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More debut albums should be so amusingly perverse with its titles -- and there's the original vinyl sleeve, which consisted of sandpaper precisely so it would damage everything next to it in one's collection. Released in the glow of post-punk fervor in late-'70s Manchester, one would think Return would consist of loud, aggressive sheet-metal feedback, but that's not the way Vini Reilly works. With heavy involvement from producer Martin Hannett, who created all the synth pieces on the record as well as producing it, Reilly on Return made a quietly stunning debut, as influential down the road as his labelmates in Joy Division's effort with Unknown Pleasures. Eschewing formal "rock" composition and delivery -- the album was entirely instrumental, favoring delicacy and understated invention instead of singalong brashness -- Reilly made his mark as the most unique, distinct guitarist from Britain since Bert Jansch. Embracing electric guitar's possibilities rather than acoustic's, Reilly fused a variety of traditions effortlessly -- that one song was called "Jazz" could be called a giveaway, but the free-flowing shimmers and moods always revolve around central melodies. "Conduct," with its just apparent enough key hook surrounded by interwoven, competing lines, is a standout, turning halfway through into a downright anthemic full-band rise while never being overbearing. Hannett's production gave his compositions a just-mysterious-enough sheen, with Reilly's touches on everything from surfy reverb to soft chiming turned at once alien and still warm. Consider the relentless rhythm box pulse on "Requiem for a Father," upfront but not overbearing as Reilly's filigrees and softly spiraling arpeggios unfold in the mix -- but equally appealing is "Sketch for Winter," Reilly's guitar and nothing more, a softly haunting piece living up to its name. [The 2014 reissue on Factory Benelux differs slightly from the 1996 version. It also contains two songs from a 1980 12" single ("Lips That Would Kiss" and "Madeleine") and two songs from the Martin Hannett-written Test Card flexi, but also adds a bonus that may only appeal to the true fanatics. Tracks 14 through 19 represent the runnnig order of the second side of the album as released in the record's rare second pressing. It does add the song "Untitled" however, so it isn't a complete academic exercise.]
Performance CreditsDurutti Column Primary Artist
Eric Random Rhythm Box
Martin Hannett Group Member
Vini Reilly Guitar,Group Member
Toby Tomanov Drums
Peter Crookes Bass
Technical CreditsMartin Hannett Composer,Producer
Vini Reilly Composer
Chris Nagle Engineer
John Brierley Engineer
Raoul Dufy Cover Painting
Jean-François Octave Illustrations
Steve Horsfall Cover Design