There is a strong correlation between a cities griminess and the production of outstanding music, two of the best examples of this are Detroit and Manchester. Detroit (and the Michigan area) has produced or nurtured many great artists over the years ranging in style from the jazz of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, the blues of John Lee Hooker, the pop of Madonna and far to many Motown acts to mention. And if that is not enough there is always Eminiem, Iggy Pop and the White Stripes to fall back on.
But I’d like to talk more about the original ‘Dirty old town‘; Manchester/Salford and the surrounding area has always had a rich tradition in grime (think industrial revolution, cotton mills and opium dens) and immigration (especially Irish, West Indies and South Asians); this has helped Manchester to produce many excellent musical acts over the years.
I was going to do a top ten Manchester bands list but realised it is pretty impossible as there are at least 20 outstanding groups. I thought that I could make it easier by omitting bands and individuals formed from the break up of other bands. So I’ve got rid of Morrisey, New Order, Ian Brown and Black Grape straight away. Then I’m not really into pop and dance so Simply Red, M people, The Chemical brothers and Take That can disappear despite their commercial success. I know little of the early music of the city though Ewan MacColl (Dirty Old Town/The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face) deserves a mention as does Gracie Fields. For a full history of Manchester music I recommend the excellent David Haslem book: Manchester, England.
Rather than go on about all the bands that could be on the list I’ll do a grimy dozen and give an honorable mention to The Fall, The Chameleons, Badly Drawn Boy, and Elbow. Though the Bee Gees are from Manchester they developed their music overseas so they miss the cut.
12 – 808 State
11 – The Buzzcocks
I just want a lover like any other, what do I get?
10 – 10cc
I’m not in love….so don’t forget it
9 – The Hollies
Check out ‘The air that I breath’ to see where Radiohead got the tune for creep!
8 – Inspiral Carpets
I suspect that Jesus holidayed in Hell.
7 – Doves
Here comes the action.
6 – James
I need to feel that you’re not all I need……..
5 – Joy Division
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio.
4 – Happy Mondays
You used to speak the truth, but now you’re clever.
3 – Oasis
Fool on the hill and I feel fine…. whatever!
2 – The Smiths
Hang the DJ!
1 – The Stone Roses
I don’t need to sell my soul, He’s already in me
Disclaimer: I have only seen four of these groups live (Stone Roses, James, Doves, Oasis) I can not guarantee the live performances of the other groups