Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977-1991 Various Artists (Producer Series)


Punk Rock
Big Beat
Catalogue Id:

With the resurgence of interest in post-punk, ZERO is a timely and kaleidoscopic collection of the work of producer Martin Hannett who changed the musical landscape of the late twentieth century. He was what you want a producer to be. A mad scientist, notoriously difficult and demanding, tormented and troubled, in the tradition of Joe Meek, Phil Spector, Jack Nitzsche, and Lee Perry.

Hannett was the right person in the right place at the right time. That right place was Manchester, and the time was at the start of the punk explosion. There (as Martin Zero) he enabled the Buzzcocks’ “Spiral Scratch” to sound as out-of-control and spiteful as it does.

As his skills and vision developed, Hannett did special things with space and echo, and famously shaped Joy Division’s sound, helping to create those pioneering and forbidding records that still reverberate and conjure up a sense of urban alienation and industrial decay. The single Transmission on this set still has the power to shock with its intensity.

Experimenting with unorthodox approaches and new technology allowed Hannett to create a sound that became much in demand. He produced many of the great Manchester records, like A Certain Ratio’s To Each and Magazine’s The Correct Use Of Soap, and it was no wonder he became the producer of choice at Factory Records, acting as alchemist to many of its minor characters. Factory recordings included here by Section 25 and the Names are being rightly re-evaluated, largely thanks to the salvage work of LTM, run by James Nice, who provides characteristically comprehensive sleevenotes for this set.

Hannett is rightly revered for his work with New York funk minimalists ESG, which laid the foundations for hip hop, and the Scroggins sisters still speak fondly of our hero to this day. Another of Hannett’s production duties often overlooked was for Basement 5, PiL acolytes led by photographer Dennis Morris, whose Last White Christmas is included here. Hannett helped create a menacing metallic sound, heavy on the drums and bass, which provided the opportunity to experiment with the dub techniques he loved so much.

This collection draws together many of Hannett’s productions, from long lost gems like Wasted Youth and Pauline Murray (the closest in sound he got to his beloved Abba), through to the guilty pleasures of the Psychedelic Furs’ Pretty In Pink and OMD’s Electricity. It’s appropriate it ends, back full circle, with a brace of Manchester groups (Happy Mondays and World Of Twist) from a time when the spotlight was back on a city ripe for regeneration. Criminally Hannett’s awesomely cavernous version of Happy Mondays’ Wrote For Luck was not the hit one. Suddenly Hannett was submerged by an electronic future he surely helped create with his early New Order productions. Those, and others, are a massive influence on many areas of current music.

By John Carney

John is a regular contributor to, the home of un-popular culture on the world wide web.


Track listing


Side 1

  • 01 Preview Boredom - Buzzcocks

  • 02 Preview Cranked Up Really High - Slaughter and the Dogs

  • 03 Preview Jilted John - Jilted John

  • 04 Preview I Don't Want To Be Nice - John Cooper Clarke

  • 05 Preview Dream Sequence 1 - Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls

  • 06 Preview 11 O'Clock Tick Tock - U2

  • 07 Preview Transmission - Joy Division

  • 08 Preview Conduct - The Durutti Column

  • 09 Preview Electricity - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

  • 10 Preview The Light Pours Out Of Me (Second Version) - Magazine

  • 11 Preview In A Lonely Place - New Order

  • 12 Preview Oh Lucinda (Love Becomes A Habit) - The Only Ones

  • 13 Preview Night Shift - The Names

  • 14 Preview The Last White Christmas - Basement Five

  • 15 Preview Pretty In Pink - Psychedelic Furs

  • 16 Preview Friendly Fires - Section 25

  • 17 Preview Rebecca's Room - Wasted Youth

  • 18 Preview All Tomorrow's Parties - Nico and the Invisible Girls

  • 19 Preview Quick As Rainbows - Kitchens Of Distinction

  • 20 Preview Wrote For Luck - Happy Mondays

  • 21 Preview She's A Rainbow - World Of Twist

Delivery & Returns


We offer free P&P to UK addresses. For all other territories packaging is free and postage is charged on a weight basis.

We use Royal Mail First Class for UK deliveries and standard Air Mail for all other territories, very large orders will usually be sent via parcelforce. You may cancel your order at any time prior to your order being dispatched by emailing us at ensuring that you quote your name, address and order reference number or by telephoning +44 (0) 208 453 1311 between 9am and 5pm GMT/BST, Monday to Friday. Please note: As music downloads are dispatched immediately after purchase, there is no possibility of cancelling these orders.

In the event that any products supplied to you by us are damaged or defective, we agree to replace or repair the damaged or defective products or refund the amount you paid for such goods (including postage & packaging) providing you notify us (either via post at or e-mail: ) and return the goods within 28 days of purchase. Physical goods should be sent back to us in the same condition you received them to: “Returns” Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the e-mail address above including a copy of your notification.

You have the right to cancel your order within seven days of purchase, or seven days of receipt of the goods (whichever is the longer). If you choose to cancel your order, full payment will be returned to you. Returned items should be sent to: “Returns” c/o Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the email address: including a copy of your notice of cancellation and order number.

Press quotes


This is a fitting testament. ★★★★


Customer reviews


Related products

Customers who bought this item also bought