‘An ambitious, engaging history of Manchester music… Hanley really gets to grips with the entire tale, and relates it to the reader with clarity, skill, wisdom and wit. All told, it might just be the definitive book on the subject.’
When British bands took the world by storm in the mid-sixties, the world turned and looked at London. Despite the fact that the most successful of these bands hailed from the North West corner of England, for the USA, London was the source of these thrilling new sounds. And in many ways it was – The Beatles, The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits recorded all their hits with London-based producers, for London-based companies in London studios. And that’s how it remained, until four Mancunian musicians became alive to the possibility of recording away from the capital.
Against the prevailing wisdom, they opted to plough their hard-earned cash back into the city they loved in the form of proper recording facilities. Eric Stewart of The Mindbenders and songwriter extraordinaire Graham Gouldman created Strawberry Studios; Keith Hopwood and Derek Leckenby of Herman’s Hermits crafted Pluto. Between them they gave Manchester a voice, and facilitated a musical revolution that would be defined by its rejection of the capital.
This book tells the story of Manchester music through the prism of the two studios’ key recordings. Of course that story inevitably takes in The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall and The Stone Roses. But it’s equally the story of ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘East West’ and ‘I’m Not in Love’. It’s the story of the Manchester attitude of L.S. Lowry, by way of Brian and Michael, and how that attitude rubbed off on The Clash and Neil Sedaka. Above all, it’s the story of music that couldn’t have been made anywhere else but Manchester.
A Northern Soul Book of the Year
Nominated for the 2018 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research
‘Makes a convincing – and thoroughly entertaining – case for Manchester studios Pluto and Strawberry being the lightning rods for the city’s celebrated music scenes.’
‘A broad reinvestigation of Manchester music history from the 60s to the 90s. Writing with passion, flair and an attention to factual detail worthy of the BBC’s John Motson.’
Paul Hanley was the drummer in Manchester legends The Fall from 1980-85 and now plays with Brix & The Extricated. He’s currently completing his English degree with the Open University and occasionally writes for Louder Than War. He’s married with three children and once got 21 on Ken Bruce’s ‘Popmaster’.