Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shack attack

Saw ACR last weekend at the Triptych, and a very good thing they were too, even 28 years after their debut. Though they always seemed to be operating in Joy Division's (and later New Order's) shadow, at least while they were on Factory, anyone who looked beyond the superficial similarities saw that they were their own group, not copyists. In fact, if anything, it was New Order who were often shadowing A Certain Ratio. The latter flirted with the dancefloor while New Order were still continuing Joy Division's legacy in 1981; ACR released the stunning electro epic Waterline a full year before Blue Monday; ACR saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship to a major four years before New Order were forced to do the same. But, as someone else said in another context, it's no good being ahead of your time. You've got to be on time. And so ACR were always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.

Like most aficionados, I dig their "James Brown in a morgue" era (c. 1979-82) the most, but unlike some others I don't dismiss their post-Simon Topping output. Force and Good Together are terrific albums, and both ACR:MCR and Up In Downsville have their moments. Their major label sojourn ended after the expected hits failed to materialise, though the group wisely managed to build a studio with the advance they got. Before they were dropped, though, A&M had plans to release a Norman Cook remake of Shack Up (deleted Feb 2007), arguably their best-known Fac-era work. It never made it past the white label stage, but Irk The Purists is proud to present it for your delectation here. Scratchy vinyl clicks are essential.

Buy ACR CDs.

Buy more ACR CDs.


Anonymous said...

I still prefer the Banbarra original, and this is definitely of its time, but still kewl.

By the way, you said "Always the bridesmaid" about Paul Haig too. Editor?!

irkthepurists said...

D'oh! I will henceforth only use catchphrases in strict rotation.