There is someone I know who thinks New Order should have disbanded in around 1985 as the music they have made since then has betrayed everything that Joy Division stood for. Despite holding such strident and unacceptable views, he remains a dear friend…and besides it gives us one more thing to fight over when we are drunk.
Me? I’ve never hidden from the view that it took until 1989 for their masterpiece to emerge….and while there has been the occasional nugget of gold since then, I’d have been happy if this had been their last ever record.
It’s worth recalling that the release of Brotherhood in 1986 had disappointed many fans. It was, in the main, a lacklustre affair and indeed was shown up as such when the compilation LP Substance was issued the following year. The one hope was that the Greatest Hits package featured two amazing new songs – True Faith and 1963, the former a wonderful dance track driven largely by Steve & Hooky and the latter a gorgeous pop number with Barney at last penning lyrics which made sense and had a semblance of a story line.
But post-Substance, the band seemingly disappeared off the radar and some folk (including your humble scribe) thought we’d seen the last of them.
In the days before t’internet, you had to rely on the music papers for news/info on your favourite bands. One week, I read a snippet that New Order had gone to Ibiza to record a new LP. Months passed. Nothing. More months passed. Still nothing. and I assumed that somehow I had missed the news that the band had broken up.
Then, out of the blue in late 1988, a single was released. It was called Fine Time and it was really quite different from anything else they had ever previously released being, for the most part an instrumental, and which was very clearly aimed at the dance market. And I loved it.
The album kind of sneaked out in January 1989. Little did we know that the low-key release was down to Factory Records lack of cash to give it the usual big marketing/advertising push. It came out when Britain is at its most cold, miserable and wet. But this album made you forget all that.
It was everything that fulfilled the promise of True Faith/1963. There were immense dance numbers, there were songs of love, joy and happiness, and there were songs about having your heart broken into many pieces. Every song could have been a single. No that’s not true. Every song could have been a #1 single.
Thankfully, the album did sell in reasonable quantities, but not enough to arrest Factory’s eventual decline into receivership/administration. It did however lead to New Order being asked to take the sound of Technique into the football world when they penned the England Squad’s 1990 World Cup Anthem, World In Motion, which finally gave the band the #1 hit they had been chasing for a few years.
Here’s three of the lesser known songs from the album:-
mp3 : New Order – Love Less
mp3 : New Order – Mr Disco
mp3 : New Order – Vanishing Point