Moss Side Story

Moss Side Story is the debut album of British musician Barry Adamson released in 1989. The album is a concept album, a soundtrack album to a non-existent crime film.

Moss Side Story
Moss Side Story.jpg
Studio album by
Released6 March 1989
Length54:00 (with bonus tracks)
ProducerBarry Adamson
Barry Adamson chronology
Moss Side Story
Soul Murder
Professional ratings
Review scores

The music is almost completely instrumental except for occasional screams, vocal samples and a choir. To achieve the soundtrack effect, the song titles are descriptive of a film noir plot outline. The inner sleeve came with a short story written by Dave Graney which added to the concept. This complemented outer sleeve which displays the tag line: "In a black and white world, murder brings a touch of colour...". In a 2017 interview, Adamson reported that he recorded Moss Side Story due to his fascination with film music and as "a calling card [to] send it around to people" in hopes of being hired to write music for actual films.[2] The overall style is reminiscent of the work of Angelo Badalamenti who often collaborates with the film director David Lynch. Adamson would go on to contribute music to Lynch's film Lost Highway (1997)

Moss Side is a neighbourhood in the city of Manchester, Great Britain, where Adamson was born. The album title is a play on words and a reference to Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. The title of "The Swinging Detective" plays on Dennis Potter's series of television plays The Singing Detective, while "Round Up The Usual Suspects" is a line made famous by Claude Rains in Casablanca.

Release historyEdit

CD versions came with three bonus tracks. Two of them - "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Man With The Golden Arm" (composed by Elmer Bernstein) - are drawn from TV or film themes. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" is a reworking of the theme to the series of the same name, Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette."

Track listingEdit

All music composed by Barry Adamson; except "Everything Happens to Me" by Barry Adamson and Seamus Beaghen; "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" by Charles François Gounod and "The Man with the Golden Arm" by Elmer Bernstein.

Act One - "The Ring's The Thing"

  1. "On The Wrong Side of Relaxation" - 5:27
  2. "Under Wraps" - 4:27
  3. "Central Control" - 2:10
  4. "Round Up The Usual Suspects" - 0:43

Act Two - "Real Deep Cool"

  1. "Sounds from The Big House" - 6:24
  2. "Suck On The Honey of Love" - 2:13
  3. "Everything Happens to Me" - 2:43
  4. "The Swinging Detective" - 5:45

Act Three - "The Final Irony"

  1. "Autodestruction" - 3:49
  2. "Intensive Care" - 2:42
  3. "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" - 4:07
  4. "Free at Last" - 1:23

'For Your Ears Only'

  1. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - 2:24
  2. "Chocolate Milk Shake" - 4:24
  3. "The Man with the Golden Arm" - 5:13


Year Publication Country Accolade Rank
1989 NME United Kingdom "Albums of the Year" 34 [3]
"*" denotes an unordered list.


The NME review of the albums describes it as a "Grand filmic suite intended as the soundtrack to a "provocative film thriller set in Manchester's Moss Side" and that Moss Side Story is "one of the best soundtracks ever, the fact that it has no accompanying movie is a trifling irrelevance."[4]

A retrospective review by Ritchie Unterberger of Allmusic described the album as "a sinister and edgy soundscape" that remained Adamson's best solo effort by far.[1]

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[5]


  • Barry Adamson - All other instruments, string arrangements, treatments, samples and sequenced
  • Seamus Beaghen - Hammond organ on tracks: 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 15; piano on tracks: 2, 5 to 7, 11, 12, 15; rhythm guitar on tracks 2, 8; marimba track on 3
  • Audrey Riley - cello on tracks: 1, 6, 11, 12
  • Chris Tombling - violin on tracks: 1, 6, 11, 12
  • Philippa Holland - violin on tracks: 1, 6, 12
  • Sonia Slany - violin on tracks: 1, 6, 12
  • Diamanda Galás - voice on "On The Wrong Side Of Relaxation"
  • Gary Barnacle - saxophone on "Sounds From The Big House"
  • Marcia Schofield - keyboards, bass saxophone on "The Swinging Detective"
  • Joe Sax - tenor saxophone on "The Swinging Detective"
  • Rowland S. Howard - guitar on "Autodestruction"
  • John Doyle - percussion on tracks 11, 15
  • Annie Hogan - vibraphone on track 11; strings on track 15
  • Chris Pitsillides - viola on track 11
  • Enrico Tomasso - trumpet on track 15
  • Freedom Choir - Anita Lane, Jessamy Calkin, Katy Beale, Kid Congo Powers, Mick Harvey - on tracks 6, 12
  • Billy McGee - orchestration, string arrangements


Chart (1989) Peak
UK Indie Chart[6] 9


  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "allmusic ((( Moss Side Story > Review )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  2. ^ Interview: Barry Adamson,, accessed 13 Feb 2019
  3. ^ "NME - Albums of the Year". NME. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  4. ^ Marconie, S. NME, March 11, 1989 pp33
  5. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  6. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2014.