The Return of The Durutti Column Sandpaper

I was told about this album from someone I had just met via email. I dropped into the conversation that I ran Sleevage and he mentioned this was his favourite album sleeve. I should add Sleevage to my email footer as crowd sourcing sleeves to post about is much easier than real research.
I was happy enough that the sleeve was constructed out of sandpaper as that seems both impractical and expensive. However to find out it was a Factory Records design and actually assembled by Ian Curtis of Joy Division (who needed the extra cash) while the rest of the band watched porn in the same room. (source) made the sleeve even more interesting. Even if this last story is untrue it shows that an album with a story is much more interesting that one without.

Here’s the back cover which is also devoid of information.

The Return of The Durutti Column back

FACT 14 refers to the Factory records number system which you can read about here. There were two FACT 14s the other being Martin Hannett’s “Testcard”.

The first edition on sandpaper was limited 2000. The sandpaper sleeve comes in various editions: Some with spray-painted FACT 14 in black or in white, some without spray-paint. This makes for a very rare collectors item. Sadly The Durutti Column isn’t as “cult” as Joy Division so don’t expect to pay off the mortgage with it.

If you were to buy the album from Amazon now sadly this is what you’ll get. An ugly interpretation of the sandpaper.

The Return of The Durutti Column Import

The official TDC site has this on the album’s page. I’m not sure if this is a photo of a limited edition re-packaging or the album itself was a photo. Anyone know for certain?

The Return of The Durutti Column Modern

The credit for designer was hard to track down. Each site I went to credited different people. Discogs has Steve Horsfall, while Wikipedia has Peter Saville and Tony Wilson and the official The Durutti Column site has the designers as Dave Rowbotham and Anthony Wilson credited with the sandpaper sleeve concept.

So Peter if you’re reading this please set the records straight. For now I won’t credit anyone individually until I hear otherwise.

The one thing we do know for certain is that the cover was inspired by the 1959 bookMémoires by Guy Debord a Marxist theorist, French writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International. Cover is below.

Mémoires Cover

With a Wikipedia entry like that you can imagine what kind of dinner conversation Guy would have had. You don’t see ideas like hypergraphist or Psychogeography being theorised any more. I understand these concepts properly you could say Tomato’s work fits into this nicely. Especially projects like mmm… Skyscraper I Love You.

mmm skyscraper I love you

Compare this to a double page spread from Mémoires.

Mémoires

While I like to think my music knowledge as expansive, I’d be lying if I said I knew of The Durutti Column before this. It seems I say the same thing for almost every album that get reviewed here :) I’ve sampled some tunes on the official Myspace page and a fan page and it’s nothing like I expected. It’s quite chilled. I’m not sure if this is the same sound as they had 30 years ago though.

What I love about the cover and the idea behind the original Memoires is that the sleeve would leave it’s mark and potentially ruin other albums it sits next to. Like Stick Fingers, with the zipper that ruined the record, these impractical design solutions were created back in a period where experimentation in music and design for music was encouraged instead of feared.

Final Useless Fact: The Durruti Column was the most famous column of anarchist fighters during the Spanish Civil War. The band intentionally spelt it incorrectly.

Thanks Jon for the info on the sleeve.

The Durutti Column: The Return of The Durutti Column

The Return of The Durutti Column Sandpaper

I was told about this album from someone I had just met via email. I dropped into the conversation that I ran Sleevage and he mentioned this was his favourite album sleeve. I should add Sleevage to my email footer as crowd sourcing sleeves to post about is much easier than real research.
I was happy enough that the sleeve was constructed out of sandpaper as that seems both impractical and expensive. However to find out it was a Factory Records design and actually assembled by Ian Curtis of Joy Division (who needed the extra cash) while the rest of the band watched porn in the same room. (source) made the sleeve even more interesting. Even if this last story is untrue it shows that an album with a story is much more interesting that one without.

Here’s the back cover which is also devoid of information.

The Return of The Durutti Column back

FACT 14 refers to the Factory records number system which you can read about here. There were two FACT 14s the other being Martin Hannett’s “Testcard”.

The first edition on sandpaper was limited 2000. The sandpaper sleeve comes in various editions: Some with spray-painted FACT 14 in black or in white, some without spray-paint. This makes for a very rare collectors item. Sadly The Durutti Column isn’t as “cult” as Joy Division so don’t expect to pay off the mortgage with it.

If you were to buy the album from Amazon now sadly this is what you’ll get. An ugly interpretation of the sandpaper.

The Return of The Durutti Column Import

The official TDC site has this on the album’s page. I’m not sure if this is a photo of a limited edition re-packaging or the album itself was a photo. Anyone know for certain?

The Return of The Durutti Column Modern

The credit for designer was hard to track down. Each site I went to credited different people. Discogs has Steve Horsfall, while Wikipedia has Peter Saville and Tony Wilson and the official The Durutti Column site has the designers as Dave Rowbotham and Anthony Wilson credited with the sandpaper sleeve concept.

So Peter if you’re reading this please set the records straight. For now I won’t credit anyone individually until I hear otherwise.

The one thing we do know for certain is that the cover was inspired by the 1959 bookMémoires by Guy Debord a Marxist theorist, French writer, filmmaker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International. Cover is below.

Mémoires Cover

With a Wikipedia entry like that you can imagine what kind of dinner conversation Guy would have had. You don’t see ideas like hypergraphist or Psychogeography being theorised any more. I understand these concepts properly you could say Tomato’s work fits into this nicely. Especially projects like mmm… Skyscraper I Love You.

mmm skyscraper I love you

Compare this to a double page spread from Mémoires.

Mémoires

While I like to think my music knowledge as expansive, I’d be lying if I said I knew of The Durutti Column before this. It seems I say the same thing for almost every album that get reviewed here :) I’ve sampled some tunes on the official Myspace page and a fan page and it’s nothing like I expected. It’s quite chilled. I’m not sure if this is the same sound as they had 30 years ago though.

What I love about the cover and the idea behind the original Memoires is that the sleeve would leave it’s mark and potentially ruin other albums it sits next to. Like Stick Fingers, with the zipper that ruined the record, these impractical design solutions were created back in a period where experimentation in music and design for music was encouraged instead of feared.

Final Useless Fact: The Durruti Column was the most famous column of anarchist fighters during the Spanish Civil War. The band intentionally spelt it incorrectly.

Thanks Jon for the info on the sleeve.





26 Comments

  1. for the most brilliant album cover of the year so far, look up soundtrack of our lives new album communion.

  2. Ash send us an addy and I'll be very happy to send over a DC cut of sorts. Every person i know who listens to the durutti column differs greatly in their choice of tracks. says something about the quality and expanse of the music.

  3. Will email tonight. Yeah all the tracks I heard on Myspace were interesting.

  4. I always believed the sandpaper was Tony Wilson’s idea.

    Also, Vini Reilly, founder of the Durruti Column was a collaborator on the first couple of Morrissey albums.

  5. Melbourne band Breather Hole released a CD sampler in the same sandpaper sleeve as homage I do believe. I remember chatting to the singer and there was some link to something Sid Vicious said…? anyone?

    I also thought the idea was Tony Wilson's.

  6. I read somewhere a long time ago that this sleeve was designed (by tony wilson) to ruin DuranDuran records in the shops boxes !

  7. Designer of this is Dave Rowbotham of Durutti, inspired by the book.

    “What I love about the cover and the idea behind the original Memoires is that the sleeve would leave it’s mark and potentially ruin other albums it sits next to.”
    This is exactly what Debord and Asger Jorn were looking to achieve with there book cover.

    If you like reading books, 'Factory Records – A Complete Graphic Album' is your one stop shop of all things Factory.

  8. As a macabre postscript, in late 1991 Dave Rowbotham was found in his apartment bludgeoned to death by an unknown assailant wielding a lathe hammer. Supposedly, the Happy Mondays' “Cowboy Dave” is about this event. Grim, but Guy Debord would have loved it.

  9. Here's a final, final useless fact: the band name was actually taken from a Situationist comic strip, also called “Return of the Durutti Column”, by Andre Bertrand, who himself took the name from Buenaventura Durruti's anarchist military unit. It was Bertrand who was responsible for the mis-spelling.

    Factory boss Anthony H Wilson was obsessed with this particular comic strip, which featured a detourned photo of two cowboys discussing reification. An image of the strip appears inside Factory's first release, A Factory Sampler (FAC 2).

  10. there's a DC flexi 7″, beautifully designed by 8vo – you can tell the style is theirs – that you should check out as well:

    http://www.thedurutticolumn.com/discography/lab

    http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info/facd204.html

  11. “What I love about the cover and the idea behind the original Memoires is that the sleeve would leave it’s mark and potentially ruin other albums it sits next to.”

    Im slightly too young to own this record, but my brother had it, and i remember him commenting that not only did it scratch many of the records in his collection, it also ruined the actual record inside… Great experimentation though, Factory never seemed worried about costs.

    Factory itself is a great story, i'd like to see more Factory/Saville records featured on here :-)

  12. In the BBC documentary 'Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays', Steve Morris talks about being drafted to assist in the assembly of FACT 14. He mentions that the glue used to adhere the sandpaper to the cover caused the cover to warp, along with the record inside. An original pressing is therefore probably worth a lot of money, but completely unplayable.

    In the same documentary, Peter Hook jokes that Vini couldn't help with the cover assembly because it would have ruined his nails. Vini denies this, calling Hooky “a cheeky bugger”…

  13. ha. Is this doco online anywhere or can you buy it?

  14. I'm still looking for the DVD, but you can watch the documentary online at:

    http://quicksilverscreen.com/watch?video=35489

    The official BBC site for the documentary, which includes a guide to the fim, directors notes, the soundtrack listing, etc, can be found at:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/musictv/factory/

    Some of this material is also covered in last year's documentary 'Joy Division', directed by Grant Gee, which IS available on DVD. Also highly recommended is James Nice's 2006 documentary 'Shadowplayers: Factory Records & Manchester Post-Punk 1978-81', also available on DVD.

  15. Awesome thanks

  16. The rectangular sandpaper with the white type is from the cassette. Factory used to put out these “library box” cassettes with oversized boxes and inserts.

  17. I was watching the extras included with Grant Gee's “Joy Division” documentary the other day, and there is one interview in which Tony Wilson mentions Rowbotham, and claims that he was murdered by his “junkie prostitute wife”. I have no idea if this is the truth, since I believe that, officially, the murder is still unsolved. But Tony seems to have been convinced that this was the case.

  18. I think it's unjustified praise comparing the impact of this crap to the iconic Sticky Fingers album cover.

  19. I was comparing the damage to the record not the actual cultural impact of the design

  20. check http://www.my-os.net/blog/index.php?2006/11/15/… for a 1919 book by marinetti that Karl Hyde must have seen. ps how about writing about the seven inch sleeve of Love Will Tear Us Apart one day? Cheers

  21. Can someone tell me how they think the artist who does an album's artwork should be paid?

  22. Re: photo from official TDC website.

    Photo is of the rectangular sandpaper insert found in the audio cassette release of the album.

    For pics of original vinyl album labels, cassette, sandpaper insert etc. see http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info/fact14.html

    In detail:

    The cassette version was released in 1985. I bought one in the late 1980s. My copy is about 20 years old but still physically a thing of beauty, style, and quirkiness.

    The cassette came in a dark-red oversized box (17.0cm x 12.0cm x 2.2cm) made of paperboard and linen cloth – think hardback book cover. Printed in black on the front:
    “The
    Durutti Column
    Return of…
    Fact 14c”

    Opening the hinged box revealed a piece of sandpaper (15.5cm x 10.5cm) – as shown in the photo – with the track listing and album details. “White ink on sandpaper” – wonder what the printers made of that order?

    Underneath the sandpaper was a black audio cassette nestled in a black plastic inlay. In keeping with Factory's minimalist approach, the only wording on the cassette was in small font “(c) 1985 Factory Communications Limited” and in large font, on side one “Fact14c 1″, on side two “Fact 14c 2″.

    More on Factory Records cassette box designs at http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info/facfact1.html

  23. Amazingly, my original pressing (with a blank sandpaper sleeve) still plays well! Still in the collection, rubbing along nicely…

  24. Take good care of it…I expect that it's worth a lot of money.

    In 'Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays', Steve Morris claims that he's considered using the cover of his copy of FACT 14 as actual sandpaper on his next home renovation project, but has refrained thus far.

    I only wish I still had a functioning turntable…right now I'm only able to play the FACD releases. I should remedy this ASAP, since London Records appears to be re-releasing the more iconic parts of the Factory catalogue on vinyl (so far, I've seen Unknown Pleasures & Closer), so I won't have to risk damaging the originals.

  25. Hii im jack this site's are really helpful for me. i can get more knowledge from this site. thanks.

  26. Vini repeated the trick with the CD-rom version of ‘sex and Death on Factory Too – with a black sandpaper sleeve.  Perhaps as a concession the sandpaper this time was ‘fine grained’, rather than the  course grain of ‘return of’.   True to the Factory spirit this was a glorious failure – many of them (including mine !) refused to play.  So it sits there much loved – uplayed – wrapped in clingfilm.   I was given mine as a Xmas present by  Tony Wilson himself – along with a signed piece of floorboard from the origninal Hacienda stage (” Madonna stod here, TW No 4/1000″ so it has a special place in my collection         

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