I have been trying to avoid the obvious picks with these letter posts but in this case to not pick New Order would have been a bit ludicrous. When Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis committed suicide on May 18, 1980 on the eve of the band’s first US tour many fans figured that would be the end of the group. Give credit to guitarist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris for making the decision to soldier on, changing their name to New Order in the process. When keyboardist and guitarist Gillian Gilbert was asked to join the band New Order was complete.
It is pretty amazing that 34 years later this band is still around, still playing live and still creating relevant music. Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner have feuded on and off for years so Hook is the one original member that is no longer with the band. Sumner recruited former band mates of his from the band Bad Lieutenant to join New Order, Phil Cunningham on guitar and Tom Chapman on bass.
New Order has released nine studio albums to date and more important, a massive catalog of singles. That is an important fact because the band was averse to including singles on their albums, the reason that some of their most well-known tracks such as “Blue Monday” and “True Faith” did not appear on a proper studio album. “Blue Monday” later was included on the US pressing for Power, Corruption and Lies but was noticeably absent from the original UK pressing. “True Faith” was included on the 1987 singles compilation Substance.
The thing I truly love about New Order is the variety of styles that they play well and more important, play better than many other bands. The band delivered quality post punk with a hint of new wave on an album like Movement, electronica on Technique and mesh those styles together incredible well on every other album created. Their songs continue to be played at dance clubs and the band continues to be invited to play massive festivals. This is one of those instances of a band having a genuine impact on generation after generation.
My favorite release from New Order is the Factus 8 cassette from 1982. Yes, cassette. This five track EP compiled the singles “Everything’s Gone Green”, “Procession” and one of the band’s landmark singles “Temptation”. The EP also contained the B-sides of “Mesh” and “Hurt”. I found that tape at ZIA years ago and played and played it until like many cassettes I had the tape shredded on me one day. Luckily today you can find that EP as part of Disc 2 of the Movement reissue from 2008. That disc also contains two versions of “Ceremony”, which was originally a Joy Division track and a second version of “Temptation”. The EP was the perfect bridge between Movement and Power, Corruption and Lies.
I saw this band once, headlining a show at Compton Terrace that included Echo and the Bunnymen and Gene Loves Jezebel. New Order and Echo co-headlined that tour so switched off each night in terms of whom played last. I would love to see them again one of these days. We shall see.
Check out this live video for “Everything’s Gone Green” from 1981. Holy cow …
Album Inspiration: Movement reissue disc 2