I am a lifelong music fan raised and residing in Toronto. I want to pay tribute to the music I love and am still discovering, so this site is for sharing my thoughts, memories, and playlists of the bands, genres, and songs that have meant so much to me.

And yes, this site is named after my lifelong favourite song, Ceremony by Joy Division and New Order.

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I'm into Something Good: A Retrospective of Manchester Music

I'm into Something Good: A Retrospective of Manchester Music

Listen to the playlist on the streaming service of your choice as you read along.

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The city of Manchester, England has been on my radar every since my love of Joy Division, New Order and their brethren took hold of me in my early teens. When the ‘Madchester’ craze happened several years later, it cemented the impression on me that there was something special about this place. Certainly many other areas of Britain have produced prolific output, but none so grounded in one place the way it has been for Manchester. So with that in mind I offer a retrospective on artists from the Greater Manchester area.

The Playlist

  1. I'm Into Something Good \ Herman's Hermits (1964)
  2. Game of Love \ Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders (1965)
  3. The Air that I Breathe \ The Hollies (1974)
  4. Breakdown \ Buzzcocks (1977)
  5. New Dawn Fades \ Joy Division (1979)
  6. Shack Up (YouTube) - Do the Du (Spotify & Google Play) \ A Certain Ratio (1980 & 1979)
  7. Sketch for Summer \ The Durutti Column (1980)
  8. A Song from Under the Floorboards \ Magazine (1980)
  9. Nero \ Theatre of Hate (1981)
  10. Hurt (YouTube) – Chosen Time (Spotify & Google Play) \ New Order (1981-2)
  11. Love Tempo \ Quando Quango (1983)
  12. This Charming Man \ The Smiths (1983)
  13. Oh! Brother \ The Fall (1984)
  14. Castles in the Air \ The Colourfield (1985)
  15. Cry \ Godley & Creme (1985)
  16. Money’s Too Tight (to Mention) \ Simply Red (1985)
  17. Swamp Thing \ The Chameleons {1986)
  18. Breakout \ Swing Out Sister (1986)
  19. The Promise \ When in Rome (1987)
  20. Everyday is Like Sunday \ Morrissey (1988)
  21. Getting Away with It \ Electronic (1989)
  22. Pineapple Face \ Revenge (1990)
  23. Selfish (YouTube) \ The Other Two (1993)
  24. Wrote for Luck \ Happy Mondays (1988)
  25. I Wanna Be Adored \ The Stone Roses (1989)
  26. The Only One I Know \ The Charlatans (UK) (1990)
  27. Commercial Rain/Reign \ Inspiral Carpets (1990)
  28. Shall We Take A Trip \ Northside (1990)
  29. Ooops (with Bjork) \ 808 State (1991)
  30. Born of Frustration \ James (1992)
  31. She’s A Superstar \ The Verve (1992)
  32. In the Name of the Father \ Black Grape (1995)
  33. My Star (YouTube) \ Ian Brown (1998)
  34. Papua New Guinea \ The Future Sound of London (1991)
  35. Block Rockin’ Beats \ The Chemical Brothers (1997)
  36. Live Forever \ Oasis (1994)
  37. Catch the Sun \ Doves (2000)
  38. What Do You Want From Me? \ Monaco (1997)
  39. Babylon \ David Gray (1999)
  40. Good Souls \ Starsailor (2001)
  41. Down on the Corner (YouTube) – Upstarts (Spotify & Google Play) \ Johnny Marr & The Healers (2003 & 2013)
  42. One Day Like This \ Elbow (2008)
  43. Shut Up and Let Me Go \ The Ting Tings (2008)
  44. Intuition \ LoneLady (2010)
  45. Sink or Swim \ Bad Lieutenant (2009)
  46. So Oh \ The Charlatans (UK) (2015)
  47. Beautiful Thing \ The Stone Roses (2016)
  48. People on the High Line \ New Order (2016)

The underlying context that should be kept in mind throughout this playlist is the history and make-up of Manchester. The city was the birth of the industrial revolution, a place that once led the world and held the promise of great future that then fell on hard times as England globalized after WWII, leaving its tough streets to a youth with an uncertain future. It is a northern city that distinguishes itself from its southern competitor, London (the only urban area in England that is larger), as a tougher, more nationalistic persona. It is inland and therefore has a more localized quality to it than similar coastal cities, such as nearby Liverpool. Finally, it is a city of cities, agglomerated from surrounding towns, so there is a competitive aspect to how people in the city see themselves and their place in the city – most identify by their specific district as opposed to the larger city – indeed, three rivers run through it, dividing the city further with Manchester proper to the east and Salford to the west. Proud, competitive, tough, progressive, angry, and unabashedly British, the people of this city have used music (and perhaps football/soccer – and you can see all these same qualities in those fans) to make their mark.

    Herman’s Hermits \ I’m Into Something Good (1964) – Post-war Manchester is doing ok during the dawn of rock’n’roll.  And before an economic slide happens the bands coming out of the area are in a relatively good mood, and like most of the early rock sounds in North America and Britain, the focus is on love and other topics that are relatable no matter who you are. The Gibb brothers first learned their trade in Manchester playing in skiffle bands before the family moved to Australia in 1958 and the rest is history as the Bee Gees develop out of that brotherhood. Also creating a significant mark on the British adoption of the American blues music is John Mayall, who teams up with Eric Claption to create an extensive list of recordings of UK blues. But it’s the British Invasion that UK music is best known for in the 60s, and it’s acts like Peter Noone’s Herman’s Hermits that take American audiences by storm.

    Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders \ Game of Love (1965) – There were many others in the 60s in Britain that had a few hits that were bigger on local UK charts than in America, but would eventually be known in the canon of early rock as ground breakers.

    The Hollies \ The Air that I Breathe (1974) – Probably the biggest act out of Manchester during this time are The Hollies, led by Graham Nash who would develop an outstanding career, also as famously with supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY). The Hollies had an impressive list of hits during the 60s and are significant members of the British Invasion. However like many struggled to make the transition into the 70s. After Nash left they had a couple of remaining hits to add to their repertoire, first “He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother” and then ‘The Air that I Breathe.’ I admit my recollection of this song was that of typical ‘70s corporate rock pap, but after hearing it aired out in the 2012 movie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World I fell in love with it – that strumming acoustic guitar riding over the bass just melts me.

     The Buzzcocks, early days

    The Buzzcocks, early days

    The Buzzcocks \ Breakdown (1977) – So that’s a very brief taste of how rock music developed in Manchester through the 60s and 70s – not too different than many other places and it’s not likely Manchester had distinguished itself on the map of significant music locales. That would change in the late ‘70s as recession broke out, garbage strikes left the city a stinking mess, and high unemployment created a harsh climate for the youth of the day. Roaming the soulless and stark housing and apartment complexes of the city, there was an anger and urgency to lash out and make their voices heard. It was because of this environment that we make an abrupt turn musically to the first, urgent, angry sounds of punk. The Sex Pistols show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in the summer of 1976 organized by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto of the The Buzzcocks created a ripple that became a wave in Manchester music. By January, The Buzzcocks had put together their first EP, Spiral Scratch, featuring this song. It was the first punk music out of Manchester.

    Joy Division \ New Dawn Fades (1979) – Also at the Sex Pistols show was Tony Wilson, who was best known at the time as an on-air reporter and host of a local TV show called So It Goes, which was instrumental in exposing up-and-coming artists and building up the burgeoning new sounds coming out of northern England and London (he aired The Sex Pistols before their more famous BBC appearance with Bill Grundy). When So It Goes got cancelled he was motivated to continue giving new bands an outlet to get their music in front of eager audiences. He arranged a standing night per week at a local dance club and called it ‘Factory Night.’ Local punk bands played it each week and their audiences grew. He realized something was going on and saw an opportunity.

     Peter Saville, Tony WIlson, and Alan Erasmus outside the Russell Club, the original location of Factory Nights, the origination of Factory Records

    Peter Saville, Tony WIlson, and Alan Erasmus outside the Russell Club, the original location of Factory Nights, the origination of Factory Records

    Wilson formed one of England’s first and most prolific Indie labels, ‘Factory Records.’ Drawing on the manufacturing history of the city and promoting a gritty, industrial feel to the branding of the label, it fit with the soulless and bleak mood of late ‘70s Manchester. One of his first signings was a band that was gaining the most attention at Factory Nights – formed around Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook who were also both at that Sex Pistols show in ‘76. When they added Steven Morris as drummer and finally Ian Curtis as singer, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts and Joy Division was born. They quickly moved past the typical punk sounds to a more brooding, sparse, and distinctive sound that captured the bleakness of Manchester and England at the time. Their landmark first album, Unknown Pleasures, had starkly elegant songs on it like “New Dawn Fades” that perfectly exemplified their influential sound.

    A Certain Ratio \ Shack Up (1980) – YouTube or Do the Du (1979) Spotify & Google Play – Also at the Lesser Free Trade Hall show was Martin Hannett, who like the others was perhaps impressed with the Sex Pistols that night, but perhaps not so much that his ensuing work as a producer didn’t follow the raw sounds of the vanguard punk scene. Instead he influenced the post-punk world through his work as the primary producer at Factory Records and helped eclectic acts like A Certain Ratio get attention. Hannett produced many songs on this list.

     A Certain Ratio

    A Certain Ratio

    I saw A Certain Ratio open for New Order at the International Centre near the airport in 1985. During the show they all switched instruments so by the end of the show everyone had played all the instruments at least once (or at least it seemed that way). A Certain Ratio seems to me the essence of the Manchester scene of the early ‘80s – experimental, eclectic, and doing their own thing without regard for mainstream norms or the false validation of broader appeal.

    The Durutti Column \ Sketch for Summer (1980) – Similarly, The Durutti Column revealed how the post-punk sounds were evolving out of Factory. More experimental with rhythm, electronics, beats and vocals these acts were never chart toppers and but challenged the punks to do more than just bang on their guitars.

    Magazine \ A Song from Under the Floorboards (1980) – Magazine, formed by ex-Buzzcock Howard Devoto along with Barry Adamson (who arises continually in music circles to this day as a producer, collaborator, and composer), develop a more progressive sound that combined the dark edge of post-punk with a straight-ahead rock composition. This live version of ‘A Song from Under the Floorboards’ (youis from their fantastic live album, Play.

    Theatre of Hate \ Nero (1981) - Also building on the dark sounds of Joy Division were Theatre of Hate, who issued a string of standout tracks such as “Nero.” Goth was developing during this time also and many UK bands such as Bauhaus, Killing Joke, The Damned and Siouxsie and The Banshees were playing music like this and creating yet another splinter of the original punks.

     New Order's Peter Hook and Stephen Morris inside The Hacienda Nightclub

    New Order's Peter Hook and Stephen Morris inside The Hacienda Nightclub

    New Order \ Hurt (1982) – YouTube or Chosen Time (1981) Spotify & Google Play - By 1981-2 as punk lost steam and was taken over by New Wave, New Romantics, synth-dance artists, and new forms of pop that leveraged those influences, Manchester again provided leaders and influencers. Joy Division continued on as New Order after the death of Ian Curtis and were building more keyboards into their sound. “Hurt” was a consummate example of their evolving sound, issued as the B-side to their ground breaking single, “Temptation.” “Chosen Time” was from their first album, Movement, and showed how the new band was evolving on the Joy Division sound. New Order, over the next few years, became one of the most influential and established acts of the ‘80s Brit music scene – though as the bread winner among their label mates almost all of their money went back into Factory Records and their nightclub…

    Quando Quango \ Love Tempo (1983) – Yes, Factory Records’ and Manchester’s next great contribution to the music world was the formation of one of the most famous and notorious night clubs in British history, The Hacienda. Now the Factory artists had a state of the art facility to play in, promote their music, and do a lot of drugs. Quando Quango was one such band that found its place there, formed around Hacienda DJ and Factory Records rep Mike Pickering. A song like “Love Tempo,” while sounding very ‘80s, showed how dance, drugs, and musical experimentation were the order of the day.

    Before moving on, two other bands that would be tempting to add to this list are Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17, both from Sheffield – just an hour or so down the highway from Manchester. These were also early Factory artists that played a huge role in developing the northern sound during this time.

    The Smiths \ This Charming Man (1983) – Yup, we’re still not done with that Pistols show from 1976. Also in attendance was a young Steven Morrissey, who by 1983 was paired with Johnny Marr and together as The Smiths released a string of undeniable pop albums that made them one of the biggest acts out of England, much less Manchester. They broke up before the decade closed out, yet the attention their music garners even today would make you think they’d spent twenty years releasing music.

     Mark E & Brix Smith of The Fall, circa 1985

    Mark E & Brix Smith of The Fall, circa 1985

    The Fall \ Oh! Brother (1984) – And yes, the recently late Mark E. Smith was at that friggin’ Sex Pistols show too! His band, The Fall, of which he was the only consistent member, seemed to release an album a year for the next twenty without ever garnering much attention or success. But along the way built a phenomenal list of singles and quite the legacy of work. Smith’s voice called for attention in every song, but also made The Fall like that weird kid you seemed to have in every class growing up – you were intrigued but felt better keeping a safe distance.

    The Colourfield \ Castles in the Air (1985) – After the break-up of The Specials, a prolific ska band from Coventry, lead singer Terry Hall decamped to Manchester and formed The Colourfield. He seemed to be trying his hand at the light, new wave pop that was ubiquitous in England in the mid-80s.

    Godley & Creme \ Cry (1985) – Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were originally the experimental half of ‘70s rockers, 10cc (noted for the song ‘I’m Not In Love’). They continued as a duo but began making a name for themselves more as music video directors for artists such as Ultravox, The Police, Yes, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wang Chung. In 1985 they scored this hit single and of course, directed the memorable video.

     Mick Hucknall of Simply Red

    Mick Hucknall of Simply Red

    Simply Red \ Money’s Too Tight (to Mention) (1985) – Ok, this is the last mention of the Sex Pistols’ show from the summer of 1976, which was still having its influence almost a decade later. Also in the small audience for that show was redheaded Mick Hucknall, who had a breakout with his band Simply Red with this album, Picture This. “Money’s Too Tight,” a cover song, was their first single and got them some attention. The second single “Come to My Aid” helped more, but it was the fourth single “Holding Back the Years” that went #1 in the US and made the band a success for several years.

    The Chameleons \ Swamp Thing (1986) – You may notice that the music by 1986 was considerably less dark as we move into the second half of the ‘80s and the music varied more. This was the case everywhere as it was in Manchester. There was less of a scene there as there was in the first few years of Factory Records, though after Factory many other Indie labels were formed and each spurred regional music enclaves throughout the country – many with their own brand of music. The Chameleons showed Manchester was still producing progressive new bands, and while they were a one hit wonder (though this wasn’t really a hit in the charting sense), I can tell you that in Toronto, this song was a staple of local radio station CFNY and what I recall as a classic alternative pop sound for the time.

    Breakout \ Swing Out Sister (1986) – I include this simply to show Manchester also produced traditional dance-pop music that tended to always dominate the charts. This was a hit both in England and North America. Aside from being a quintessentially ‘80s pop song, there was also something quintessentially British about this trio (though soon after were reduced to just a duo) and the blend of electronic beats layered over traditional horns and R&B rhythms. The Brits seemed to spew this stuff out incessantly.

    When in Rome \ The Promise (1987) – Much like The Chameleons, this one-hit wonder kept the early ‘80s vibe alive in the late stages of the decade. Another CFNY Toronto mainstay this was a rare keeper from the latter half of the decade. The riches of new music that had arrived between 1977 and 1985 seemed to flatten into mediocrity and a lack of distinction as the decade petered out.

    Morrissey \ Everyday is Like Sunday (1988) – Also petering out were the bands that put Manchester on the map during that earlier era. The Smiths broke up and Morrissey immediately gave notice that he’d be just fine without Johnny Marr, releasing this as his first solo single. Sweeping, catchy as hell, graceful with a hint of muscle in the bassline, it was simply a brilliant pop song.

     Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Bernard Sumner of New Order, in Electronic

    Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Bernard Sumner of New Order, in Electronic

    Electronic \ Getting Away with It (1989) – interesting things were brewing in Manchester at this point as the old guard was about to be replaced by a new wave of bands that would once again bring the world’s view upon this northern English town.  At this point as much as Factory Records was a generator of great bands, New Order was also becoming a factory of sorts. After putting out their album, Technique, they took a break to do other things. Bernard Sumner was first out of the gate, partnering with Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Neil Tenant of Pet Shop Boys to create Electronic, who led with this first single.

    Revenge \ Pineapple Face (1990) – Not far behind was Peter Hook, who put the band Revenge together. It was clear Barney was the source of the melodies and electronic hooks in New Order while Peter drove the rock-edged elements. Though they toured for several years, Revenge would only release one album which was hampered by generally poor sales.

    The Other Two \ Selfish (1993) YouTube only – Though the remaining members of New Order, the married couple in the band, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, were active in studios guesting and producing others’ music, they did eventually get around to putting out a record. Why didn’t Gillian ever do a female backing to New Order songs? Perhaps a missed opportunity? (After reading Hook’s book on New Order, it’s easy to see why, but that’s another and very long story.) They had a minor hit with this dance song and a generally catchy album, The Other Two and You.

    Happy Mondays \ Wrote for Luck (1988) – Watch the hilarious movie 24 Hour Party People to get a good sense of what this band was all about. They were drug dealers (they were rumoured to be the biggest distributors of Ecstasy in northern England – all part of their myth I’m sure), brothers (Shaun and Paul Ryder), a collective of hangers on, and purveyors of a strange form of club music that ranged between psychedelia, world and island music, and traditional Britpop – the Happy Mondays were a wonder from the start. They would first make their mark with this single. After a couple more singles they would have bigger success with 1990’s Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches album, forming part of the core of the Madchester sound. They were the saviours Factory Records needed as New Order seemed to be packing it in, until they proceeded to bankrupt the label recording their follow-up album. Ironically, Factory would close its doors just as Manchester was having its renaissance.

    The Stone Roses \ I Wanna Be Adored (1989) – after a decade of pushing new musical limits and plumbing the depths of darkness both emotionally and sonically, Manchester artists bucked the trend and reached back for some traditional ‘60s rock vibes. No doubt triggered by the huge drug scene centred at The Hacienda club, there became a wave of trippy music that blended rock, electronics, psychedelia, and faraway vocals that took the alternative radio charts by storm. The world beat a path to Manchester’s door and dubbed it Madchester, one of the leading music scenes in the world for a two to three year span that saw some of its bands gain international success through its Manchester connection.

    The Stone Roses were emblematic of this scene. Their self-titled album was one of the greatest albums ever made (NME magazine dubbed it so in 2000, giving it a ‘Greatest Album Ever’ award, and then followed it up in 2006 naming it the greatest British Album ever). It featured a number of fantastic songs, such as the opener “I Wanna Be Adored,” which bookended the epic closing duo of “Fool’s Gold” and “I Am the Resurrection.” And as the world waited with open arms to make them huge stars, they fell into fights with their record label and took five years to release their second album, long after the world’s gaze had moved on. The Stone Roses wouldn’t never again repeat their success.

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    The Charlatans (UK) \ The Only One I Know (1990) – In the summer of 1990 it seemed like every great song coming out was a Madchester band. The Charlatans (in North America they had to add the ‘UK’ moniker because of an American band with the same name) enjoyed success over three consecutive albums before losing the attention of wider audiences. They were the exemplary Madchester band.

    Inspiral Carpets \ Commercial Rain/Reign (1990) – Once thought to have the potential to be the biggest of the Madchester bands, Inspiral Carpets were never able to climb that mountain. This song however was one of the dominant contributions of the scene. Like others the heavy use of organ brought the ‘60s vibe into the modern rock compositions, making the songs sound new and old at the same time.

    Northside \ Shall We Take A Trip? (1990) – A big part of the Madchester scene they were an exception in that they didn’t break through in North America. I think there was something a little too local about them compared to the other acts.

    Another act I would have liked to have included, and that I considered part of Madchester, was The Lightning Seeds. However they were from Liverpool, and while just down the road can’t be included in a list of Manchester music. However I’d include their single “Pure” in any Madchester mixed tape.

    Ooops \ 808 State featuring Bjork (1991) – A different flavour of the Madchester scene, this band, named after the Roland 808 synthesizer, was an all electronic band known more for their club music and trippy dance/rave songs. Their album Ex:El featured guest vocals from Bjork (still with The Sugarcubes at that point but about to go solo, she sang on two songs on the album) and Bernard Sumner from New Order. I saw them at The Opera House on this tour and, thanks to a laser show accompaniment, put on one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.

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    James \ Born of Frustration (1992) – I’m not sure I’d include James in the Madchester list of bands. They existed before, during and after Madchester and their music wasn’t in keeping with the sound. Still, they were a fantastic pop band that put out a lot of quality songs. “Born of Frustration” was on their fourth album, Seven, and followed earlier hits “Sit Down” and “Come Home” that helped them build a solid following over the ‘90s.

    The Verve \ She’s a Superstar (1992) – The Verve’s first single launched the tumultuous career of Richard Ashcroft. The Verve are best known for their 1997 monster hit ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (and plagiarism charges by The Rolling Stones) and the album Urban Hymns. Ashcroft has built a loyal following with his rich and layered melodies. Manchester didn’t produce any acts that fell into the Shoegazer category, but The Verve might have come close.

    Black Grape \ In the Name of the Father (1995) – As quickly as Madchester built up and it seemed like every great act was coming from there, things fell off. The Hacienda was closed for a while in 1991 and spent its remaining years under close police scrutiny due to the rampant drug use and associated violence (there were even murders in the club). The club would close for good in 1997, joining Factory Records in retirement after the label shut down in 1992. There would not be another core scene in Manchester thereafter, and really, other than a few bright lights and one exception, no further landmark acts.

    Before checking out some of the other acts of this later era, we’ll first check in with Shaun Ryder and Bez from the Happy Mondays. Black Grape was also short lived, lasting just a few years and though this album got some attention and had some successful singles, were really just a Happy Mondays redux act.

    Ian Brown \ My Star (1998) YouTube only – the Stone Roses lead singer checked in with a stellar album near the end of the decade, featuring this lead single. It was a better Stone Roses follow-up than the band’s own second album.

    Future Sound of London \ Papua New Guinea (1991) – Other forms of music didn’t completely stop while the city was under the spells of Madchester. Similar to 808 State there were bands like Future Sound of London that were thriving in the clubs and with electronic music. This has long been an overlooked and underappreciated band in North America.

     The cover of  Dig Your Own Hole , .the landmark album by The Chemical Brothers and featuring "Block Rockin' Beats"

    The cover of Dig Your Own Hole, .the landmark album by The Chemical Brothers and featuring "Block Rockin' Beats"

    The Chemical Brothers \ Block Rockin’ Beats (1997) – one of those bright lights in the post-Madchester era was the success of The Chemical Brothers. A DJ duo that grew up on the Manchester beats of New Order and others, they along with contemporaries The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim brought a beat-heavy sound to modern club music, often bridging the gap to those alt-indie acts that Manchester was famous.

    Oasis \ Live Forever (1994) – The last of the mega-acts to come out of Manchester, and in some regards, perhaps the biggest if notoriety and a general following were the key measures. Their battle with Blur for Britpop supremacy over the ‘90s was legendary, and both were credited with returning a pop-rock sound to the charts not heard since the ‘70s. In some ways a refutation of the Manchester sounds of the previous twenty years, the Gallagher brothers tapped into an audience longing for some guitar-driven music. From the get go with this song and their breakout first album, Definitely, Maybe, they established themselves as one of the biggest bands in the world for a ten year stretch.

    Doves \ Catch the Sun (2000)  - I include this band along with Oasis because I see a direct connection between their sounds. A solid and lasting band, Doves also played the same guitar rock that Oasis championed over the late ‘90s.

    Monaco \ What Do You Want From Me? (1997) -  This was Peter Hook’s next project after Revenge, filling his time while New Order figured out whether they were done or not. Here he worked with David Potts, who had joined in the later stages of Revenge and would stay with Hooky for the rest of his career, still touring with him in their current band, The Light. Given the similarity of Potts’ voice to Bernard Sumner’s and with Hook’s distinctive bass lines, this was almost indistinguishable from New Order.

    David Gray \ Babylon (1999) – The first time I heard David Gray I was certain it was Bob Dylan, finally having rediscovered his voice – today I wonder what was I thinking? Gray had huge success with this album, appealing to a broad range of listeners from rock to easy listening.

    Starsailor \ Good Souls (2001) – Another one of those British bands that sounded like so many others of their time and the many that came before. England has that ability to produce a retro-rock sound that still sounds new unlike any other region in the rock world.

    Johnny Marr & The Healers \ Down on the Corner (2003) YouTube or Upstarts (2013) Spotify & Google Play – After helping everyone else’s careers go big Marr got in front of his own band and showed he didn’t need help to succeed. And what do you know, he could sing! He would go solo ten years later and start issuing his own, very solid albums.

    Elbow \ One Day Like This (2008) – This band has a pretty ardent following and are huge in England. In the same vein as The Verve and other bigger sounding Britpop bands, they are part of a modern movement of Progressive bands – citing Genesis as an influence. This is their most successful single to date, appearing on their fourth album.

     Elbow, in front of the Manchestoer Cathedral

    Elbow, in front of the Manchestoer Cathedral

    The Ting Tings \ Shut Up and Let Me Go (2008) – a duo perhaps better known for the huge hit “That’s Not My Name” they’re another bright light that has brought a modern take on the Manchester sound to the masses. Catchy, danceable, featuring strong guitar accents, and with attitude to spare, they are the consummate Mancunian act.

    LoneLady \ Intuition (2010) – I don’t know much about this artist, Julie Campbell, other than this was a rare song that grabbed me the first time I heard it, and not much of today’s music does that. It keeps the spirit of the sparse, edgy music of early ‘80s Manchester alive and well.

    Bad Lieutenant \ Sink or Swim (2009) - Let’s finish off the list with a final check-in on the recent output from some of the city’s legendary contributors. I’m skipping Beady Eye, Liam Gallagher’s successful follow-up to Oasis, because well, they were boring and made you just want to hear Oasis.

    Gillian Gilbert left New Order to raise children in the ‘90s and was replaced by Phil Cunningham for the two New Order albums released in the early 2000s. In 2007 Peter Hook finally called it quits after a long and problematic relationship with the band. Bernard Sumner and Phil then chose to strike up a new act called Bad Lieutenant, named after the 1992 Harvey Keitel movie. It included another local Manchester guitarist, Jake Evans, and with New Order drummer Steven Morris guesting on some songs it was practically a New Order redux. They released one album before deciding to reform New Order.

    My wife, Julia, and I went to Chicago to see Bad Lieutenant in 2011 but their entire tour was cancelled due to the volcano erupting in Iceland, which caused the cancellation of all cross-Atlantic flights. At the time I hadn’t seen New Order in 25 years and I was very disappointed to not see this almost New Order act.

     The Charlatans

    The Charlatans

    The Charlatans (UK) \ So Oh (2015) – Quietly and consistently chugging along in the background has been The Charlatans, releasing their twelfth album in 2015 and another in 2017. Julia and I had tickets to see them at the Mod Club in 2010 but their tour was cancelled when their drummer, Jon Brookes, collapsed due to a brain tumour. He passed in 2013 and the band now records with a variety of guest drummers, including of course Steven Morris of New Order.

    The Stone Roses \ Beautiful Thing (2016) – Much was made of The Stone Roses reunion in 2011 and then the 2016 release of their first new music in 22 years. The first single was a letdown, but this second single held some of their original groove, if not being original in itself.

    New Order \ People on the High Line (2016) – Well, how could I not finish with New Order? Perhaps no longer with Hooky but at least Gillian is back in the band. Their 2015 album Music Complete was solid and featured several guests, such as this one with LaRoux’s Elly Jackson. The album was mostly electronic and dance oriented but does lack the melancholic bass lines from Hooky, but damn that Barney can write some great grooves.

    This was a band that almost singlehandedly put Manchester on the map and launched almost everything else you have heard on this playlist. They kept Factory Records afloat for 15 years and gave every band in the city a launching pad with The Hacienda. Whether it’s punk, goth, rock, new wave, or dance, Joy Division and New Order influenced all the sounds that Manchester music was built upon. Ian Curtis and Steven Morris were from Macclesfield, Gillian was from Whalley Range, and Barney and Hooky were from Salford – and like the city they brought their disparate parts together into a greater whole. Always doing their own thing and bringing the world to their innovative music rather than bowing to outside trends, they were the embodiment of the city and its music culture.

     The Roundhouse in Manchester, location of The Hacienda Nightclub (1982-1997). It was demolished in 2000 for condos that are called, appropriately enough, 'The Hacienda Apartments.'

    The Roundhouse in Manchester, location of The Hacienda Nightclub (1982-1997). It was demolished in 2000 for condos that are called, appropriately enough, 'The Hacienda Apartments.'

    21st Century Music: Interpol

    21st Century Music: Interpol

    21st Century Music: Craft Spells

    21st Century Music: Craft Spells