Factory also-rans continue to get the reissue treatment.
It's been weird to see people try to puff up A Certain Ratio in the last few years, to make them more than they ever were during their lifetime. On the one hand, it's just a side effect of post-punk necrophilia; at some point, on or around August 2003, any remaining good (just good!) post-punk bands had finally been exhumed, renovated, rehabilitated, whatever. That's two years now of chasing up the lesser lights, dodgy one-shots, side-projects and general jerk-offery. C'mon-- those Brazilian p-punk comps are bad Cure demos with a tropical frosting.
Yes, I know the Early comp came out in March 2002. Let's just say ACR was ahead of the crap curve. The facts remain: Simon Topping still sounds like Ian Curtis Cliff's Notes. The purported funkiness will still not be backing up any asses. Their name is just more lamentable Factory Nazi-chic. And there's very little ACR did that someone (Joy Division, the Cure, Liquid Liquid, Funkadelic, your mom) didn't do better. This is not to say they didn't have their charms. The double EP that contained "Do The Du", "The Fox", their (overrated but still pretty funny) cover of "Shack Up", and "Flight" is good fun if you enjoy mooning with the blinds closed to twitchy approximations of forward momentum. (And hey, sometimes, who doesn't?)
But when they started fucking with jazz, Latin, electro, disco-- check, pleez. This is not some sort of inverse pop-snobbery talking. This is a purely functionalist argument. By 1982, the disco tradition was just that: a tradition, one where all-night, non-stop dancing was the rule of law. Plenty of other cultures had been fucking with this for years, and it showed up in things like northern soul. Even when they tried to bodyrock, ACR were still hampered by their stiffness and leftover gloom. (Let's not even get into the inherent racism in the fallback "but they had a black guy drumming for them!" argument. Rhythm != drumming.) ( pitchfork )