The graveyard…, dating from 1979, consists partly of four-track recordings made at the Graveyard Studio, partly of live material from an Electric Ballroom gig. Hence the title?although it also hints at ACR’s mix of gothic Mancunian with the rhythms of the dancefloor.
“Du The Du”, the opener, encapsulates ACR’s inversion of dance’s mores?it’s a take on The Ohio Players’ “Doing The Do”, with Martin Moscrop’s choppy funk guitars sounding like some gruelling industrial threshing process, Simon Topping’s Gregorian vocal style providing a grim counterpoint to Donald Johnson’s exuberant funky drumming, and Jeremy Kerr’s twangy, outsized bass. Tracks like this and “All Night Party”, their debut single, set a course for post-punk which would be followed by New Order and Talking Heads.
ACR themselves undertook a journey which would lead them unabashedly to jazz-funk, but this is the band at their rawest, offering early drafts of “Flight” as well as rockier, pugnacious tracks like “Faceless” and “Crippled Child” which remind of Joy Division but also Pere Ubu in their use of abstract analogue synth. “The Thin Boys”, meanwhile, caustically invokes a zombie-like army of pale young men in overcoats advancing uncertainly into the ’80s.
The live material exposes the frailties of Topping’s vocals too often for comfort, but when he and Moscrop unleash the horns, funk’s signifier for phat joy, they make them sound as ominous as the Last Trump, the disco whistles like those of guards organising a round-up. This reissue is another reminder of one of the most mordant, and vital, groups of the last 25 years.