Observations: Rochdale is a new rock hot-spot

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The Independent Culture

It is an unlikely place for music pilgrimage, but Kenion Street in Rochdale is about to be placed firmly on the rock map with its own blue plaque. The site deserving of such an accolade is the former home of Cargo Studios, an establishment key to the North-west's musical development.

It was there that Joy Division recorded "Atmosphere", Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark pioneered electropop with "Electricity" and Gang of Four laid down post-punk classic "Damaged Goods". Later, Joy Division member Peter Hook took over part of the building and recorded "Elephant Stone" for the Stone Roses. Rochdale, on the edge of Greater Manchester, is on a drive to cement its place in the story of the city's influence on pop culture. As well as an exhibition about the town's music heritage, another plaque is set to adorn the site of nearby Tractor Sound Studios, where the band Tractor recorded and became the first act signed to John Peel's Dandelion label.

The revered DJ already had links with Rochdale, having worked briefly at a cotton mill there. His wife, Sheila Ravenscroft, has recorded a big-screen message to be played before an unveiling that will be attended by such music-scene veterans as Hooky, OMD's Andy McCluskey and dance producers Autechre. In the evening, the New Order bassist will play the town for the first time since 1980. He is set to join Mancunian cult offering Section 25 to play some of the tunes that came out of Cargo. It ought to be a diverse and memorable affair.

Peter Hook plays Back Door Music Project (www.backdoormusicproject.co.uk), Rochdale, 23 September