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24 Hour Party People (2002)

'24 Hour Party People' - despite having Alan Partridge playing Tony Wilson and the most unintentionally hilarious suicide scene ever when Ian Curtis appears to string himself up because there's an annoying programme about horses on the telly - is the third greatest rock'n'roll story ever told. It's the tale of how a small musical backwater in the north-west that no-one had noticed for 30 years became the wild-beating heart and pulsating nads of British popular culture and, despite a few gaping holes in their roster that you could swing a fieldful of Gladioli in, Factory Records and their Haçienda club were the axle around which Manchester in the 80s revolved (not literally of course, that would be hideous). Guns, death, drugs, money, celebration, whoredom and despair: this Great Rock'N'Roll Noggle is rivetting, essential viewing, the perfect date movie for that nostalgic E psychotic in your life.

The trouble with essential rock films, though, is that they tend to have inessential soundtracks. Fact is, if you know enough about Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays to want to watch the movie, you probably own everything on this record already. It's basically three mini-compilations in one:

1) The Shortest Punk Album In The World… Ever! ('Anarchy…', 'Ever Fallen In Love' and The Clash's quite-shit-actually 'Janie Jones').

2) Shine Goes Nishin' In Madchester (various Mondays club mixes of 'Hallelujah' and '24 Hour Party People' and assorted rave warhorses from A Guy Called Gerald and 808 State for those sweaty-extras-going-"wow" Hacienda shots). 3) Joy Division: Christ, Weren't They Important!

Inevitably, it's Laughin' Ian and his survivors that dominate the collection, and it's their tracks that the Factory newcomers will find most rewarding. The glistening 'Atmosphere', the pounding 'Transmission', the Walk Like A Scary Egyptian 'She's Lost Control' and the ubiquitous 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' are culled from the pre-Noose Order days while Barney and chums donate 'Blue Monday' and 'Temptation'. Oh, and the only two new tracks: a near-metal live version of 'New Dawn Fades' recorded at the Area One festival in LA last year on which - tonight Matthew! - Moby will be Ian Curtis, and the Chemical Brothers-produced 'Here To Stay' which is more tippety-top New Orderish New Order doing a New Order song in the style of New Order. Which may be an added treat for the Madchester virgins, but for the average Factory disciple they're hardly an incentive to purchase akin to a tracklisting written in Tony Wilson's blood. If the words 'The Other Two' already mean anything to you, don't bother.

Mark Beaumont
Rating: 8

Source: Mark Beaumont (New Musical Express)