The little-known Manicured Noise were part of the post-punk underbelly of the Manchester scene in the late-1970s. Their shtick was a brand of jazz/funk/punk with wailed vocals, which perhaps sounds even more relevant now given that The Rapture are attempting to pull off the same trick a quarter of a century later.
Most famous for their single 'Faith'; it's an angular little number led by Steve Walsh's forceful vocals and an unshakable rhythm courtesy of female duo Stephanie Nuttall and Jodie Taylor that still strikes a chord today. Much of this formula describes the remainder of this reissue, albeit in not quite such consistently fine form. If squawking sax doesn't float your boat then seventy minutes of it is going to be tough going (especially when 'Soundtrack' is preceded by the words "This is a long one...") but less frantic moments such as 'Dreams Money Can Buy', the urban menace of 'Music B' and the chilly dub version of 'Great White Whale' offer a welcome break. In conclusion, 'Northern Stories' is a worthwhile listen for post-punk historians but the one-dimensional nature of it all makes it rather hard work.