ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE 2008
(and again on 8 November 2013)
I’m not sure how many singles are released in the UK every week. Let’s guesstimate at 200.
If so, this would mean that since 1 April 1982, there have more than 250,000 bits of product originally designed to rotate on a turntable at 45rpm made available to the great British public. And not one of them has been as majestic as the work of art and genius that is Temptation by New Order.
Yup, that’s the song I consider to be my all time favourite 45 on the very day that I turn 45. And given it has held down the position for 26 years, 2 months and 18 days, its likely to hold the coveted slot for quite a while yet. At least till I’m 78 I reckon….
I’ve loads of great memories associated with this song.
My then closest friend called me up one day to say that he’d gotten his hands on the latest New Order single. He said that it wasn’t like any of the previous two releases – Ceremony and Procession – but it was something that had to be heard to be believed. I immediately got on my bike and cycled the couple of miles to his house for a listen. My mate handed me the single and invited me to place it on the turntable. He then left the room and said he’d be back in a minute or two but I was to give him my initial impression.
I thought it was appalling. There was something just not quite right about it, and who was this new vocalist that had been drafted in with his helium-like voice? My mate came back in and asked me what I thought. I looked him in the eye and asked him if he’d gone off his head as it was dreadful. It was then he burst out laughing and let-on that the single was to be played, not at 45rpm, but at 33 and 1/3 rpm….
Which I did…..and immediately fell in love with the hypnotic and robotic rhythm pulsating from the cheap speakers. This was the New Order that Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton had been been promising us for so long – and the song that finally got them to emerge from the shadows of Joy Division and stand on their own eight feet.
I don’t know how many times we played that record back-to-back that night, but a few hours later, I was back on my bike on the way home singing different snatches of the song, a cassette recording in my pocket and looking forward to buying my very own copy the following day after I’d borrowed some money from my mum.
I was lucky enough to go into a record shop which had an assistant who asked ‘Do you want the 7” or 12” version?”, and my choice of the 12” turned out be inspired.
It was quite unlike the 7” which was by now so familiar to me. The sleeve was slightly different, it had a different introduction and it rotated on the turntable at 45 rpm. It also sounded, to my ears at least, a perfect recording whereas the 7″ seemed now to be something spliced up to come in at under 5 minutes for radio play….
Now it was my turn to phone my mate and get him on his bike down to my house, where he grudgingly accepted that the 12” version was superior.
It was all a bit disappointing that Temptation didn’t make the band instant superstars – I was a bit worried that having made such a masterpiece that did next-to-nothing, New Order would soon either choose to break-up or maybe just fade into obscurity..
Instead, the band just got bigger and better in so many ways over the next 10 years or so.
And with the inclusion of a new version of Temptation on the phenomenally-successful soundtrack to the film Trainspotting, the song finally got some long-overdue recognition and acknowledgment.
Which brings me to another story (if you’ll indulge me…)
I’d like to think that this series has highlighted how important my time at University was in terms of really developing a passion for music. Most of my weekends between late-1981 and mid-1985 were spent in various parts of the Students Union at Strathclyde University – be it Level 8 for gigs and the ‘popular’ indie-disco, or the smaller downstairs converted dining-room for the more obscure stuff mixed in with the Goths.
Upon graduating, I moved to Edinburgh to live and work and I reckoned that I’d never set foot in the building again. Which I didn’t……
………until 12 years later when I accompanied a local dignitary who I worked for as he had the task of giving a welcome speech as part of an event for the fresh intake of students in September 1997. The location was the newly furbished Level 8 of the very building that I had spent so many happy nights. I was a bit unsure of myself as I got into the lift to go up the 8 floors of the building where maybe 300 or so students were patiently waiting for the formalities to begin. As I stepped into the space, my jaw visibly dropped at how different it all looked….the makeover had changed the old haunt beyond recognition……but the real shock was to hear that the song coming over the speakers was Temptation. I was a bit spooked to say the least…
It turned out that the CD to the Trainspotting soundtrack was what was being played, but to have arrived at that moment as Barney was singing about grey eyes, green eyes and blue eyes was really disconcerting…
But it’s not just the stories and memories that makes this song so very special.
The 12” version of this song is so joyously infectious that you can’t help but sing along. Its so incredibly catchy that you can’t stop yourself dancing. Its also a track that has often been a live tour-de-force at New Order gigs. The early 90s documentary ‘New Order Story’ has got an especially incredible version recorded live at Montreux in Switzerland…
I don’t know how many times I’ve played Temptation. It was a near staple inclusion on all the compilation tapes I used to make, and I still include one version or another of it on many of the playlists compiled for the I-pod. I have never ever grown bored by it, and know that I never will.
And…..as I mentioned above, there’s also the fact that it did so much to establish New Order as an act in their own image, and not just three seemingly non-descript blokes and a shy girl looking to carry on where Joy Division had left off.
I’ve never seen anyone quite like you before. No I’ve never heard anyone quite like you before.
mp3 : New Order – Temptation (12 inch version)
mp3 : New Order – Hurt (12 inch version)
Bonus Birthday mix-tape for you all…..see above!!