Factory Records

Factory Records

Infobox record label
name = Factory Records

image_bg =
parent =
founded = 1978
founder = Alan Erasmus, Martin Hannett, Peter Saville, Tony Wilson
defunct = 1992
distributor =
genre =
country = United Kingdom
location = Manchester
url =

Factory Records was a Manchester based British independent record label, started in 1978, which featured several prominent musical acts on its roster such as Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, Happy Mondays, and (briefly) James and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Like the label 4AD Records, Factory Records used a creative team (most notably record producer Martin Hannett and graphic designer Peter Saville) which gave the label, and the artists recording for it, a particular sound and image. The label employed a unique cataloguing system that gave a number not just to its musical releases, but to artwork and other objects.


Factory's genesis was in January 1978, when Tony Wilson, a TV presenter on Granada Television, formed a partnership with Alan Erasmus, an unemployed actor and band manager. The Factory name was first used for a club in May of that year, which featured local bands including The Durutti Column (managed at the time by Erasmus and Wilson), Cabaret Voltaire from Sheffield and Joy Division. Advertising for the club was designed by Peter Saville, and in September the trio decided to release an EP of music by acts who had played at the club (The Durutti Column, Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire and comedian John Dowie). Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division, decided he didn't want the band to sign to a London record label, preferring to do it all in Manchester; At that time there was a fairly successful punk label in Manchester called Rabid records, run by Tosh Ryan, formerly of music collective Music force and run with Martin Hannet. They had had several successful acts including Slaughter And The Dogs (who's tour manager was Rob Gretton), John Cooper Clarke and Jilted John. Rabid were hit and run merchants, build a band up with a few punk singles and then license them to bigger labels (Jilted John to EMI, Slaughter & The Dogs to Decca, John Cooper Clarke to CBS). Tony Wilson would often be around the Rabid offices and of course Rob Gretton was friends with Tosh Ryan, Martin Hannet and others in the set up as they were all from the same council estate in Wythenshawe. After his seminal TV series 'So It Goes' which gave TV debuts to the likes of Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks etc, Tony Wilson was interested in the way Rabid records ran, and was convinced that the real money and power was in album sales where as Rabid were just singles and then licensed their successful Manchester acts off to bigger companies for the albums. With a lot of discussion as to the pros and cons , Tony Wilson , Rob Gretton and Alan Erasmus set up Factory , stealing Martin annet from Rabid and thus the legendary Factory Records was born, with Wilson, Erasmus, Saville and producer Martin Hannett as partners in the enterprise. In 1978 Wilson compered the new wave afternoon at the legendary Deeply Vale Festivals and this was actually the fourth live appearance by the fledgling Durutti Column and that afternoon Wilson also introduced an appearance (very early in their career) by The Fall featuring a young Mark E. Smith and a young Mark "Lard" Riley on bass guitar.

in August 1979. Gretton became the fifth partner in the label towards the end of the year, and the Factory club closed down (it would reopen briefly the following year).

In January 1980 "The Return of the Durutti Column" was released, the first in a long series of releases by the "band" (now effectively a solo project for guitarist Vini Reilly). In May, Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide shortly before a planned tour of the USA. The following month saw Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" reach the UK top twenty, and second album "Closer" was released the following month. In late 1980 the remaining members of Joy Division decided to continue as New Order. Factory branched out, with Factory Benelux being run as an independent label in conjunction with Les Disques du Crepuscule, and Factory US organising distribution for the UK label's releases in America.

In 1981, Factory and New Order decided to open a nightclub, and preparations were made to convert a Victorian textile factory near the centre of Manchester, which had lately seen service as a motor boat showroom. Hannett left the label, as he had wanted to open a recording studio, and subsequently sued for unpaid royalties (the case was settled out of court in 1984). Saville also quit as a partner due to problems with payments (although he continued to work for Factory). Wilson, Erasmus and Gretton formed Factory Communications Ltd.

The Haçienda (FAC 51) opened in May 1982. Although successful in terms of attendance, and attracting a lot of praise for Ben Kelly's interior design, the club lost large amounts of money in its first few years due largely to the low prices charged for entrance and at the bar, which was markedly cheaper than nearby pubs. Adjusting bar prices failed to help matters significantly, as by the mid 80s crowds were increasingly preferring ecstasy to alcohol. Therefore the Hacienda ended up costing New Order 10,000 pounds a month.

The following year, New Order's "Blue Monday" became an international chart hit, and 1985 saw the first release by Happy Mondays. The two bands were to be the most successful on the label, bankrolling a host of other projects. Factory, and the Haçienda, became a cultural hub of the emerging techno and acid house genres, and their amalgamation with post-punk guitar music (the "Madchester" scene).

Factory also opened a bar (The Dry Bar, FAC 201) and a shop (The Area, FAC 281) in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Factory's headquarters (FAC 251) on Charles Street, near the Oxford Road BBC building, were opened in September 1990 (prior to which the company was still registered at Alan Erasmus' flat in Didsbury).

In 1991 Hannett died. He had recently re-established a relationship with the label, working with Happy Mondays, and tributes including a compilation album and a festival were organised. Saville's association with Factory was now reduced to simply designing for New Order and their solo projects (the band itself was in suspension, with various members recording as Electronic, Revenge and The Other Two).

By 1992, ironically, the label was in serious financial trouble due to the two bands who had been most successful. The Happy Mondays were recording their troubled fourth album "Yes Please" in Barbados, and New Order reportedly spent £400,000 on recording their comeback album "Republic". London Records were interested in taking over Factory, but the deal fell through when it emerged that due to Factory's early practice of eschewing contracts, New Order's back catalogue was owned by the band rather than the label. Factory Communications Ltd, the company formed in 1981, declared bankruptcy in November 1992. Many of the former Factory acts, including New Order, found a new home at London Records.

The Haçienda closed in 1997 and shortly afterwards was demolished and was replaced by a modern luxury apartment block in 2003.

The 2002 film "24 Hour Party People" is centered around Factory Records, the Haçienda, and the infamous, often unsubstantiated anecdotes and stories surrounding them. Many of the people associated with Factory, including Tony Wilson, have minor parts in 24 Hour Party People (the central character, based on Wilson, is played by Steve Coogan).

Anthony Wilson, the founder of Factory records, died on 10 August 2007 at age 57, due to complications arising from renal cancer [ [http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=25201_0_2_0_C Factory Records founder Anthony Wilson dies from cancer] ] .

FAC numbers

All the label's releases (both music and video) were given a catalogue number of the form FAC followed by a number. This numbering system was also applied to other Factory "productions", including posters (FAC 1 advertised a club night), The Haçienda (FAC 51), a hairdressing salon (FAC 98), a broadcast of Channel 4's "The Tube" (FAC 104), sellotape (FAC 136), a bucket on a restored watermill (FAC 148), the Haçienda cat (FAC 191), a bet between Wilson and Gretton (FAC 253), a lawsuit filed against Factory Records by Martin Hannett (FAC 61) [BBC Film: "Factory: From Joy Division to Happy Mondays"] , and a radio advertisement (FAC 294). Factory Benelux releases were similarly numbered (FAC BN or FBN), but the numbers were restricted to record releases.

Numbers were not allocated in strict chronological order - numbers for Joy Division and New Order releases generally ended in 3 or 0, A Certain Ratio and Happy Mondays in 2, The Durutti Column in 4. Factory Classical releases were 226, 236 and so on.

Despite the demise of Factory Records in 1992, the catalogue was still active, additions including the 24 Hour Party People film (FAC 401), its [http://www.partypeoplemovie.com website] (FAC 433) and DVD release (FACDVD 424).

The last ever Factory catalogue number was given to Tony Wilson's coffin (FAC 501), reported on the site 'Cerysmatic Factory' [http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info/2007_08_01_archive.html#886886002944732751]

Factory Classical

In 1989, Factory Classical was launched with five albums by composer Steve Martland, the Kreisler String Orchestra, the Duke String Quartet (which included Durutti Column viola player John Metcalfe), oboe player Robin Williams and pianist Rolf Hind. Composers included Martland, Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Francis Poulenc, Dmitri Shostakovich, Michael Tippett, György Ligeti and Elliott Carter. Releases continued until 1992, including albums by Graham Fitkin, vocal duo Red Byrd, a recording of Erik Satie's "Socrate", Piers Adams playing Handel's Recorder Sonatas, Walter Hus and further recordings both of Martland's compositions and of the composer playing Mozart.

Factory Too and beyond

In 1994, Wilson attempted to revive Factory Records, in collaboration with London Records, as "Factory Too". The first release was by Factory stalwarts The Durutti Column, the other main acts on the label were Hopper and Space Monkeys, and the label also gave a UK release to the first album by Stephin Merritt's side project The 6ths, "Wasps' Nests". A further release ensued: a compilation EP featuring previously unsigned Manchester acts East West Coast, The Orch, Italian Love Party and K-Track. This collection of 8 tracks (2 per band) was simply entitled A Factory Sample Too (FACD2.02). The label was active until the late 1990s, as was "Factory Once", which organised reissues of Factory material. Wilson got frustrated with the lack of freedom and the need of London Records to show profits and he left the venture with London Records to set up the short lived Factory Records LTD with only one band remaining - Space Monkeys who shortly after released an album "the daddy of them all". Hopper and The Durutti Column had already left Factory Too when Wilson left the company of London Records. In 2006 Wilson launched F4 Records with only a few bands - Raw-T (a grime collective) The Young Offenders Institute and some exclusive online tracks from The Durutti Column. The label closed in early 2007 when Wilson found out he had cancer and despite treatment, Tony Wilson died of an unrelated heart attack on 10th August 2007

Factory Records recording artists

The bands with the most numerous releases on Factory Records include New Order, Happy Mondays, Durutti Column and A Certain Ratio. Each of these bands has between 15 and 30 FAC numbers attributed to their releases.

See also

* List of record labels
* List of independent UK record labels


External links

* [http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info CerysmaticFactory extensive site]
* [http://www.factoryrecords.info/ Dennis Remmer's extensive Factory discography] , with pictures and descriptions of each FAC number
* [http://home.planet.nl/~frankbri/index.html The Factory Benelux releases]
* [http://www.factory-overseas.de/ The Factory Overseas releases (Australia. Japan, Canada, etc)]
* [http://www.discogs.com/label/Factory+Records Another discography]
* [http://www.bluemondayownersclub.com Blue Monday Owners Club]
* [http://www.oliver-wood.co.uk/fac.htm Oliver Wood's Factory Graphics page.]
* [http://www.ltmpub.freeserve.co.uk/ltmhome.html LTM Recordings official site, features much former Factory catalog on CD and DVD]
* [http://musicbrainz.org/label/a2faf590-58fc-4e9f-a85b-eaf6dc266317.html Factory on MusicBrainz]

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