New book by Paul Hanley refashions the history of Manchester music
Route is delighted to announce the acquisition of the debut book by legendary drummer Paul Hanley. His book, Leave The Capital, refashions the history of Manchester music and looks beyond the big bang theory of everything starting at the infamous Sex Pistols gigs at the Free Trade Hall. If that was the single catalyst, then why didn’t every other city the Sex Pistols play make such a significant response? Hanley argues that it was the existence of two top class recording studios in Manchester that made the difference: Strawberry and Pluto. To be able to record in their home town gave musicians the wherewithal to express themselves free from the shackles of the London-centric, music industry taste-police.
Hanley’s story gives credit where it’s due to the overlooked pioneers of Manchester music, and how Manchester made a much bigger contribution to the sixties’ ‘British Invasion’ than is generally acknowledged; Manchester bands were often lumped in with their contemporaries from Merseyside. Hanley illustrates that without the endeavours of Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders or Herman’s Hermits, there would never have been an Unknown Pleasures.
Route editor Ian Daley said of the acquisition, ‘There are many reasons why we love this book. It is a refreshing expansion of the Manchester music story, told with authority by someone who played his part in shaping its history. Paul’s passion for music and his home city pour off of every page, but this isn’t just a story of Manchester. It’s also an important account of how free cultural expression was wrestled from the stranglehold of the entertainment corporations in our capital city and how that inspired the development of new independent cultural industries in the North, a continuum that Route is very much a part of.’
When British bands took the world by storm in the mid-sixties, the world turned and looked at London. Despite the fact that the most successful of these bands hailed from the North West corner of England, for the USA, London was the source of these thrilling new sounds. And in many ways it was – The Beatles, The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits recorded all their hits with London-based producers, for London-based companies in London studios. And that’s how it remained, until four Mancunian musicians became alive to the possibility of recording away from the capital.
Against the prevailing wisdom, they opted to plough their hard-earned cash back into the city they loved in the form of proper recording facilities. Eric Stewart of The Mindbenders and songwriter extraordinaire Graham Gouldman created Strawberry Studios; Keith Hopwood and Derek Leckenby of Herman’s Hermits crafted Pluto. Between them they gave Manchester a voice, and facilitated a musical revolution that would be defined by its rejection of the capital.
This book tells the story of Manchester music through the prism of the two studios’ key recordings. Of course that story inevitably takes in The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall and The Stone Roses. But it’s equally the story of ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘East West’ and ‘I’m Not in Love’. It’s the story of the Manchester attitude of L.S. Lowry, by way of Brian and Michael, and how that attitude rubbed off on The Clash and Neil Sedaka. Above all, it’s the story of music that couldn’t have been made anywhere else but Manchester.
Paul Hanley was the drummer in Manchester legends The Fall from 1980-85 and now plays with Brix & The Extricated. He’s currently completing his English degree with the Open University and occasionally writes for Louder Than War. He’s married with three children and once got 21 on Ken Bruce’s ‘Popmaster’.
Leave The Capital published in November 2017.