Today's artists are an English post-punk band formed in 1978 in Manchester, England. The band is a project of guitarist and occasional pianist Vini Reilly who is often accompanied by Bruce Mitchell on drums and Keir Stewart on bass, keyboards and harmonica. They were among the first acts signed to Factory Records by label founder Tony Wilson. ..............N'Joy
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In 1978 Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, later partners in Factory Records, assembled a band around the remnants of local punk rock band Fast Breeder, drummer Chris Joyce and guitarist Dave Rowbotham. The name was derived from a misspelling of the Durruti Column, an anarchist military unit in the Spanish Civil War, named after Buenaventura Durruti. The name was also taken from a four-page comic strip entitled "Le Retour de la Colonne Durruti" ("The Return Of The Durruti Column") by André Bertrand, which was handed out amidst student protests in October 1966 at Strasbourg University. On 25 January, Vini Reilly, former guitarist for local punk rock band Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds, joined, followed some weeks later by co-member vocalist Phil Rainford and, by the end of February, bassist Tony Bowers arrived from Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias. The line-up was short-lived as Rainford was sacked in July, and replaced by actor Colin Sharp, who also became one of the songwriters. Rainford went on to produce for Nico and Suns of Arqa.
The Durutti Column played at the Factory club (organised by their managers), and cut two numbers for the first Factory Records release A Factory Sample, a double 7" compilation also featuring Joy Division, John Dowie and Cabaret Voltaire. On the eve of recording a debut album, the band broke up after a dispute about Wilson and Erasmus's choice of producer, Martin Hannett. Rowbotham, Bowers and Joyce went on to form The Mothmen (the latter two becoming members of Simply Red some years later), Sharp went on to form The Roaring 80s, SF Jive, and Glow, and also dedicated himself to acting; only Reilly remained. With everyone's departure, The Durutti Column defaulted to Reilly's solo project. Other musicians contributed to recordings and live performances as occasioned. Former Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias drummer Bruce Mitchell doubled as co-manager with Wilson throughout their career on Factory and for many years afterwards.
The first album, 1980's The Return of the Durutti Column (title inspired by a 1967 Situationist International poster that includes that phrase), was produced by Martin Hannett. Reilly: "...he more or less got sounds for me that no one else could understand that I wanted. And he understood that I wanted to play the electric guitar but I didn't want this horrible distorted, usual electric guitar sound and he managed to get that." The record featured a sandpaper sleeve (like the title of the record, inspired by a Situationist joke, a book – Guy Debord's Mémoires – with a sandpaper cover to destroy other books on the shelf). "I didn't even know it was going to be an album. It was just the case of jumping at the chance of being in the studio. I actually didn't get up in time, Martin had to physically get me out of bed to get me to the studio – that's how little I believed it would happen. I was still doing late night petrol station shifts. I was even more amazed when Tony presented me with a white label. I was completely baffled. 'What, this is really going to be an album? You must be insane! No-one's going to buy this!' And then Tony got the idea from the Situationists about the sandpaper book, and decided to do some with a sandpaper sleeve. It was Joy Division that stuck the sandpaper onto the card. I was mortified."
The music was unlike anything else performed by post-punk acts at the time. Reilly rooting himself in "new wave" with "...an attempt at experimental things"; the record contained nine gentle guitar instrumentals (later releases occasionally feature Reilly's soft and hesitant vocals) including elements from jazz, folk, classical music and rock. Reilly: "...I had a lot of classical training when I was young, guitar and formal training, the scales I write with and the techniques I use are classical techniques and scales – a lot of minor melodic and minor harmonic scales, which generally aren't used in pop music. Usually it's pentatonic". Hannett's production included adding electronic rhythm and other effects, including birdsong on "Sketch for Summer". The album was accompanied by a flexidisc with two tracks by Hannett alone.
LC ("Lotta Continua", Italian for "continuous struggle"), released in 1981, was recorded without Hannett, and introduced percussionist Bruce Mitchell, Reilly's most frequent musical partner and occasional manager. It was recorded on a four-track cassette deck at home (while it was slightly padded in the studio, the tape hiss is intact); among the first crisp, professionally released recordings made cheaply at home. The EP Deux Triangles, released in 1982, contained three instrumentals, with piano emphasised over guitar. Another Setting (1983) was again Reilly and Mitchell; in 1984 the band was expanded to include Richard Henry (trombone), Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais and oboe), Blaine Reininger (of Tuxedomoon; violin and viola), Mervyn Fletcher (saxophone), Caroline Lavelle (cello), and Tim Kellett (trumpet). The album Without Mercy, arranged by John Metcalfe, was intended as an instrumental evocation of the poem La Belle Dame sans Merci by John Keats.
Say What You Mean was a departure from roots with the addition of deep electronic percussion. Kellett and Metcalfe remained (Metcalfe playing viola); they also appear alongside Reilly and Mitchell on Circuses and Bread (Factory Benelux in 1985) and Domo Arigato. The latter is a live album recorded in Tokyo and the first pop album released in the UK solely on the relatively new compact disc format (and also available on VHS and LaserDisc.)
Kellett left to join Simply Red, but guested on The Guitar and Other Machines (1987), the first new UK album to be released on Digital Audio Tape (as well as the usual media of LP, audio cassette and CD). The Guitar and Other Machines has a far more direct sound than earlier records, with guest vocals from Stanton Miranda and Reilly's then partner, Pol, and the use of a sequencer and drum machine in addition to Mitchell's drumming. The album was produced by Stephen Street, who also produced Morrissey's solo album, Viva Hate (1988), on which Reilly played guitar. Reilly was neither properly credited, nor compensated for composing much of the music on this seminal album.
Vini Reilly (1989), also produced by Reilly and Street, features extensive use of sampling, with looped samples of vocalists (including Otis Redding, Tracy Chapman, Annie Lennox and Joan Sutherland) used as the basis for several tracks. Initial copies came with a 7" or CD single, "I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong", credited to "Vincent Gerard and Steven Patrick", in which a take of the Morrissey B-side "I Know Very Well How I Got My Name" dissolves into laughter after Reilly hits a wrong note.
On Obey the Time (1990) Mitchell played on only one track, the album being otherwise a solo recording by Reilly, heavily influenced by contemporary dance music. The album's title is a phrase uttered by the titular character of William Shakespeare's Othello toward his fiance, Desdemona in Act One, Scene Two: "I have but an hour of love, of worldly matters and direction, To spend with thee: we must obey the time." An accompanying single, "The Together Mix", featured two reworkings of album tracks by Together, Jonathon Donaghy and Suddi Raval (Donaghy was killed in a car crash in Ibiza before the single was released). This was to be the last Durutti Column record released by Factory, in early 1991.
1990 onwards: after Factory
For the first few years after the demise of Factory, the only Durutti Column album releases were Lips That Would Kiss (a 1991 collection of early singles, compilation contributions and unreleased material on the separate label Factory Benelux), and Dry (1991) and Red Shoes (1992), Italian collections of alternate versions and unreleased outtakes. Former member Dave Rowbotham was killed by an unknown assailant in 1991. He was later memorialised by the Happy Mondays in the song "Cowboy Dave."
In 1993 Tony Wilson attempted to revive Factory Records, and Sex and Death was the first release on Factory Too (a subdivision of London Records). The album was once again produced by Stephen Street, with Mitchell and Metcalfe, and it included, on the track "The Next Time", Peter Hook of New Order. Time Was Gigantic ... When We Were Kids, which followed in 1998, was produced by Keir Stewart, who also played on the album and has frequently worked with Reilly since. Fidelity was released between these albums in 1996 by Les Disques du Crépuscule and was produced by Laurie Laptop.
The eight albums recorded for Factory (The Return of the Durutti Column, LC, Another Setting, Without Mercy, Domo Arigato, The Guitar and Other Machines, Vini Reilly and Obey the Time) were re-released with additional material by Factory Too/London, under the banner Factory Once, between 1996 and 1998. In 1998, Durutti Column contributed "It's Your Life Baby" to the AIDS benefit compilation album Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Factory Too effectively ended in 1998, and subsequent Durutti Column albums have been on independent labels Artful Records (Rebellion , Someone Else's Party , Keep Breathing , Idiot Savants ) or Kookydisc (Tempus Fugit , Sunlight to Blue . . . Blue to Blackness ). Kookydisc has also released two further volumes of The Sporadic Recordings (along with a slightly edited re-release of the first volume from 1989), remastered versions of two very scarce LPs from the early 1980s (Live At The Venue  and Amigos Em Portugal ), and two subscription-club discs of rare and unreleased material. A download-only release, Heaven Sent (It Was Called Digital, It Was Heaven Sent), first appeared in 2005 via Wilson's project F4, which was marketed as the fourth version of Factory Records.
On 7 September 2009, Colin Sharp died from a brain haemorrhage. The instrumental suite Paean to Wilson, composed in 2009, was some of Reilly's most personal work, written for his late friend and most passionate supporter, the late Tony Wilson. Initially scheduled for limited release in 2009, it was granted wider distribution early the following year. In 2011, Reilly debuted Chronicle as a performance commissioned by Manchester's Bridgewater Hall and offered the music as a limited-edition CD at the show. The band's long-lost fourth album, Short Stories for Pauline, which was shelved by Wilson in favor of Without Mercy, was issued as a limited-edition vinyl release in 2012. Two years later, Chronicle LX:XL, a deluxe edition of Chronicle in honor of Reilly's 60th birthday, arrived on Kooky.
All this changed when Reilly’s health (always fragile) collapsed. In the last couple of years, Vini has had had a series of strokes. “I’ve had three strokes – the first two were within an hour of each other. They were treating me as I got the second stroke – but I could still play. But I got a third stroke a year ago, and that is the one that did the damage. It means I can’t play – my right hand side, my balance has gone.” The albums and sporadic tours that maintained his frugal existence ceased. DC followers were shocked by an appeal from Vini’s nephew at the beginning of 2013. Vini was “currently struggling to cover basic outgoings such as rent, food, electricity, etc”. In a matter of days, the appeal was closed after an outpouring of generosity.
“I can’t feel the strings, and I can’t control the movement of them – so I’ve got all these pieces of music in my head, they’re complete pieces of music – and I can’t play them. They’ve got nowhere to go. So it’s driving me a little insane to be honest with you.”
So Vini has now set himself the task of relearning the guitar. “I spend two hours every day trying to play, trying to create new, fresh neural pathways. I don’t plug the guitar in as it’s harder to play, it makes you work harder.
“It’s very frustrating, because I know what I want to do, but I can’t get my fingers to play the way they need to be played. It’s hard to cope with. Sometimes I feel like smashing the guitar up”.
There hasn't been new Durutti Column work these last years and should some turn up we now know how much effort went into it.
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Marking a further progression in the overall Durutti sound, Without Mercy both an expanded lineup and sense of what could be done with Reilly's compositions. Consisting of a two-part full-album instrumental piece, Without Mercy integrates the slight hints of classical orchestration and accompaniment from Another Setting more fully via a slew of additional players. Besides the indefatigable Mitchell on percussion and Reilly on guitar, bass, and keyboards, performers on everything from viola to cor anglais and trumpet flesh out Without Mercy's sound to newly striking heights. Reilly's work on piano sets the initial mood for the song, a sound by now as intrinsic to Durutti's approach as his guitar work, capturing both tender beauty and deep melancholy just so. Manaugh Fleming's oboe and Tim Kellet's trumpet start to step in as well as Reilly's guitar, adding in here and there as needed while the track unfolds further to another typically brilliant Reilly guitar solo. From such a striking start, the song continues to unfold over the album's full length. It's very self-consciously romantic (track and album are in fact named for Keats' noted poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci), but the combination of new and old instruments, plus the continuation of the unique Durutti sheen and shine in the recording quality, results in quietly touching heights. Blaine Reininger's viola and violin and Caroline Lavelle's cello add even more classical atmosphere, while the restraint they exercise as well as all the other performers prevent things from becoming a bloated prog-rock monstrosity. Then again, the funky horns and beats about eight minutes into the second part don't hurt either. Even at its busiest, reflection and subdued but not inactive performing are the key, with clear echoes of Erik Satie's work at many points, while Reilly is almost always, either via keyboards or his guitar, front and center. The 1998 reissue matches a slightly earlier CD version with the inclusion of the Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say EP. Also appearing are two separate, very stripped-down pieces recorded around the same time, one of which, the wonderful "All That Love and Maths Can Do," features violist John Metcalfe in his first recorded effort with Durutti.
The Durutti Column - Without Mercy (flac 378mb)
01 Without Mercy 1 18:49
02 Without Mercy 2 19:38
Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
03 Goodbye 1:52
04 The Room 6:03
05 A Little Mercy 3:40
06 Silence 7:47
07 E.E. 4:37
08 Hello(w) 1:09
09 All That Love And Maths Can Do 3:36
10 The Sea Wall 3:28
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A live recording in Japan from 1985, where Durutti and Reilly had built up a considerable reputation and fan base, Domo Arigato is a well-recorded and performed treat, showing the then-current lineup performing songs old and new for an appreciative audience. At this point, Reilly and Mitchell performed with trumpeter Tim Kellet and violist John Metcalfe, who were able to help replicate more recent, classically inspired songs and to reinterpret earlier material as well with skill and style, along with throwing in a completely new song or two along the way. Starting with the first Durutti track ever, Return's "Sketch for Summer," prefaced by as low-key an introduction from Reilly as anyone could ever deliver, Domo Arigato brings the group's studio work to exquisite life. Hearing Mitchell's percussion work in addition to some gentle drum machine pacing, rather than the straightforward rhythm box of the original, makes for wonderful listening, while Reilly's guitar work is unsurprisingly excellent. Immediately followed up with a triumphant, slightly extended version of LC's "Sketch for Dawn" that hits a polite but effective dance groove and last charging solo toward its end, it makes for a wonderful one-two punch. Without Mercy appears via selections from that lengthy work, including the separate Say What You Mean reduction "A Little Mercy" and "Mercy Dance," which takes the distinctly funky part of the composition and turns it into a quick, fun jam. Kellet and Metcalfe do a fine job interpreting the fuller arrangements and performances from that album onto their respective instruments, unavoidably losing some of the variation but none of the attractive complexity. If a sole highlight had to be picked, the performance of the Ian Curtis tribute "The Missing Boy" would likely have to be it, building on the fragile energy and wistful remembrance from the original in spades to result in a powerful interpretation, Reilly's singing echoed from a far depth. The 1998 reissue includes three studio works recorded around the same time, starting with the fine L.A. tribute "Our Lady of the Angels," partially recorded in the city itself. Equally intriguing is the group's first recorded cover version, the Jefferson Airplane classic "White Rabbit," with guest vocals from Debi Diamond.
The Durutti Column - Domo Arigato (flac 452mb)
01 Sketch For Summer 2:22
02 Sketch For Dawn 4:50
03 Mercy Theme 2:25
04 Little Mercy 10:04
05 Dream Of A Child 6:45
06 Mercy Dance 3:45
07 The Room 4:35
08 E.E. 4:09
09 Blind Elevator Girl 8:12
10 Tomorrow 2:49
11 For Belgian Friends 3:03
12 Missing Boy 7:43
13 Self Portrait 2:50
14 Audience Noise 0:58
15 Our Lady Of The Angels 4:13
16 White Rabbit 4:02
17 When The World (Newson Mix) 6:46
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Durutti's fifth studio album finds the core Reilly/Mitchell/Kellet/Metcalfe lineup of the mid-'80s still in excellent form, steering back from the lengthy excursion of Without Mercy in favor of shorter songs typical of Durutti's other recorded work. While the overall style and mood of the performers had little changed, Reilly in particular remains a master of his art, able to progress and experiment without making a big deal of it, and whose sound remains so unique still that almost any recording of it is worthwhile. Starting with the fine "Pauline," with an excellent viola line from Metcalfe helping to set the tone, Circuses and Bread doesn't radically advance Durutti so much as it codifies it further. One of his most wracked songs ever appears midway through -- "Royal Infirmary," whose combination of piano, trumpet, and gunfire almost seems like a reference to World War I, and which likely influenced similar efforts focusing on that conflict from Piano Magic and possibly even Mark Hollis. Reilly's singing in places is stronger than ever -- while still generally understated and subtle, there's less echo and a clearer, crisper recording quality. In his playing, there's slightly more of a willingness to try more common guitar approaches -- consider the strung-out solo on "Hilary," which while buried in the mix provides a near acid rock counterpoint to the usual crisp shimmer that's more upfront. Metcalfe's lines and string plucks add further fine drama, Mitchell is excellent and varied as always in his percussion approaches, and Kellet comes up with some real winners, like the mournful brass on "Street Fight." Concluding with some lengthy, exploratory tracks, including the minimal progression of "Black Horses" and "Blind Elevator Girl," Circuses and Bread is another Durutti highlight. In a curious footnote, however, it remains the sole Durutti album from the 1980s not reissued in the comprehensive late-'90s remastering/re-releasing program via Factory Once Records. But then a decade later LTM released an expanded edition featuring ten bonus tracks including compilation tracks 'Verbiers' and 'The Aftermath' plus four previously unreleased tracks from the cancelled 1983 album Short Stories For Pauline. Also includes the rarely heard 1983 single 'I Get Along Without You Very Well', a Hoagy Carmichael cover sung by Lindsay Reade and dedicated to her former husband, the late Anthony H. Wilson (Factory Records founder and Durutti Column manager). The booklet restores the original cover design by 8vo. LTM.
The Durutti Column - Circuses and Bread (flac 390mb)
01 Pauline 2:46
02 Tomorrow 4:03
03 Dance II 5:37
04 Hilary 3:13
05 Street Fight 4:01
06 Royal Infirmary 4:18
07 Black Horses 8:36
08 Dance I 4:58
09 Blind Elevator Girl - Osaka 10:17
10 All That Love And Maths Can Do 3:37
11 I Get Along Without You Very Well 3:39
12 Verbier (For Patti) 2:40
13 The Aftermath 4:26
14 A Silence 4:43
15 Cocktail 2:07
16 Telephone Call 1:43
17 Mirror A 2:10
18 Mirror B 3:44
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Following up the band's second live album, A Night in New York, Durutti's composition changed slightly, with both Kellet and Metcalfe off to pursue other ventures, the former ending up in Simply Red. The core Reilly/Mitchell duo settled down in studio to create another striking development in Durutti's story, The Guitar and Other Machines. So named because of Reilly's choice to explore and use newer instruments, specifically a Yamaha Sequencer and a DMX Drum Machine among others, while also trying out new approaches with his guitar playing, first signaled on Circuses and Bread. Opening track "Arpeggiator," one of several cuts originally previewed on A Night in New York, gives a sense as to the result. There's a more straightforwardly soaring lead guitar line; quick, gently perky synth loops; a heavy drum punch; additional strings; and other touches to fill out the busy but strong arrangement. While technology in general was no stranger to the band, these instruments and approaches were, resulting in a generally lusher record than most recorded by Durutti before it, with more rather than fewer instruments being the key motif while still retaining an economy of performance. Both Metcalfe and Kellet appeared on an album highlight, "When the World," recalling the band's mid-'80s highlights while Reilly turns in a surprisingly loud, kick-ass solo, contrasting his acoustic work on the immediately following "U.S.P." Otherwise, a variety of other performers assisted the duo as needed, including producer Stephen Street, who sat in on bass on "English Landscape Tradition," and guest singers Stanton Miranda and Pol (a high point of "When the World" who ironically enough doesn't appear on "Pol in B"). Rob Gray's mouth organ work adds a nicely rootsy feel to "What Is It to Me (Woman)" and "Jongleur Grey," a notable contrast against Durutti's generally futurist approach. Continuing the string of excellent Durutti reissues, its 1996 reappearance included several other studio tracks done around that time, notably the moody and mysterious "LFO Mod," which only appeared on the Valuable Passages compilation in the U.S., and "Dream Topping," featuring a reunion with A Certain Ratio singer Jeremy Kerr. Concluding the reissue are four further tracks from a performance at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival, with guest appearances from Chinese opera singer Liu Sola and Swing Out Sister keyboardist Andy Connell, both of whom would feature on the Vini Reilly album.
The Durutti Column - The Guitar And Other Machines (flac 421mb)
01 Arpeggiator 4:05
02 What Is It To Me (Woman) 3:47
03 Red Shoes 3:13
04 Jongleur Grey 2:42
05 When The World 5:14
06 U.S.P. 2:24
07 Bordeaux Sequence 5:52
08 Pol In B 3:08
09 English Landscape Tradition 4:49
10 Miss Haymes 5:15
11 Don't Think You're Funny 1:41
12 LFO Mod 6:24
13 Dream Topping 3:01
14 28 Oldham Street 4:58
Live At WOMAD
15 Otis 5:32
16 English Landscape Tradition 3:19
17 Finding The Sea 5:15
18 Bordeaux 6:06
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Less of an intentionally confusing title than might be thought, Reilly for all intents and purposes is Durutti no matter the changes through the years -- Vini Reilly does signal another new phase of the band's work, moving into a full embrace of technological possibilities via an Akai sampler. With Reilly and Mitchell joined by a slew of guests -- Swing Out Sister keyboardist Andy Connell; singers Pol, Rob Gray, and Liu Sola; and even former member John Metcalfe on the epic surge "Finding the Sea" -- Durutti this time around pursued the organic/machine combination to even more successful conclusions than on The Guitar. Reilly's singing has often come in for criticism (unwarranted, really, considering how his soft approach effortlessly suits the general atmosphere of Durutti's work), so the slew of sampled and borrowed snippets from other vocalists and musicians that pepper the album makes for an intriguing change. "Love No More," the album opener, shows how the approach can work, with acoustic guitar to the fore and echoed, truly haunting snippets of what sound like soul and opera singers wafting through the mix. Another full-on highlight is "Otis," with Pol's live singing and Connell's keyboards combining with a brisk synth loop, building Mitchell drums, an astonishing, uplifting Reilly guitar line, and the legendary singer Mr. Redding himself in a combination that needs to be heard. Mitchell's overall work on percussion is less prominent than before but still present, while Reilly's guitar efforts are again simply wonderful, further testing new approaches on both acoustic and electric that call to mind everyone from John Fahey to Bootsy Collins. If that last comparison seems strange, give the loud and funky "People's Pleasure Park" a listen, then marvel at how Sola's lovely singing and Reilly's further guitar runs transform it yet again. The 1996 reissue is one of the most comprehensive of the series, including not merely two more tracks recorded around that time but selections from Sporadic Recordings. Given by Reilly to a friend to release, as Factory otherwise couldn't easily fit it into its own schedule, it's a generally more stripped-down affair. The six numbers here include a variety of winners like the upbeat, appropriately titled "Real Drums -- Real Drummer" and the Pat Nevin/football tribute "Shirt No. 7."
The Durutti Column - Vini Reilly (flac 384mb)
01 Love No More 2:47
02 Pol In G 3:00
03 Opera I 2:13
04 People's Pleasure Park 4:59
05 Red Square 3:12
06 Finding The Sea 9:48
07 Otis 4:17
08 William B 2:15
09 They Work Every Day 3:57
10 Opera II 2:58
11 Homage To Catalonea 2:04
12 Requiem Again 4:04
13 My Country 3:00
Vini Reilly Bonus album
01 Opera II [Demo] 3:33
02 Finding The Sea  4:57
03 PPP [Demo] 2:50
04 Juxqan Montero [Sketch 1] 1:46
05 Sample Tune 3:55
06 Finding The Sea  4:46
07 Juan Montero [Sketch 2] 2:52
08 William B [Demo] 2:30
09 Sketches On Stratocaster 5:01
The Durutti Column - Vini Reilly (ogg 159mb)
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