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The world if full of great lost bands but perhaps the greatest lost band from Manchester was World Of Twist. Frontman Tony Ogden died in July 2006 but their legacy still lives on. Liam Gallagher’s new band Beady Eye have covered World of Twist single ”œSons Of The Stage’ and there’s a new generation about to discover this wonderful band explains John Robb.

World Of Twist are the great lost band from Manchester’s music history. The people that know, know and they get talked about with great excitement by anyone who can remember them including Liam Gallagher, who as a 18 year old youth saw the band play their classic sold out gig at Manchester’s Ritz- a night so legendary that everyone who was there feels blessed. Liam loved the band so much that his new project has covered the World Of Twist song Sons Of The Stage, hoping to put the spotlight back on this key band. Ask Liam about them and he still recalls their genius.

”World of Twist were a top band. I remember going to see them at the Ritz.
I was buzzing, what was girl called? Shells or something, the Edge or Adge on the piano, top band man I remembered him Tony when we used to rehearse at the Boardwalk in Oasis. He used to come in to our room, I think he used to rehearse there and he would glide along the wall as if in a spy movie, close the door and slide around the wall like we wouldn’t noticed him and I would carry on singing and he would go along the wall, bend down and pick up something and then glide back along wall and out the door- and I would think, why don’t you walk past us and get what you wanted (laughs) . Top band . Top band. What a dude.’

I can still remember about 20 years ago when I was living in West Didsbury in South Manchester, it was the tail end of Madchester or whatever you want to call it and everything was in meltdown. The scene was dying and the drugs were doing no-one any good. There seemed to be nowhere left for the scene to go and then this cassette was handed to me.

On it was a demo version of World Of Twist’s ”œThe Storm’. I was blown away. I could pick out the melodic reference to the Stooges ”œPenetration’ and I loved the way they twisted that with psychedelia and northern soul, it was the perfect escape route for Manchester- a smart, witty band who were tripping out but also made great pop.

A week later I interviewed them in what is now called The Onion pub in Withington, an old man’s boozer that no-one ever went in at the time. It was a few paragraphs for Sounds music paper. The band were a collection of off the wall individuals- a suave, cool, long haired guitar player Gordon King, the fairly manic and highly intelligent Tony Ogden, the demure MC Shells grouped around the pub table. They had a concept and an idea of what they were trying to do that was far ahead of any band at this stage of the game and had been around for some time in various guises. When they talked they had that bedsit encyclopedic knowledge of pop music and were immersed in the bric n’ brac of its culture.

”The Storm’ came out on a compilation of local bands and was the stand out track and they started to pick up radio play.

The band were signed to Circa and the industry machine started trying to make them a pop band. The thing was they already were a pop band, the best pop band on the scene, they didn’t need any advice but at least Circa had the money for them to realise their dreams.

The elaborate stage sets and the pure vision of Tony Ogden and Gordon King was realised and the band took the opposite route of the dressed down Mancunian bands of the time. This was like Roxy Music for the space age with the music to match and Tony Ogden was a brilliant front man as he flexed his mic cable and did all the right moves.

They played some key gigs like at the afformentioned night at the Ritz in Manchester where Tony came on stage all wrapped in tin foil which was unraveled-as a reference to the video for ”˜The Storm’.

It was a brilliant gig and one that many people still talk about in awe years later.
They covered the Rolling Stones ”She’s A Rainbow’ for the follow up to ”The Storm’ and their debut album coame out twith the band dressed in 19th century costumes on the cover. The album didn’t get break out of cult status and was living proof that being the best band in the world at any given time doesn’t mean you get the breakthrough.

They didn’t get massive, their singles just missed the top 40 and Circa dropped them- there was an offer on the table from Creation Records but somehow that never happened- if only it had happened, Mcgee and Creation would have been perfect for the band and they fell apart and drifted away.

Tony Ogden was quite brilliant. He was one of those handful of people who have THE IDEA but it didn’t do him any good and he disappeared from the scene and was unwell. I will always remember him as the charismatic frontman of World of Twist and sharing a rehearsal room with him where he kindly let is mess around for free in his railway arch next door to where the Stone Roses had once done those legendary Warehouse parties.

If World Of Twist never became as big as many of their contemporaries on the Manchester music scene, their influence has been massive. Noel Gallagher was one of many who were enamored with the band – he nearly called Oasis Sons of the Stage after a World of Twist song and was always at their gigs around the city along with all the other heads in town- they ere deeply respected in Manchester and loved for taking the esoteric and pop genius ideas and making them understandable.

They were also supported by Pulp a couple of times and it’s often been wondered if there was a crossover of ideas at this point in time. Pulp’s deserved huge mid nineties success was great but you just couldn’t help wondering if World Of Twist could have had the same- the two bands were similar in many senses- seasoned dole musicians, lost in a world of pop culture with the smarts to twist it around and great off the wall frontmen. Pulp got the pay day and World Of Twist didn’t-it has to be down to record labels.

World of Twist’s bubblegum pop was the perfect bookend to the Manchester baggy scene which was drawing to a close in the early Nineties.

Born in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, in 1962, Ogden had moved to Sheffield and formed the band in 1985 with Jamie Fry (brother of the ABC frontman Martin Fry) on vocals and himself on drums. Pulp were also struggling in Sheffield at the time and the two bands shared a kitchen-sink glamour and an esoteric love for great pop and Northern Soul atmospherics.

With the explosion of interest in Manchester’s music in the late 1980s, Ogden moved back from Sheffield. Changing the band’s line-up, he switched to vocals, with his long-term creative partner Gordon King (they had met at Stockport College) remaining on guitar. World of Twist emerged from the city’s southern bedsit land in 1989 with a sound all their own, a sleek combination of the sass of Roxy Music, the speed-driven dance-floor stomp of Northern Soul, the bubbling trips of early acid house, the English eccentricity and soundscapes of Joe Meek and even a dash of the Stooges with a touch of prime-time English psychedelia. In short, they were magnificent.

That first demo, featuring the classic song ”˜The Storm’ was the best demo I had heard for a long time and it was quickly passed round town. World of Twist were swiftly signed by a record industry still picking over the crumbs of the Manchester scene and there was a big press buzz around the band.

”œThe Storm’ stalled at 42 in the charts and their brilliant updating of the Rolling Stones’ ”She’s a Rainbow’ (incidentally one of Martin Hannett’s last ever productions before his death in 1991) also just missed the Top Forty. World of Twist’s début album, Quality Street (1991) is the great lost classic from the period.

The band were full of ideas, that outrageous stage set, with the elaborate layers of tin foil and Shells’ keyboards in a shell and the spinning rock n roll sign were pure genius. This sort of fantastic art-school japery was the mark of the man – Ogden had the innate cool and nervous charm to pull it off.

With expectations still high, World of Twist started work on a follow-up album but it all ground to a halt when Ogden decided he didn’t want to be the singer any more. Although auditions were held for a new singer, the band imploded and the second album was never released. The demos for it are brilliant and point to their potential.

Pulp, St Etienne, Intastella and a whole raft of shiny new pop bands were influenced by them, whilst bands like Air and more recently Goldfrapp have proved how successful World of Twist might have been.

Tony Ogden disappeared. Burnt out, he retreated back home to live with his parents in Stockport. There was talk of occasional projects, but also long silences. There were occasional sightings of him in Manchester, almost unrecognisable, with a beard, driving through town – and he still had that spark about him, that twitchy charisma and fiery enthusiasm.

At the time of his death in 2006, he had been working on demos for a new band, the Bubblegum Secret Pop Explosion. They were great songs, and proof that Ogden’s unique pop vision still remained intact.

World Of Twist deserve to be more than just a footnote in Manchester music history. This was a lost opportunity and a brilliant band, hopefully the Beady Eye cover and Liam’s enthusiasm for the band will mean they get rediscovered.

34 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder if Thighpaulsandra and Copey picked up on that that trippy, glossy dayglo keyboard sound: very reminiscent of mid 90s Cope LPs like 20 Mothers Interpreter and Autogeddon. Top band World of Twist, bought the singles, missed them live to my regret

  2. Nice one John. Artist Jeremy Deller is a massive fan, and when he created his ‘Procession’ in Manchester in 2009 he featured a homage to World of Twist. Thousands of people lining Deansgate as the floats and banners went past may or may not have appreciated this; http://bit.ly/gatPO7

  3. I remember Tony Michaelides playing the demo of “The Storm” on his Sunday night show and just thinking fucking hell, that’s amazing, this could be the best new band in Manchester – and discovering over the next week or so when I saw various music fan friends that everyone else seemed to think so, too. Thing is if you’d asked me now twenty years on I’d have been certain that “She’s A Rainbow” was a top 40 hit; top ten even. I guess it was to us.

    Also RIP Nick Sanderson – better known as mainman of Earl Brutus – who played in a later (post-“Quality Street”) version of World Of Twist. So sad how such a bright sparkling band had such a dark cloud following them.

  4. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again when I saw them at the International 1 in 1990 at that moment they where the freshest band on the planet I could say more but I won’t .RIP the quite brilliant Tony O xxx

  5. I’ve got a cassette of Tony Ogden and Mark Burgess [of THE great lost manc band the Chameleons] being interviewed on Signal Cheshire / KFM around 1991, I think the interviewer is one Jon Ronson.

    • I’ve also got that. Bryan Glancy was there too. Very sad to think that half the people in the studio are no longer with us.

  6. I remember seeing them play in ’91 at the Hacienda when each of them had a cardboard cutout of their faces on the front of an amp and when they played The Storm all the heads started spinning round…A full on awesome, trippy moment.

  7. I saw twist and intastella at one of the internationals and remember thinking that this could be the next wave of manchester, an antidote to the tired ladchester scene, a return to (70s influenced) glamour and style. Also remember the band on kids tv (Hold Tight), doing sweets, i think. The kids loved them. They could have been the perfect pop band.

  8. I have been a fan of world of twist since ’91 and play their records regularly. A suberb post quality street track ‘coral sea’ was aired by marc reilly on 6 music last year, demonstrating what could have been if we got a second album. I’ve never heard any demos. If anyone can point me in the right direction…

  9. I saw them at Leeds Poly on their tour to promote Quality Street. I was reviewing the gig for The Northern Star. It was visually interesting but I just didn’t get it, I didn’t understand what they were doing my defense is I was only 18 and a bit naive. A few years later I would have got it, (for instance I loved Pulp when they broke through). And I wish I could have been a bit more aware of what it was they were doing when i saw WoT. I had a vinyl review copy of Quality Street which I foolishly gave away (d’oh). Definitely an underrated band.

  10. Hiya John, yeah that gig at the Ritz, was it on 27th December? Something like that – Rammed and all the “Faces” in Manchester were there. Fantastic show with Tony coming on covered in tin foil and shrouded in ciggie smoke. You could see em going a long way. Sadly…………..

  11. Loved World Of Twist, never saw them live, and deeply regret it. The Blackpool Tower Suite version of The Storm is an absolute belter, and managed to get it played at an Indie/Goth Club night in Worthing I used to frequent- the Storm 12″ edit was an established tune at the club. A few years later, running a House/Techno(?) night at the same club, we bought over up and coming West Coast US DJ/Producer Scott Hardkiss- the delight when smack bang in the middle of all this uber cool west coast trippy house he dropped in The Storm!
    The b-side to Sweets contains samples from BBC Arena’s program on Joe Meek- the ‘artichokes in the garden’ piece is by Joe’s brother.
    Ultra cool, funny and relevant- hows I miss World Of Twist.
    Got ’em on an old VHS of Snub TV somewhere too…

  12. My favourite Manchester Band of all time. Went to loads of their giggs with Debbie Turner and Tina Street. The Ritz gig was just magical. We all miss Tony

  13. I saw them at The International. The audience was like a who’s who of Manchester music. Intastella were supporting, and, if I remember rightly, though I can’t think why, Vic and Bob were the MCs for the night. I went to see World of Twist again a few months later at the Warehouse in Leeds. I found myself standing next to the guy with curly hair from IntaStella. I yelled at him, over the music, that I’d been at the International gig a few months earlier, standing near the front, and that the bass was so powerful it made my pants move. He thought this was fantastic and hauled me back stage to tell everyone. He was literally like “tell ’em what you told me about the bass and your pants mate”…. happy days.

    I’ve got that compilation album too. It’s a great album. A treasure.

  14. If i remember rightly they did 2 gigs at the International, the first 1 had Interstella on stage with no instruments just dancing around the stage with kids space guns. The music industry is missing people like Tony in this day and age, the band never got the credit they deserved as The Grid screwed up the production of the album and it didnt reflect the energy the band had when performing.
    RIP Tony

  15. I remember intastella’s single release party, or something like that, could have been the drummers birthday? Around 1989-90 at the Woodman pub in hazel grove, TWOT were there and my brother got a signed TWOT EP that night.
    A couple years later I worked at the ritz and saw them play too, and Lamb, anybody remember them?
    Weirdly then I moved to west duds bury and got to know a whole bunch if other musos.

  16. I saw them play a couple of times, at the International and the Hac, and they blew my 18 year-old mind. He was and still is the coolest front man I’ve seen perform. Life throws us these occasional joys.

  17. I remember the Hac gig like it was yesterday, i was perched on the edge of the ‘stage’ and spent most of the gig lighting Tony O’s cigs for him! The Ritz gig was a classic too! great article, great band, great memories!…RIP Tony, forever indebted to you for the happiest of memories! :-) x

  18. World Of Twist > Earl Brutus > The Pre New.

    Tony Ogden and Nick Sanderson are irreplaceable and sorely missed but the spirit lives on.

    I am. Are you?

  19. Saw these Heroes at Leadmill and Sheff uni. Crazy props, revolving heads, Oggie on the amps. That glam stomp, hooking you in. Not commercially successful but here we are in 2017 and they are fresh in my mind. Saw St Etienne at Sheffield and their film loop had clips of Sons of the stage on repeat and i’m sure the focus was Sandy and Oggie. Poignant. They remain one of my go-to bands.

  20. You’ve all got great memories! I remember the Baco-foil suit Tony wore at the Ritz gig and didn’t they play the opening track twice because Tony said the guitar sounded shit?

    And The Storm blew my mind on The Word where Terry Christian introduced the band as “the next big thing to come out of Manchester”.

    Shit, my memory is better than I thought, it’s flooding back!

  21. I once went to see them at band on the wall absolutely Sublime gig ! I spotted Mark E Smith at that bar who was looking a little uncomfortable? I went over for to hello. Mr Smith was very inebriated and looking awkward? I said to Mark are you okay? I then realised that he was tying his belt to the brass bar that was attached to the bar. He looked at me and said I don’t want to miss the band. Mark E Smith had tied himself to the bar in order not to miss world of twist now that’s an accolade.

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