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Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 514,417 as of 2013. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.55 million. Manchester is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council. Manchester is the third-most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh. It is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world's first inter-city passenger railway station and in the city scientists first split the atom and developed the stored-program computer.

Links To Peel

Montage of Manchester 2012

As well as his close ties with Liverpool, Peel also had an affinity with the Manchester area, stemming from the period in 1959 when he worked at the Townhead cotton mill in Rochdale.[1] Peel signed Manchester bands Stackwaddy and Tractor to Dandelion and throughout the decades was supportive of Manchester-based bands who did sessions for his shows, including mainstays such as the Fall and Smiths, as well as those on local labels such as Factory, whose roster included Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.[2] In a unique move, Strange Fruit released an album dedicated to session performances by artists from the area, "Manchester, So Much To Answer For".[3]

The DJ himself was even forced to concede, reluctantly, that there were times when Manchester held the musical edge over its northern neighbour, Liverpool. In 1987, looking back at the post-punk years – and the emergence of the Fall and Joy Division, alongside the Liverpool bands of the era – he told John Walters:

“I resented the fact that the best and the most interesting bands seemed to be coming out of Manchester. I’m afraid this is something that is still true.”[3]

Even so, not all Manchester bands found favour with Peel. In later years, Stone Roses and Oasis were among the better-known ensembles from the city who weren't asked to record a session for his programme. He also developed a special dislike for Simply Red.


The plaque at Tractor Sound Studios

In 2009, a plaque was unveiled at the location of the former Tractor Sound Studios on Market Street in Heywood,[4] which was financed by John Peel in 1973 after the Rochdale band Tractor had sent him a demo tape. During the unveiling of the plaque, Peter Hook, a former member of Joy Division and New Order who was present, revealed the significance of Tractor Sound Studios:

"For me the weird thing is that John Peel started here – starting this [Tractor Sound Studios], which led to Cargo [Studios, in Rochdale],[5] which led to Joy Division and then Factory Records."[4]

In 2011, the v/a compilation album Chris Hewitt And The Late John Peel Present Peterloo was released featuring songs about the Peterloo Massacre at St Peter's Field in Manchester in 1819, when cavalry charged a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. The long-planned album project had been discussed by Peel and Chris Hewitt, manager and sound engineer for Tractor, before the DJ's death in 2004.

Away from music, in the world of football, devoted Liverpool FC fan Peel was unlikely to be won over by top talent from Manchester. In late 2001, he noted:

"At the first boarding school I went to, there were about 80 boys. Seventy-eight of them supported (Manchester) United, I supported Liverpool and there was one boy who wasn't interested in football. So my prejudice against United has been lifelong."[5]

Manchester Compilations

Various artist albums played by Peel that focused on music from the Manchester area, excluding those on Factory Records (see label page).

Manc collection
Identity parade
Manchester so much

(10”– Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus) Virgin

(LP - A Manchester Collection (Bands Of The Manchester Musicians Collective) Object Music

(LP - Identity Parade) TJM

(LP - Unzipping The Abstract (Bands Of The Manchester Musicians' Collective))) MMC

(LP - Manchester North Of England) Bop Cassettes ‎

(2xLP, CD - Manchester, So Much To Answer For) Strange Fruit

See Also

External Links


  1. Rochdale is a market town in Greater Manchester, 9.8 miles north-northeast of the city of Manchester.[1] Among other distinctions, it is where Andy Kershaw grew up.
  2. In early 1977, the release of the Buzzcocks' pioneering 'Spiral Scratch' EP on the city's New Hormones label helped spark the independent music boom that quickly came to form a core part of Peel's shows. Other Manchester indie labels whose releases were played by Peel include Rabid (John Cooper Clarke, Jilted John, Slaughter & The Dogs), Object (IQ Zero, Passage, Spherical Objects) and Absurd (Gerry & The Holograms, Bet Lynch's Legs, Cairo).
  3. See Peeling Back The Years 5 (Transcript). In the same interview with Walters, he said that "you couldn’t say who the Fall had been listening to or who Joy Division had been listening to", whereas with the Liverpool bands of the era "the influences were easier to see."
  4. Heywood is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
  5. Owned by John Brierley, the producer of Tractor's first two albums, Cargo was used by many leading North West bands in the post-punk era. It also received a blue plaque in 2009.[2]
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