From the kickstart of punk rock to the dizzy heights of acid house and all that exists inbetween, Manchester has been the UK’s pioneering city for musical innovation. Finding unlikely inspiriation in the post industrial gloom, songwriters, musicians, DJs and artists flourish in the city’s eclectic multicultural party-loving creative hub.
However, at least twenty years since producing a decent band or even a decent song, Manchester now desperately clutches to its past glories hopelessly denying the city’s return to the soulless wasteland it was in the 70s with almost all of its cultural landmarks bought up and converted into shoddy Urban Splash pads or Poundstretchers. One of the most historically important cities in the modern world is now culturally cold, crowded, loud and littered with lost expectations, Costa coffee cups and suspiciously looking human excretia.
As a stereotypical raincoat Mancunian I am going to take you on a sulky wander round the living musical museum of this city stopping off at the most significant spots to get mugged. So whether you want to terrorise Terry Christian by posting offal through his letterbox every night, or run your key down the side of Mick Hucknall’s car or just rifle through Peter Hooks wheelie bin, The Lost Ruined Guide To Manchester Music Tour is an essential part of any visit to the city.
Prestwich: Starting on the northside of the city, Prestwich is the longtime stomping ground of Fall frontman Mark E Smith. One of the more innovative songwriters of the post punk era, Sid James look-a-like Smith wrote and sang all the Fall’s songs using only vowels and performed all the live shows entirely in burp. Keep you eyes peeled as the toothless elderly yob can often be seen scurrying through the overspilling bins on Bury Old Road. And no serious music fan would want to miss out on the opportunity of being glassed by one of rock’s most prolific arseholes.
Collyhurst: While touring the US in the early 80s Granada TV star and entrepreneur Bernard Manning stumbled upon a Detroit house club. Entranced by the pulsating techno beat and immediately realising the potential audience Manning brought the new sound back home with him and opened the Embassy Club and the rest is as they say history. By the end of the decade Harpurhey had become the unlikely epicentre of a flourishing dance scene. World renowned DJs and racist work men club comedians flocked to perform for the flat-capped, gurning crowds downing Best bitter and Mandies and dancing for days on end. Although Manning died in 2007 the Embassy Club still stands with the proud portrait of his fat racist fucking face above the door. The club made household names of DJs such as Mike Pickering, Paul Oakenfold, James Stanions and Umberto.
Salford: Manchester’s tough cousin and Ewan McColl’s ‘Dirty Old Town’, Salford’s artistic influence has a traditionally darker edge. From the blocked kitchen sing of Sheila Delaney to the artless stolen-car-hardcore of Bowlers, their refreshing no nonsense attitude is the Salford brand. Just across the Irwell from the city is the iconic Salford Lads Club immortalised by photographer Stephen Wright for the cover of Bill Tarmy’s ill-advised soul album ‘Jack Duckworth is Dead.’ Salford’s most famous sons were ‘Madchester’ heroes the Happy Mondays. Professional crackpot Shaun Ryder and his imaginary friend Bez were at the forefront of the dance / indie crossover marrying the paranoid migraine of acid house with the cidertinged B.O. of rock. Their reputation preceeded them and there are many Monday’s landmarks around the city particularly Oldham Street’s Dry Bar where Shaun Ryder fired a gun at band and Hacienda manager Anthony H. Wilson somehow missing his hugely swollen and over-inflated head.
The bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke, brought poetry and comedy to punk audiences with high velocity machine gun lyrics and became one of the country’s true cult figure. His distinctive ground-breaking style inspired so many loudmouthed Mancunian copy-cats that even he now wishes he hadn’t bothered.
Stretford: Connecting Salford to Trafford side of south Manchester is Stretford. A Mecca for many Manchester music fans, 384 Kings Road, was the childhood home of Steven Patrick Morrissey. It was here in his bedroom, crying and wanking, that Morrissey honed his lyrical art on subject matter as profound as missing the bus, having to do his homework when he didn’t want to, burning his last crumpet and cutting his fingernails too short. Life’s a bitch. And so is Morrissey. The previous owner would allow fans a guided tour of the house. We contacted the current owners to see if this was possible but we were told, “It’s not their home, it’s my house and you’re welcome no more”. It was the tough streets of Stretford that bullied Morrissey into the middle-aged mard arse he is today. But newcomers to the city maybe surprised to find Stretford isn’t really all that bad. Had he grown up on the Moss Side end of Kings Road, Morrissey would surely have topped himself before he hit puberty.
Timperly: Heading deeper into Trafford we come to Timperly. Born in Warrington, swaggering chimpoid Ian Brown moved to Timperly as a young man and attended Altrincham Grammar School for Posh Boys. Threre he teamed up with organ grinder John Squire and co to form The Stone Roses. With his mumbling inaudible lyrics, their inability to perform live, the fact they only produced 45 minutes of decent music throughout their entire career and Ian’s morbid fetish for air hostesses hands means The Roses will quite rightly top many Best Bands in the World lists for years to come.
Also from Timperly were The Inspiring Frank Sidebottom and sidekick Little Frank, who despite their severe disabilities (Frank suffered from elephantitus and Little Frank was only one and a half feet tall) still achieved fame and a special place in the nation’s heart. Tragically, they both died on the same day! A statue is to be built in Timperly centre to commemorate the brave duo next year.
Stockport: If Salford is Manchester’s tough cousin, then Stockport is our cross-eyed cousin that keeps trying to kiss us. Home to the legendary Strawberry Studios – the Abbey Road of the North – session have been recorded by 10cc, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Happy Mondays, John Cooper Clarke, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and even Sir Paul McCartney. However, despite the outstanding musical heritage, don’t go to Stockport!!
Burnage: Hastily leaving Stockport brings us to Burnage home of comedy musical duo the Gallagher Brothers. Their hilarious slapstick covers of the Beatles and T-Rex made Paul and Barry’s ‘To Me…To You’ album the smash hit of the 90s. Just as entertaining was their off stage rivalry with shandy-pants southern band Blur, who’s cartoon frontman Scrappy-Doo confronted the Gallagher Brothers at the Top of the Pops ‘Brit Pop Special’ in 1997, resulting in a huge Bugsy Malone style custard pie fight during which Charlatans keyboardist Rob Collins was crushed to death and presenter Andy Peters lost an arm.
Moss Side: Dubbed ‘Gunchester’ by the tabloids in the early 90s, back then the life expectancy of a Mancunian gang member was 21, which means there are a lot fewer of these moody party-poopers around than there could have been. Despite the overhanging intimidation of the gang culture many artists such as 808 State and MC Tunes, The Ruthless Rap Assassins and A Guy Called Gerald kept Moss Side as their creative base and the strong community worked hard to shake off its bad reputation. Yet this positive example of the Mancunian Spirit has since become lost in the sulky murk of UK Hip Hop and now everyone round here talks like Plan B for some fucking reason.
Hulme: 6th January 1979 and photographer Kevin Cummins captures several shots of the band Joy Division as they try and talk frontman Ian Curtis out of throwing himself off the Hulme bridge. After eight long hours Steven Morris managed to coax Curtis down with a packet of Rolos. Unfortunately the Rolos eventually ran out and Ian Curtis hung himself the following year but the shot went on to become one of the defining images of that chapter of Manchester music.
Hulme was also home to the notorious Bull Ring flat blocks. Demolished a decade ago the doomed slums were owned by ruthless Mancunian landlords The Bee Gees. The billionaire disco ghosts bought up vast areas of land in the Manchester for cheap in the 1970s. They still keep their tenants trapped in squalid stinking poverty hassling them for rent from beyond the grave.
Manchester: The Twisted Wheel, The Electric Circus, The International One, Jilly’s, The Hacienda. the list of legendary Manchester night clubs and venues turned into flats or just flattened is the shame of the city. Now a fancy tea shop on Peter Street, the Free Trade Hall was the exact spot where the Manchester music revolution began. It was not only the venue where Dylan turned electric to the cries of ‘Judas’ and started a riot of his own in 1966, ten years later on 4 June 1976 The Buzzcocks invited the Sex Pistols to play the Lesser Free Trade Hall. All the events of the locations we’ve covered can be directly traced back to this one inspirational night. Everyone present at that gig embraced the raw energy and DIY attitude of the Sex Pistols performance and they all went on to become architects and aristocracy of the future of Manchester music. Thousands of Mancunian musicians and fans claim to have witnessed the gig yet only forty tickets were sold. The truth of who was actually there and who’s lying was investigated by David Nolen in his book ‘I Swear I Was There’ and the audience did prove to be a list of legends. Mick Hucknall, Cressa, M. People, Candy Flip, The Seahorses, John Shuttleworth, Crispy Ambulance, Beady Eye, Solstis, Embrace, Northern Uproar, Gary Barlow and David Jones from The Monkeys all went on to produce music so bad they made Sid Vicious sound like he could actually play.
So now we’ve come a full circle (missing out Droylsden, Wythenshawe and Oldham and quite a few other places you really wouldn’t want to go to, believe me). Night has fallen and you’re ready for a drink so why not head to one of the many overpriced charmless bars where a student from London is probably the DJ. You drink heavily as the audioly patronises you with his set of plinky plonky minimalist electro of no distinctive origin mixed with ironic 80s singalong shite. Depressed, you stagger vomitting into Piccadilly shaking your fist at the passing trams cursing. You sit at a bus stop to rest a while and soak up the atmosphere and wake up two hours later to find someone’s stolen your shoes. So you decide to call it a day and wrap up your evening in true Mancunian style by driving a stolen motorbike into a group of doormen for not allowing you into one of the city’s many shite clubs.
For a personal two hour guided tour with Matthew please bring your own umbrella and a £50. Price includes a drink of Best bitter, a meal somewhere and a dayrider bus ticket.
Born in Southern California, Matthew Duffy aka Thick Richard was diagnosed at birth with arpats, a rare skin condition meaning he suffers a deadly allergic reaction to sunlight. Following medical advice his family moved to Manchester where Matthew has been able to live a perfectly normal life beneath the impenetrable black thunder cloud that covers the city. He studied music snobbery at the Royal Northern College of Music for four years while working as an aloof and fickle store manager for Fat City Records. He now spends most of his time sat outside Chorlton ‘restaurants’ talking loudly about how much better ecstasy was twenty years ago.