Forget Memphis and Merseybeat, Manchester is music city, a venue to rank alongside New Orleans or Notting Hill, a factory of superior song-making and stirring soundscapes courtesy of Joy Division, the Fall, New Order, Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays, John Cooper Clarke, the Stone Roses, 808 State and, of course, the Smiths, all spinning around the legend of the Hacienda, the world’s hippest nightclub, chicer than the Copacabana, sexier than Studio 54, cooler than the Cavern or Cream.
At the centre of the city’s beat was Factory Records, a record label to rival Motown and Chess with a business model that could be compared only to British Leyland or the South Sea Bubble. But it’s not about Mammon or the man, it’s about the music, the songs, and what songs! – “Dead Souls”, “William, It was Really Nothing”, “Rowche Rumble”, “Time Goes By So Slow” – the list, like the road, goes on forever. (Jon the Postman’s versions of “Louie Louie” certainly did).
“Manchester, so much to answer for,” as the man sang.
Where we go...to most of these, depending on how quickly you walk!
* Tony Wilson’s house.
* The Boardwalk, where Oasis made their debut.
* The Hacienda.
* Elbow’s “hole in my neighbourhood”.
* The Free Trade Hall, where Bob Dylan was booed and the Sex pistols invented the modern Manchester music scene.
* The basement record shop where Morrissey had a job – yes! – for about five minutes, resulting in a depression that inspired those great lines from “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”.
* The Ritz, where the first Smiths gig took place.
* Central sound studio where Joy Division recorded.
* The Hidden Gem church where Tony Wilson’s funeral took place.
It could be Steve Bourne (former roadie at the Free Trade Hall, who’s on speaking terms with Damo Suzuki); Elton-like pianist John Alker; or Ed Glinert, co-author of the Fodor “Rock ‘n’ Roll Traveller” series and one-time production editor of Mojo magazine.