I’ve put together a Spotify playlist to accompany my book ‘Leave The Capital’, published by Route Books and out on the 13th November. The Spotify playlist is available here and covers much of the material alluded to in the book, including the 13 songs which form the basis of the discussion therein (for a playlist of just those, see here) .
However, as is the way with these things, not every song discussed in the book is available on Spotify, so I’ve compiled a more comprehensive list of songs below, with comments and YouTube links. They’re in book order, so you can listen along, should you so desire.
Nymphs and Shepherds: The Manchester Children’s choir, with The Hallé, conducted by Sir Hamilton Harty. The first great Manchester recording, and for forty years the only one. (Bob Dylan, who was recorded live in the same room, notwithstanding).
Rock Island Line: Lonnie Donegan. The entrée to a whole new world for many a UK rocker. Surprisingly authentic. But on London Records.
Hello Josephine. One of the songs Wayne Fontana performed for Jack Baverstock at The Oasis on 4th May 1963 (under its original title ‘My Girl Josephine’). Of Wayne’s band, only bassist Bob Lang turned up, so Wayne recruited Eric Stewart and Ric Rothwell on the spot. It became the newly christened Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders’ first single.
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Produced by Phil Spector and sung by Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans. Another of Wayne’s audition pieces, it’s main gift to posterity was the largely accidental fuzz effect on the guitar solo, which every guitarist in England subsequently attempted to lift. It directly led to the invention of the fuzz pedal.
Till There Was You. The Beatles, as witnessed live at Abbotsfield Park, Urmston, on 5th August 1963, by Peter Noone and Alan Wrigley. Pete would go on to use it as a blueprint for The Hermits. Alan would go on to be surplus to requirements.
I’m into Something Good. Herman’s Hermits’ first single. UK no 1, US million seller. Can still be heard ringing round Old Trafford on match days.
Look at Me. The Whirlwinds’ first (and only) single. A Buddy Holly makeweight with a particularly bonkers guitar solo from Graham Gouldman. The band split up shortly after.
For Your Love. The teenage Graham Gouldman’s first hit, courtesy of the Yardbirds. The song’s obvious pop allure hastened Eric Clapton’s departure from the band. So Graham did them a double favour really.
Um Um Um Um Um. Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders first hit, written by Curtis Mayfield. As the lyric is clearly Mm Mm Mm Mm Mm, its odd he went with ‘Um’ for the title (it’s not like it makes any more sense). A great record nonetheless, with brilliant production from Jack Baverstock to boot.
The Game of Love. WF&TM’s finest hour. Clint Ballard Jnr’s song is great, but The Mindbenders’ performance elevates this to a whole new level. The Beatles, The Doors, Eminem and Oasis were all listening.
Show Me Girl. Herman’s Hermits’ slightly more downbeat, and UK-only, follow-up to ‘Something Good’. It’s noticeably worse chart showing convinced Mickey Most that jollity was the way to go with the Hermits. You’d be hard pressed to find a song with a sunnier disposition than ‘I’m Into Something Good’, but Most managed somehow: Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat was subsequently a US no 2.
Listen People. Graham Gouldman’s first successful pitch to The Hermits. From the Soundtrack to When The Girls Meet The Boys, The Hermits’ film debut.
Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. The song that sealed the Hermits’ image as cute little brothers and killed any chance of credibility. Sold millions though.
I’m Telling You Now. A U.S. no 1 for Crumpsall’s Freddie and The Dreamers. It was succeeded as US No 1 by ‘The Game of Love’, swiftly followed by ‘Mrs Brown You’ve Got Lovely Daughter’. That made 3 consecutive US number ones by 3 different Manchester bands, something Liverpool never achieved. (But who’s counting?)
We’re Through. The Hollies first self-penned single. Not their finest hour, it has to be said. More of a shop window for their respective skills than a song, if truth be told. Terrible hand claps as well.
Look Through Any Window. The first of Graham Gouldman’s Manchester quadrilogy. The Hollies, like all artists who record other people’s material, do their most enduring work with songs that contain some personal resonance, and thus it proved with this bitter-sweet classic. It’s third-person storytelling predates Paul McCartney’s similar shift in subject matter by months.
If I Needed Someone. The Hollies’ version of George’s classic, released on the same day as Rubber Soul. Like ‘running onto Manchester City’s pitch wearing a United outfit’ according to Hollies’ bassist Eric Haydock.
Bus Stop. Another brilliant Manchester-inspired tune. You can tell that because it’s a story that revolves around an umbrella and it’s set in July.
No Milk Today. When Graham Gouldman’s father challenged him to imagine the sadness behind something as simple as a note in a milk bottle, Graham responded by creating a euphonious piece of Manc melancholia that inspired Peter Noone’s finest vocal performance.
East West. Some prefer Herman’s Hermits’ version, others the cover by another product of Park Hospital Davyhulme, Stephen Patrick Morrissey. Either way, it’s impossible to deny the power of this homesick lament of a globetrotting popstar.
It’s Nice to be out in the Morning. From the soundtrack to the Hermits’ film Mrs Brown You’ve got a Lovely Daughter, and written by Graham Gouldman. Surely the only time either Besses O’ the Barn or Boggart Hall Clough will ever appear on a lyric sheet.
It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late. Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders follow up to ‘The Game of Love’. It had everything its predecessor had – a brilliant vocal, a nod to Bo Diddley, a great guitar solo and Eric Stewart’s memorable backing vocal sighs that would later become a Buzzcocks trademark – while being nothing like it.
Pamela Pamela. Wayne Fontana’s biggest hit, post-Mindbenders. Written By Graham Gouldman (Or Godley and Creme, according to Eric Stewart). The Wombling Song lifts its phrasing wholesale, but don’t let that put you off.
A Lovers Concerto. The Toys’ pilfering of the melody from Christian Petzold’s Minuet in G major is surely what gave Tony Wine the idea to similarly purloin the Rondo movement of Muzio Clementi’s Sonatina in G major for ‘A Groovy Kind of Love’.
A Groovy Kind of Love. Dianne and Annita’s original version. The vocals (probably by Carol Bayer) are decidedly creepy, if not a little disturbing.
A Groovy Kind of Love. The Mindbenders Wayne-less smash hit. Despite some terrible rhymes, the classical melody is so strong it imbues the lyric with enough emotional weight to make this a brilliant example of love-lorn power pop.
It’s Getting Harder all the Time. The Mindbenders at their very best, from To Sir With Love.
Schoolgirl. (album version) Graham Gouldman’s first composition for The Mindbenders. Remarkably punky for 1967, at least until the middle eight’s falsetto voices kick in.
Uncle Joe the Ice-cream man The Mindbenders’ nadir. While the band were recording it at Olympic in Barnes they had a visit from Mick Jagger, who was working next door. ‘Why are you singing this shit?’ he enquired, not unreasonably. Neither Stewart nor Gouldman had an answer.
Sausalito. Credited to The Ohio Express, but really one of the Bubblegum tracks written (and performed) by Graham Gouldman and friends for Kasenatz-Katz. The lyric might have come from sticking a pin in a map, but the guitars sound massive.
Animal Song By Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon (AKA Godley & Creme). With Gouldman and Stewart on bass and guitar respectively. One of Strawberry’s first fruits.
Susan’s Tuba. Ostensibly by Freddie and The Dreamers, in reality the proto-10cc at Strawberry. Chorus lyric: ‘Ooby dooby dooba, Susan’s on the tuba’. Sold 2 million. Go figure.
Neanderthal Man. Yet another band (in this case Hotlegs) that turns out to be 10cc in everything but name. The production’s the star. Welcome to Strawberry.
My Sentimental Friend. Late period Herman’s Hermits. The song’s notable for having far more emotional heft than Peter Noone is normally given credit for.
Daisy Chain (Part1). A distinctly strange instrumental Keith Hopwood and Lek Leckenby provided for the soundtrack of the film Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. A bizarre psychedelic oddball, it wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place in The Haçienda in 1990.
The Man. The first Herman-less Hermits single, recorded at Strawberry with Peter Cowap on vocal and Eric Stewart on production duties. More West Coast than West Didsbury.
Stretford Enders. Burke and Jerk’s novelty Manchester United football song. A cheery ditty with a lyric that paints football hooligans as lovable scamps, and train wrecking and mass-brawling as youthful high-jinks, it was inevitably banned from radio. Personally I’d have banned it for the dreadful keyboards alone.
Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Of course the single takes an over-sentimentalised view of hardship and allows nostalgia to knock the rough edges off memory, something Lowry’s paintings never do. But both record and paintings share a justifiable pride in basing their art in real working-class Manchester life, and sentimental or not, their subject matter remains all-but unique in both fields.
The Man From Nazareth. Recorded at Strawberry by John Paul Jones (not the Led Zep one) who was forced to change his name after an injunction from John Paul Jones (the Led Zep one) . Owes a lot to Big Bad John.
This Will Be Our last Song Together, by Neil Sedaka, recorded at Strawberry with Creme, Godley, Gouldman & Stewart. The song simultaneously represented and memorialised the ending of Sedaka’s partnership with lyricist Howard Greenfield. Neil had written some of his best-known hits with Greenfield and the resultant performance is remarkably raw, and achingly authentic. He’s on the verge of tears throughout.
Waterfall. The first proper 10cc recording, though Jonathan King hadn’t yet come up with the name. The recording’s combination of old-fashioned songwriting with try-anything production techniques set the blueprint for everything they would go on to create together.
The Wall Street Shuffle. One of 10cc’s best singles. A distant cousin to Money by Pink Floyd, both musically and lyrically, it’s catchy piano run later turned up on the similarly fiscally obsessed Money Money Money by Abba.
I’m Not In Love. Self-evidently an incredible recording. The instrumentation is so appropriate to the track’s air of wistful commitment-phobia that it can’t be unheard – all subsequent cover versions and attempts to strip the song back to traditional instruments sound just plain wrong, including the ill-advised one by Stewart and Gouldman in 1995.
When Things Go Wrong. A worryingly apt title for this track from Godley & Creme’s triple album ‘Consequences’. Features the ‘Gizmotron’. And Peter Cook, briefly.
Boredom. Buzzcocks. ‘…and triple albums were first to the bonfire’.
Everybody’s Happy Nowadays. ‘Love is a dream’, Shelley decides, which must have been a painful discovery. After all, he’d seemed pretty convinced of its existence over the course of the last two albums and five singles.
Why Can’t I Touch It? John Maher’s drumming is amongst the best of his career, and Steve Garvey’s steadfast bass riff provides a beautifully solid dance floor for Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle’s intertwined guitars to gambol upon.
I Believe. Pete Shelley hits peak existential angst, and for punk’s greatest romantic, there is no love in this world anymore. A brilliant end to a brilliant album.
Warsaw. The first track from An Ideal for Living by Joy Division. The count-in is Rudolph Hess’ prison number, and the song is sung from Hess’s point of view. Clearly they weren’t Nazis, but the accusation could hardly have come as a surprise.
She’s Lost Control. The Manchester bass-line-with-added-drone in excelsis. First heard on Buzzcocks’ Walking Distance, it also appears on The Fall’s Underground Medecin (and Love Will Tear Us Apart of course).
Shadowplay. the quintessential Joy Division song. A single repeated bass line and Bernard’s beautifully expressive guitar work, one of the main features of which is his willingness to stop playing, are all that’s required.
New Dawn Fades. has there ever been a song where the music and lyric are so satisfyingly matched? It really is possible to ‘admire the distance’.
Love Will Tear Us Together Two tales of the underlying paranoia lurking beneath a long-term relationship, mixed together by Malcolm Mclaren.
Bankrobber A distinctly sprightlier version of The Clash classic than we’re used to, recorded live in December 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Once it touched the damp and melancholic Manchester air a month later, the song took on a far more doom-laden vibe. The drums on the recorded version in particular are infinitely more ‘New Dawn Fades’ than Revolution Rock. The tangible downturn in mood came a little too late for the lyric, though the ponderous disposition imbues the words with an air of regret that’s singularly absent from the early live version.
Rockers Galore Mikey Dread’s vocal on the B-side is sung over the same backing track, and it’s even more unbecomingly jovial than Bankrobber. At one point he even relates how he shrugged off the harsh Scottish winter with a nice hot bath. (‘You jump into the tub and then you sud and then you sud.’) Lovely.
Leave The Capitol. Mark E. Smith’s ‘definitive rant’ against all aspects of London living, recorded in London. Perhaps he couldn’t summon sufficient bile to power his performance anywhere else.
Marquis Cha Cha. The Fall. Boasting one of Smith’s funniest, most sinister lyrics, in which he casts himself as a Lord Haw-Haw for the Falklands War, the recorded version features a slip-shod, under-rehearsed backing with glaring errors and wonky timekeeping. With hindsight, that’s almost part of its charm, though at the time it was an embarrassment.
Garden A treatise on the nature of man’s relationship with God since expulsion from Eden? A sideways look at the dank underbelly of suburbia? Or both? Mark wasn’t telling. He certainly wasn’t telling me.
Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot Smith slaps his band down about as effectively as he had done on an Australian dance floor the previous year. ‘You can clutch at my toes*, you won’t drive me insane. You know nothing about it, It’s not your domain. Don’t confuse yourself with someone who has something to say.’ Cheers.
*I originally had ‘toes’ as ‘coat tails’, which makes as least as much sense, but according to the unofficial Fall website (and as pointed out on the discussion board) I am incorrect. I must have got it from somewhere, though.
Hand in Glove Recorded in the ‘mists of the north’ – a fog-shrouded Strawberry Studios – on Sunday 27th February 1983.
Pretty Girls Make Graves. It still beggars belief that Morrissey thought Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke only deserved 10% of The Smiths’ profits. Has he heard this track? That said, In Autobiography Morrissey claims he wanted ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’ as the third single instead of What Difference Does it Make?, though it’s nowhere near as commercial and has a title that would never have been allowed anywhere near the charts. So he’s not the best judge, is he?
I Don’t Owe You Anything. A song so achingly romantic that on one occasion it brought Mike Joyce close to tears. The ritual of ‘going out tonight’ retains the iconic allure it has in This Charming Man and this time the narrator is up for it, presumably having found something to wear.
Suffer Little Children No song has ever been more appositely described as ‘haunting’. If a Manchester band had to tackle this subject sooner or later, The Smiths were the perfect candidates.
Jimone & James II James recorded their first two EPs in August ’83 and October ’84 at Strawberry – though the five songs were treated to so little EQ they could really have been recorded anywhere. The band chose what they considered to be their least commercial songs for inclusion on the two EPs, and would brook no aural enhancement or studio jiggery-pokery. Factory must have been delighted.
Tell Me The B-side of The Stone Roses first single, So Young. Neither track could properly be described as a song, but then neither could Fools Gold. It would probably claim a place amongst the Roses better-loved songs if it wasn’t ruined by Ian’s wobbly Kirk Brandon impression on the vocals.
I Wanna Be Adored (early version) Written on the spot in the studio at the behest of Martin Hannett. It’s little exaggeration to say that when you listen to the Strawberry recording of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ you’re actually hearing the birth of the real Stone Roses. What Hannett gave the band more than anything else was showing them, as he had done previously for Joy Division, the power of emptiness.
Fat Lady Wrestlers The production on Bummed, the Happy Mondays’ second album, is probably Hannett’s last great work. The basic recording was done at Slaughterhouse studio in Yorkshire but by the time it came to be mixed, relations between Factory and Hannett had thawed sufficiently for them to engage him. Of course he insisted on Strawberry, and Hannett ‘played’ the studio’s desk and effects like another member of the band. If there’s any record where you can hear where the songs were mixed, Bummed is it.