Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Band By Any Other Name...

A couple of weeks back Swiss Adam had a post that mentioned the 2006 release 'Zero, A Martin Hannett Story (1977-1991).' After perusing the contents of this rather interesting collection, I started pulling out everything I had with Hannett's fingerprints on it. That's when I realized I had never featured the Names on these pages.

The Belgian band had fit in quite nicely opening for the likes of Simple Minds and Magazine in 1979, but their big break came when frontman Michael Sordinia slipped a copy of their single to Rob Gretton, manager of Joy Division, at their Brussels show in January 1980. Within weeks Tony Wilson was off to Brussels to make a handshake deal to put them on Factory.

In August 1980, the band met Martin Hannett for a one-night session at Strawberry Studios in Manchester to cut the "Nightshift" single. The lads weren't present for Hannett's final mix, and they were pleased but surprised by the result, particularly with the thinner sound of B-side "I Wish I Could Speak Your Language." Factory 29 would be only a minor hit on the UK Indie Chart, peaking at No. 35 in early 1981. Although the Names would work with Hannett again on the "Calcutta" single and 'Swimming' album, on the Factory Benelux and Les Disques du Crépuscule labels, respectively, this would be as commercially successful as the band would get in the UK.

Here is that single, as well as the pre-mix cassette of the B-side. Which do you prefer, the Hannett mix or the original the band thought was more representative of their sound? This pre-mix was unearthed as a bonus track on the 2000 LTM reissue of 'Swimming.'

I Wish I Could Speak Your Language
I Wish I Could Speak Your Language (original)

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Names are indirectly part of an important piece of Factory lore. The band was to open for A Certain Ratio at the Beach Club in July 1980. A pivotal moment for the band, to be sure, but they were unexpectedly delayed. In their place stepped in the No-Names, a band consisting of Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Steve Morris. Yes, this would mark the debut of New Order.


Echorich said...

I consider Nighshift one of my favorite Hannett productons. The bass/synth mix is just perfect!

Brian said...

Nice to hear from you, Echorich. Did those Dem presidential candidates stay far south of your hood? I was going to choose something from Swimming for this post simply because the album cover is so beautiful, but your high praise of Nightshift has made this decision feel like the correct one. Nightshift was chosen for the Hannett comp. The powers that be missed a few of his best moments, but I think they nailed it by choosing this one from the Names.

Swiss Adam said...

Nice post Brian, a long forgotten band. And the debut New Order gig mention is spot on too.

Brian said...

Nearly forgotten by me until your post, Adam. Thanks for the inspiration.

George said...

The pre-mix version could almost belong (musically not vocally) on Bowie's Low. It gets my vote.