A compilation of forgotten songs from Manchester’s Industrial Revolution will be revisited and re-mastered on a night that will pay homage to the city’s historic music publishing industry next month.
In the 1800’s, the bustling streets of the Northern Quarter resonated messages of politics, poverty, social change and protest that were zealously sang by reformists and locals.
The historical catalog, known as the Manchester Broadsides, will be brought back to life by roots reggae band, Edward II, in a free evening of exhibitions, food and drink on Sunday July 5.
Composed as fleeting melodies that would leave no resonance to the same cobbled avenues 200 years later; the Broadsides were printed on cheap paper and distributed at markets around the city centre’s popular district.
Gavin Sharp, band lead of Edward II, explained to MM why the soundtrack to Manchester’s Industrial Revolution was now more relevant than ever.
“These were people who were demonstrating for changes in workplace employment practice, which you can imagine in the eighteen hundreds, were pretty appalling,” said Gavin.
“Generally speaking they’re not part of the English folk repertoire and they’re not generally known or sung as they go back 200 years.
“These really are hidden gems and yet there are hundreds of them.
The free event will take place at The Angel Inn, which features in the song The Soldiers Return, one of the most well known of the collection.
In total there are about 400 original Broadsides that are preserved at Manchester Central library.
The sheets of music that were published on today’s equivalent to chip shop paper given out on weekly basis and were sold across the market place.
Something that Gavin believes was the first ever instance of music publishing – adding to the city’s cultural history and worldwide musical influence.
The University College Salford alumni told MM: “In some respect we might be able to claim that the commercial music industry started in Manchester in terms of publishing.
“There was basically a printer who came up with the idea of getting a writer to come up with these songs, printed them off and sold them.
“It was the writers who were behind it and it was just a money spinning idea.
Social Archaeologist David Jennings, who is currently studying a PhD on Manchester’s music publishing past, will also be exhibiting historical searched content.
The band may have swapped the traditional strunal mandolin for base guitars and saxophones; Gavin believes that the messages behind the songs retain authenticity.
“The songs are very Mancunian. You could take a Smith’s tune and sing one of these songs to it and it would have the same sentiment and feeling,” he said.
“It is part of what we consider to be Manchester’s musical heritage and is something that goes much further back and much deeper.
“There’s a lot of pride of the working class roots that you can hear in the songs.
“There’s not one voice, one single person or first witness left to talk about what life was like at that time but there’s no doubt that what comes through the songs is that in many respects that.
Though Edward II’s rock-steady rhythm is heard in their renditions of the 200-year-old melodies, Gavin believes that the penned messages still mirror the sentiment of Mancunian way of life today.
“Undoubtedly, life was so much harder back then but there are so many similarities to today.
“People are people and those who struggled through life during the city’s industrial revolution still have the same emotions and concerns as we do today.
“I think that comes through really strongly.”
The band will be performing at 5pm and 8pm at the Angel Inn, however exhibitions will commence from 2pm with performances staring between 4pm until 9pm.