16 October 2013Use Breathing Protection
Factory Records had a grand history of cunningly conceived or lavishly produced Christmas presents (or sometimes both) but it wasn't always that way. In 1979, a small red box containing a couple of earplugs was the low-key gift ("Use hearing protection", geddit?) and it was attributed the number FACX 79. These items are especially rare. However, that wasn't the only item given away that year...
In addition there was a metal and cloth breathing mask in a sealed plastic wrapper bearing a small white-on-black sticker which states: "A Factory Product - For your protection Xmas 79/80". We were aware that these existed when one was spotted by our roving reporter at Factory/Hacienda exhibition held at FAC 251 shortly after it opened. However, full details of the item have remained a mystery until now, thanks to Julian in New York who recently contacted us. Masks were mailed out with a pink card with handwritten note by Tony Wilson.
Over to Julian for the full story:
"It was mailed to Larry Ottoway (NE England DJ and promoter) in December 1979 and is in the original mailing envelope. My presumption was also that the safety mask was related to (or, essentially, a variant of) FACX 79. The black and silver 'Factory Products' label on the face mask is nearly identical to the label on the earplugs and of course the two products could easily have been purchased from the same industrial supplier. I was wondering if other examples of the card had surfaced. It shows an altered wanted poster of the spies Burgess & Maclean and is inscribed, by Tony Wilson, I assume, on the interior, 'Larry, Seasonal Cheers, The FACTORY'."
Many thanks to Julian for the imagery and info.
View the full-sized image of the mask and card.
Post punk cult band The Names emerged in the winter of 1977-1978 as The Passengers, gathering immediate attention on the local Brussels scene. In 1979, after a series of successful gigs and a crucial step forward opening for Magazine, they recorded their first E.P. ("Spectators Of Life") and attracted the interest of prominent label Factory Records in Manchester.
Their first British studio session (at Stockport's Strawberry Studio) produced the single "Nightshift" / "I Wish I Could Speak Your Language (Fac 29). Receiving enthusiastic reviews in the UK and abroad, it marked the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with producer Martin Hannett. The album "Swimming" followed as well as more singles, including "Calcutta" and "The Astronaut".
- extract from the official website biography