Doing The Wythenshawe Waltz: An article by Kevin Marrinan

Louder Than War’s Kevin Marrinan examines the great bands to come out of one of Manchester’s most continually derided areas.

Manchester’s reputation across the world for producing some of the
greatest and coolest bands is unrivalled by any other city in the UK
outside London.

From the dawn of modern pop music in the early 60s right up to today’s
crop of 21st century kids this city has never missed a musical beat.
Not just one generation has been special – every generation has
Manchester’s unmistakable musical mark stamped on it in big blue and
white and red and white letters.

One suburb in particular, Wythenshawe – about 8 miles south of the city
centre, has proven itself over and over again to be a positive
powerhouse of talent.

Council tenants from places like Hulme, Moss Side and Ardwick were
re-housed in the overspill estate of Wythenshawe during the slum
clearances of the 50s and 60s and Wythenshawe grew to be the largest
housing estate in Europe. The new residents would escape the grimy
inner city and find instead a town with trees, grass and clean air but
unfortunately they couldn’t escape the problems associated with a low
wage economy and unemployment. Wythenshawe soon had a reputation as a
breeding ground for troubled youth. And so, as often happens in such a
staunchly working class atmosphere it wasn’t long before the young
people started to look for ways out, with music and football being the
classic escape routes.

The first crop of musical youth to emerge from Wythenshawe in the 1960s
included bands like The Sundowners, The Sneakers and skiffle band The
Midnights. Vocalist Paul Young was born here and sang with The
Midnights before enjoying worldwide success with Sad Café and later
Mike and The Mechanics. Local pubs and venues such as Skyways Coffee
Bar close to Manchester Airport would often showcase talent from the
area and some of the bands would get the chance to support major
artists who came to play the larger venues in the city centre.

The influence of Bowie, Roxy Music and American acts such as The
Stooges and The New York Dolls would show itself early on in 1970s
Wythenshawe bands. Many of the local kids who were turned on by the
fledgling art-rock and glamour of these artists were still finding
their feet when punk burst onto the scene like a sound tsunami,
flattening everything in its path.

It was during this period when Wythenshawe produced what Mani from the
Stone Roses recently called ‘the best band that ever came from
Manchester’ – Slaughter and The Dogs.

Wayne Barrett, Mike Rossi, Brian ‘mad muffet’ Grantham and Howard ‘zip’
Bates formed the band in the mid 70s to play Bowie and Lou Reed covers
and eventually their own songs in local pubs. In 1976 they played a key
role in launching punk in Manchester when they helped organise one of
the legendary Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs, appearing on the bill with
The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks.

A classic punk album Do It Dog Style was recorded and a run of cult
singles that still bring the house down when they are played live today.
Meanwhile another Wythenshawe band The Nosebleeds was evolving through
line-up changes that at various times included The Cult’s Billy Duffy,
Vini Reilly of Durutti Column and a young lad from Stretford called
Steven Morrissey in the days before he dropped his Christian name and
became know as just Morrissey.

With Slaughter and The Dogs roadie Ed Banger on vocals The Nosebleeds
released Ain’t Bin To No Music School, one of the most celebrated punk
singles to come out of Manchester.

Nosebleeds drummer Toby Toman would later go on to work with Primal
Scream and legendary Velvet Underground vocalist Nico.

Although Morrissey’s involvement with The Nosebleeds was very short
lived and uneventful his connection with Wythenshawe didn’t end there.
A few years later 19 year old guitarist Johnny Marr, burning with
ambition and talent but in desperate need of a song writing partner,
caught a bus from his Wythenshawe home and travelled to Kings Road in
Stretford to knock on Morrissey’s door. Together they formed The Smiths
with another Wythenshawe lad, bassist Andy Rourke and once again
musical history was made.

Other lesser known bands around Wythenshawe in the 80s and 90s included
The Poors of Reign who released an album and a couple of singles and
shared a guitarist with The Inca Babies. The Outsiders was a synth duo
that played a few well attended gigs in the city including at the

The pop world can thank Wythenshawe for donating Take That star Jason
Orange to their cause. Former nightclub dancer Jason could be seen
busting his moves on cult tv show The Hitman and Her before taking his
place at the top of the pop tree with Gary, Robbie and the boys.

Wythenshawe is still producing major talent and many of the new young
bands are making fantastic progress in a much changed music business.
Acts like The Minx, Kill For Company, Frazer Kings and Dirty North
are keeping the Wythenshawe flag flying high as they work hard to build
on early successes. The Janice Graham Band is currently taking on all
comers with their mixture of great songs in a garage/jazz style and
packed with essential attitude.

And Coldside are winning more awards than Bradley Wiggins as they
combine hip hop, dubstep, pop, rock, indie, soul and more to produce a
unique take on modern life through the eyes of kids from the council

Manchester’s standing as one of the greatest musical cities on earth is
rock solid thanks to the steady supply of cool, charismatic ruffians
from its largest and most famous estate, Wythenshawe.

All words by Kevin Marrinan. You can read more from Kevin HERE

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