Tuesday 6 December 2016

You're twisting my melon, man

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

History Channel: This is England 1990. Brendan O'Connor recalls the era clearly, though other regard it as a dim and distant past.
History Channel: This is England 1990. Brendan O'Connor recalls the era clearly, though other regard it as a dim and distant past.

It's a bad state of affairs when you can judge the authenticity of period drama because you remember the period. But that is apparently where I'm at now.

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I have been an avid follower of Shane Meadows's This is England. It started out as a movie and then there were follow-up TV series. It all follows a group of working- class kids in the UK Midlands, but the fun of it is the evocation of the various eras in music and youth subcultures through skins and mods and whatnot. Apart from a brief period hanging around with a cousin who was a Nutty Boy (as Madness fans were known back then) I never really dabbled in most of the subcultures that the This is England crowd did. I came of age just after punk, so my trajectory was new wave to Indie, and then Indie-dance, and the fringes of the dance culture.

Madchester, however, is something I do remember surprisingly clearly. I was a die-hard New Order fan and was reared on the aesthetic of Peter Saville sleeve designs, on the intersection of post-punk and the kind of icy but surprisingly soulful electronic music that emanates from industrial cities like Manchester, Sheffield and Detroit. I lapped up the myth of Anthony Wilson, Factory records and the Hacienda. I saw New Order at the Reading Festival when they came back from Ibiza having embraced Balearic beats and ecstasy. So when Madchester came along it felt like the next stage of my musical journey.

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