Manchester, Punk and Beyond...
I'm not originally from Manchester. My dad was in the Navy and we travelled from one coastal naval base to another. What pulled me to Manchester, like so many before and after me, was the music and the pop culture. Growing up as a John Peel fan and general 'new wave / alternative' kid, bands such as Joy Division, New Order and The Smiths were huge in my life. Although I didn't buy many of the Factory Records releases, I was very impressed by the label - it's wonderful graphics and interesting roster. And I was reading in the weekly music press about The Hacienda and loving Morrissey's reflections on Manchester, so when it came to apply for my degree course Manchester Poly was my first choice, and luckily I was accepted (btw the course was crap, the nightlife fantastic). Although I was born a little too late to be into (the first wave of) punk (I was 10 years old in 1976), I loved many of the bands that came out of it, and I was a big fan of post-punk music, which led me to discover the music which informed punk. But for me, it wasn't really the music of the first punk bands I was wild about - infact I had heard hardly anything from all those bands that later appeared in the energetic '1234: Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 box set' - but it was the impact punk had on the culture of the nation; graphic design, clothing, make up, journalism, television and of course music and the pop charts. I realised it had changed everything, and for the better. So when I came to Manchester, although I was keen to experience the current, and future, music scene here (I'm talking about the mid-1980s now), I was also very interested in its past, and no more so that those formative punk years and how that had led to where the city was now. I was lucky to come when I did... Manchester went through a huge change over the next few years. Of course, The Hacienda became more famous, New Order were huge so Factory became better known and places such as Dry Bar opened as well as great clubs like The International and The Boardwalk, Madchester happened and loads of local bands became nationally famous, the dance scene erupted, the student population exploded to become the largest in Europe, and you know, it was actually an exciting time it be here. (In the late 80s I visited the International 1 so much, I moved to flat 4 doors away to save on my clipper card.) I got a job in Vinyl Exchange at the peak of Madchester and had a thoroughly amazing time, working with music, meeting loads of interesting people and pretty much 'living the dream'. And I put this ALL down to Punk. So over the last 15 or so years, I have learned a lot more about punk, and pre-punk Manchester and I am still very excited about its impact on the city and its people. I still don't own the records - I have always owned a few Buzzcocks Lps and 7"s because they were great pop records, but I still don't own a Drones or Slaughter & The Dogs record. But I love the fact they existed, and that along with them labels like Rabid and Absurd formed, and I can sit for hours looking at the punk ephemera that came out of the DIY / xerox machine. I wouldn't call myself an avid collector, but I do like to collect early Manchester punk items if I can... many are too damn expensive and there's also an awful lot of fake stuff out there, but it is good to own a Shy Talk and a Ghast Up, a John Cooper Clarke poster and the Electric Circus flyers. Thank you.