Songs for Anthony H. Wilson

‘Hey everyone have you worked it out?
Who do you think we’re talking about?
If you know him, you love him no doubt
He goes on and on, and yet he says nowt
And he’s so proud of the club
But it’s just a glorified pub ha ha ha
Because he’s condescending and he’s running a joke shop…’
– ‘Joke shop’ by the Wake

One of Caesar’s finest moments, ‘Joke shop’ comes from the Wake’s Make it loud mini-LP, released by Sarah Records in 1991.  The irony of it appearing on the record label that took elements of the Factory approach and aesthetic further than anyone else should be noted.  The song encapsulates an alternative view of the experience of being Factory Records recording artistes, one that might also be shared by the Stockholm Monsters and Section 25.  ‘Joke shop’ goes on to gripe that ‘when he released our four track EP it could not be found in the Megastore’.  History will be kinder to these groups precisely because of their Factory attachment, and we can’t have it both ways – Tony Wilson’s belief in music above business gave us so much in the way of inspiration; there were always going to be casualties.  I like to think that Tony would have enjoyed the bilious humour of ‘Joke shop’ if he ever heard it.

The latest Durutti Column album Idiot savants might have been named with Tony in mind, or several of the musicians he worked with.  Its song titles – ‘Interleukin’, ‘For Anthony’, ‘Please let me sleep’, and ‘Gathering dust’ – suggest that Tony’s illness has cast a pall over Vini’s year.  Themes of elegy and lament also suffused Someone else’s party; much of Vini’s music, really, though he rallied for last year’s Keep breathing.

An earlier ‘Anthony’ can be found on the Sex and death album, released on the short-lived second incarnation of Factory (Factory Too) in 1994.  It’s unusual in having a trumpet (or trumpet sound) played against a typically shimmering Vini guitar solo, giving it more of the air of lift music than most Durutti portraits in sound.  But it catches both the beauty and brevity of a life, and suggests that beyond the bluster and the myth-making, Vini had a true friend in Anthony H. Wilson.

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