Welcome to Manchester’s all time top 200 songs. There is a rather long list of songs by a variety of bands and artists from the Greater Manchester area stretching back over 50 years. As far as I know this is the first time anything like this has been put together and it’s been a lot more time consuming than I imagined. Records (is it only me who still says that) are coming out almost every week somewhere in Manchester and in the long shortlist I’ve tried to include most of the ones that caused a splash. However this isn’t a final shortlist, the idea is that you now remind me of songs that should be in the list and aren’t, and I’m sure there are plenty.
Back in May 2003 along with Conrad Murray who now works for SJM managing various bands including Courteeners and The Stone Roses, I put together a Manchester top 100 for BBC Radio Manchester’s Manchester Music show. We applied a rule that no band could have more than 3 songs in the top 100 and we more or less did it as an exercise in creating a top 100 that we thought fairly reflected the breadth and diversity in the music that had come from Manchester. Of course back then we were attempted it with a limited technology and so although we created some entertaining shows from it, we weren’t able to reflect the views of the Manchester music audience in a fair manner, so it felt a bit hollow.
Ever since the band explosion in the late 1980′s which lead to a scene rather brutally knocked into shape and marketed as ‘Madchester’, there’s been recognition of Manchester as being a music hub. The reality about Madchester is that despite great sales and headlining gigs by The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, those bands weren’t as successful worldwide at the time as New Order or Simply Red and even the success of those bands in terms of sales was swamped by the trans Atlantic successes of 10CC, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies and probably the biggest band ever from Manchester ‘ The Bee Gees’. In fact back in 1965 Manchester bands spent an incredible six consecutive weeks topping the US Billboard charts, with one particular week at the end of April 1965; Manchester bands occupied the 1, 2 and 3 slots in the US Billboard charts. Unfortunately for us Mancunians, the Bee Gees never really invested their money in Manchester, but Graham Gouldman of the Mockingbirds and later 10cc and Eric Stewart of The Mindbenders put the money they made writing and performing chart hits in the 1960′s into building a world class recording studio on Waterloo Road in Stockport. Strawberry studios became the reason we were able to build a self sustaining independent music scene up in Manchester. A state of the art recording studio where Joy Division would record Unknown Pleasures for Factory records, thanks to the Late Tony Wilson inheriting some money from his mother and Rob Gretton, Joy Division manager’s dislike of dealing with the people at London record companies. Not only did Tony and Rob see how important Strawberry studios were, they understood that the investment by successful musicians from Manchester in their hometown paid dividends for future generations. Put something back into where you came from became the philosophy in Manchester and its helped build The Hacienda club and feed our scene for 35 years now.
Manchester is not an ‘Indie’ music City, it was only ever seen that way by outsiders because the late John Peel had a fondness for the sounds that emerged from our somewhat leftfield interpretation of Pop. John Peel didn’t just give sessions and support to Joy Division/New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, James, Inspiral Carpets and his favourite The Fall, he also gave sessions to hip hop artists like The Ruthless rap Assassins from Moss Side and MC Buzz B – described in the NME headline at the time as ‘The Morrissey Of rap’ . The irony is that the most indie and left field of bands you’d associate with the Manchester Music scene since 1977 – The Fall, have appeared on Top Of The Pops several times and were as happy to do so as Oasis and probably more so than Simply Red . So here’s a long list of Manchester artists and bands and it’s up to you to use the 200 votes you have wisely to help create that all time top 200 for posterity and also add to this list as an archive of what’s happened musically in Manchester over the past 50 years. Artists like Sweet Sensation in their day were huge amongst us inner city kids south of the City centre, as well as becoming the first all British black group to top the UK chart with their hit ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’. Sylvia Tella , emerged from the Lovers Rock scene in the 80s to become something of a star, yet because it was on the reggae scene , she never really got the wider recognition her abilities deserved, although her Soul II Soul style 1993 song, ‘In A Special Way’ was played everywhere.
So try and listen, enjoy the variety, do feel free to get annoyed and inform us of songs that have been left out that you feel should be in, it’s all about passion and inclusiveness and do try and use your full number of votes – this is a world -wide vote and the response so far has been fantastic and I’m really looking forward to putting together the radio series and podcasts covering Manchester’s all time top 200 as voted by you, it may well be a list that needs updating every year or two , but at least it’ll be a start and something that will be there as a template forever .
All previous polls and votes have been stored away so don’t worry about previous as your vote still counts and now So you have 200 fresh votes, scroll down the full list of songs – try and listen to those you don’t know many of which are on the Manchester Spotify list, there are some real gems in there and remember only one vote will be allowed per song, use them all wisely and imaginatively and think legacy, this is quite a responsibility. Have a happy geek fest