UK musicologists regularly debate what the UK’s “second music city” is. There’s unanimity on the first – Liverpool by a country mile! But what’s second? London…. Sheffield…. Glasgow? Well, this new, intriguing 2 CD, 45 tracker from Ace Records make a convincing argument for Manchester.
‘MANCHESTER – A CITY UNITED BY MUSIC’ begins with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger’s classic paean to industrial decline, ‘Dirty Old Town’ and ends with the swagger of Oasis’ ‘Rock And Roll Star’. In between there’s all kinds of everything – bubbling 60s beat, whimsical prog rock, pop-classics, a touch of punk, a flash of comedy, melancholic new romance and lashings of that famous “Madchester” sound.
From our perspective there’s not a lot (obviously) but Leigh’s Georgie Fame gets a track (‘In The Meantime’), Elkie Brooks (a mid 60s soul wannabbe) offers a sultry version of ‘Nothing Left To Do But Cry’, UK mod comes courtesy of Wynder K Frog’s take on ‘I’m a Man’, John Mayall flies the blues flag with ‘Crawling Up A Hill’, harmony group Sweet Sensation deliver ‘Mr Cool’, Lisa Stansfield and Blue Zone are represented by ‘Thinking About His Baby’ and Simply Red channel their blue—eyed soul with ‘Come To My Aid’.
Sequenced chronologically, truly there’s lots more to enjoy here and yes, I’d say, the collection proves that Manchester has made major contributions to the UK music scene. Purists might point to what’s missing (no Morrissey, thankfully, but Johnny Marr) but celebrate and enjoy what’s here…. fab and varied sounds from the UK’s “second music city” … definitely.