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Salford stamps its foot

Natalie Bradbury studies the Salford Music Map and Quiffs, Riffs and Tiffs, the musical exhibition at Salford Art Gallery

Published on November 6th 2008.

Salford stamps its foot

Salford and Manchester are administratively two separate cities but, to the rest of the world, they are indistinguishable. And the name of both, as far as the world outside the M60 is concerned, is Manchester.

This can get Salfordians upset. Which is why we presently have a map and an exhibition in Salford Art Gallery attempting to reclaim the city’s music from big overbearing Manchester.

“You wouldn’t get Glasgow and Edinburgh mixed up, so why Manchester and Salford?” says the Salford Music Map’s researcher, David Nolan, conveniently forgetting that the Scottish pair have the small matter of 46 miles and a completely separate cultural tradition between them.

Nolan is a driven man. A music author and lecturer at Salford University, he decided it was time to “address the balance and clear up a few facts” when he saw a Manchester Music Map, created in the 1990s. He says “nearly all the stuff that was on it was actually from Salford.”

The Salford Music Map is pretty enough and full of information. You won’t be able to use it to find your way around Salford’s music sites though, it's not that sort of thing. It’s more a piece of attractive tourist bumpf, more as Nolan concedes, something "you might put on the wall."

As for the exhibition, entitled Quiffs, Riffs and Tiffs, it’s a shame the map doesn’t really tie into it.

Some of the stories on the info panels on the back of the map could have done with further exploration in the exhibition. Who are the Kersal Massive? Just how was the Kings Arms (possibly the most pleasant venue in the whole of Manchester, oops Salford) responsible for letting histrionic glam rockers the Darkness loose on the world? Could Mark E Smith have had a successful career in shipping? And what is Velvet Underground singer Nico's connection? All of these fascinating snippets might have been further explained in the exhibition.

Still a visit to Salford Art Gallery is entertaining enough. There are star shaped sunglasses to wear, and a stage set up with instruments for future rock stars. There’s a recreation of a record shop complete with posters, fliers and seven-inch singles, as well as work by the recently deceased Ray Lowry - Salford-born cartoonist and creator of the iconic cover of 'London Calling' by the Clash. You also can pick up a telephone and listen to the fuzzy tones of punk poet John Cooper Clarke.

The exhibition is most interesting when it documents the 'development of a dirty northern city', to quote Mike Garry's poem, and the changing ways we listen to music. Artefacts include a 1960s reel to reel cassette recorder, jukeboxes, Walkmans and iPods. A timeline relates musical occasions to what was going on elsewhere in the world, and there are films of key players from the different decades, as well as a Salford music fan’s Teddy Boy suit.

Strangely for an exhibition celebrating Salford, though, there's a big section on the Hacienda, which was never located in Salford. Indeed both map and exhibition fall into the same trap they accuse Manchester of falling into. The Charlatans, who the music map claims as Salford’s own, have tenuous claims to being a Manchester band, let alone Salford. Singer Tim Burgess grew up in Cheshire, made his name in Manchester and now lives in LA.

And this is the problem. Both map and exhibition strike a false note. By being obsessed by narrow administrative boundaries they completely miss the big picture, or totally distort it.

An example of this is the city’s annual new music festival Sounds of the Other City – which again features in map and exhibition. This is hardly a collection of Salford sounds. Fun and commendable as it is bands at this year’s event included the sublime David Thomas Broughton from Leeds, as well as Rozi Plain from Bristol and even a band from New York, Talibam!

For the real 'new' sounds of Greater Manchester in the twenty-first century, listen to bands like Cats in Paris, Denis Jones or Voice of the Seven Woods, who play at venues in Salford such as the lovely Sacred Trinity Church.

It’s hard to see what the idea behind the whole project is. Is it just a silly marketing exercise? Fact is Salford, no matter how much it stamps its foot, is seen as just another part of Manchester.So it goes, as Salford son, Anthony H Wilson might have said.

We might as well have had an exhibition in Longsight about that suburb’s contribution to world music. Of course this would be a bit short-sighted if you forgive the pun. Envy and jealousy are unattractive character traits.

Quiffs, Riffs and Tiffs will be at Salford Art Gallery, Peel Park Crescent, until 28 October 2009. The Salford Music Map is free and can be ordered from www.vistsalford.info or picked up at the Salford Tourist Information Centre, the Salford Museum and Art Gallery and several of the venues on the map, including The Lowry, The King’s Arms, Salford Lads Club, Islington Mill and Salford University.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

eddy rheadNovember 6th 2008.

I can assure James Taylor,37, of Stretford that i am not a scouser (not that there is anything wrong with that) and would like to add my voice to Natalie's disappointment that an exhibition in an art gallery and museum should be full of old stuff. Thats why i dont bother going to museums or galleries - its just stuff from the olden days. And what is even more annoying is when the old stuff is about the city that the museum is in. Who thunk up that daft idea?

Matchstalk ManNovember 6th 2008.

There's nowt about Brian & Michael!

sabsahNovember 6th 2008.

It's a fantastic exhibition less about boundaries than about people creativity and enjoyment of music but at the same time Salfordian like to know more about their City which by the way, if we are going to pick hairs is not a suburb of the City of Manchester. The best thing to do is go along and judge for yourself like the many visitors who have written great comments in the comment books.

Simon TNovember 6th 2008.

Salford City Council certainly weighed in with some money - there's more than a whiff of marketing at work here. And provincialism. And desperation.

JohnNovember 6th 2008.

Oh, just stop moaning about how hard done by Salford is, think yourself lucky, in Canada anybody with talent in the whole country moves to the States ten seconds after they find they can attract an audience bigger than their immediate family.I'm thinking of doing a musical map of Todmorden featuring Keith Emerson, John Halliwell from Supertramp and music managers Elliot Rashman and, er, me..

Brett SinclairNovember 6th 2008.

I don't think the Music Map was intended to antagonise anyone in Manchester but was designed (quite rightly) to promote Salford's rich musical heritage which it clearly demonstrates. Shame it seems to have struck a nerve with Natalie Bradbury!

Natalie BradburyNovember 6th 2008.

Eddy Rehead, If you read the article properly, you'd realise it is positive about the exhibition and the map, not a onesided critique picking 'petty holes'. It's just the map could have been better realised. The exhibition is enjoyable, but it's best when it steps away from niggling over a border and starts to actually tell us something about Salford and the way it's developed over the years, and how the city's changed as they way we actually physically listen to music has changed. And you fall into that trap of taking a 'sneering, patronising' tone to students and making unfair overgeneralisations.Talking about new bands is ending on a positive note, and pointing out that the Manchester area still is producing great music, rather than just keeping our heads in the past and celebrating Joy Division and the Hacienda and New Order once again (great as they were). And if you went out and about to local bars and gigs, for instance Trof, the chances are you wouldn't consider bands like Cats in Paris, whose album has recieved media attention all over the UK, been reviewed in the Guardian etc, to be "'cool' bands that no one has heard of'. Sounds of the Other City is great, and gets lots of people to go there who wouldn't normally, but it's not strictly showcasing 'Sounds of the Other City', just providing a convenient cluster of great venues to showcase new music from all over Manchester, not just the confines of Salford.

crazyjohnNovember 6th 2008.

The talent doesn't have to come from that particular area just because there is a festival there (re the festival). It's about celebrating that particular places ability to look forward and do so and for that place to recognise talent. Now, I may not have been in show business as long as you have, Loz. But I'm a quick learner. And right now I'm going to give the audience what "I" think they want.

just offshoreNovember 6th 2008.

All i know is Natalie Bradbury is fit.And i would buy her a pint of snakebite any day of the week.P.S Eddie Rhead is a scouser and proud!

AnonymousNovember 6th 2008.

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that murder/gang activity/violent crime NEVER happens in Manchester it happens in Moss Side, Longsight etc, yet when something negative happens across the river it always occurs in Salford (as opposed to Seedley, Langworthy etc) and if Salford tries to get any positive press it's accused of being provincial, Salford just can't win. And two cheers for the Ting Tings who try and buck the trend always telling the press they're based in Salford.

eddy rheadNovember 6th 2008.

This piece is written with the sneering cynicism that Salford has long had pointed in its direction. Instead of focussing on the (many) positives that Salford has contributed to the musical landscape or congratulating Salford, as a city, for finally stepping out of the shadow of its sibling and doing a bit of self promotion - something Manchester is well rehearsed at- the writer picks petty holes in what looks like a lively and well intentioned exhibition. The tedious and well worn assertion that Salford and Manchester are indistinguishable from each other and that they amount to one of the same thing is obviously written by someone who has no understanding of the history of both cities or has no grounding in either city and therefore doesnt understand their distinct identities. In other words this piece reeks of being written by a non Mancunian/ Salfordian. A patronising one at that. Probably an ex student who hasnt wandered very far from the Wilmslow Road corridor never mind into the apparent cultural wasteland that is Salford! Dropping the names of some 'cool' bands that no one has heard of is also irrelevant and reeks of attention seeking. And comparing Salford to Longsight is, along with the rest of the drivel in the piece, is just plain asinine.

gatling gunNovember 6th 2008.

Isn't Salford always stamping its foot?

Natalie BradburyNovember 6th 2008.

The point is, the exhibition is interesting BUT we're still going on about old bands all the time, in films and exhibtions like the Hacienda show at the Urbis. I just wanted to point out there is still great music being produced here. And new music - that's why you may not have not heard of all the bands I've mentioned - they're 'new', and still making a name for themselves, not esoteric or 'achingly cool'. They play at venues in Salford, some of which - the Kings Arms and Sacred Trinity Church - are probably the nicest venues in the whole of the area, not just Salford!

James TaylorNovember 6th 2008.

Eddy Rhead is a Scouser. He's got that whinging chip on the shoulder attitude whereby to criticise is to be against. The article is spot on. Salford - and I'm 37 and grew up in Stretford (yes part of Trafford)- is nothing but Manchester-over-the-River. I've seen the map and all the Salford bands made their name in Manchester. Of course they had to, Salford has no centre. Mr Rhead has a silly small minded view of the city and Ms Bradbury is right o point out that this diminishes us all as a city region. And all that student stuff Mr Rhead, be ashamed.........

AnonymousNovember 6th 2008.

John Cooper Clarke. with an E. I doubt he ever forgot them.

Simon TNovember 6th 2008.

Eddy Rhead - can you really dissuade anyone from the view that without the Manchester music scene there would be nothing very much for Salford to shout about. The Happy Mondays were signed to a Manchester-based label and called their first big selling record 'Madchester'. The exhibition makes much of the Hacienda which isn't, wasn't, and never will be anything to do with Salford (apart from the fact that Salford gangs wrecked the club and the Salford doormen were even less helpful, shall we say). Nico lived in Salford for a while because she could get her drugs there. The Charlatans - as Natalie says - have nothing to do with Salford apart from the fact one of them lived there for a short while. Two of Joy Division grew up in Salford and hated it (the singer who we all loved and revered of course came from Macclesfield). There's no reason why Salford can't be a little bit economical with the facts I guess, in the cause of marketing, but the evidence just does't stack up in its favour. I think Natalie's wider point about constantly harking back to the Hacienda and Factory is valid - even more so when it's in an exhibition about Salford. So a bit more awareness of contemporary activity in Salford would have given the map (and the 'old stuff) more resonance.

BJNovember 6th 2008.

err, what's all this about Longsight?Anyone heard of Sweet Sensation - Longsight group that had a hit called "Sad Sweet Dreamer" in the 70's. Or two lads called Liam and Noel, born in Longsight about the same time. If that's not enough check out this Youtube uk.youtube.com/watch… only was this singer a resident of Longsight - the song is about Longsight!

someoneniceinsalfordNovember 6th 2008.

I'm shocked and delighted that the said exhibition and its provocative review have created so much discussion! Ever tried putting on an exhibition Natalie? Well then you'd know the constraints of time, money, research, available evidence etc etc etc. Plus its so easy to criticise a public show - especially one with such a massive, complex picture of people and events that in the words of Lynsdey Reade about Tony Wilson and everyone at Factory, nobody ever remembers the same becasue generally most were off their faces most of the time. Plus if the two members of Joy Division from Salford, who hate the place so much that, thank god, it inspired their brilliant work, why did one of them support the exhibition by opening it and publicly backing the show? Salford is different from Manchester, or maybe it isn't. the point is that the people from Salford that have visited have been moved and delighted to see their own heritage on display - its not just about the big guys and the big statements - its about the everyday person too, plus making an enjoyable experience at a venue you might not usually go to. And Salford hardly threw any money at this venture either - if only!!! X

eddy rheadNovember 6th 2008.

Your reply is as patronising as the original piece was. I didnt sense you ended on a positive note - you compared a city that has made a hugely significant contribution to popular music to a scruffy little suburb that has made none. Its super that you have shared your superior knowledge of Manchester's new music scene with us but was an article that was supposed to be about an exhibition really the place to do it? Salfordians have every reason to be proud of their musical contribution and this exhibition goes some way in addressing that. Its a shame that this review does nothing more than reveal the writers own achingly cool taste in music and their ill informed opinions of Salford.

Karen HNovember 6th 2008.

I don't really get why Eddy is so angry, it's a bit excessive. The exhibition is ok, a little odd, and oblique occasionally. The map is very odd. And totally fails to live up to its billing as correcting the image of Salford music and shows that you can't get Salford's stry without manchester's.

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