The Durutti Column
The Return of the Sporadic Recordings
The story of Factory Records cannot be told without mentioning the elusive genius of the guitarist Vini Reilly, their first artist, and his musical output as The Durutti Column. Cherished by some, endured by others, I've been a fan since I first heard him on the Factory Quartet sampler (Fac 24) in, erm, 1981. For some, DC are a bit of an acquired taste, but I confess to being smitten from the get-go: the combination of echoed ambient guitars, wandering (dubious*-but I love them) vocals and simple drums, while dangerously close to New Age (as in sewage), were a huge relief from the prog instrumentals of the late seventies. The simplicity of the approach mimicked the early electro and indie pop of the era (think OMD ca. Electricity or Young Marble Giants) and the effect was much more the DIY of Rough Trade than patchouli, crystals and Earth Shoes of the George Winston crowd.
Hmm. Might have dated myself there. But, mind, the sound is very, very pretty, no, truly BEAUTIFUL, in every sense of the word.
The original release of the Sporadic Recordings compiled the unreleased and
the almost, circa 1990, basically shadowing the Factory releases of Guitar and
Other Machines, Obey the Time, and Vini Reilly. But somehow, by not being an
album proper, Sporadic actually lent us a little closer and intimate view into
the fragile musical world of Mr. Reilly. The original release was limited to
4000 copies, and, well, just went away. Twelve years later, we get to refresh
our memory (sigh), and are rewarded with an additional 15 tracks hitherto unknown
or just deeply buried. And of course they are lovely, lovely, lovely. There
are no bad Durutti Column records; you simply can't go wrong buying any or all
of them. But if you don't have this, you are missing out on something special,
whether you have the rest or not.
*Factory records boss Tony Wilson writes in the liner notes:
"Harder to digest and assimilate, at least for myself, is the voice. Plays like an angel and sings like one if we must imagine angels as reedy, asthmatic losers in the battle for eternity"