24 Hour Party People. What a wonderful book and movie, and 10 years on from those dark days of 1992 when Factory went under it was terrific to see the resurgence in interest. Having published the original online Factory Discography* across those years, I remember being inundated with information requests from magazine editors, members of Winterbottom’s production team, and various people and band members from the inner orbits of the label itself. A highlight was chatting with Tony himself who gave me a signed copy of his book; now a much treasured item. RIP Tony.
It was such a period of reinvigoration, and I could wax lyrical about how much I enjoyed the movie; half-truths and hyperbole notwithstanding. The label’s arc from post-punk pioneers to purveyors of Madchester™ is such an important and inspirational tale, and here it was told with great humour and tongues firmly in cheek. I loved it. John Simm – already one of my favourite actors – worked a treat in Bernard’s shoes, and his onstage appearance in the 511 / Finsbury set was an ironic masterstroke… “Where’s Ralf Little” indeed!
Which brings me neatly to Here To Stay. It seemed the perfect time for a perfect plan; have the Chemical Brothers – fellow Mancunians and reigning big beats premiers – ‘pay their dues’ to the band which was of such influence to them and indeed ‘pay back’ Bernard’s appearance in their Out Of Control release a few years earlier. Here To Stay is excellent: techno riffs, an homage to the Blue Monday choral sound, sparkling acid-like arpeggiations, cavernous snares, and – my favourite part of the track – the stripped down verse sequences of deep bass + chattering drum loops + vox. Its herein where the track has real depth, because I do find in other parts of the song that the track seems compressed into the mid-range; very typical of Chemical Brothers, and possibly why I’ve always slightly preferred Orbital. Nevertheless the ‘Chems bring some wonderfully quirky programming to the party, with lots of slip beats, unusual patterns, ear worm riffs, and a solid intake of New Order’s signature guitar work. For me Here To Stay is on par with Shellshock and Confusion as a quality collaboration-driven dance single in New Order’s canon.
Remix-wise, I’m not super-excited by either the Felix Da Housecat or Scumfrog offerings; neither of which are a patch on the original. The ‘Housecat Extended Glitz Mix is driven mainly by a bassline variation and some brassy synth flares, which give good atmosphere but otherwise don’t really keep me interested. The Scumfrog Dub Mix bears only a passing resemblance to Here To Stay, with only the extracted vocals tying it to the original; otherwise it’s a fundamentally different beast, albeit quite an OK standalone production with a driving D&B groove. Finally there is the Extended Instrumental, which follows the original in most aspects, but offers clarity in the mix so that you can better pick out the tones & sequences and better appreciate what the Chemical Brothers brought to the table. The Instrumental also offers some alternate breakdowns, which – in combination with the original – would make for a decent Razormaid-style re-edit. Note to self…
So: dance track… ✔, inspired collaboration… ✔, wonderful context… ✔, an improvement on much of Get Ready… ✔, and a high degree of (what Wilson would describe as) coolness quotient… ✔. But above all it’s the “we’re here to stay” affirmation which brought the biggest smile to my face; ringing true of the band and the label, both of which will stay firmly – like a bright light on the horizon – in the Manchester (and beyond) consciousness forever.
* For which I apologise has been left fashionably fallow since 2005 🙂
Radio Edit avilable on: Singles