THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 15)

One of my favourite bloggers is Swiss Adam from Bagging Area.  He is a superb writer, especially on all things Mancunian, and he was responsible for a superb piece on Touched By The Hand of God last year.  It’s well worth a read.  So much so, I’m reproducing it:-

New Order put out two non-album singles in 1987, True Faith and Touched By The Hand Of God. True Faith was the chart smash, the crossover hit with the award winning video but Touched… has long been its equal to these ears. The juddering synth bass intro was written by Hooky, waiting around for the others to arrive at their rehearsal studio, their timekeeping being a long standing gripe of Hooky’s. Tellingly in Substance Hooky notes that ‘Barney was happy with it’. From there on in the full band contributed to fleshing it out. Originally Touched… was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Salvation!, a parody of televangelism (a straight to VHS release). New Order recorded several other songs for the soundtrack and then had Arthur Baker remix Touched… for its release in December 1987 as a single. There’s an effortlessness about it, synth-pop disco brilliance, which makes it favourite of mine, Hooky’s bass well represented and Bernard’s lyrics seeming to carry the weight of personal experience.

Kathryn Bigelow’s video, shot at their Cheetham Hill studio and intercut with MTV video pisstake snippets, is a hoot- all the group dressed as a hair metal band (and Hooky in his normal clothes).

Only thing is, I disagree vehemently with him and have nothing good to say about this single (nor its accompanying promo).

mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of God (12″)
mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of Dub (12″)

The dub version sounds like a tune Howard Jones would have rejected. Oh, and if you want the 7″ version of the a-side, you’ll find it at a posting a few weeks ago back here.

Today’s cuts were extracted from a second (or maybe third or fourth-hand) copy picked up for not too much money some 7 or 8 years ago. It’s still one of the cheapest New Order singles available via Discogs and the likes…probably as a good number of copies were sold at the time of its release, with it hitting #20 in the UK singles charts.

JC

11 thoughts on “THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 15)

  1. I’m in the “it’s equal” camp along with SA. It felt right that both New Order and I were not ready for them to give up on their particular studio interpretation of street electro dance. This was dark and aggressive, with little sense of humor, which is likely why the video is such a piss-take. The one thing I really like about Touched is that Hooky’s bass is whats leading the rhythm with Morris’ drums more in the mix. There’s an enigmatic level to Barney’s lyrics. They fit quite well with the film’s theme of God-selling and hypocrisy, but they could just be seen to be about relationships and love as well.
    This would be the last single release in what I consider New Order’s second period. What came next caught me off guard 30 years ago and I’m still not quite sure I have fully recovered.

  2. This is one I have a real soft spot for. A fine follow up or companion piece to the previous (masterpiece) single, New Order have by this time reached a kind of state of grace, they are so full of themselves, firing on all pistons, oozing confidence and, yes as Swiss Adam wrote in his excellent piece, it all sounds so effortless. There is just so much to enjoy about Touched By the Hand of God, starting from and driven by Hooky’s baseline ( as all classic New Order songs are) to the keyboard flourishes, lyrics and vocals.

    It is also very cinematic in scope and sound but in a far cooler way than, say, the clunky Shellshock. You could imagine it in a real top notch movie.

    Also for what is basically a break up song, I find Touched by the Hand of God such an uplifting track. Exhilarating even. I love it and could listen to it on a loop, which I have pretty much done this morning.

  3. Thanks for the nod of the head JC. I’m already looking forward to next week- Fine Time- which will split opinions. For my money, a great single and sign they were (again) ahead of the pack.

  4. I don’t hate it like you, JC, but neither do I rate it like SA does. I found it underwhelming when it came out and it has never really grown on me a great deal, though I wouldn’t skip it when it plays. Nice enough but there are several dozen better songs they made.

  5. I have most if not all of the singles you’ve done in this series so far… until now. Can’t take sides on this one because, inexplicably, I don’t really know this song. How have I not come across it all of these years? I have done a little digging and see we didn’t have it as a single here in America. It only appeared as a B-side to Blue Monday ’88. I don’t have that one. Upon first listen, my feeling is this is no True Faith. Perhaps it will grow on me.

  6. I was on top of this one due to the New Order singles getting a CD single release by this time. That was probably why I sat out everything between “Murder” and “Substance.” Being post-“Substance,” I bought the UK CD-5 and later got the Japanese CD-3 for the 7″ mixes. I even got the “Salvation” OST since it was half New Order and Cabaret Voltaire material. The soundtrack version is radically different but the Arthur Baker version was a New Order single to sit on the same shelf as “True Faith” while having a more typically introspective, New Order complexion to it following on their US coming out party.

  7. Didn’t realize it at the time but this really was the last gasp of a sound NO had really run into the ground. It wasn’t so much terrible as it seamed just lazy at the time. It was definitely time for a change…

  8. @Eric from Oakland – I can certainly understand where you’re coming from when you mention running that certain sound into the ground. While I might not be that critical of it – I don’t think it’s a lazy track, it’s more a honing of that sound that started as far back as The Perfect Kiss. I think True Faith is part of that sound although it was removed a bit by the influence of Stephen Hague. I will agree it was time for a change after Touched By The Hand Of God.

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