From Dangerous Minds:
Did New Order blatantly cop the groove for “Blue Monday” from obscure minimalist Manchester new wave novelty act, Gerry & the Holograms?
Championed by Frank Zappa during a 1980 BBC Radio 1 guest disc jockey stint (as well as 1979 radio spot on WPIX in New York and The Dick Cavett Show), Gerry & the Holograms (who consisted of a guy named John Scott, and CP Lee of Manchester-based 70s comedy-rock group, Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias) put out this Residents-influenced piss-take on the synthpop bands that would have been emerging then, like Soft Cell or The Human League.
Zappa referred to Gerry & the Holograms as “the hottest thing to come out of Manchester in at least 15 minutes.”
Here’s Blue Monday for your comparisons.
Realizing, ten seconds into hearing “Age of Consent” for the first time since ‘09, that I’ve spent the last three years chasing inferior/sometimes comparable imitations of a sound that was invented and perfected six years before I was born, and being totally okay with that, because joy and innovation/credibility are different things.
The latest Mojo compilation to hit newsstands is a disc comprised of reinterpretations of New Order’s second LP, 1983′s Power, Corruption & Lies. The covers range from the fairly catholic to wholly re-imagined versions, with the key takeaway being Destroyer’s take on the original album’s eighth and final track, “Leave Me Alone.”
Clash magazine’s New Order cover via Creative Review
Designer Howard Wakefield was commissioned to create a cover for Clash magazine that celebrated 30 years of New Order. The above graphic is his response. But how did Wakefield come up with this grid of coloured squares, and what do they represent?
“When I think about imagery and New Order, I instantly think of all the sleeves,” says Wakefield of his approach to the commission, “but rather than showing a montage of them, which have been much seen, admired and recognised, I wondered how recognisable are they?” I was curious to find out,” he continues, “if I reduced them in some way, could they still be recognisable? I tried blurring and distorting them, but they rapidly became something else, however by simplifying them to their basic colour elements, they appeared to remain true to their iconic designs.”
Joy Division - She’s Lost Control (12” Recycle mix and master, 1981)
The Joy Division/New Order Recycle blog describes its project thusly:
A careful restoration of Joy Division/New Order’s years on Factory Records (and maybe a little before and after).
All tracks were taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics. Tracks sourced from vinyl have been carefully cleaned and EQ levels have been tweaked for consistency. The artwork was scanned at the highest possible resolution and the type was reset when possible using the original fonts.
All of these singles are out-of-print. Many of the tracks have never appeared on CD. This was a labor of love from a small, devoted circle of fans.
The post accompanying each single contains scrupulously detailed historical information about the release and recording of the songs on that single. For instance, we learn about the 1980 rerecording of “She’s Lost Control” (emphasis mine):
Perhaps only the late Tony Wilson knows why Factory asked the band, already at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in March 1980 to re-record Love Will Tear Us Apart, to also record a new version of their already-a-classic She’s Lost Control. The story goes that it was intended to launch the band in the US dance clubs, and while we’ll never know if it would have worked due to intervening events, it did give the world a new, fresh interpretation of the track. And the story also goes that Martin Hannett used this track to audition some new production techniques he’d been working on.
Two distinct variants (due either to perversity or poor master reel labeling, nobody knows for certain) eventually were issued. The original, what we are calling the 12” Version, is what was released August 1980 in the US and one month later in the UK as FACUS2. The alternate Full Mix - and it’s definitely a different mix, more in a moment - first appeared on UK copies of 1988’s Substance, while US copies retained the earlier 12” Version. The Full Mix also appeared on 1991’s Martin compilation, issued by Factory to memorialize the late Martin Hannett, which is where I sourced the version presented here. 1997’s Heart And Soul featured the Full MIx as well, though several other compilation or soundtrack records post-1997 featured the earlier version.
They are definitely different mixes: the 12” Version is more claustrophobic and dense than the Full Mix, it has a longer keyboard/synth part (essentially, it comes in earlier in the mix), and the entire track fades out prematurely. The Full Mix has a different mix of acoustic/electric guitars, as well as some of the underlying electronic sounds/effects.
It’s really quite astonishing to the hear the difference as I alternate between my Substance-ripped version of the full mix and this 12” remaster. Although I haven’t heard any of the 2007 album reissues, this recording is basically the best I have ever heard Joy Division sound.
New Order - 5-6-8 (Peel session, 1982)
Just. Wow. Incredible minimalist rework of New Order’s track off their Power, Corruption & Lies album from ‘83, originally transmitted from their BBC Radio 1 session for John Peel in 1982 and the first 12” to be released on his Strange Fruit record label.
The Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80’s
#04: New Order - Temptation
The song’s a shoo-in, but the important question is which version of “Temptation” to choose. I opt for the 12” version because of how scrappy and earnest the band sounds, but the cleaned-up Substance version and the 7” mix are valid. Then again, there’s also the awesome short-shorts TV performance. Not that any one version instantiates a superior or platonic performance—the song is a gift that keeps on giving. All you really need is the chorus, the cooing, the “oh you’ve got grey eyes!” hook, and the “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before” lyric. In this respect, it’s less of a song than a set of ingredients for recombination and remixing—which makes sense for a rock band taking its first strides into the idiom of dance music.
The lyrics are purposefully vague, which is okay because it’s all about those hooks anyway. The doomed fatalism of “bolts from above hurt the people down below” has always thrown me for a loop, but I like to think of it as the cosmic consequence for whatever the title’s temptation is. In this respect, the defiant chorus that follows is a gesture of “smite me almighty smiter!!” Not that the song is overly defeatist or gothy: New Order are underdogs here, yes, but they’re romantics and they’re not afraid to seize the moment. In a way, the song’s about what great dance music is: a stellar groove, a romantic escape, a musical moment that you want to last forever. Up, down, turn-around—sounds like dancing to me. So bolts striking down people: End of the world or end of the record? Trick question! Is it any wonder that they milk this song for almost nine minutes?
The Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80’s
#15: New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle (Single Version)
A couple days ago, Some Songs Considered did this song, and I said to myself, “Brian you bastard, you scooped me!” He does a characteristically insightful job with the song, but fortunately for us, he chose a different (inferior) version of the song, which we shall henceforth refer to as the “bummer mix” since it’s not a peppy dance song and it obscures the honesty of the lyrics behind meretricious sound effects. It’s no wonder that Brian finds the narrator an indecisive sadsack—the bummer mix guts the part where a choir sings the chorus and in fact celebrates the narrator’s position as ambivalently dedicated bystander.
Brian’s prey/pray pun is apt and incisive: The narrator dramatically prays upon seeing his unrequited crush falling and he’s lying in wait for that final moment. The dance mix strongly prefers the knight-in-shining-synths heroism of the situation, which is a most brazen self-delusion: I’m not just a friend-zoned guy with a crush—I’m just waiting until she needs to be rescued! Context is crucial, and the bummer mix exposes his passivity while this mix glorifies the dilemma. We can’t help but relate either way.
New Order - Homage (1980 Western Works demo session)
This recording dates to September, 1980—just months after Joy Division had ended. The recordings come from a fan-rescued reel of audio. Full story at The Power of Independent Trucking. The writer on that site remarks:
These tracks show the band’s emotions - both musical and lyrical - laid out to bare themselves to the world. Hesitant yet brave, restrained yet oddly forward-looking, New Order find themselves seeking the path at this very early stage - a path that would not be truly explored publicly for at least another 12 months - that would lead them out of the Joy Divsion shadow into completely new realms of songcraft.
(audio via masochisticopposite)