All Was Numbered - Kevin Hewick Album Review
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the well-documented opening of Manchester's world-renowned nightclub (and financial albatross) The Hacienda. As you might have expected, there have been films, books, parties, more films, more books and many more parties celebrating its legacy left behind after it closed in the '90s. Aside from the somewhat soulless apartment-block currently perched where the dance-floor of dreams once reverberated (and not always in time to the beat of the tunes being played) and the renewed Fac 51 venue now occupying Factory Records' old HQ, there isn't a lot left over from those heady days, apart from memories and stories.
Prior to The Hacienda, the Manchester label spent its time issuing records by the great and often ignored - apart from Joy Division, the music-press hated the remaining roster with a passion. One erstwhile occupant in Tony's company who didn't sit quite so uncomfortably with critics, for a few years at least, was Leicester singer, songwriter and romantic Kevin Hewick who issued just one single on Factory ("Ophelia's Drinking Song") and one side of notorious live material on the double-album compilation, "A Factory Quartet". So, rather than write yet another book about the memories of his early recording-career, Kevin has instead crafted a rather absorbing album about his 'greatest bits' of Factory and Manchester, circa '79.
"All Was Numbered" deliberately points the listener to the label's eccentric cataloguing system, with all 8 songs dropping various references about the many characters involved in shaping Britain's musical heritage. Sadly, this album is only available as a cheerless download but, thankfully, Hewick has taken the time to compile fascinating notes on the album and track-by-track breakdowns on his website. Which saves me time having to go into details here, suffice to say it's a great listen (and an even better read - maybe he should also write a book).
The album is divided into 'then' and 'now' tracks and bookended by the anthemic "Now is Then" ("Then is Now"), which features references to Hewick's childhood heroes and a nod to "Hey Jude". More familiar territory is trodden during "Fac 501" and "Memory Stone", both pretty and reflective odes to Wilson's generosity, foibles and choice of catalogue number for his coffin, the latter gracefully buoyed by some glorious cello. Deeper reflection can be experienced on two songs about his late friend Larry Cassidy, the maverick frontman of Section 25 who would phone Hewick up at all hours of the morning to share his thoughts. Rather than shoegazing miserablism, "Larry" and "French Jazz Station" offer a hopeful and compassionate synopsis of a man who could be, by turns, gracious and difficult - but never boring.
Standout for me is the playful and rocky "Overshadowplaying", in which Hewick cheekily plays Leicester off against Manchester like a rival, a competitor - all this from an East Midlander who clearly had an eye and a crush on the North West, despite only releasing a handful of songs with the esteemed imprint. BBC6 Music should be all over this, quite frankly. The lyrics are affectionate and the music is crystal clear - what's not to like?
Overall, "All Was Numbered" ranks as one of Hewick's finest releases - it's such a shame that given its warm human resonance, it's not on a physical format.
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