Thursday, September 03, 2015

Northern Stories...

Manicured Noise - Metronome

I'll start with a little back story about how I came to love this band...
Sometime in the early 80's I stumbled across an interesting looking 7" single in a local(ish) record shop in Stockport, the very sadly missed BG Records. It was by a band I don't think I'd ever heard about, but it looked interesting in it's all black sleeve, plus I liked the name, Manicured Noise, and it also came with a postcard.
So I spent my not very hard earned pocket money on it and got the bus home in eager anticipation of hearing what the hell it sounded like. (Do you remember those days you used to buy records without having heard them?)
Anyway, it was Metronome by Manicured Noise, and it was wonderful.
Unfortunately I didn't know anything else about the band and tried for a while to find out more, but never really found anything out.
Skip forward about a quarter of a century and the dawn of the internet...
It turns out that the band were actually from Stockport, bearing in mind I was 12 or 13 when I bought it and wasn't well up with local scenes or bands, bar the ones I was reading about in Sounds, NME and so on. So this came as quite a shock, but a very pleasant one, but also quite sad that for all those years I'd never known anything about this cracking band that came from a few miles down the road.

It turns out that they shared a rehearsal space with some band called Joy Division, and featured Steve Walsh on guitar and vocals. Steve was in the seminal 'Flowers of Romance', but to be fair, it'd be harder to name people who weren't in the 'Flowers of Romance'.
Anyway I digress... Here's the rest of the line-up at various times over the two years they were together:

Steve Walsh - Vox, Guitar
Jodie Taylor - Bass
Stephanie Nuttall - Drums
Peter Bannister - Clarinet, Saxophone
Jeff Noon - Guitar
Owen Gavin - Vox

A couple of notes, yes it's 'that' Jeff Noon, the renowned sci-fi writer, and Stephanie Nuttall ended up living in Argentina and in the band Sumo, who were by all accounts huge in Argentina.
How I didn't know about any of this at the time escapes me.

I later found out that Caroline True Records were releasing a CD compilation (2006) of the two singles that were released along with a David 'Kid' Jensen session for the BBC, a couple of live tracks and some unreleased tracks from a couple of studio sessions.... I bought it, I loved it.

Shoot forward to yesterday morning when the postie turned up with my latest Manicured Noise purchase, a stripped down version of the 2006 CD release, but with brand new artwork by Andrea Floris.
Plus, this is the first time most of these tracks have ever been available on vinyl, so for me, buying it was an absolute no-brainer.

The album kicks of with the track that started it all off for me all those years ago, Metronome.
To this day it still sounds edgy, sharp, angular... you know, all the words that are generally used to describe post punk. Sometimes there's reasons why the same words are used all the time, it's because they're spot on.
The vocals are upfront in the mix and sound great with that tight reverb on them, the sax is perfect and adds a vaguely latin feel to the track, the guitar is rhythmic and punchy, but for me it's the bass and drums are killer.
All in all it's a post-punk-funk classic, and I'm so happy that I now have it on non crackly vinyl again... at least for now, as I'm sure it'll get played to death.

Basically, if you like your post-punk in a funky style similar to Talking Heads, Rip Rig and Panic, Gang of Four, The Pop Group and so on, you're going to love this, I'm sure of it.
But you're going to have to move quickly as this is a very limited release of only 300 copies, and will not be re-pressed. Oh, and it also comes with instructions for an MP3 copy of the album. Bargain, so get on it.

Why weren't this band huge???

Buy - Manicured Noise - Northern Stories 1978-80 Limited to 300 copies only.
Buy - Manicured Noise - Northern Stories 1978-80 On CD.
Visit - Caroline True Records
Follow - Caroline True Records on Facebook
Follow - Caroline True Records on Twitter
Buy - Prints by Andrea Floris
Visit - Andrea Floris
Follow - Andrea Floris on Facebook


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