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A Certain Ratio


A Certain Ratio


No UK act crystallized independent, punk-influenced funk more than Manchester's A Certain Ratio. The original line-up comprised Jeremy Kerr (bass), Simon Topping (vocals, trumpet), Peter Terrell (guitar), Martin Moscrop (guitar, trumpet), Martha Tilson (vocals, ex-Occult Chemistry), who joined a little later, although she had left by 1982, and Donald Johnson (drums) who replaced a drum machine. They signed to Factory Records in 1979 for the cassette release, The Graveyard And The Ballroom. One side was recorded at Graveyard Studios, the other live, supporting Talking Heads at London's Electric Ballroom. After releasing "All Night Party" in May 1979, there was a hiatus before "Flight", a UK Independent Top 10 hit over a year later. In the meantime, the band had teamed up with Factory's European sister company Benelux, for a cover version of Banbarra's mid-70s funk classic "Shack Up", in July 1980. This edgy but rhythmic version offered an excellent snapshot of the band's innovative studio technique. To Each ", the band's official debut album, attracted BBC disc jockey John Peel in 1981, a year that also yielded "Do The Du" (officially intended for release in the USA), and in December "Waterline" also fared well. The following year saw a move from the independent to the national charts as Sextet further established the band's reputation. Like To Each ", Sextet housed an intriguing, mostly instrumental collection hinged around funk rhythms. A 12-inch single for Benelux, 'Guess Who", surfaced in July, followed by the Knife Slits Water EP in October, coinciding with the release of I'd Like To See You Again. The band also issued an obscure 12-inch single on the Rock Steady label, "Abracadabra", under the guise of Sir Horatio, in September 1982. A year later, "I Need Someone Tonight" was released, reaching the UK Independent Top 10. Topping and Terrell had departed, the former resurfacing in 1987 with Mike Pickering as acid house innovators T-Coy. The duo were replaced by Andrew Connell, and "Brazilia" became the new line-up's first project of 1985. "Wild Party", in June, featured new saxophonist Tony Quigley. Those anticipating a new album had to wait until the end of 1986 for Force, although a compilation, The Old & The New, had provided some consolation earlier in the year. "Mickey Way" promoted Force and continued ACR's run of independent hits.

By 1987, the band had outgrown the confines of mere cult status and, looking to branch out, signed with A&M Records. To bridge the gap, the Dojo label issued A Certain Ratio - Live In America in February, alongside "Greetings Four", for the European label Materiali Sonari. It was not until the summer of 1989 that new ACR product arrived, and both "The Big E" and "Backs To The Wall" revealed a shift towards a more accessible sound. However, neither of these, nor "Your Blue Eyes" in October, the Four For The Floor EP in February 1990, nor "Won't Stop Loving You" in May, could provide that elusive hit. As a result Good Together and ACR:MCR made little impact and A Certain Ratio left A&M soon afterwards. The band then moved to New Order manager Rob Gretton's Rob's Records, although Creation Records reissued their back catalogue and also unveiled a sampler album of re-mixes from their vast discography (including contributions from Electronic and 808 State). Their experimental work and love of collage material has ensured their status as one of the most uncompromisingly original acts working in the post-punk era. Change The Station was the first album of new material in seven years.


The Graveyard And The Ballroom cassette (Factory 1980)**, To Each " (Factory 1981)****, Sextet (Factory 1982)***, I'd Like To See You Again (Factory 1982)***, Force (Factory 1986)***, A Certain Ratio - Live In America (Dojo 1987)**, Good Together (A&M 1989)***, ACR:MCR (A&M 1990)***, Up In Downsville (Rob's 1992)***, Looking For A Certain Ratio remixes (Creation 1994)***, Change The Station (Rob's 1997)***.


The Old & The New (Factory 1986)***, Early (Soul Jazz 2002)****.

Music Albums

Sextet *

To Each...

Live In America
Castle Communications - (import)

Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music
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