Photo credit: Kevin Cummins
A Certain Ratio are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. A new box set, ACR:BOX, will be released on 3 May 2019 on vinyl, CD, download and streaming services. ACR:BOX launches with a brand new acoustic version of ‘Won’t Stop Loving You’ (AKA The Big E) here titled ‘W.S.L.U.’, a recent collaboration with Parent’s Sarah Brandwood-Spencer (string arrangement) and Jason Brown (additional guitars).
ACR:BOX was remastered by Martin Moscrop at Abbey Road studios. Featuring over 20 unreleased tracks, the box set will be available as a signed 7 x coloured vinyl set and limited to 1000 copies worldwide, 4 x CD set and digitally and its release will coincide with a series of dates.
Following on from 2018’s compilation, acr:set, the box showcases the diversity of the singles, B-sides and alternative versions of tracks that A Certain Ratio have released, but without repeating tracks recently made available. ACR:BOX collates everything that fans had been missing from the recent reissue campaign, and compliments that with a selection found after a deep delve into the archive to find all the hidden gems that had been talked about over the years, but never heard – even a few releases the band had forgotten about!
Looking to make the box set as comprehensive as possible, even the original tapes from the session they recorded for a collaboration with Grace Jones were uncovered and reworked. This session includes the cover version of Talking Heads’ ‘Houses In Motion’, using Jez Kerr’s guide vocals (pre to him becoming the band’s singer). Grace Jones never completed her vocal take, after attending one of the recording sessions with the band.
The box set, which marks the 40th anniversary of A Certain Ratio’s debut release, the Martin Hannett produced ‘All Night Party’ (Factory Records’ first single release) was described recently by Record Collector as “a statement of future intentions: to set funk off against nervous angst.” They went on to be hailed universally as pioneers of what became known as “punk funk” thanks to the success of their second single, ‘Shack Up’, represented here via a radio edit from Electronic, featuring Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr.
The band will be bringing their blistering live performance to London’s Islington Assembly Hall on 4 May 2019, and have announced a 2-day ACR festival at Yes, in Manchester, on the 24 May (the anniversary of the actual release date of the original ‘All Night Party’ 7”) and 25 May which will see special guests join ACR for a takeover of all four floors of the venue. Additional dates for a full UK tour will be announced soon.
ACR live is Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson, Martin Moscrop, Denise Johnson, Tony Quigley and recent addition on keyboards, Matt Steele, who has adapted to the ACR groove seamlessly.
A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late seventies post-punk explosion, but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Highlighted recently by FACT, who said: “Their dub-infused punk-funk recordings have proved massively influential over the past thirty years, and Andy Weatherall has called them his favourite ever band (a prestigious accolade in our estimation)”, the band have influenced generations of musicians – from LCD Soundsystem, Happy Mondays, Franz Ferdinand, ESG, Factory Floor and Sink Ya Teeth.
Five albums were released on Factory – The Graveyard and the Ballroom (1979), To Each…(1981), Sextet (1982), I’d Like To See You Again (1982) and Force (1986). Following the release of Force, the band moved to A&M for two releases – Good Together (1989) and acr:mcr (1990) and, after the leaving the major, released Up In Downsville (1992) and Change the Station (1997) on Robs Records, the label set up by New Order’s manager and Factory’s director, Rob Gretton, an important catalyst in the Manchester scene.
Their sound is not easily pigeonholed and their influence can never be understated. The band introduced the avant-garde elements of funk, jazz, electronics, tape loops and technology to the pop song, wrapping it in a post-punk aesthetic, adding great clothes and the coolest haircuts.
A CERTAIN RATIO – LIVE 2019
23rd Liverpool, Phase One
24th – 25th Manchester, Yes
31st Newcastle, Riverside
16th We Out Here Festival
17th Green Man Festival
18th County Durham, Hardwick Live Festival
2nd Dublin, Sugar Club
8th Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
9th Birmingham, The Crossing Digbeth
15th Stoke-On-Trent, The Sugarmill
16th Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
17th Huddersfield, The Parish
6th Stockton on Tees, Georgian Theatre
7th Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
More dates to be announced
A CERTAIN RATIO – ACR:BOX tracklisting
Singles and B-sides
1 All Night Party
2 The Thin Boys
3 Blown Away
4 Son And Heir
9 Guess Who?
10 Tumba Rumba
11 Knife Slits Water (12″ version)
12 Kether Hot Knives (Mix In Special)
13 I Need Someone Tonight
14 Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing
15 Life’s a Scream
16 There’s Only This
17 Si Fermir O Grido (Touch Cassette Version)
18 Brazilia 6.10
19 Sounds Like Something Dirty
20 The Runner (Greetings Four Version)
21 Inside (Greetings Four Version)
22 Bootsy (Greetings Four Version)
23 Fever 103 (Greetings Four Version)
24 Loosen Up Your Mind
25 The Planet
26 Turn Me on (7″ Edit)
27 27 Forever (Jon Dasilva’s Testimonial Mix)
28 Shack up (Electronic Radio Edit)
29 Houses In Motion (Demo Version 1)
30 Houses In Motion (Demo Version 2)
31 And Then Again (Another version)
32 Piu Lento (John Peel Session)
33 Nostromo A Go Go (Demo)
34 Force (Demo)
35 Backs to The Wall (Demo)
36 The Big E (Demo)
37 Every Pleasure (Demo)
38 Rivers Edge (Demo)
39 Stadium (Demo)
40 Thin Grey Line (Demo)
41 Repercussions (African Mix)
42 BTTW 90 (Demo)
43 Spirit Dance (Demo)
44 Bitter Pill (Never Released)
45 It’s Trippin When I’m Fine (Previously Unreleased)
46 Mello (JD 800 Perc Mix)
47 Tekno 4 an Answer (120bpm)
48 Samba 123 (Demo)
49 Some Day (ACR rework)
50 Happy Meal (Working Title)
51 Flight Won’t Stop (Unfinished Demo)
52 Fruit Song (Unfinished Demo)
53 Say What You Mean (Unfinished Demo)
Back sharing a label with Factory label-mates New Order, A Certain Ratio’s collaboration with Mute has seen their full studio album catalogue made available again and a new compilation, acr:set, featuring two brand new tracks, ‘Dirty Boy’ (with vocals from Barry Adamson and Tony Wilson) and ‘Make It Happen’.
The Guardian’s Dave Simpson paid tribute to the band, once described as “James Brown on acid” in a recent Cult Heroes piece: “Once you start listening to A Certain Ratio, it’s difficult to stop”.