The Durutti Column

The Durutti Column might be best known as the first act signed by Tony Wilson to Manchester’s influential Factory Records. In 1978 they featured on the label’s debut release, ‘A Factory Sample’ – a sampler of local bands who had performed at the Factory club including Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire and John Dowie. The release cemented The Durutti Column a place in Manchester’s musical history, and they went on to become one of Factory Records’ most prolific artists before the label’s bankruptcy in 1992.

Despite its initial conception as a four-piece band, the Durutti Column is essentially the solo project of pioneering guitarist Vini Reilly. The tranquil, largely instrumental brand of experimental post-punk is categorised by Reilly’s unique, distinctive guitar playing, and the kind of sparse production that typified much of Factory Records’ output. This was in part spurred by Factory Records producer Martin Hannett, who helped define “the Manchester sound” with his work with Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. He produced The Durutti Column’s 1980 debut album, ‘The Return of the Durutti Column’.

Due to chronic illness Reilly rarely performed live and the project was often perceived with an air of mystery. Physical releases became coveted as a result of various eclectic innovations. ‘The Return of the Durutti Column’, for example, was released wrapped in a sandpaper sleeve which eventually had to be withdrawn from circulation due to the damage it caused to surrounding records in storage racks. 1987’s ‘The Guitar and Other Machines’, meanwhile, claimed to be the first rock album released on DAT.

In 1990 The Durutti Column released ‘Obey The Time’, which was heavily influenced by the Manchester “acid explosion” of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In a departure from Reilly’s previous output it features prominent drum machine beats, electronic samples and synthesizers – and the chiming piano associated with the surrounding ‘Madchester’ house music scene. It was the final Durutti Column release on Factory Records.

‘Obey The Time’ will be re-released by Factory Benelux on a limited run of 800 coloured vinyl for Record Store Day 2019 (April 13th).