‘What the Fuck?????’

I think it’s fair to say that this was my reaction when first hearing True Faith. It was via a TV set when the accompanying video was shown.

The summer of 1987 was a time when I was otherwise occupied and not paying too much attention to music. I wasn’t buying all the much and indeed if hadn’t been for a subsequent friendship with Jacques the Kipper whose C90 cassettes filled in so many gaps, then it’s fair to say I would have little or no knowledge of about two years worth of indie music.

New Order‘s latest single was a huge hit, thanks in part to the astonishing and innovative video, but let’s face it, True Faith was, and remains, an outstanding piece of pop music. It may have been a long way removed from Blue Monday, Temptation and Ceremony, but it is a wonderfully timeless and catchy piece of music.

It was written, along with 1963, its b-side, in the studio for the sole purpose of being new songs that could be included on Substance, a compilation album that brought together various singles and b-sides that have already featured in this series.

Substance was intended to be issued simultaneously in the US and UK, and it was the band’s American manager, Tom Attenacio, who pushed hard for a breakthrough pop hit to be written and included, and so pushed the band in the direction of Stephen Hague. The story behind the sessions that produced True Faith and 1963 is one of the most fascinating parts of Hooky’s book on New Order – the producer had very firm and fixed ideas about how it should be put together and he didn’t think there was much room for the usually distinctive bass sounds and indeed they were only added at the 11th hour after Attenacio, thankfully, intervened on the basis that you couldn’t have a New Order song on which only three of the band made a contribution as the bass is one of the things that drives it along beautifully.

mp3 : New Order – True Faith (12″)

The b-side was another lovely bit of synth-pop, something that could have (and subsequently would) work as a stand-alone 45:-

mp3 : New Order – 1963 (12″)

The single was released in two formats, with a radical remix by Shep Pettibone, aimed squarely at the dance market, also made available on 12″ vinyl in a different sleeve:-

mp3 : New Order – True Faith (remix)
mp3 : New Order – True Dub

The remix single also included the version of 1963 that was housed within the ‘blue’ sleeve, and all told it reached #4 in the UK singles chart and #32 on the US Billboard charts. Job done in terms of Substance.

Some seven years later, and the post-Factory release of The Best of New Order on London Records saw a little bit of history repeating with True Faith being used, in a re-recorded style, to promote the release:-

mp3 : New Order – True Faith 94
mp3 : New Order – True Faith 94 (Perfecto Mix)
mp3 : New Order – True Faith 94 (Sexy Disco Dub)
mp3 : New Order – True Faith (TWA Grim Up North Mix)

Make of them what you will… still pisses me off how cynical London Records were proving to be, but I’ll return to that it in a few weeks time when, among other things, I’ll feature the time when 1963 was issued as a stand-alone 45.  Worth mentioning that such was the popularity of New Order in the mid-90s that the re-mixed True Faith went all the way to #9 in the UK singles charts.


8 thoughts on “THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 14)

  1. For me New Order enter a new phase with this blistering, brilliant track. Even now when this bursts forth on the radio my ears still prick up and the dial stays where it is.

    One of the main things you notice about True Faith and New Order at this time is the confidence. Unlike their earlier inspiring great work there Is nothing experimental about True Faith. New Order are now fully formed and fairly insist on themselves. While there are a couple of singles I will always personally place above True Faith (Ceremony, Temptation) this is definitely something of a magnum opus.

    Mature or “more mature” is not usually a good word when applied to musicians /bands, usually means they have lost a certain charm or naïveté that made them special in the first place. I think the word can be used here in a positive sense for New Order circa True Faith.

    In interviews at the time, Barney talked about finally finding his voice. To me he meant both literally and metaphorically. There is a confidence in his singing voice that had been growing over time but it’s fair to say this is one of the songs that he sounds best on.

    Then there are the lyrics. The naysayers decry New Order lyrics as a matter of course but I think that stems from some modest and self deprecating comments Bernard has made about his own lyrics and the manner which he composes them over the years. My opinion is he has written as many good lyrics as any of his peers. I truly mean that. Yes, there are some clumsy ones along the way, but this is definitely not one of them. In my opinion the lyrics to True Faith are as good if not better than anything (and I mean anything) written by old Steven Patrick Morrissey.

    I truly love True Faith and New Order at this time had in some ways become everything I hoped they could be.

    True Faith is probably also, along with Blue Monday, the second time New Order have come to the attention of the non fan casual record buyer. That they did it with two absolute gems is satisfying.

    It says something that even all these years and all these plays later when this bursts forth on the radio I have no thoughts of changing the dial.

  2. I have very strong opinions on Stephen Hague – most are negative… I will give that he was very effective as a producer for Pet Shop Boys and Malcolm McLaren, but for the most part he is a big part of blanding many bands that I enjoyed – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark being the most obvious.
    But somehow he and New Order managed to fine the right mix of razor sharp, glossy pop and edge in the creation of True Faith. It is important to note that Hague gets a writing credit equal to the band on True Faith – something Hague managed to get quite a lot in those days – he may have had a plan in mind for True Faith, but it sounds and feels like a New Order song from start to finish. What Hague managed to do was build boundaries for New Order to work within.
    I am in complete agreement that True Faith’s life blood is Hooky’s bass throughout the song.
    Shep Pettibone’s remix is one of his best. I don’t really rate any of the later remixes though.
    As for that video, choreographer Phillippe Decouflé’s is just amazing. His surrealist world is quite memorable. The signing turtle woman has been with me ever since the first time I saw it.

  3. True Dub is about 10 minutes of sheer perfection. Totally agree with Echorich on Stephen Hague, but as said True Faith came out brilliant.

  4. This is right up there among their finest moments. Alex is right about the lyrics, Barney turning in what may be his best set of words here. This is a very special single, from the opening drum beats through to Hooky’s late contribution. Everything about it transports me back to 1987.

    I was interested when I read Deborah Curtis’ book- she said that after Ceremony she couldn’t listen to New Order until True Faith, as if this was the moment they finally stepped out of Ian’s shadow.

  5. My favourite New Order song and one for my grave. For me it’s the perfect package: the a-side, the equally wonderful b-side and the sleeve art, which has since become iconic. I could never tire of True Faith.

  6. I remember being totally blown away with 1963 and couldn’t believe that it was hidden away as a b side. The only -ve for me is the 94 remixes, not for their quality but as with the Blue monday remix cant get beyond seeing them as a cynical marketing ploy

  7. Truly an exceptional New Order single. Top three for me with “Blue Monday,” and “Temptation.” For a song written especially to “crack America,” it’s more superb than 99.9% of anything with that brief could be. I used to think Hague was purely a hack who ran roughshod over his charges, but now that I am in the middle of an OMD Rock G.P.A. series, I’ve come to see Hague in a more nuanced light. I think OMD’s MOR issues with Hague were completely of their own making, and I see Hague as being a less didactic producer.

    I look at his productions now and see them as him genuinely trying to facilitate his artist’s vision to the best of his ability. For all of the bland mid-80s Hague productions I may grouse over, there are some truly superb singles that were top notch from his corner. “True Faith” from New Order. “Thank You” from Claudia Brücken. “Kinetic” from Hilary. “Madame Butterfly” from Malcolm McLaren. “It Pays To Belong” from Blow Monkeys. If there were blander things with his name on it, I suspect that the band’s aim may have to “triangulate.” I am certain of it in OMD and while the small mountain of PSB/Erasure hits were fine, they did not [for me] scale the heights of the singles I pointed out earlier.

    But he was still wrong about no Hook bass in “True Faith!”

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