It'd be fair to say that I totally missed the bus, re: Kevin Hewick.
Back (back... back...) in the mid 80s, when I was already well on the way to be a smartarsed teenage music snob (no Bad Manners for me, thanks very much!), an older friend of mine owned a copy of FACT24, 1980's much maligned A Factory Quartet double LP, a slightly ill-judged sequel to the then already iconic A Factory Sample. Badgering him for a listen, I was profoundly disappointed - nay, disgusted - when I discovered it didn't feature 4 more slavishly predictable Joy Division / New Order knock-offs for me to self-consciously mope around college to. Even the (embossed!) sleeve offended my narrow-minded post punk sensibilities, it's tasteful photography & fine art calligraphy looking suspiciously like the work of a bloody hippy. Actually, of course, it was - ol' Anthony H himself in fact. Needless to say, I was not terribly impressed.
Over the next couple of years, I gradually came 'round to the relative charms of The Durutti Column (in retrospect, the definitive Factory act), Blurt & The Royal Family And The Poor. An appreciation of Kevin Hewick proved more difficult to grasp, however. Back in 1985, his earnest bedsit troubadouring seemed, to bigoted little moi, offensively uncool - "What's this bothersome hippy doing on Factory anyway?", etc. Hewick seemed like an unnecessary throwback to the legendarily dreadful sepia-tinged early 70s, the type of "proper music" ZigZag magazine worshipped prior to Lydon & co.'s Ground Zero blitzkrieg. His music sounded exactly like those elaborately gatefolded records my friends' older brothers would roll their hideous joints (ugh!) on the back of. Hewick's subsequent defection to Cherry Red backed-up all of my abiding misconceptions - I'd already written them off as a "bloody hippy label", despite their bankrolling the likes of The Nightingales, The Monochrome Set, Felt & that fantastic album by The Misunderstood. If I'd have known that Hewick had already recorded with New Order around the same time I was belatedly discovering Joy Division I might've lent him a more sympathetic ear. Sadly I wasn't that clued up. My all-too-malleable brain, polluted by the NME's relentless week-in/week-out savaging of anything that didn't fit their high-falutin' King's Reach Tower agenda, simply didn't want to know. My loss.
A few years back, with the advent of music blogging, I began chasing up records that the myopic music fascist I'd once been had lost, flogged, overlooked or ignored. One of the first things I sought out was A Factory Quartet (once a steadfast bargain bin fixture, now virtually impossible to find). Typically, Hewick's side suddenly sounded formidable: belligerent & sarcastic, emotionally raw, vocally startling & timeless rather than timewarped. Delving deeper, 1983's This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal 12" (recorded with Adrian Borland's The Sound) is a minor masterpiece of Buckley/Martyn-esque agit-folk with a Hannett-inspired production job. It's lead song, "Plenty", sounds so voguish it could honestly have been recorded last week. I've found a link for the entire e.p. over at Pop Will Eat My Blog. Give it a listen &, if you like it (& you almost certainly will), bag yourself a copy of Cherry Red's exceptional Tender Bruises And Scars CD - it compiles all 4 of This Cover...'s songs along with both sides of his forsaken Factory 7" (produced by Peter Hook & ACR's Donald Johnson), the Such Hunger For Love album, plus various B-sides & compilation tracks, everything except those elusive FACT24 tracks in fact (you'll find it here).
A quick gander at Hewick's wesbite reveals that he still lives & regularly performs (3hr sets allegedly!) in Leicester, & that his most recent LP, the rather fine Doomcloud, is available for free download in it's entirety. The voice might be a fathom or 2 deeper, the lyrics marginally less confrontational & the music a step closer to to blues than folk, but the passage of time evidently hasn't blunted Hewick's serrated musical edges at all, which is more than can be said for many of his Factory contemporaries. He's a bona fide diamond in the rough, just don't wait as long as I did to realise that...