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Various - Manchester North Of England 1977-1993 album review

Manchester, so much to answer for

Cover art for Various - Manchester North Of England 1977-1993 album

There’s no Smiths in this set, but that’s it. Everyone else is represented (or near enough everyone else that you can’t spot the gaps) on this exhaustively compiled, seven CD, 146-track musical journey through the nether regions of what’s arguably Britain’s most iconic musical city.

New Order, A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, The Fall, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Morrissey, John Cooper Clarke, 808 State, Durutti Column, The Charlatans… all present and correct and churning out the good stuff.

And there are so, so many more. There are so many undiscovered and/or forgotten and/or cherished dance and pop gems, from The Distractions’ heart-rending Maybe It’s Love and the twisted, distorted feminist beat of Ludus to X-O-Dus’ stalwart English Black Boys and the 1990s baggy contingent (Word Of Twist, Northside, Hypnotone et al).

Look Roger! There’s the Membranes! Jane! Paris Angels! Big Flame! There’s NME journalist Cath Carroll’s mighty and wrongly overlooked band Miaow!

This ride is as turbulent and enthralling and bumpy as expected, but for every dodgy inclusion (the Mozzer-championed Easterhouse, John The bloody Postman again?) there are three, sometimes four nuggets (The Freshies, a poptastic Smirk, an early Oasis demo, Swirl, Kill Laura’s proto-Riot Grrrl grunge).

Hard to find fault with, and much to find pleasure with.

Everett True started life as The Legend!, publishing the fanzine of that name and contributing to NME. Subsequently he wrote for some years for Melody Maker, for whom he wrote seminal pieces about Nirvana and others. He was the co-founder with photographer Steve Gullick of Careless Talk Costs Lives, a deliberately short-lived publication designed to be the antidote to the established UK music magazines.