A Certain Ratio PhotoThough formed in Manchester's late-'70s punk scene, A Certain Ratio used an increasing amount of electronics throughout the '80s to become more of a dancefloor-oriented band, much like Factory label-mates New Order. The group (whose name is a pointer to a Brian Eno song) was formed in 1977 by vocalists Simon Topping and Martha Tilson, bassist Jeremy Kerr, guitarist Peter Terrell and guitarist/trumpeter Martin Moscrop - drummer Donald Johnson later replaced a drum machine. New Order's manager Rob Gretton was impressed by early live shows, and spread the word to Tony Wilson, who signed the group to his fledgling Factory label and became their first manager. In 1979, A Certain Ratio released the cassette-only album The Graveyard and the Ballroom (including one side each of studio and live material) and a debut single, "All Night Party."

The punk and industrial grind of ACR's early live shows soon became more danceable and funky - second single "Shack Up" even reached the American R&B Top 50. The proper debut album, To Each..., appeared in 1981 and was produced by the band and Martin Hannett. The following two albums, Sextet and I'd Like to See You Again (both 1982), expanded A Certain Ratio's sound further, encompassing Latin and jazz elements. But Tilson left the band in 1982, and Topping opted out a year later, leaving vocal duties to Kerr and Johnson. Also, Andy Connell joined the group as keyboardist, replacing Peter Terrell.

Frustrated with their lack of commercial success, the group recorded just one more album for Factory, 1986's Force, though the company released a singles compilation (The Old and the New) around the same time. The next year brought Live in America (on the independent label Dojo) and a major-label contract with A&M.

A Certain Ratio fared no better with A&M, however. The full-length Good Together was released in 1989 and the mini-LP MCR followed one year later, but the band moved to old friend Rob Gretton's label (robs' records) by 1991. Up in Downsville, appeared in 1992. Creation Records later acquired the rights to ACR's back catalogue and released a remix album with help from Manchester alums Graham Massey, Electronic, the Other Two and Sub Sub, among others. After a five year hiatus, A Certain Ratio returned in 1997 with Change the Station. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide