Manchester music turns in A Certain Ratio…..
Pioneers. Trendsetters. Icons. Those words have long been associated with Manchester music legends, A Certain Ratio. And now they bring their long and illustrious career to the full with the release of their greatest hits, ACR:SET.
And if you haven’t come across the band and their work, then you are in for a treat with this album. All the hits and the best bits are here, including some new material as well. But this is how the Manchester scene was created, and A Certain Ratio were at the forefront of it all.
The album begins in earnest with the funkalicious, Do The Du. And it brings the groove straight away with the signature bass sound being the focal point in the otherwise indie-funk driven number. Second song in is, Wild Party. And the groove just keeps coming, with this real smooth yet funky number. The near whisper of vocals just adds to the funk sound of this song. Flight comes in as the third song on the album, and has a tinge of cool of which only A Certain Ratio can contain. It’s not hard to see and hear why they’ve influenced so many bands with songs like this, and why they are a massive part of the Manchester music heritage.
And Then Again is the fourth song in, and has a unintentional dark groove to it, but nothing that distracts the listener away from the funk of the song and the album. Forced Laugh follows that, and this is one from the early 80’s. And has never lost that early 80’s sound either, given it’s industrial funk sound with dominant bass line once again. The music goes into the 90’s with Wonder Y as the choice for track 7. And it features the undeniable talents of Denise Johnson, the queen of the indie scene. Her great voice adding to an already classic house track.
Mickey Way is the half way point of the album, with trumpets and the bass blasting their way through the start of the song, before it hooks you in the usual groovy way, even giving a nod to Shack Up as well. 27 Forever is the next song up, and it’s an uplifting number. Still got a vibe to it that requires a bit of sunshine, still a real feel good song. Won’t Stop Loving You switches back to the house sound of the early 90’s, and still fits in easily with the house music of the modern times.
Good Together is the tenth song on the album, and is a remix by Bernard Sumner of New Order. And he knows a thing or two about the Manchester scene as he sprinkles his own kind of magic onto this neat house-funk number. Be What You Wanna Be once again has the vocal delights of Denise Johnson, and it still makes you feel the nostalgia of the early 90’s sound when the only other band you’d want alongside A Certain Ratio for a funk vibe was Primal Scream.
As mentioned earlier, the classic Shack Up is the next song on this funk laden trip back in time. And it’s their signature tune, if you haven’t heard this at all in your life then now is the time you did. It’s that good. The Fox follows that and keeps that funk flowing. The U.S version of the 1980 number but still loses nothing of the Manchester roots it was built on so well, plenty of brass and bass to satisfy all. Knife Slits Water is another club classic, and still has that feel of what Factory Records was all about when they were heralding bands like A Certain Ratio.
The final nostalgic number of the album comes courtesy of Si Firmir O Grido. Samba beat, Samba groove and just about all the funk you can handle in this 7 minute super song. It all comes bang to up to date with the last two songs on the album. First it’s Dirty Boy. Featuring the voices of Barry Adamson and Mr Manchester, the late Tony Wilson, it never loses the bands sound and identity throughout. And this wonderful retrospect comes to a close with, Make It Happen. And that’s exactly what this song and this album does. You’ll have memories flooding back from your youth, or you’ll make new ones with a simple listen to this excellent collection.
A Certain Ratio – Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson, Martyn Moscrop, Denise Johnson, Tony Quigley and Matt Steele – are a band for all seasons, and this compilation of their finest work certainly stands the test of time. If you like your music funky, with a true city vibe, then this collection has to be a part of your life.
ACR:SET by A Certain Ratio is released on Friday 12th October on the Mute label on all formats.