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Sporadic Three

The Durutti Column

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Album Review

Gathering further odds and ends, this compilation continues the archival project of The Sporadic Recordings and Return of the Sporadic Recordings — somewhat ironic titles, as Vini Reilly's output has always been anything but irregular. Sporadic Three casts a retrospective eye over the Durutti Column's work via unreleased and rare tracks capturing its stylistic range through the years. As is often true of collections assembled from secondary material such as home demos, alternate versions, and outtakes, it's uneven in quality. A rudimentary rendering of the 1981 single "Danny" stands alongside Reilly's best early recordings and the ethereal, ornate "Birthday Present" is a quintessential guitarscape that wouldn't sound out of place on any Durutti Column album; by contrast, "The Best Dream," with Reilly's rather flat vocals, fails to go anywhere interesting. Reilly has periodically incorporated elements of electronic music to sublime, timeless effect, but that's not the case with "In the City," whose heavy-handed dialog samples and formulaic techno beats render it clichéd and dated. However, one of the stronger numbers, the playful "New Order Tribute," is actually a pastiche of the titular band at its most dance-oriented. Given that several tracks weren't finished articles intended for release, the inconsistency here isn't surprising, but the material does offer intriguing glimpses of Reilly at work, trying out ideas: "Dig a Hole," for instance, is a sparser, slightly quicker version of "Big Hole," which appeared on 2006's Keep Breathing, and on "Natural Mystics" Reilly sings lyrics that featured on that same album in the very different musical setting of "It's Wonderful." Ultimately, Sporadic Three is aimed at the Durutti Column completist (who else really needs more versions of "Drinking Time" or the twee "I B Yours"?); nevertheless, there's still plenty here for more casual fans of one of the most enduring and prolific original Factory artists.


Formed: 1978 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Durutti Column was primarily the vehicle of Vini Reilly, a guitarist born in Manchester, England, in 1953. As a child, Reilly first took up the piano, drawing inspiration from greats like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, before learning to play guitar at the age of ten. Despite an early affection for folk and jazz, Reilly ultimately became swept up by the punk movement, and in 1977 he joined the group Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds. In 1978, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson invited Reilly to join...
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