Tag Archives: 80’s music

Durutti Column, the eternal underdog

VINI REILLY IS NOT REALLY A HOUSEHOLD NAME, DESPITE RELEASING OVER 37 ALBUMS UNDER THE DURUTTI COLUMN MONIKER  OVER THE PAST 31 YEARS, PLAYING GUITAR ON MORRISSEY’S DEBUT SOLO ALBUM AND BEING A PART OF THE ORIGINAL FACTORY RECORD LABEL.  THOUGH PERHAPS NOT ONE OF FACTORY’S MOST FAMOUS BANDS, THE DURUTTI COLUMN IS CERTAINLY ONE OF ITS’ MOST ORIGINAL, ENDEARING AND ENDURING.

FACTORY RECORDS HAS GARNERED A BIT OF ATTENTION OVER THE YEARS AS THE LABEL FOR SUCH NOTABLE U.K. BANDS AS JOY DIVISION, NEW ORDER AND THE HAPPY MONDAYS.  THE 2002 FILM ’24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE’ CERTAINLY  HELPED REFRESH THE FACTORY NAME IN OLDER LISTENERS’ MINDS AND INTRODUCE IT TO A NEW GENERATION AS WELL.   THOUGH THE DURUTTI COLUMN RELEASED THEIR DEBUT ALBUM ON FACTORY IN 1980 (WITH SANDPAPER SLEEVES ASSEMBLED BY THE LADS IN JOY DIVISION NO LESS), THEY’VE NEVER QUITE ACHIEVED MORE THAN A CULT LEVEL OF STATUS ON THE WHOLE. 

WHY?  WELL, IT COULD BE THE “WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE” PHENOM.  MORE LIKELY, IT MIGHT BE THAT THE DURUTTI COLUMN IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY (MOSTLY INSTRUMENTAL GUITAR PIECES AREN’T EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA).  THE RELEASES ARE PARADOXICALLY CONSISTENT, YET ALL OVER THE PLACE STYLISTICALLY.  THE BACKING INSTRUMENTATION VARIES WILDLY FROM SONG TO SONG; FROM JUST SOLO GUITAR OR PIANO TO THE ADDITION OF VIOLA, DRUM MACHINES (OR LIVE DRUMS – USUALLY THE EXTRAORDINARY BRUCE MITCHEL), SYNTHESIZERS OR HORNS.  SO EVEN FOR SOMEWHAT DIE-HARD D.C. FANS SUCH AS OURSELVES, WE DON’T LIKE EVERYTHING THAT GETS RELEASED, OR MORE APPROPRIATELY PERHAPS, WE DON’T LIKE EVERY PIECE ON EVERY ALBUM.  WE APPRECIATE THE ARTISTIC ATTEMPTS MADE ( IT IS TERRIBLY EASY TO GET PIGEON-HOLED AS A MOSTLY-INSTRUMENTAL MUSICIAN) BUT NOT ALL THE RESULTS OF SUCH EXPERIMENTATIONS.  WE  SAY “MOSTLY” INSTRUMENTAL BECAUSE VINI DOES OCCASIONALLY SING, AND THOUGH SOME CRITICS HAVE MADE HARSH EVALUATIONS ON HIS VOCAL PROWESS, WE FIND HIS VOICE CHARMING AND HONEST.

IT IS HARD TO CHOOSE ONE ALBUM OUT OF SO MANY RELEASES, BUT TODAY WE’RE OFFERING UP THE 1989 ALBUM VINI REILLY AS A POTENTIAL FAVORITE (OR THE ONE THAT WE COME BACK TO THE MOST, CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY THE 1986 RELEASE CIRCUSES AND BREAD).  ON THE WHOLE THIS RECORD STANDS APART SONICALLY IN BEING THE RECORD WHERE THE D.C. DISCOVER THE JOY OF SAMPLERS…… AND WONDERFUL, ATMOSPHERIC SAMPLES THEY ARE, ADDING GRACIOUS OPERATIC VOCAL LINES TO HEART-WRENCHING PIECES.  VINI REILLY  IS ALSO PERHAPS THE MOST ACCESSABLE ALBUM FOR THOSE NOT FAMILIAR WITH D.C., BEING EMOTIVE MORE OFTEN THAN CHALLENGING.  IT IS GENUINELY ARTISTIC WITHOUT BEING PRECIOUS OR PRETENTIOUS.  AS VINI REILLY TOLD THE QUIETUS IN 2009 “All I’ve ever tried to do is be truthful”.  THE QUIET BEAUTY OF THIS ALBUM TRANSCENDS THE TIME AND PLACE OF ITS CREATION, CERTAINLY MAKING IT WORTH PULLING FROM THE AURAL DUSTBIN.


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