Monday, 16 November 2009

The Durutti Column's tribute to Tony Wilson

It has been announced today that The Durutti Column, of which the creatively erratic Vini Reilly is a founding member, are to release a commemorative album to mark the death of Factory Records co-founder and manager of the Hacienda nightclub, Tony Wilson.

The release, A Paean To Wilson, was originally written by Vini Reilly as a personal collection for Wilson to listen to while he was seriously ill in hospital in 2007, shortly before his death. The tape, in its present form was commissioned by the Manchester International Festival of Music. It is scheduled to be released on 24th January next year, the 32nd anniversary of the day Factory Records was set up in 1978.

"A Paean to Wilson is part of a body of work which I started around the time that my friend, Tony Wilson died. Towards the end of his illness, I sent him an instrumental track and he loved it, so I decided that the right thing to do was carry on.

"I was at the hospital when he died. We were very, very close. Afterwards, many things were done in his name. They were all about 'Mr Manchester', and about what Tony had done for music, art and literature. I didn't attend many of them. I'd just lost one of my closest friends and I had all the grief that you feel under such circumstances. Once I'd got my act together though, I decided to do something for myself and for Tony.

"The Durutti Column was Tony Wilson's baby. We were the first act signed up to his Factory club night and the first band signed to Factory Records. Over the years we worked on many albums together and the one thing that Tony and I always argued about was that he thought that I should make music and write rather than sing.

"After he died, I decided to make a body of work which did not have traditional song structures and which was concerned solely with the musical content. My only objective was to create some music that Tony would thoroughly approve of. I think I've done that and, if his spirit lives on - which I like to think that it does - I want him to know that this is for him."
- Vini Reilly

As Reilly points out, The Durutti Column were Wilson's band. Rob Gretton had Joy Division (previously The Stiff Kittens and Warsaw, later New Order) but The Durutti Column were special to him, they were the first band he discovered and one of the few bands he discovered that could be taken remotely serious (A Certain Ratio anyone?). So it seems largely fitting that Reilly and his band would put together such a piece. And let's face it, a tribute by the Happy Mondays wouldn't have quite the same poignancy. Particularly, now that it's essentially Shaun Ryder and Bez with a few session musicians.

Anyway, I digress. The fact is The Durutti Column managed to give the angular, disjointed rhythms of post-punk an ethereal edge. They were also mocked (and still are) for being a bit weird and introspective, but that's what set them apart from bands like Joy Division who still retained a lot of the macho punk ethic. In closing, Reilly and Wilson had a lot in common, both were derided for being a bit different and not being macho or what you would consider "punk". They weren't afraid to be themselves and refused to do anything for the sake of it, making this tribute all the more apt. What's more, these songs are a touching tribute and further testament to Wilson's legacy as a man loyal to his artists 'til the very end.

So here's a little teaser of Vini Reilly performing part of A Paean To Wilson at the Pavillion Theatre as part of the aforementioned Manchester International Festival of Music:

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