Dreams never end: Manchester's culture, football & music – Man Utd

Tee Rasheed
6 Min Read

Following the of launch another collaboration between Manchester United, adidas and legendary designer Peter Saville, Mancunian music journalist Luke Bainbridge explores the city’s everlasting obsession with the worlds of football, music and culture…

Cantona knew. The United legend, recently reborn himself as a singer-songwriter, instantly recognised, when he arrived in Manchester in the mid-’90s, that this was a city driven by the twin obsessions of football and music. This is the place, realised football’s ultimate renaissance man, this is home.

“I feel close to the rebelliousness and vigour of the youth here,” Cantona said. “Perhaps time will separate us, but nobody can deny that here, behind the windows of Manchester, there is an insane love of football, of celebration and of music.”

Those twin cultural obsessions are now being embraced and celebrated again, with a second collaboration between United, adidas and Peter Saville, the legendary designer of Factory Records. Following the success of their first collaboration on last year’s Pulsebeat of Manchester collection, adidas, United and Saville have worked together again on season two of Manchester United x Peter Saville.

Inspired by Manchester’s cultural heritage, this is what happens when music and football combine.
Where Pulsebeat took Saville’s artwork for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures as inspiration, the second Saville season, entitled Concilio et Labore (‘By Counsel and Work’) the motto from the Manchester Coat of Arms, is inspired by the iconic artwork of the sleeve of New Order’s Blue Monday, which included Saville’s use of a colour bar to communicate the titles and catalogue numbers, and was recently recreated on the cover of United Review. Like Pulsebeat, the second season is a nod to the cultural rebirth of Manchester in recent decades, powered in no small way by the iconic cultural institutions of Factory and Manchester United.

From the late ’70s to the ’90s, straddling punk and acid house, Factory was the most important record label in Britain, if not the world. It kickstarted the cultural rebirth of Manchester and the finding and rebuilding of a new civic identity. Even Factory’s name was inspired by a wilfulness to reinvent the post-industrial city – “We kept seeing signs everywhere saying, ‘Factory closing’, so we thought ‘why don’t we have a Factory opening?’”.

Like Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson, Factory’s civic attitude reflected that of the ancient Greeks; the lofty ambition and determination to leave behind something greater, better, and more beautiful than that which they inherited. There’s myth in the national press and London that the IRA bomb in the summer of 1996 started the regeneration of Manchester, but the truth is the rebirth and renaissance of the city had started much earlier. At that point, Manchester was already a city in transition. It may have suffered in the 1970s, like all British post-industrial cities, but by the late ’80s and early ’90s, the republic of Mancunia was rediscovering its zeal. As were United… and then some.

Coming of age in Manchester at the time, I witnessed the city reinvent itself around me, drawing inspiration and confidence from its art and artists. Culture and football replaced cotton as the city’s greatest export, and the foundations for both its excess of civic pride and its international reputation. The buoyant music scene and domination of United put Manchester back on the global map and enthused the population. You don’t get a town like this for nothing.
The collection includes a T-shirt, long sleeve T-shirt, track top, half zips and track pants, all of which feature a new interpretation of Saville’s colour bar down the sleeves or leg. The collection was worn by the United players on the way to the home match against Newcastle, as well as for the pre-match warm-up.

The most unique and covetable item is the release of a limited edition United x Saville concept album entitled Sound of Manchester. One side of the album features iconic Salford poet and lifelong United fan John Cooper Clarke, talking about the history and power of Manchester culture, and the flipside features a previously unreleased recording of the crowd from Old Trafford from the season-defining game against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, when United came from behind with two late Steve Bruce headers, and went on to win the inaugural Premier League title. There is also a short Clockwork Orange-inspired film which features members of United’s men and women’s first team supervising the pressing and mastering of the bespoke vinyl.

Everyone knows Manchester kids have the best record collections and this unique Peter Saville x United album will be a covetable addition to any Mancunian vinyl collection.
Take a look at the closer details of our latest collection…
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