Dave Haslam
Manchester, England. Paperback.

 

Dave Haslam presents a highly individual look on the story of Manchester, from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution some 200 years ago to the birth of Acid House music in the late 1980ies, and beyond.

Love and Hate. Mixed emotions form the nucleus for this extensive book on Manchester, Englands main city in the North-West. The Industrial Revolution was born there, Friedrich Engels based his works on a new breed of people - the proletarians - on his field studies in Manchester, and the struggle against the mighty capital London in the search for Northern identity shaped the history of Manchester, too.

"Manchester, England" is not your common history book. Sure, Dave Haslam draws a very fine portrait of his hometown, and he doesn't seem to miss out anything of importance. But then again, he's always been deeply inclined with music, and that's why, lo and behold, the book is clearly focused on the musical history of Manchester. Dave is an insider: he has worked as a DJ at many important clubs in the Manchester area, including the still in-famous Hacienda, and he has done a lot of interviews with Manc musicians like Morrissey (formerly with The Smiths) or Bernard Sumner (of New Order). Oh, and he has written for the New Musical Express (NME) too, with a close look on the Manchester scene. Clearly, this man knows what he's writing about, plus he is gifted with a distinctive and elaborate style.

If you think the Manchester history of music is all about Factory Records, Joy Division, The Fall, 808 State, Happy Mondays, A Guy Called Gerald, Buzzcocks, or even Oasis (as "24 Hour Party People", the movie, might suggest), think twice - or read this book. Of course, the days of Punk and Acid House are analyzed in great detail here, but the book goes a lot further. Back to the Victorian music halls, the famous Halle orchestra, the Jazz scene of the 1920ies, Rock'n'Roll and Soul.

Dave is absolutely talented in vividly describing established and alternative musical styles and their influence on social life throughout the decades and centuries. In this, "Manchester, England" is almost a universal book - and a very informative one, too. It also shows how musical trends have been exchanged in the Western world - from England and Europe to the USA and vice versa. And it provides a close look at youth- and subculture, from someone who has been, and still is, part of the story.

The book is a homage to Manchester, too. A written expression of a complex Love-Hate relationship. Dave obviously loves his hometown, but it seems he sometimes doesn't know if his emotions are justified. Manchester is a city full of contradictions, or, as Dave stated in his foreword: "Manchester: Past Imperfect, Present Tense, Future Uncertain".

A very fine history book, this one - and it's dedicated to the story of characters rather than events - characters who shaped the image of a whole city. Ordinary people, mill owners, musicians, drug dealers, policemen, DJs,... Definitely goes far beyond the book's almost humble subtitle "The story of the pop cult city".

(rh MMII)

This book was published by Fourth Estate Books.


 
Dave Haslam's tribute to his hometown