Formed in 1977, ACR, along with Joy Division, were the first bands signed to Tony Wilson’s Factory Records. Held as one of those seminal post-punk bands, ACR released their first single sans percussion, “All Night Party” with the b-side, “The Thin Boys” and later covered Banbarra’s anti-marriage anthem, “Shake Up.” Their archetypal debut, To Each… was released in 1981. Martin Hannett’s influence is evident in the jazz punk sound. He was Joy Division’s producer. Simon Topping’s disaffected vocals are much like Ian Curtis’s. While ACR’s lineup and repertoire would later veer into funk punk, sliding in record scratches and marimbas and drawing a Latin texture, here lays the nucleus of ACR. “Felch” and “My Spirit” use a funk slap bass percolating with trumpet notes, while “Forced Laugh” evokes Bauhaus with minimal vocals and screechy guitar chords stretched across a moody, expansive soundscape. Turning the page, “Choir” and “Oceans” could have easily been thrown onto Joy Division’s Closer and none would be the wiser, with its remote drive of a classic time signature and absence of horns. “Winter Hill” closes it out with a sturdy backbone of Latin percussion adorned with guitar drone and mercurial vox. Topping would shortly leave in 1983, following the release of Sextet and I’d Like to See You Again, leaving bassist Jeremy Kerr and guitarist Peter Terrell to fend for themselves. In 1986, ACR would leave Factory and label hop into the mid-’90s, releasing marginally received albums. In 2008, after a twelve-year hiatus, they released Mind Made Up, strutting a sleek, synthesized makeover with Denise Johnson, a previous contributor, on vocals. This limited reissue on red vinyl is a snapshot of a burgeoning ACR and that era when Gang of Four and Suicide were coming up, when genres were defied and redrawn. Recommended.
–Kristen K (Drastic Plastic)