The Passage

The Passage

Real Name:
The Passage
Manchester postpunk band fronted by Dick Witts, active between 1978 and 1983.

The Passage were formed in March 1978 by Richard 'Dick' Witts together with Tony Friel and Lorraine Hilton. For Witts and Friel the band was extra-curricular, with Friel still playing bass in The Fall, and Witts juggling a post as music and dance officer for Merseyside Arts Association with a stint co-presenting What's On for Granada TV. Prior to this, Witts had trained as a classical percussionist and briefly played with the prestigious Hallé Orchestra; he was also a founder member of the Manchester Musicians' Collective.

Early Passage dates included a show at Eric's Club in Liverpool with Joy Division as support. 'New Love Songs' was released on 7" in December and featured two tracks apiece by Friel and Witts, with Love Song in particular raising eyebrows by virtue of an uncompromising lyric ('I love you/cos I need a cunt/I love you/to use you back and front') misconstrued by some as misogyny, although 'New Love Songs' sold a staggering 3,000.

Still a part-time group, the second Passage EP 'About Time' (OM 08) was produced by David Cunningham of Flying Lizards, and again featured two songs each by Tony Friel and Dick Witts. Recorded over two days, the standout track was an early version of 16 Hours, an intense meditation by Witts and Friel on infatuation. Indeed the EP was almost a concept record, with 16 Hours, Taking My Time, Clock Paradox and Time Delay all dealing with various aspects of the passage of time - a fixation repeated on the Contact EP involving Friel. However, About Time sold fewer copies than the first Passage EP, and following a London date with Cabaret Voltaire early in 1980 Friel left. For a brief period Lorraine Hilton's sister Martine joined on bass, although after Witts was injured in a car crash band activity was put on hold.

By the time The Passage recorded their debut album 'Pindrop' in July 1980, the group consisted of Dick Witts alone. Self-produced on eight-track equipment at Graveyard in just 70 tense hours, OBJ 011 made up in bile and bite what it lacked in production gloss. Standout tracks included a powerful version of 16 Hours, the brooding Watching You Dance and the memorable Troops Out, which despite an overt political agenda hinted that Witts was quite capable of writing a bona fide pop hit.

In due course The Passage expanded to become a trio, and recorded three further albums (For All & None, Degenerates and Enflame) as well as singles such as Taboos, XOYO and Wave. Today Witts is an academic, having published a history of the Arts Council in 1998, and lectures on modern music in London and Edinburgh.
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The Passage Discography Tracks


The Passage Pindrop (Album) Object Music UK 1980 Sell This Version
The Passage For All And None (Album) Night & Day (2) UK 1981 Sell This Version
The Passage Degenerates (Album) Cherry Red Greece 1982 Sell This Version
The Passage Enflame (Album) Cherry Red Spain 1983 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

OM 02 Passage* New Love Songs(7", EP) Object Music OM 02 UK 1978 Sell This Version
OM 08 Passage* About Time(7", EP) Object Music OM 08 UK 1979 Sell This Version
The Passage Devils And Angels / Watching You Dance (Single) Night & Day (2) UK 1981 Sell This Version
ampm 22:00 The Passage Troops Out(7", Single) Night & Day (2) ampm 22:00 UK 1981 Sell This Version
12 cherry 30 The Passage Taboos(12") Cherry Red 12 cherry 30 UK 1981 Sell This Version
The Passage Wave (Single) Cherry Red UK 1982 Sell This Version
The Passage XOYO (Single) Cherry Red UK 1982 Sell This Version
LYN 11183/84 The Passage / Blancmange The Passage / Blancmange - Born Every Minute / Living On The Ceiling + Sad Day (Excerpt)(Flexi, 7", Smplr) Melody Maker LYN 11183/84 UK 1982 Sell This Version
Cherry 58 The Passage Sharp Tongue(7", Single) Cherry Red Cherry 58 UK 1983 Sell This Version


The Passage Through The Passage (Comp) Cherry Red Spain 1983 Sell This Version
C BRED 45 The Passage Enflame / Degenerates(Cass, Album, Comp) Cherry Red C BRED 45 UK 1983 Sell This Version
cdm red 146 The Passage The Best Of The Passage - Seedy(CD, Comp) Cherry Red cdm red 146 UK 1997 Sell This Version
LTMCD 2365, ltmcd 2365 The Passage BBC Sessions(CD, Comp, RM) LTM (4), LTM (4) LTMCD 2365, ltmcd 2365 UK 2003 Sell This Version