A Certain Ratio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Certain Ratio
Also known asACR, Sir Horatio
OriginFlixton, Greater Manchester, England
Years active1977–present
LabelsFactory, A&M, Rob's Records, Mute
Associated actsSwing Out Sister, Swamp Children/Kalima
  • Jez Kerr
  • Martin Moscrop
  • Donald Johnson
  • Tony Quigley
  • Matt Steele
Denise Johnson
Past members
  • Peter Terrell
  • Simon Topping
  • Martha Tilson

Liam Mullan

A Certain Ratio (abbreviated as ACR) are an English post-punk band formed in 1977 in Flixton, Greater Manchester by Peter Terrell (guitar, electronics) and Simon Topping (vocals, trumpet), with additional members Jez Kerr (bass, vocals), Martin Moscrop (trumpet, guitar), Donald Johnson (drums), and Martha Tilson (vocals) joining soon after.[7][8] Drawing heavy influence from funk as well as disco and Latin percussion,[9] the band were among to first to debut on Tony Wilson's Factory Records in 1979 with "All Night Party," produced by Martin Hannett.[8] During ACR's early years with Factory, they scored seven Top Ten U.K. independent releases, highlighted by "Flight" and "Waterline," and released five albums beginning with The Graveyard and the Ballroom (1979).[10]

Following late-'80s and early-'90s phases with major-label A&M and Rob Gretton's independent Robs Records, ACR were intermittently active. They returned to the studio for the 2008 album Mind Made Up and since then have continued to perform, with their catalog recirculated through an arrangement with Mute Records. ACR continued to perform into the late 2010s, and during 2017-2019 expanded, reissued, and anthologized their catalog once more, this time through Mute Records.


The Factory era[edit]

The band was formed by singer Simon Topping and guitar/electronics player Peter Terrell, who after initially performing as a duo, were soon joined by bass guitarist/vocalist Jez Kerr and then guitarist/trumpeter Martin Moscrop, the band playing without a drummer for a year.[11] The band's name is taken from the lyric of Brian Eno's song "The True Wheel" from the 1974 album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).[12] Their early influences included Parliament, Funkadelic, and Earth, Wind and Fire.[13] This early line-up, with a bass-heavy industrial/funk sound, recorded the group's debut single, "All Night Party", released by Factory Records in September 1979 (the label's first single artist release),[5] with Factory label boss Tony Wilson also becoming their manager, proclaiming the band to be "the new Sex Pistols".[11][14][15] The 5,000 copies that were pressed soon sold out.[16] On 1 October 1979 the band recorded a session for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show, by which time Donald Johnson had joined the band on drums.[8][17]

Their next release, the cassette-only compilation of demos and live tracks The Graveyard and the Ballroom, was released in January 1980.[14][18] Moscrop started a second band in 1980, Swamp Children (the name later changed to Kalima), that would go on to share several members with A Certain Ratio.[14] In July that year, the band's second single, a cover version of Banbarra's "Shack Up",[8] recorded at cost of £50,[11] was released, followed in November with "Flight" on 12",[19][20] which saw their first placing on the UK Independent Chart, peaking at no. 7.[14][21] "Shack Up" got a US release in January 1981, going on to peak at no. 46 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart,[22] and the band expanded to a six-piece with the addition of former Occult Chemistry singer Martha Tilson, with Topping focusing on trumpet and percussion.[14][11]

The expanded lineup recorded their debut studio album; To Each... was recorded in New Jersey with Martin Hannett producing, and released in May 1981.[13][15] It topped the UK Independent Chart.[14][21] They recorded a second Peel session in June, and finished the year with the single "Waterline", which was another top 10 indie chart hit.[17][21] The band's second studio album, Sextet, followed in January 1982,[8] now incorporating elements of acid jazz. funk, and latin music, and again topped the indie albums chart,[21] also peaking at no. 55 on the UK Albums Chart.[14][23] In February 1982 they released the dub reggae single "Abracadubra" under the pseudonym 'Sir Horatio'.[2][14] They had further indie charting singles that year with "Guess Who?" and "Knife Slits Water", and recorded a third Peel session in November, now without Tilson, but with Andy Connell added on keyboards and percussion.[21][17] The band's third album, I'd Like to See You Again,[8] was also issued in November 1982, reaching no. 2 on the indie albums chart.[14][21]

The band's two founding members, Topping and Terrell, left the band in late 1982.[16] Simon Topping recorded a solo single before forming T-Coy with former Quando Quango (and later M People member) Mike Pickering.[14] The band regrouped and returned in October 1983 with the single "I Need Someone Tonight" (with Carol McKenzie on vocals), another top-10 indie hit.[14] Tony Quigley (of Kalima) joined on saxophone, and the band released three singles in late 1984 and 1985, before a remixed 'best of' compilation, The Old and the New, was issued in December.[14] Connell left in 1985 to form Swing Out Sister, whose singer Corinne Drewery guested on ACR's next album, Force (1986), their last for Factory.[14] In January 1986 they performed live on Channel 4 music show The Tube.[24]

1989–1997: A&M, Rob's Records, and Creation Records[edit]

New releases were sparse during the next two years. Dojo Records released a 1985 live recording as Live in America in February 1987,[25][26] and Italian label Materiali released the 'Greeting Four EP five months later.[14][27] The band signed with A&M Records in 1987, the lineup now Kerr, Moscrop, Johnson, and Quigley, the first releases for the label the singles "The Big E" and "Backs to the Wall", which preceded the album Good Together, released in September 1989.[14] A 50–minute recording of a live show from London was broadcast on British television in October.[28] They also set up their own SoundStation studio in Manchester.[16] The band's only significant chart success with A&M came with the 1990 single "Won't Stop Loving You", which peaked at no. 55 on the UK Singles Chart, although the first two singles also made the lower reaches of the chart.[14] The album acr:mcr followed, but the band were then dropped from the label.[8]

In 1991, they signed with Rob's Records, owned by New Order manager and former Factory Records partner Rob Gretton, releasing a string of singles and the album Up in Dowsnville (1992).[14][29][8] In 1994, Creation Records began reissuing the band's albums on the Rev-Ola sub-label, and also released two EPs of remixes.[14] The band's first original material for almost three years was released in August 1996, with the live Soundstation Volume 1 EP, followed in November with the Change the Station album.[30] A second Soundstation live EP was released in March 1997, the band's last release for some time.[14]

In 2002 Soul Jazz Records reissued the albums with bonus tracks (but using the same masters as the Creation editions). Further re-issues and a live recording from 1980 were also made available on the LTM label.

2000s return[edit]

The band played occasional live shows between 2002 and 2007, and performed in the US for the first time since 1985 on 16 November 2008, headlining the Part Time Punks festival at The Echo in Los Angeles, releasing a new album Mind Made Up the same month, on French label Le Maquis.[2] They performed a headline set at the Offset Festival in London in September 2009, playing alongside fellow post-punk artists The Slits, following a one-off live performance commemorating Factory Records in Dublin, in March that year. They performed at the Plan K, Molenbeek in West Brussels on 12 December 2009 as part of the event, 'A Factory Night (And Then Again)'.[31] This event also featured Section 25, The Wake, The Names and Biting Tongues. Towards the end of 2009, the band announced a live appearance at a fund-raising event at Brighton's Concorde 2 venue on 7 March 2010. Their 2008 album, Mind Made Up was re-issued via LTM Recordings during 2010, along with a redux version of the 1986 set, Force.

In May 2011, they performed on The Satellite Stage at Friends Of Mine Festival at Capesthorne Hall near Macclesfield, and were introduced by their friend Terry Christian.

In 2018, Mute Records began reissuing their back catalogue, they released ACR:Set, an album of mostly old tracks with two new tracks, one ("Dirty Boy") recorded with Barry Adamson and featuring a recording of Tony Wilson, and undertook a tour of the UK with dates in Ireland and Finland.[2][32][33] In November 2018 they recorded a session for Marc Riley's BBC Radio 6 Music show, performing new song "Dirty Boy", "Mickey Way", and "Flight".[34]

They released a box set, a 40th anniversary retrospective named acr:box, in May 2019 and toured in support of this.[35][36] It consists of 53 songs providing a detailed career overview to date.[37][38] After collecting their past on 2019's ACR: Box collection, A Certain Ratio has released ACR Loco in September of 2020. Their first album of new material in 12 years. Featuring three original band members – Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop, and Donald Johnson – along with members of the band's current live ensemble. Loco finds the band in an expansive, jazzy, danceable state of mind. Musically, A Certain Ratio sound far removed from their post-punk roots now, relying more on their sound's dance and funk elements.

In film[edit]

"Wild Party" was used in the soundtrack of the 1985 film Letter to Brezhnev.[39] "Shack Up" was used in the soundtrack of Patrice Chéreau's Intimacy (2001). The band are featured in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People where Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan) describes them as "having all the energy of Joy Division but better clothes".[5] Martin Moscrop was musical supervisor of the film.[40]



Studio albums
Title Year Label Notes UK Independent
Albums Chart
UK Albums
The Graveyard and the Ballroom 1979 Factory – FACT 16 reissued via Rev-Ola, Universal Sound and Mute
To Each... 1981 Factory – FACT 35 reissued via Creation and then Soul Jazz 1
Sextet 1982 Factory – FACT 55 reissued via Creation and then Soul Jazz 1 53
I'd Like to See You Again 1982 Factory – FACT 65 reissued via Creation, LTM and Factory Benelux 2
Force 1986 Factory – FACT 166 reissued via Creation and then LTM (2010) 2
Good Together 1989 A&M ACR 550 reissued via Mute
acr:mcr 1990 A&M 397 057-2
Up In Downsville 1992 Rob's – ROB20 reissued via LTM (2010)
Change the Station 1997 Rob's – ROB50
Mind Made Up 2008 Le Maquis reissued via LTM (2010)
ACR LOCO 2020 Mute - STUMM454 69
Compilations and live albums
Title Year Label Notes UK Independent
Albums Chart
The Graveyard and the Ballroom 1979 Factory – FACT 16 Studio demos/live 29
A Certain Ratio Live in America 1985 Dojo – DOJO 47 Live album 10
The Old and the New 1986 Factory – FACT 135 Singles compilation 3
Looking for a Certain Ratio 1994 Creation – CRE159B Remixes
Early 2002 Soul Jazz – SJR60 Compilation
Live in Groningen 2005 LTM – LTM 2443 Live album
acr:set 2018 Mute – (CD/)MUTEL28 Compilation
ACR:BOX 2019 Mute – ACRBOX1CD Compilation
ACR:LOCO 2020 Mute Studio Release

Singles, EPs[edit]

A-side/Title B-side(s)/Tracks Format Year Label Notes UK Singles
UK Independent
Singles Chart[21]
"All Night Party" "The Thin Boys" 7" 1979 Factory – FAC 5
"Shack Up" "And Then Again (live)" 7" 1980 Factory Benelux – FBN 1
"Flight" "Blown Away"
"And Then Again"
12" 1980 Factory – FAC 22 7
"Do The Du (Casse)" "The Fox"
"Shack Up"
"Son And Heir"
12" 1981 Factory – FACUS 4 US release 46
The Double 2 x 12" 1981 Factory – FACT 42 Italian release inc FAC 22 and FACUS 4
"Waterline" "Funaezekea" 12" 1981 Factory – FAC 52 10
"Abracadubra" "Sommadub" 12” 1982 666 – Mix 1T as 'Sir Horatio'
"Guess Who?" (Parts 1 and 2) 12" 1982 Factory Benelux – FBN 17 23
"Knife Slits Water" "Tumba Rumba" 7" 1982 Factory – FAC 62-7   3  
"Knife Slits Water" "Kether Hot Knives" 12" 1982 Factory – FAC 62-12
"I Need Someone Tonight" "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" 12" 1983 Factory – FAC 72-12 (Also promo 7" FAC 72/7) 8
"Life's A Scream" "There's Only This" 7"/12" 1984 Factory – FAC 112/P 6
"Brazilia" "Dub" 12" 1985 Factory Benelux – FBN 32 13
"Wild Party" "Sounds Like Something Dirty"
"Life's a Scream" (live)*
"Force" (live)*
"Wild Party" (live)*
12"/cas 1985 Factory – FAC 128 4
"Mickey Way (The Candy Bar)" "Inside"
"Si Firmi O Grido"
12" 1986 Factory – FAC 168 9
Greetings Four EP "The Runner"
"Fever 103"
12" 1987 Materiali – MASO 70004
"Bootsy" "Inside" 7" 1987 Factory FAC 1667 Australasia only
"Bootsy (Remix)" "Mickey Way" 12" 1987 Factory - FAC 16612 Australasia only
"The Big E" "Love Is the Way (instrumental)"
"Day 2"**
7"/12"/CD 1989 A&M – ACR 514/ACRY 514/ACRCD514 96
"Backs to the Wall" "Backs to the Wall (Dub)"
"Be What You Wanna Be" (ACR version)
7”/12" 1989 A&M – ACRY 517 81
"Your Blue Eyes" "Thin Grey Line"
"Coldest Days"
7"/12" 1989 A&M – ACRY 534
"Won't Stop Loving You (Bernard Sumner version) "Repercussions" (ACR remix)
"Love Is The Way" (Instrumental)
7”/12" 1990 A&M – ACRY 540 55
"Won't Stop Loving You (Bernard Sumner version) "Won't Stop Loving You (Norman Cook remix)
"Won't Stop Loving You (Cook Instrumental)
7"/cas/CD 1990 A&M – ACRY 540
Good Together EP 12" 1989 A&M
"Shack Up (Machine)" "Shack Up (Man)"
"Shack Up" (Norman Cook remix)
"Party Up"
12" A&M – ACRYDJ 590 Promo only
"The Planet" "Loosen Up Your Mind" 12" 1991 Rob's – 12 ROB 2
"27 Forever (Bubble Bath Mix)" "27 Forever (Fix Mix)" (both remixed by Jon Dasilva) 12" 1991 Rob's – 12 ROB 5R
"Mello" "Dub"
"27 Forever" (Jon Dasilva remix)
"Moist Dub"
12" 1992 Rob's – 12 ROB 6R
"Turn Me On" versions 12”/CD 1993 Rob's – 12 ROBS 11/CDROB11
"Tekno" "Tekno" (Way Out West remix) 12" 1993 Rob's – 12 ROBS 18
"Shack Up" 3 mixes of "Shack Up"
"Life's a Scream" (Shaven not Stirred mix)
12"/CD 1994 Creation – CRE151T/CRESCD151
Soundstation Volume 1 EP "Samba 123"
"Yeah Boy"
"Funk Off"
12”/CD 1996 Rob's – 12ROB48/CDROB48
Soundstation Volume 2 EP "Samba 123" (Fila Brazilia remix)
"Yeah Boy" (Sons of Samarkand remix)
"Yeah Boy" (DJ Die)
12"/CD 1997 Rob's – 12ROB52/CDROB52
"Shack Up" Human League – "Being Boiled" 12" 2001 Soul Jazz – SJR 57-12

*Cassette-only tracks **CD-only tracks


  1. ^ Wolk, Douglas (3 November 2014). "A Certain Ratio - Sextet". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Kellman, Andy. "A Certain Ratio". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2006). "A Certain Ratio". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-531373-9.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2012). Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture. Soft Skull Press. pp. 20, 202. ISBN 9781593764777. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Simpson, Dave (16 August 2016). "Cult heroes: A Certain Ratio – genre-bending influencers put the funk in punk". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  6. ^ Flashner, Graham; Sheridan, David. "A Certain Ratio". Trouser Press. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  7. ^ Kellman, Andy. "A Certain Ratio | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Peel, Ian; Buckley, Jonathan; Ellingham, Mark; Lewis, Justin; Furmanovsky, Jill (1996). "A Certain Ratio". Rock: The Rough Guide (1st ed.). London: Rough Guides. p. 1. ISBN 1-85828-201-2. OCLC 35981756.
  9. ^ "Review: Early - ACR". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  10. ^ "A Certain Ratio | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d Rowland, Mark (2009) "A Certain Ratio Interview", Penny Black Music, 11 January 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2018
  12. ^ Nice, James (2010), Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records, Aurum Press, ISBN 978-1845136345. p.42
  13. ^ a b Taylor, Steve (2006) The A to X of Alternative Music, Continuum, ISBN 978-0826482174, pp. 7–8
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, pp. 192–3
  15. ^ a b Middles, Mick (2014) "Reviews: A Certain Ratio - Sextet", The Quietus, 26 September 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2018
  16. ^ a b c Ellingham, Mark & Buckley, Jonathan (1999) The Rough Guide to Rock (2nd edn.), Rough Guides, ISBN 978-1858284576, p. 1
  17. ^ a b c "Keeping It Peel: A Certain Ratio". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  18. ^ "A Certain Ratio - The Graveyard And The Ballroom". Discogs. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  19. ^ "A Certain Ratio - Flight". Discogs. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Factory Records: FAC 22 A CERTAIN RATIO Flight". factoryrecords.org. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 1
  22. ^ "A Certain Ratio", billboard.com. Retrieved 3 December 2018
  23. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 99. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  24. ^ "TV Guide". Liverpool Echo. 31 January 1986. Retrieved 3 December 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  25. ^ Robinson, Charlotte (17 July 2005). "A Certain Ratio: Live America 1985". PopMatters. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  26. ^ "A Certain Ratio - Live In America". Discogs. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  27. ^ "A Certain Ratio - Greetings Four". Discogs. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  28. ^ "TV Guide". Evening Herald (Dublin). 7 October 1989. Retrieved 3 December 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  29. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave, s.v. "A Certain Ratio." (Middlesex: Guinness Publishing: Middlesex, 1992), 5.
  30. ^ Martin-McCormick, Daniel (1 August 2018). "A Certain Ratio: Change the Station / Mind Made Up". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  31. ^ "A Factory Night (and then again) - La Raffinerie, Molenbeek - A Certain Ratio,Section 25,Biting Tongues,The Wake,The Names Live Review - 12 Dec 2009 by Paul Pledger". Allgigs.co.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  32. ^ Rettig, James (2018) "A Certain Ratio – “Dirty Boy”", Stereogum, 8 August 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018
  33. ^ Mead, Matt (2018) "A Certain Ratio album reissue and tour news", Louder Than War, 31 May 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018
  34. ^ "A Certain Ratio Live In Session", BBC, 20 November 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018
  35. ^ "Mute Records • A Certain Ratio • 40th Anniversary Box Set Announced". Mute Records. 24 January 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  36. ^ Sinclair, Paul (15 March 2019). "A Certain Ratio / ACR:BOX | superdeluxeedition". Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  37. ^ Waterman, Rob (13 May 2019). "A Certain Ratio's Legacy Is Immense, and Impressive". PopMatters. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  38. ^ "Listen: A Certain Ratio dusts off lost 1980 cover of Talking Heads' 'Houses in Motion'". slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college rock, indie. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  39. ^ "Music to Break Your Heart". Evening Herald (Dublin). 15 January 1986. Retrieved 2 December 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  40. ^ Anson, John (2018) "Hacienda favourites A Certain Ratio to play date at Clitheroe Grand", Lancashire Telegraph, 21 November 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018
  41. ^ a b "A Certain Ratio", Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 December 2018

External links[edit]