Hit Factories: How the industrial cities of Britain gave birth to extraordinary pop music
Review: Karl Whitney has penned an extremely important addition to modern music writing
Bernard Sumner and Ian Curtis performing live onstage at Bowdon Vale Youth Club Photograph: Martin O’Neill/ Redferns
“Most of all, I love Manchester,” declared the late Factory Records founder, Tony Wilson. “The crumbling warehouses, the railway arches, the cheap abundant drugs. That’s what did it in the end. Not the money, not the music, not even the guns. That is my heroic flaw: my excess of civic pride.”
Karl Whitney’s second book, Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop, explores how 11 urban centres gave birth to extraordinary music, starting in Tony Wilson’s Manchester.
The idea came to him after visiting a former vinyl pressing plant in a remote corner of Washington, a new town built between Sunderland and Gateshead in the 1960s, which David Bowie had visited. Afterwards, Whitney began to fixate on the hidden musical infrastructure lurking in Britain’s industrial heartlands.