01 and Fac. Dance 02 are the perfect introduction to one of the most innovative and influential independent record labels ever. Among the artists signed to Factory Records were legendary groups like New Order, Happy Mondays and Joy Division, while groups like A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, Quando Quango, Section 25 and 52nd Street are among Factory’s hidden gems.  Will Fac. Dance 02 match the quality of Fac. Dance 01. That’s what I’ll tell you, after I’ve picked my highlights of Fac. Dance 02.

Factory Records were founded and based in Manchester between1978-1992, and were one of the most most influential and innovative British labels of the past forty years. Not only did the released some of the most cutting-edge music of that time, and it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that, Factory’s influence spread much wider, influencing independent labels worldwide. During this period, Factory Records were a cutting-edge label, fearlessly treading where neither majors nor other independent labels would tread. Often, commercial considerations took a back-seat to artistic merit of music. As a result, Factory won kudos for their leftfield and sometimes cutting-edge releases, which sadly, didn’t sell in great numbers. 

Sometimes, it wasn’t just music Factory Records were involved in. They opened the legendary Hacienda nightclub in Manchester, which initially, wasn’t a success. Then when Acid House exploded, then The Hacienda became one of the world’s best know clubs. Factory also ventured into owning their own clothes shop, bar, restaurant and even the short-lived hairdressers adjacent to The Hacienda. At one time, Factory decided to even venture into the world of independent films. All this diversification was only possible because of one of the label’s co-owners.

What allowed Factory Records to open all these different business, was New Order, who were co-owners of the label helped bankroll Factory. Much of the everyday running of the business was left to Anthony H. Wilson, who was at Factory’s helm. during the label’s fourteen year history. Apart from music, what helped Factory stand out from the crowd was design. Design was key to Factory Records philosophy, so Peter Saville’s designs adorning their record covers, resulting in many of their record covers resembling a mini work of art. All these things influenced other labels, labels who’d been inspired by Factory or learnt from their mistakes. After fourteen years which resembled an emotionally-charged roller-coaster journey, Factory Records became insolvent and was declared bankrupt. Now twenty years later, Factory Records is still a much loved and much missed label, remembered by many music fans who will relive their by listening to compilations like Fac. Dance 02.


Several of the artists that feature on Disc One of Fac. Dance 02 featured on Fac. Dance 01. This includes Section 25, Quando Quango, Shark Vegas, The Durutti Column, X-O-Dus and A Certain Ratio. There are also tracks from Thick Pigeon, Sir Horatio, Fadela and Minny Pops and ESG, who didn’t feature on Fac. Dance 01. Their inclusion, especially ESG track are welcome inclusion.  These twelve tracks are an eclectic selection of the innovative and influential music Factory released during its fourteen year history. Given the quality of music on Disc One of  Fac. Dance 02, choosing the highlights isn’t going to be easy, but here goes.

My first choice is the track which opens Disc One of Fac. Dance 02, A Certain Ratio’s The Fox. It was a track from their second album To Each, released in April 1981. This was the followup album to 1980s The Graveyard and The Ballroom. Unlike their debut album, A Certain Ratio recorded their second album in New York, with producer Martin Hannet. The studio that wasn’t as well equipped as Strawberry Studios, where Martin Hannet was based, and gave To Each a different sound to The Graveyard and The Ballroom. Having said that, the track still is an innovative and influential sounding track, where post punk and funk unite as one.

ESG had the honor of becoming the first American group to sign to Factory Records. They were the four Scroggins sisters from the South Bronx, whose fusion of art-funk and sensuous, minimalist sound won over many people, including Ed Bahlman, owner of New York’s 99 Records. They supported A Certain Ratio at Danceteria and so impressed was Anthony H. Wilson, he signed them to Factory. With Martin Hannet producing, they recorded three tracks, one of which was Moody. In his inimitable style, Anthony H. Wilson described ESG as P.I.L. meets Motown on the wrong side of the Triborough Bridge.” Released in 1981, on the You’re No Good Ep, this was ESG’s only Factory release, as they signed to 99 Records. It’s a tantalizing taster and a case of what if? What would’ve happened to ESG on Factory Records? Would they have become a much bigger success than they were on 99 Records?

One of my favorite tracks from Fac. Dance 01 was the underrated X-O-Dus’ See Them-A-Come, so I’m pleased to their track Society feature on Fac. Dance 02. Formed in Manchester in 1975 by Wesley and Leddy Ricketts, in 1975X-O-Dus’ style of reggae had a harder edge and was much more political than other similar bands. Having been gigging for five years before they recorded Society in 1980, X-O-Dus were a tight and professional group, who deserved commercial success. Anyone whose heard their music will realize this. Sadly, that wasn’t to be the case, because when X-O-Dus started recording an album for Factory, slow progress and money problems lead to the band breaking up. To me, Society is a poignant reminder of what might have been.

Of all the Factory bands, one of my favorites has always been the hugely underrated Durutti Column, featuring the multitalented Vini Reilly. Over the years, I’ve bought many of Durutti Column’s albums so I’m pleased to see Self Portrait on Fac. Dance 02. Self Portrait released in 1980 on the Factory Quartet EP is a slightly dark, expirimental sonic soundscape that draws you and captivates you. It gradually reveals its charms and delights and benefits from A Certain Ratio’s drummer Donald Johnson providing the track’s heartbeat. Sadly, too soon it’s over, leaving wanting you wanting to hear more of The Durutti Column’s music. For anyone wanting to hear more of their music, then the Four Factory Records box set is a good starting point.

Section 25 were very much one of Factory Records’ innovators and to some extent, a group ahead of their time. Two of their songs featured on Fac. Dance 02 only Sakura features here. They joined Factory in 1979, with Rob Gretton and Joy Division taking an interest in their career. Sakura was a track from their 1982 EP The Beast which draws upon a fusion of influences. Post-punk, punk, rock and even Krautrock are all thrown into the melting pot and stirred by the three members of Section 25. Listen carefully and you’ll hear a real P.I.L. influence on Sakura, a track that doesn’t sound thirty-two years old. 

Although I’ve only reviewed five of the tracks on Disc One of Fac. Dance 02, I could’ve mentioned many more tracks. After all, with quality tracks like Shark Vegas’ You Hurt Me, Thick Pigeon’s Babcock and Wilcox and Sir Horatio’s Sommadub, I was almost spoiled for choice. The twelve tracks show just how wide Factory Records cast their net when looking for new artists. Whether it was post-punk, art-funk, reggae or new wave, then there’s something for everyone on Disc One of Fac. Dance 02. While many of the artists, including ESG and X-O-Dus only released a few releases, Section 25, Durutti Column and A Certain Ration were some of Factory’s best known and in Durutti Column’s case, one of their longest serving and most successful artists, releasing five albums for Factory. Will the artists on Disc Two of Dac. Dance 02 include Factory veterans, or some of the lesser known names?


Like Disc One of Fac. Dance 02, Disc Two features twelve tracks that are a mixture of familiar faces and newcomers to the Fac. Dance series. Among the familiar faces are Quando Quango, 52nd Street, Royal Family and The Poor and Swamp Children. The newcomers include The Wake, Anna Domino, Surprize, Nyam Nyam and Biting Tongues. These artists all played their part in Factory Records’ rich historym between 1978-1992. However, will the quality of music on Disc Two of Fac. Dance 02,  match that on Disc One? That’s what I’ll tell you, when I tell you about the highlights of Disc Two of Fac Dance.

Softly Saying Goodbye was released by The Swamp Children in September 1982, two years after signing to Factory Records. Like many other Factory groups, The Swamp Children’s music was a fusion of musical genres. Although there’s a post-punk influence and sound to their music, you can hear elements of funk, jazz and jazz-funk, even Latin music. Sometimes, there’s even a Liz Fraser sound and quality to Ann Quigley’s vocals. Sadly, The Swamp Children only released one album Too Hot, released in 1981 and in 1982, released the Taste What’s Rhythm EP also on Factory Benelux, which features the compelling Softly Saying Goodbye.

While Quando Quango only released one album on Factory, 1985s Pigs and Battleships, they released their debut single So Exciting in 1982. The version of So Exciting included on Fac. Dance 02 is the twelve-inch version, which features producer Howard Johnson adding some funky slap bass to Quando Quango’s fusion of electronica, new-wave, funk and dance music. It’s a compelling mixture of genres and influences from the Anglo-European group lead by Mike Pickering, yes that Mike Pickering who went on to form M People. Listening to this track and it’s hard to believe that it’s the same Mike Pickering in both groups.

For Factory officianados, Anna Domino released one of Factory’s best albums of 1986, Anna Domino. Although only licensed from Le Discques De Crepuscule, it’s to Factory’s credit that they spotted the potential in Anna Domino. Take That is a song that reveals a very different side after its  bright bouncy opening, where synths, percussion and the rhythm section combine. Soon the listener is taken on a journey where the Canadian singer-songwriter reveals her hurt and heartache, so much so that the pain is almost tangible. It’s an emotive and revealing journey, one that’s alos irresistible and quite beautiful. That’s why it’s the best track on Fac. Dance 02. 

The Wake way not have been Factory Records biggest ever acts, but it features Bobby Gillespie’s as a…bassist. He was only a member of The Wake, for a short while, during which time they released their debut single Host. Like many Factory groups, The Wake’s music is a fusion of influences, taking in reggae, dub and perfect Postcard pop. Recorded in March 1983, and released in October 1983, Host was the group’s first single for Factory Benulux. It was in 1982 The Wake first signed to Factory Records, after being asked by Rob Gretton, one of Factory’s founders. Although The Wake were short-lived, it was taste of what was to come, when Bobby Gillespie left to concentrate on The Jesus and Mary Chain and later, formed Primal Scream, before strutting his way through countless genre crossing albums.

The last track I’ve chosen from Disc Two of Fac. Dance 02 just so happens to be the last track on Disc Two, Ad Infinitum’s Telstar. Lindsay Reade decided to write lyrics for Joe Meeke’s classic instrumental Telstar. Having written the lyrics, Lindsay was helped by a number of Manchester’s music community to record the track. Then tragedy struck, when Joe Meek’s publishers wouldn’t clear the track. It was only when the track was changed quite drastically that the track was cleared for release. This saw Lindsay’s vocal sung through a vocoder so the lyrics were really hard to hear and the track given something of a makeover. Only then was the track allowed to be released and gives Telstar a totally new dance-floor friendly sound, that even today still works well.

Like Disc One of Fac. Dance 02, Disc Two is a compelling and fascinating reminder of the eclectic nature of Factory Records’ music. It’s music that you can’t second guess and can’t pigeonhole. Much of the music on both discs crosses and fuses musical genres and influences and reflects the music the artists were influenced by. For anyone yet to discover Factory Records’ music, then Fac. Dance 01 and Fac. Dance 02 are the perfect introduction to the label’s music. I’d also recommend two books that will help your journey through Factory’s music, Peter Hook’s How Not To Run A Club Properly and James Nice’s Shadowplayers. These books detail Factory Records roller-coaster fourteen year history, plus many of the backstories of the behind the scenes capers and hijinks. Most of all, both books detail the musicians and personnel at Factory who were responsible for releasing so much influential and innovative music. Having had to wait some time to hear this music, the music on Fac. Dance 02 was well worth the wait and Strut Records have picked up where they left of with Fac. Dance 01, a compelling and eclectic collection of quality music that’s like Factory Records, influential and innovative. Standout Tracks: A Certain Ratio The Fox. Durutti Column Self Portrait, The Swamp Children Softly Saying Goodbye and Anna Domino Take That.


Fac. Dance 02

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