Recommended Read: 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love by Ian Moss

Ian Moss has been an integral part of the Manchester music scene since god was a lad. His latest band is the brilliantly named Fourcandles, and 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love is his massively enjoyable tribute to the flotsam and jetsam of music. Interesting – and sometimes odd-records that seem to have passed many people by.

As someone who worked in a second-hand record shop for many years, quite a few of these LPs were familiar from the 50p section – Montrose! – and there are just as many records in this scattershot collection that I’ve never given the time of day to. 

But Ian Moss’ enthusiasm is infectious and have led me to dipping more than a toe or two into this proudly unhip selection. 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn To Love is a cracking read with more than a few top musical tips.

Highly recommended.

Spellbound: The Story of John McGeoch

john mcgeoch

From Wikipedia:

John Alexander McGeoch (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004) was a Scottish rock music guitarist who played with several bands of the post-punk era, including MagazineSiouxsie and the BansheesVisage, and Public Image Ltd.

He has been described as one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. In 1996 he was listed by Mojo in their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” for his work on the Siouxsie and the Banshees song “Spellbound“. Signature characteristics of his playing style included an inventive arpeggiosstring harmonics, the uses of flanger and an occasional disregard for conventional scales.

Musician and producer Steve Albini praised McGeoch for his guitar playing with Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees, qualifying as “great choral swells, great scratches and buzzes, great dissonant noise and great squealy death noise What a guy” and further commenting: “anybody can make notes. There’s no trick. What is a trick and a good one is to make a guitar do things that don’t sound like a guitar at all. The point here is stretching the boundaries”.

I am the Resurrection by John Bowie

Max’s Filipino Taxi Dancehall was a real shithole… And it didn’t have a dance floor. A stench came from piss that ran out the front door, down the street and to the beach outside. A make-shift urinal fixed to the bar-front meant they drank, pissed and worse without moving for days. It was a real hit with the flies, lowlife drop outs and my target.

‘I used to hate the taste of it, until I got shot. Ironic I know. Then, each glass full cushioned the blow,’ he said…too drunk to look up to recognise me.

I smashed the glass ashtray into his nose. He fell bleeding a trail of glass, blood and mucus along and off the end of the bar — out cold.

I left wondering why I’d left it at that. I had more hurt for him. For a moment I’d seen him for what he used to be, before becoming the origin of my pains. He’d said what I used to think about myself. I deserved a hit alright and I’d given it to him.

Like me, the fucked up ex-services barfly was due that much, for now. His final dues were coming. I’d already had mine.

The Stone Roses played in the background — It fitted. He had dropped through gutter level but I was moving on; out the door.

‘…and I am the light,’ crackled over the speakers. For a moment, a mass of dead flies were resurrected as they vibrated, danced and bounced around in the dust on top.

I waited in the shadows on the corner outside as he finished his last drink.

The night darkened as he stumbled out, followed by a gust of smoke and more stench.

I watched. Still. And smoked.

On my last smoke of the night, hands free, I looked deep into the night. I breathed out rings at the moon and it stared back cold-hard-empty at me. In the sand, my hands choked the life from him. I released a fraction, so he could take a last breath, but that was it…all he was getting from me.

I’d written and drank myself through hell and back. I’d drowned out the loss of her with each glass. The loss he’d given me was irreconcilable, even with his neck in my hands as a pulse weakened, and he faded out.

The stars grew over the black ocean’s surface ahead.

Each bar and drink had drifted him closer and closer to me…one shot at a time. Each word I’d written had set it in stone; it was my confessional.

It was only the start. As I was beginning to be untethered from my past.

He had stolen my dreams of a future. And I took his life, but the memories ran deep. I’d have to choke more pain from the world to ease my own.

In the distance, at the end of the beach, under the pier…a girl winced. She was being held down by an angry shadow. She didn’t want what the man that grasped at her arms had in store for her…

And he wouldn’t want what I had for him.

I opened the knife and locked the blade into place. Soon, she would cry out, run and hide. Then eventually she’d smile again as she realised: finally, she was free of him.

In morning two gulls took a break from searching for stale chips, and wrestling washed-up condoms.

There was fresh meat on the beach. And his eyes were a much tastier treat.


Bio: John writes dark fiction and crime noir full of dirty realism. His articles, short stories and novels are online and in print for the likes of Bristol Noir, Storgy Magazine, Litro Magazine and Dead Man’s Tome. He grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.

John Bowie

Recommended Read: Frank Sidebottom-Out Of His Head by Mick Middles

The mind of Chris Sievey was clearly a treasure trove – indeed, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave – of bright and shiny ideas, many of which, thankfully, came to fruition. Most notably in the effervescent forms of The Freshies and Frank Sidebottom.

The Freshies were a brilliantly eccentric power pop/ new wave band who cheekily surfed the Manchester pre-punk, punk, and post-punk scenes, and came painfully close to success with a bouquet of great singles such as ‘I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk’ and ‘I Can’t Get ‘Bouncing Babies’ By The Teardrop Explodes.’

Sievey’s later creation, Frank Sidebottom, was a surreal half-man/ half-puppet version of George Formby whose anarchic performances enlivened kids television shows and late night TV alike in the ‘90s, and whose live shows seemed to have garnered an strangely obsessive fan base. When Chris Sievey died in 2010, however, he left behind a hell of a musical legacy that showed the he was more than just a novelty act.

Out Of His Head was written by Sievey’s friend the journalist Mick Middles and is as intoxicating and sobering as Sievey’s life seems to have been. The book’s timeline spans more than a quarter of a century and includes cameos from Sievey’s family and friends as well as the likes of Mark E Smith, Steve Coogan, Jon Ronson, Caroline Aherne, Chris Evans, Mark Radcliffe, and, er, Bros.

Frank Sidebottom – Out Of His Head is a fascinating and bittersweet read, and is very highly recommended.

out of his head

Gerry and The Holograms

Gerry meet the disisidents

Manchester post-punk band Gerry and The HologramsCP Lee and John Scott – released their debut single Meet The Dissidents on Absurd Records in 1979.

The ‘theme song’ – ‘Gerry and The Holograms‘ – clearly served as a blueprint for New Order‘s mega-hit Blue Monday, though neither band seems to have admitted to this!

Later the same year, they released their second single, ‘The Emperor’s New Music‘, which was literally unplayable. The record was actually a badly pressed Slaughter and The Dogs record that was glued to its sleeve.

They became one of Frank Zappa’s favourite bands. They eventually released an LP in 2017.

David Nolan Author Visit in Lees Library, Oldham.

David Nolan

‘Join multi award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter, David Nolan, to discuss his latest book Black Moss (set in Oldham!). Includes a talk, Q&A and book signing. (Books will be available to purchase on the evening).

David is a multi award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter. He has written a dozen books including Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, the true story of the largest historic abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police. He presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary based on the book called The Abuse Trial. It won both the Rose D’Or and the New York International radio awards in 2016. Officers involved in the case helped David with the police procedures featured in Black Moss, particularly the way the system deals with missing children.

‘It’s set against the backdrop of the Strangeways riot because that’s a story I know very well,’ says David, who won a Royal Television Society award for his documentary about the riot, the biggest prison disturbance Britain has ever seen. ‘I spent three and a half weeks outside the jail covering the story in 1990. It was an astonishing experience.’

Find out more here.


Recommended Reads: Nolan, Gadsby.

black moss

Black Moss by David Nolan.

In 1990, Manchester radio journalist Danny Johnston looks into the murder of a child while the eyes of the world are on the Strangeways prison riot. More than a quarter of a century later, he again takes up the investigation.  Black Moss is gripping, fast paced, moving, authentic, and funny, too! Very highly recommended.

Back Door To Hell

Back Door To Hell by Paul Gadsby

Jen and Nate work in a Snooker Club and decided to rip off their gangster boss. A desperate chase across the UK quickly ensues, with violent consequences. Back Door To Hell is a realistic and riveting slice of Brit Grit with marvellous, well-drawn characters and sharp twists and turns.  Great stuff.


I Swear I Was There by David Nolan

i swear I was there.David Nolan’s  I Swear I Was There – Sex Pistols, Manchester and the Gig that Changed the World is a hell of a yarn that ostensibly tells the story of the Sex Pistols’ impact on the Manchester music scene in the mid-1970s. 

It focuses on three events – the Sex Pistols‘ first gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on 4 June 1976, their second showing at the same venue one month later, and their first televison appearance on Granada TV‘s So It Goes.

I Swear I was There is a cracking read for anyone interested in the music and culture of the time and like all cracking yarns it’s choc a block full of great chatacters- Pete ShelleyTony Wilson, Jordan Mooney, Howard Trafford, John The Postman, Slaughter and The Dogs and many more. Great stuff! 

Short Story in a Song— Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen In Love” by S.W. Lauden

I recently read an excellent essay called “Playing House” in Heather Havrilesky‘s latest collection, What If This Were Enough? In it, she recounts a doomed relationship from many years ago. He pretended to be something he was not—happy, together—and though she saw through it, she pretended to want to share in his fantasy. She knew it was self-destructive from the start, but burrowed deeper into their mutual misery.

As I read it, the song “Ever Fallen In Love” by Buzzcocks played on repeat in my mind. The simple lyrics are broad enough to be interpreted in many ways, but the underlying themes are universal. Our protagonist has strong feelings for somebody who doesn’t feel the same way. It creates an unhealthy imbalance in their relationship (real or imagined?) that leaves him feeling abused. He knows this infatuation will destroy him, but he clings to it in the belief that love alone will save him. It won’t.

More Short Stories in a Song:

“Waiting Room” by Fugazi

“Weird Boy Next Door” by The Muffs

“Touch Me I’m Sick” by Mudhoney

“Throwaways” by Beach Slang

“Nervous Breakdown” by Black Flag

Bio S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.