Miguel Esteves Cardoso sobre o "24 Hour Party People"
I haven't yet seen 24 Hour Party People but I was there when everything happened. It must be weird (and a sign I'm old beyond my relatively few years) to see one of my best friends, Lindsey Reade (Tony Wilson's first wife), played by an actress...
Factory was run like a high-spirited conversation with assorted musician friends and yet nobody was hard done by. Tony was an idealist - a highly intelligent and educated guy with a great love for music and, above all, Manchester. I'm biased, of course. I ran my own Factory-inspired record label in Portugal, called Fundação Atlântica, and we even had a Top Ten Indie album in the UK charts: Durutti Column's (i.e. Vini Reilly's) "Friends in Portugal". Er, the Durutti Column record was actually called Amigos Em Portugal. My photograph and my handwriting on the cover, though. And the best song is named after my daughters: Sara e Tristana.
It was serious fun - lots of soul-searching and piss-taking; dancing and dreaming; drinking and planning. But, above all, it was pure and it was style. I know because I was lucky enough to be there and play a small part.
The list of great Factory bands is long. I'd single out A Certain Ratio as the most underrated. And the best single? Lindsey and Vini singing Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well".
Nathan (Happy Mondays manager Nathan McGough) was the snappiest dresser in Manchester. He started the over-dressed (you know, overcoat, scarf, suit) fashion that was de rigueur in the very early 80's. He single-handledly introduced Bossa Nova (albeit in the jazz-rocky Tania Maria version; big mistake) to the Factory crowd.
I only met Peter Saville once. He'd always take ages to come up with the covers; he'd delay releases for months. But they were always perfect. The Blue Monday and the Power, Corruptions and Lies covers were so expensive (something to do with their having every printable colour in the universe; in one case on the fold, practically unseen), Tony Wilson joked they lost money the more records they sold.
We had a disagreement about royalties. You see, Factory paid the artists 50% (that's fifty percent, something never done before or after) and Portuguese law only allowed us to pay 14% and export taxes took the rest.
Tony wrote me a long letter explaining Factory principles and calling me irresponsible. He was right. Of course I never made a penny (or even a free drink) from my label and we went bankrupt long before Factory. But we fell out - we were very good friends - and, twenty years later, I realize friendship, business and idealism don't mix. The record is a masterpiece, though. Vini came to Lisbon to record a single and ended up setting down a whole album in one, magical night.
I had no idea he'd written about it. Just shows how honest he is. But he's wrong about my not being at Vini's concerts. I convinced the promoters, plugged them and was there with all the other fans, the five or six times he played here.
I very much enjoy watching Steve Coogan and he's a great actor (more than a comedian) but I still wonder whether he can play, as they stupidly bill him, Anthony W.Wilson. Tony, as you surmised, is a tremendously serious, honest and artistic person. He makes jokes and was much joked about, but he's a real Renaissance man, absolutely caught up in art and subversion. His (and thus Factory's) main inspiration was always the May 1968 Situationists, added to a very Manchester sense of fuck-the-expense beauty and style.
There's no hypocrisy; no Janus-faced bullshit; no real ambiguity at all. He wouldn't play well as comedy, in my opinion, except for being excessively earnest. Though playful and conscious of inherent contradictions (Factory Records was more luxurious than Sinatra's Reprise label - the one it resembled most), it was Tony's mini-tragedy to be working in a culture (Manchester's) which is based on deprecation, suspicion and general piss-taking.
The funny thing is, of course, for those lucky enough to know the Mancunian spirit, is that this is their deepest expression of affection and respect.
I wonder whether the rest of the world (the audience for this film) appreciates this.