THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 16)

The single after Touched By The Hand of God was in fact Blue Monday 88, but I featured that in an earlier posting.

New Order had closed off 1987 with a sold-out gig at the 12,500 capacity Wembley Arena, supported by a then little-known Primal Scream whose debut LP had been released to huge indifference. The following year, New Order seemed to drop completely out of view, with no new songs or live gigs to speak of. It later transpired that they had spent the best part of seven months working on their latest album, initially in Ibiza and then in Bath.

Technique should have been in the shops in time for Xmas 88 but it ended up being delayed until January 1989. All the talk was that the new record would be quite different from anything they had done before, with more a club feel to it with one eye on what was beginning to pack out The Hacienda.

In December 1988, the new single was released. The sleeve for Fine Time, with its depiction of drug capsules, was a clear indication that the club market was where the band were aiming. The contents of the vinyl remain, to this day, the one recording by New Order that gave a huge jolt to my system.

mp3 : New Order – Fine Time (12″ version)

The Barry White-esque vocal cut is Barney slowed right down via electronic trickery. I’ve long thought it was him  taking the piss out of Hooky’s rock god persona with the lyric:-

Hey, you know
I’ve met a lot of cool chicks
But I’ve never met a girl with all her own teeth
That’s why I love you babe
That’s why we could be
But you’re too young
Too young for me

Turns out it was supposedly about Barney’s first wife…which makes it as mundane and stupid as it gets.

But in this one, it’s best to put the lyric to one side and concentrate on the music. Which is why the instrumental b-side on the 12″ is the one for me…

mp3 : New Order – Fine Line

In a crowded Christmas market, the single managed to reach #15 and led to a very bizarre Top of the Pops appearance, which is saying something given how weird previous appearances had proved to be:

The following week….it climbed to #11 which I’m sure was the first time a New Order TOTP appearance had seen a single rise up the charts afterwards!

Oh, and I almost forgot that there was a more conventional instrumental made available as the standard b-side:-

mp3 : New Order – Don’t Do It

As it turned out, this was the sound that would provide much of the template for the resultant album…which regular readers will know is my favourite by the band, so expect some gushing praise for the next few singles.

JC

11 thoughts on “THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 16)

  1. This was a great single- from the day-glo sleeve to the song and all its versions (the Frankie Knuckles remix 12″ is good too). Tony Wilson said something along the lines of ‘how rare it is for a group who played a key part in one youth revolution to play a key role in the next one’. This single was what he was referring to. Look at the journey from Transmission to this. This single was such a jolt to the indie kids but shows where things were going- recorded in ’88 under the spell of the clubs in Ibiza, a world away from what was going on in the NME. The TOTPs appearance is a blast too, Bez’s freaky dancing beamed into the living room before most people had seen it.

  2. I really didn’t know what to make of it at the time. I was a dyed-in-the-wool indie kid and this dance music thing wasn’t for me. Yet I reckon Fine Time is probably the track that began my acceptance of dance music, though I didn’t realise it at the time. Pretty soon, everyone would be doing it, including that little-known band you mentioned…

  3. Real dip in quality from the two majestic singles that preceded it. The remix of Blue Monday shows they were running out of fresh ideas and, for me, this just confirms it.

    After the twin peaks of True Faith and Touched By the Hand of God, I would have been eagerly anticipating this single being released. The fact that for the first time in this series I had to actually listen to the song to remind me how it went says it all. New Order had in their time been such an innovative groundbreaking band. Getting ideas from other areas, clubs / Ibiza or whatever is fine.

    The sad thing is it didn’t mark any progress, more like regress. I think New Order could have knocked a track like this off at any point in their history from the second album onwards, only not with such vacuous, infantile lyrics.

    That TOTP performance also is one big cringe. I either (mercifully) didn’t see it at the time or had successfully completely erased it from my memory. Barney down with the kids, hmmmm.

    And I love the Happy Monday’s.

  4. For years I was on the fence with Fine Time and Technique. The album felt messy to me, no clear vision. What always redeemed Fine Time was the heavy bass and the final guitar and sheep sample…giving it some familial reference to Perfect Kiss.

    At the time I was a HUGE House Music Head. My concentration was on NYC, Chicago and New Jersey House. I had pretty much given up listening to just about anything else from 88 – 92. So Steve Silk Hurley was like a remix God to me. When Fine Time came out I was drawn to the Silk mix immediately. To call it smooth, is an understatement. It glides and makes the most impression played LOUD. His mixing around the “Barry White” coda is just marvelous.

    But its Silk’s Messed Around remix that makes me really get off my ass and dance! This is Chicago House! It’s aggressive and confident and it’s my favorite mix.

  5. Afraid I hit the Post Comment button just a bit too fast. I have a soft spot for Don’t Do It. It’s among my favorite NO b-sides and always reminds me of the narrative that even their more instrumental songs can create.

  6. I have a hazy memory of an interview with Barney, where he reckoned that when New Order were recording Technique in Ibiza, they would sometimes see Nico pottering around the island, until the fateful day she fell off her cycle and died. Just seems like a surreal cameo in the midst of the House revolution that was going on that year.

  7. My favorite album as well and, as it turned out, my last. Like so many bands of this era, I didn’t go with them into the ’90s. Going to pull this one out tonight and try to make Sunday night feel like Friday night.

  8. I effortlessly flowed with New Order as they absorbed house music and acid with this one. Of all the Brit bands that dove into the house music bucket, I feel that New Order and The Blow Monkeys wore those threads with the most style and grace. With the Blow Monkeys definitely at the top of the heap. Every other Brit band who issued perfunctory house music singles was a tragedy that ultimately saw me ending my decade of musical Anglophilia. Post 1988, the music of England would never quite have the gravitational pull that it had for years ’78-’88.

    I was back to buying New Order singles after having sat out the vinyl only 12″ers post 1985, when I only wanted to buy music on CD. I pounced on the CD single of this one, so I’ve never heard “Fine Line.” I did find the “Barry White” segment hilarious. And if you’re going to make house music, acid house was preferable to my ears. Like this single, it had a relentless, implacable quality to it.

  9. This was the perfect development of their sound for me…and of course leading to Technique, which after all these years is still one of favourite summer albums.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.