The Durutti Column Biography index

Ain't Bin To No Music School
Ain't Bin To No Music School by The Nosebleeds
The Durutti Column with Jilted John at The Factory Friday 19 May 1978
The Durutti Column with Jilted John at The Factory Friday 19 May 1978
Martin Hannett [detail from cover of 'Who Killed Martin Hannett?]
Martin Hannett [detail from cover of 'Who Killed Martin Hannett?]
Fact 14c Test Card flexi disc by Martin Hannett
Fact 14c Test Card flexi disc by Martin Hannett
The Durutti Column live at The Electric Screen 26 August 1985 [pic: Rodger Smith]
The Durutti Column live at The Electric Screen 26 August 1985 [pic: Rodger Smith]

The Durutti Column - Official site - thedurutticolumn.com

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The Durutti Column Biography 1978-1991 by Mark Prendergast

The following article appeared in 'Record Collector' magazine in August 1991 and remains the most comprehensive biography and history of Vini Reilly and The Durutti Column up to date of publication.
MARK PRENDERGAST TRACKS THE MYSTERIOUS PATH LEFT BY VINI REILLY'S LOW-KEY INDIE PROJECT
The late Seventies music scene was one of incredible diversity and change. It was a time when punk rock laid bare the foundations, and created a situation where rock and popular music could literally start all over again. A horde of independent labels appeared throughout Britain, eager to propagate the new post-punk minimalist music, and one of these, Manchester's Factory Records, had immediate success with two acts: Joy Division and the Durutti Column. The former's harsh, grey and industrialised music was in total contrast to the latter's tranquil, almost classical sounds. The fact that the musicians involved were imageless, cared little for advertising and generally avoided publicity did not deter the public from buying their records by the truck-load. Over the last 12 years Factory Records has consolidated its position as the world's most enigmatic and successful independent label and both New Order, formerly Joy Division, and the Durutti Column are still producing music that is delighting new audiences.
Territory
While New Order have crossed over into commercial territory, with records in the pop charts and interviews in the press, the Durutti Column remain very much a mystery. Discs become immediate collectors' items on release, rare concert appearances are always packed to capacity and, given the fact that no information ever appears on the group, it's not surprising that little is known about their history. Moreover, the Durutti Column has been responsible for an eclectic set of releases guaranteed to frustrate the most ardent collector, since they appear not only on Factory but also on obscure European compilation albums, cassettes and 12" EPs. With the assistance of Durutti mainman Vini Reilly, I have tried to piece together the group's lengthy and confusing recording career, paying specific attention to the rarities.
The Durutti Column has always been dominated by the music of young Manchester-born virtuoso guitarist Vini Reilly. Stimulated by the music of Art Tatum, Fats Waller and Benjamin Britten, the young hopeful started learning the piano at home, and after a succession of piano teachers, he attended a day tutoring course with a Professor of Music. At the tender age of ten, Reilly bought his first guitar and quickly learnt to play it by ear. Luckily, he met a German lady who understood the boy's need for a different approach to music, and over the next twelve years she successfully tutored him in the fundamentals of composition and execution. By his early twenties, Reilly was ready to jam with folk and jazz musicians, but in 1977 punk rock was sweeping the nation, so Vini (as Vincent Riley) joined an outfit called the Nosebleeds (Morrissey is reputed to have auditioned for the same band). One rare single, 'Ain't Bin To No Music School', was released on Rabid Records and then the Nosebleeds disbanded. The track also appeared on a Rabid compilation, "The Crap Stops Here" (Rabid/Absurd LAST 1), issued in 1980.
Meanwhile, at Granada Television, Tony Wilson was successfully hosting 'alternative music' shows offering a vital platform for punk rock acts. On 24th January 1978, his accountant told him that he would never become rich working in television alone and that he should diversify his interests. Later that day, Wilson called his old friend Vini Reilly and invited him to join a group he was managing in his spare time called the Durutti Column. The original group came out of both Flashback and Fastbreeder who, between 1977 and 1978, contained Dave Rowbotham (guitar), Chris Joyce (drums), Bruce Mitchell (percussion) and were, according to Wilson, "a bunch of Didsbury hippies". Wilson wanted to build a group out of the mess, so he started with a nucleus of Rowbotham and Joyce and rechristened the band the Durutti Column. Vini Reilly joined on 25th January 1978, and vocalist Phil Rainford was added some weeks later. Tony Bowers (bass) was recruited at the end of February to complete the line-up.
Wilson then opened the Factory Club Nights in Manchester so that the Durutti Column, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio could play live. Rainford soon proved to be an inappropriate choice so he was sacked in July 1978. The following month Reilly, Bowers, Joyce and Rowbotham went into the studio with Martin Hannett to record tracks for the legendary "A Factory Sampler EP"; but after recording 'No Communication' and 'Thin Ice (Detail)', the group split over musical differences. Bowers, Joyce, and Rowbotham went off and formed the Moth Men while Reilly, the most talented of the bunch, decided to soldier on alone as the Durutti Column.
During the spring/summer of 1979, Reilly and Martin Hannett were busy recording a debut album at Cargo Studios, Rochdale and Strawberry Studios, Stockport. Eventually, in January 1980, 'The Return Of The Durutti Column' was released taking the music scene completely by surprise. Wrapped in a sandpaper sleeve, the album featured nine simple classically-structured guitar pieces put through echoplex, with occasional backing from Peter Crooks (bass) and Toby (drums). The opening track, 'Sketch For Summer', depicted a hot sweltering summer's day in the English countryside, while 'Conduct' was a tour de force of emotional electric guitar which rose and fell in powerful sequences.
Sandpaper-sleeved copies also contained FACT 14C, Martin Hannett's Testcard Flexi 'First Aspect Of The Same Thing'/'Second Aspect Of The Same Thing'. Unfortunately this package had to be withdrawn from circulation because the sandpaper scratched other records in the racks. It was re-released in its normal black sleeve in July 1980 thus making the original sandpaper edition a valuable oddity.
Origin
It's worth mentioning at this stage the origin of the Durutti Column name. On one hand, it derives from the struggle of revolutionary anarchist Buenaventura Durruti to liberate Spain during the bloody civil war of the 1930s. A legendary assassin and terrorist, he fuelled a libertarian communist movement with lofty ideals and eventually led a formidable column of 6,000 men towards Saragossa during the summer of 1936. His aim was to liberate the city, defeat Fascism and declare a free commune but his plan failed when the column became entrenched just outside the city. Later he was persuaded to go to Madrid with his men and take on Franco's Moroccan militia. During this escapade he was shot in the back.
The second source for the title comes from the activities of the Situationists Internationale in Strasbourg in 1966. In a grand gesture of anarchism they papered the walls of the city with a comic strip titled "The Return of the Durutti Column". (Note the change of spelling of Durruti's name). Vini Reilly explains: "I was always interested in the Situationists Internationale -- an anarchist group in Europe who published a book with a sandpaper cover so that it would destroy all the other books on the shelves. In the Sixties they were very radical and through their slogans, criticisms and ideas, wanted to change something. They used the title 'the Return of the Durutti Column' many times in their manifestos. So you can see that I saw the production of a very tranquil music in 1979 as an anarchic gesture!"
The next official Vini Reilly release was the momentous 'Lips That Would Kiss (Form Prayers to Broken Stone)'/'Madeleine' in November 1980. A simple emotive electric guitar was put through an echo unit and backed by a drum machine for both pieces, and the effect ended up sounding like tears rolling off the record. The single was released on 7" and 12" on Factory Benelux and is now extremely rare. 1980 also found Reilly appearing on ex-Penetration vocalist Pauline Murray's debut album as a member of Martin Hannett's Invisible Girls backing band (Wayne Hussey was another Invisible Man). The year ended with three new Durutti Column tracks 'For Mimi', 'For Belgian Friends' and 'Self-Portrait' surfacing on the double Factory 12" package titled 'A Factory Quartet' with Donald Johnson drumming. These tracks were tough, loud and in contrast to the soft strains of Reilly's debut album and single.
Despite the tremendous critical acclaim that greeted his music, Vini Reilly seldom performed live during the early 1980s. The days of gigging with Joy Division were over and fans were puzzled by Reilly's seemingly intense aloofness. An explanation appeared through word of mouth when it leaked out that he suffered from the chronic debilitating disease anorexia nervosa and was continually ill. However, his vinyl output continued apace. In March 1981 the Rouen-based label Sordide Sentimental released the second Durutti Column single 'Enigma'/'Danny' in a lavish limited edition package of 2,730 copies. Two tracks, 'Sleep Will Come' (about Ian Curtis, the tortured lead singer of Joy Division) and 'Piece For An Ideal', appeared on a Factory Benelux compilation cassette called 'From Brussels With Love'. This cassette was accompanied by a booklet written in five languages and included historic recordings by Bill Nelson, Harold Budd, Gavin Bryars and Michael Nyman, as well as two full-length interviews with Jeanne Moreau and Brian Eno. It is worth hunting out in this format for novelty value alone. Vini appeared on another Factory Benelux compilation, 'The Fruit Of The Original Sin', at the end of the year. One song, 'Party', was accompanied by two instrumentals, 'Experiment in Fifth', and 'The Eye And The Hand'. Again, this double disc set was a limited edition and has proved to be an obscure release in this format.
Factory
Most Durutti Column fans will remember 1981 for the second official Factory album, 'LC'. Vini recalls: "I had no real plans for a second album. Then one day, guitarist Bill Nelson sold me a four-track Teac tape machine, and I started putting a drum machine through an echo unit whilst playing the guitar. I recorded a whole album's worth of material in five hours; then Bruce Mitchell and I went into a studio and put the lot down in two hours." Durutti Column's second album is a masterpiece of spontaneous creativity. Autumnal breezes, soft rain and misty mornings all flood the imagination as one listens to tracks like "Sketch For Dawn" and 'Never Known'. Here, Reilly achieved a breadth of scope by fusing delicate vocals, classical discipline, simple echoplex electric guitar and perfect vision of tranquility. The title 'LC' comes from the Italian anarchist slogan 'Lutte Continuum' meaning 'the Struggle Continues'. One track, 'The Missing Boy' with its fast tempo and powerful crescendo, quickly became a live favourite.
Due to public interest, Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell had to go on the road after the release of 'LC' in November 1981; and they played to enthusiastic audiences in America, Canada, Finland, Spain and Italy. I was lucky to catch them in Dublin the following March, a concert that had queues stretching around the block before the doors opened. Bruce Mitchell's drumming style weaved an addictive rhythm around Vini's simultaneous guitar/piano playing and most of the audience were stunned at the way Reilly's thin, pale figure was able to coax such beautiful sounds out of the most minimal of equipment. December 1981 saw the release of the Crepuscule sampler, 'Chantons Noel: The Ghosts of Christmas Past', with the gorgeous Durutti guitar track, 'One Christmas For Our Thoughts'. [sic]
Operation Twilight
A cassette recording of the European package tour, featuring the Names, Richard Jobson, Tuxedomoon, the Rhythm of Life Organisation and the Durutti Column, surfaced on Operation Twilight, titled 'Some Of The Interesting Things You'll See On A Long Distance Flight'. It has since been released on both vinyl and CD. 1982 was a pretty quiet year on the record front since Vini's improving health and an increased popularity meant constant travelling, including the Crepuscule package tours of Europe under the slogan, 'Dialogue North-South'. The vinyl output that year consisted of the 'Deux Triangles' 12" EP which came wrapped in the same lavish impressionistic cover-art as 'LC', courtesy of Jackie Williams. Three strange, almost avant-garde workouts on piano appeared on the EP: 'Favourite Painting' and 'Zinni' on one side, and the self-explanatory 'Piece For Out Of Tune Grande Piano' on the other. This was a Factory Benelux-only release. Behind the scenes, and in between short tours, Vini Reilly used 1982 to expand the Durutti Column to include Maunagh Fleming on cor anglais and Simon Topping on trumpet. It was this line-up that entered Strawberry Studios, Stockport, to record the official third Factory album, 'Another Setting', at the end of the year.
By this stage Vini was moving closer to chamber music and wished to expand the quality of sounds he was working with. The first release of 1983 was the odd 'I Get Along Without You Very Well'/'Prayer' 7" Factory single. The A-side was almost pop and out of keeping with the Durutti Column sound, but "Prayer" was a full-blown exercise in traditional classical music. The album finally appeared in August and was a gross disappointment. 'Another Setting' was not only cloudily produced and almost inaudible in parts but was pressed so badly that it was a painful listening experience.Even though Reilly himself considers it a failure, the record's 11 pieces are in retrospect essential listening for anybody remotely interested in the Durutti Column. 'The Beggar', 'Bordeaux' and 'You've Heard It Before' all retain the poignancy of Reilly's melancholy, a sadness that has always been the central feature of the Durutti Column sound. Simon Topping and Maunagh Fleming's brass section textures the record with a classical colour which distances it considerably from the first two Durutti albums.
1983 was a very hectic year for the group. A rare live album was recorded at the Venue, London, and released as an 'official' bootleg on the VU label in June; Reilly appeared on singer Anne Clark's debut album for Red Flame Records; and after all this, Vini and his girlfriend flew to Portugal to record a single for Factory in the Valentim de Carvalho Studios, Lisbon. There was some confusion and Vini ended up putting down an album's worth of material. The music was excellent -- a simple blend of guitar, piano and vocals -- but the Portuguese record label Fundacao Atlantica held on to the rights, and so the record, 'Amigos Em Portugal', has always been a top-selling import. This period is best summed up by Tony Wilson: "I don't want to know about the Portuguese fiasco, the whole thing was a complete rip-off. And as for the 'Live At The Venue London' bootleg, I have never even seen a copy, although 4,000 were allegedly pressed!"
By this time the Durutti Column's legendary status was making them a cult attraction all over the world, and tours in Japan, Australia and Eastern Europe were organised. Japan in particular was appreciative of Reilly's approach to instrumental music, something that was very much in keeping with the country's growing need for relaxing meditative sounds which would complement the frenzied industrialised pace of the populace. Vini Reilly pre-dated the current Japanese obsession with new-age music by many years.
Collaborations
On the home front, Vini guested on a single by Factory band the Wake, playing piano on the B-side 'Everybody Works So Hard'. Several previous collaborations include appearances on John Cooper Clarke's 'Me And My Big Mouth' LP (Epic EPC 84979), Gammer and His Familiars' 'Won't Look Out' (Reilly co-wrote four songs, and played on four others) and 'Rocket Ticket', Richard Jobson's '10.30 On A Summer Night' (which includes Durutti's 'Verbier', an alternate title for 'For Patti', Crepuscule TWI 129) and Reilly composed and played on all of the second side of Anne Clarke's 'Changing Places' (Red Flame RF22). The rest of 1984 was taken up with recording FACT 84, the orchestral Durutti Column album, which was a musical setting of a Keats poem. With Tony Wilson turning his hand to production with the help of New Order engineer Michael Johnson the group line-up was expanded to include Richard Henry (trombone), Tim Kellett (trumpet), Blaine Reininger (violin, viola), Mervyn Fletcher (sax) and Caroline Lavelle (cello), as well as the nucleus of Vini, Bruce, and Maunagh. Again recording took place at Strawberry Studios and the results were fascinating. Vocals were dispensed with and the title track, 'Without Mercy', took up two continuous sides of the vinyl. The music was an extrapolation of 'Night-Time Estoril', a track on the 'Amigos Em Portugal' album, and on Side One at least the experiment worked to perfection. Again the record packaging was innovative: 'Without Mercy' came in grey cardboard sleeve with a small print of Henri Matisse's 'Trivaux Pond' glued to the front.
It would be fair to say that, by this time, Vini Reilly was considered one of England's most distinctive guitar players and composers, and one whose records were selling in ever increasing quantities. January 1985 saw the release of a companion 12" EP to the aforementioned 'Without Mercy' album. 'Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say' came in a similar rough grey sleeve and contained six cuts at 45 rpm: 'Goodbye', 'The Room', 'A Little Mercy', 'Silence', 'E.E.' and 'Hello'. The music varied in quality, ranging from straight excerpts of the 'Without Mercy' material to basic drum machine/guitar workouts. One piece, 'The Room', was an eerie, ghostlike, vocal recording which was weirdly out of synch with previous Durutti Column music. Reilly says the song "was based on a guy who is about to be executed". Still suffering from anorexia, Reilly nevertheless seemed to cope with an increasingly hectic schedule. In April 1985, the Durutti Column toured Japan recording material for 'Domo Arigato' in the process, a live CD-only release. Other work included Reilly backing Factory group Quando Quango on their debut album, 'Pigs And Battleships', which appeared in December as FACT 110. A rare out-take version of 'Prayer' also surfaced on the Norwegian new music compilation 'Sense of Beauty' (Uniton).
Muddled
To many observers, mid-period Durutti Column output seemed muddled and lacking in direction. Certainly orchestral works like 'Without Mercy' did not easily blend with the anarchic quality of the brilliant first album back in 1980. Reilly pushed forward, ignoring the indifferent and fickle press and resolved his difficulties.
The summer of 1986 was a high-point in the career of the Durutti Column, with the 'Circuses And Bread' album combining all the best elements of the previous eight years output while still managing to sound fresh. And the 'Tomorrow' single was a tour de force which appeared on both 7" and 12" formats. The 7" was backed by a live version of the song recorded in Japan, while the 12" contained an extra track, 'All That Love And Maths Can Do'. All records were released on Factory Benelux and the Durutti Column line-up for the sessions was Vini Reilly (guitars, keyboards and production), Bruce Mitchell (drums, percussion and xylophone), Tim Kellett (trumpet), John Metcalfe (viola), Eleanor (cello) and Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais). This formation split up in the autumn of 1986, Tim Kellett joining embryonic Durutti Column members Chris Joyce and Tony Bowers in Simply Red, leaving the Durutti Column as a trio of Vini, Bruce Mitchell and John Metcalfe. In October, that combination released the 'Greetings Three' EP which included four tracks: 'Florence Sunset', 'All That Love And Maths Can Do', 'San Giovanni Dawn' and 'For Friends In Italy'. Released in Italy on Materiali Sonori, it was only available on import in the UK.
The end of the year saw Factory celebrate the historical significance of the Durutti Column with the release of 'Valuable Passages' -- a boxed cassette of some of the band's best moments since 1978. It contained the classic Sordide Sentimental 1981 track 'Danny', plus the previously unreleased 'L.F.O. M.O.D' (recorded in May 1986). Other rare items from that year were 'Weakness And Fever' on 'From Brussels With Love' -- a double album re-package of the 1981 cassette of the same name. Secondly, the compilation LP 'Abuse -- Artists For Animals' appeared on Deltic Records in December 1986 with yet another unreleased cut, 'The Aftermath'.
The following year was a busy one for the normally retiring Reilly. A trip to Los Angeles produced the limited edition 12" 'The City Of Our Lady'. This included a weird version of Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' and a beautiful elongated Spanish guitar exercise, 'Catos Con Guantes'. Singer Debi Diamond and trumpeter Tim Kellett were there to lend a hand. The buoyancy of this summer 1987 release was maintained by the seventh Durutti Column studio set, 'The Guitar And Other Machines', released early in December 1987 as the world's first ever DAT rock album. It was recorded in Manchester and London with Smiths producer Stephen Street and an expanded Durutti Column line-up of the usual Mitchell, Metcalfe, Kellett axis with additional vocalists Rob Gray, Stanton Miranda and Pol. Even Stephen Street contributed a bit of guitar. Musically, there were folk elements ('Jongleur Grey'), classical elements ('U.S.P.' and 'Miss Haymes') and even sparklings of a new hard rock guitar sound for those distanced by Reilly's fragile demeanour of the past. The CD version contained three extra tracks, 'Dream Topping', 'You Won't Feel Out Of Place' and '28 Oldham Street', while promo copies boasted a free flexi (FAC 214) of the title track. Simultaneously a live album, 'The Durutti Column - Live At The Bottom Line New York', was put out by ROIR Records in America and imported into Britain for the collector's market.
Flourishes
Early in 1988 saw the appearance of Morrissey's debut solo album with Vini Reilly as guest guitarist. This recording saw Vini's artistic flourishes tempered by the wooden production of Stephen Street, and the project wouldn't have got as far without the additional keyboards, orchestration and arrangements provided by Reilly. Back on Durutti Column territory, February saw the release of 'When The World', a compact disc video version of an album track. A standard CD single of 'Our Lady Of The Angels' and 'Catos Con Guantes' supporting a remixed version of 'When The World', had already been released in December 1987. While Vini spent time composing, a special four CD boxed set, 'Durutti Column - The First Four Albums', appeared in March 1988. A special Factory import from France, this allowed the uninitiated to hear the beauty of 'Return', 'LC', 'Another Setting" and 'Without Mercy' in full digital stereo and at a budget price.
Over 20 days during the summer of 1988 Vini worked hard on a new concept album that would demonstrate all aspects of his musical style and tastes. Utilising an Akai sampler Reilly incorporated the voices of Tracy Chapman, Annie Lennox, Otis Redding and opera chanteuse Joan Sutherland into an aesthetic feast of acoustic/electric ballads, flamenco passages and atmospheric electronic hues. Titled "Vini Reilly" and released in March 1989 it was a definitive statement. The Durutti Column of Vini, Bruce Mitchell and John Metcalfe were joined by Swing Out Sister keyboardist Andy Connell and various guest vocalists. Wrapped in a brilliant sleeve reminiscent of Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited', early copies came with a free 7" single/3" CD titled 'I Know Very Well How I Got My Note Wrong' - a great Morrissey/Reilly out-take from the previous year's 'Viva Hate' sessions. This, in itself, is now worth £5. In addition, the CD version contained two bonus tracks 'Red Square' and 'William B'. In July, Factory released another limited edition, a CD in the style of the 'Vini Reilly' album called 'Womad Live', featuring four tracks recorded at the international festival in 1987. They were 'Otis', 'English Landscape Tradition', 'Finding the Sea' and 'Bordeaux'. Interestingly the cover photo shot was one of Bruce Mitchell, just for a change!
Vini Reilly has always had a good stock of home demos and jams left over from his recording sessions. Some are good, most are sketches for later work; but towards the end of 1989, a CD appeared on Spore Records, 'Vini Reilly - The Sporadic Recordings', featuring no less than 28 of these out-takes. The set appeared in a limited run of 4,000 copies, and the accompanying booklet contained some excellent archive photos of the young Vini, a great dedication from Tony Wilson and an amusing note on Wilson himself by Bruce Mitchell. Rich in surprises, 'Sporadic' contained a heavy rock classic in "Pathway" and bizarre titles like "Shirt No. 7", 'For Stephen Patrick', 'Sketch For A Manchester Summer 1989', 'Diazepam 5 mgs', 'Real Drums, Real Drummer' and 'It's A Bright Guilty World'. It was a fabulous package, almost worth investing in for the fascinating sleeve-notes alone.
Newly-Launched
The next year was fairly quiet for Durutti Column. During the summer of 1990, they performed a short tour of Glasgow, Manchester and London as part of the newly-launched Factory Classical new music series. Interestingly, Granada Television launched a general arts programme called 'The New', utilising Vini's music for its theme. In between listening to classical recordings (ranging from Benjamin Britten to obscure Czech composers), Vini and Paul Miller cooked up some music on computers at home. Sandwiched by two acoustic tracks, the core of Vini's 1990 album 'Obey The Time' featured a more aggressive sound, relying on incessant beats sprinkled with piano and guitar. 'Contra Indications' was pure House and it was obvious that Vini had been affected by the sound of Factory stablemates New Order and Happy Mondays.
A limited edition 12" of 'Contra Indications' titled 'The Together Mix' was issued in February 1991, with an extra mix of the lead track and a new version of the LP cut 'Fridays'. That month also saw Vini play Paris and London. The latter gig at the Queen Elisabeth Hall featured a Chinese lute player, alongside Bruce Mitchell and Paul Miller, Vini on various Gibson guitars, a psychedelic light show and a selection of songs from 'Obey The Time', 'Vini Reilly', 'The Guitar And Other Machines' and earlier records. Tracks from 'LC' received the best reaction and for an encore Reilly sung the obscure 'Beggar' from his least favourite 'Another Setting' album of 1983.
The following month saw Les Disques du Crepuscule release a 19-track compilation of Factory Benelux, Sordide Sentimentale and Crepuscule Durutti tracks titled 'Lips That Would Kiss (Form Prayers To Broken Stone)'. This included nine cuts from a lost Benelux album from 1983, 'Short Stories For Pauline'. In addition to all this activity, 'Select' magazine issued a special collectors' tape of Factory tracks, including an unavailable Vini track 'Megamix'. Even Materiali Sonori in Italy were gearing up for the summer release of a new Durutti Column long player titled 'Dry'.
Jigsaw
For record collectors and fans alike the history of the Durutti Column presents a difficult jigsaw of vinyl releases, CD singles and compilation tracks. Some items dating from the early days are almost impossible to purchase now. Of all these, the first sandpaper-wrapped 'Return Of ...' is perhaps the most obviously collectable and listening to it today, it's possibly the most sublime rock debut ever recorded. Vini Reilly recalls: "When punk rock started it had power. This was soon turned into a business and quickly the power went back to the major labels. When I released my first album it took the music press by surprise. They called it Ambient music or compared it to Robert Fripp. It was recorded in a couple of hours with no overdubbing and with the late Martin Hannett doing something in the background. Tony Wilson was a very close friend and he put it out. The response put me on the road with Joy Division. For me the whole experience was a form of therapy."
Many thanks to Vini Reilly, Bruce Mitchell and Anthony H. Wilson for background information. I am also indebted to Tracey Farmer, Tracey Donnelly, Tina Simmons, Mick Houghton, Dave Harper, Nicky Kefalis, Jeff Barrett, Kevin Whitlock and Neil Jones, Dave Wilson, and all those at Lowe Profile.
Mark Prendergast
This article first appeared in Record Collector magazine.
                                 
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