INTERESTING TIMES AHEAD….

Thursday 4 May 2017 is going to down in history in my home city, and not just for the fact it marks the arrival of the Walter and Brian as the first for the bloggers weekend…..

It’s also election day for the local council and without any shadow of a doubt the ruling Administration is going to be swept out of power. It’s almost unheard of for the Labour Party not to be running Glasgow City Council as they have held outright power for all but eight years since 1934. The last time there wasn’t a Labour Leader in office was a two-year spell from 1977-1979.

The Scottish Nationalists, either on their own or via a coalition with the Greens are certain to wake up tomorrow and have their first ever control of the magnificent City Chambers built as long ago as 1888. It’s a building I spent much of my career working in, for spells as an aide/advisor to some of the leading political figures in the council and so I know first-hand the complexity of the challenges in managing and delivering the vital and essential services that the residents and those working in the city are so heavily dependent on.

I might not agree with the politics of those who are going to take over but I really do wish them well in their endeavours. It will be fascinating to see how good a job they make of things and how they will cope having these new responsibilities for tough and difficult decisions, especially when there is such a lack of leadership experience. I’ve no doubt however, they will draw heavily from and lean on their colleagues who have been in charge of other political bodies in recent years.

This seems appropriate today.

mp3 : New Order – Times Change

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #105 : NEW ORDER : VOL. 3

They were #20 in the series back in June 2015 and I went with these tracks:-

Side A

Age Of Consent
The Perfect Kiss (12″)
Lonesome Tonight
Temptation (12″)
Run

Side B

Love Vigilantes
True Faith
Ceremony
Blue Monday
Leave Me Alone

Just six weeks later, a second New Order ICA was offered up as #28 in the series, courtesy of a guest posting by Martin Elliot from Sweden, that had been a work in progress when my own offering appeared:-

Side A

Blue Monday
1963
Round & Round (KS club mix)
Regret (Sabres Slow n Low)
Age Of Consent

Side B

True Dub
Someone Like You (GD Vocotech dub)
World (Brothers in Rhythm)
The Perfect Kiss (12″)
Ceremony

I happened to put New Order on shuffle on the i-pod the other week and was quickly reminded just how many great bits of music they had put out, particularly in the early part of their career, so much so I thought a record-breaking third ICA would go down well. The only rule being all ten songs this time can’t have been featured at all in any shape in either of my own or Martin’s postings from 2015. Let’s Go……

SIDE A

1. Love Vigilantes (from Low-Life, 1985)

If it wasn’t for the fact that Age of Consent is such a stunning opening to Power, Corruption & Lies than I would reckon many of us would argue that this is as fine an opening, not to just to any New Order LP, but to any LP as there has been. It’s a tremendous bit of pop music and one of the finest ghost stories that anyone could ever sway their hips to.

2. Confusion (rough mix) (single, 1983)

Let’s stay up there on the dance floor with the song that paid tribute to the changing face and sound of NYC nightclubs and hatched the idea for The Hacienda. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, it wouldn’t have happened without the production work and values of Arthur Baker as clearly demonstrated by its similarities to the earlier hit single I.O.U. by Freez, but it was a sound and a technique which New Order were already exploring, the conquering of which would make them as important as any band that has ever emerged from the UK.

3. Thieves Like Us (single, 1984)

I had the b-side to this on the original ICA and while I stand by my claim that Lonesome Tonight is the better song there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a hugely under-appreciated single which in many ways ticks all the boxes – great bass line, unusual and catchy drum beat, the one-fingered keyboard solo and a nonsensical lyric that, by somehow hanging brilliantly together, makes perfect sense. And as an added bonus it has Barney singing in and out of tune….

4. Shame Of The Nation (7″ version) (b-side 1986)

While he’s no Weller or Bragg, I’ll doff my cap to Barney for having a go at writing a political protest song at the height of Thatcherism. It was a single that was widely ridiculed upon its release and which, to be honest, hasn’t date all that well , but the additional work on the b-side, for which producer John Robie is attributed a credit, means it is more than salvageable thirty years on. As far as I know this particular version has never been made available in any other format than the original 7″ vinyl. It’s clearly been edited down from the full-length format with some unwieldy edits but it’s included here given that any Volume 3 of a release needs some sort of rarity to make it appeal….

5. Dreams Never End (from Movement, 1981)

This is inspired by Martin who, in his New Order ICA, pointed out that a brilliant LP opener – Age Of Consent – can also work just as effectively as a closer to a side and make you want to flip the vinyl over without any hesitation. The one where Hooky had a go at being lead vocalist and the one that you know would have made a great Joy Division single.

SIDE B

1. Your Silent Face (from Power, Corruption & Lies, 1983)

This was the one track that I just couldn’t find the room for back in June 2015 which was painful as it is one of my all-time favourite NO songs, but my rule of thumb for an ICA is that it has to hang together as an album and not merely be a collection of tunes. It opens up Side B of PC&L and this is perfectly place right here.

2. Bizarre Love Triangle 94 (from Best Of, 1994)

The rapid advances in production techniques were such that Stephen Hague could take what was one of the band’s most recognisable numbers and make it even more New Order-sounding than the band had managed back in 1986. It was one of four tracks that he worked on for this particular release and helped make it something worth purchasing with the nice little fade out at the end allows a nice lead-in to….

3. Paradise (from Brotherhood, 1986)

The band’s fourth album was something of a disappointment in comparison to the other work that came immediately before and shortly afterwards. It certainly suffered from the decision to put five guitar-based songs back-to-back on side A with the flip side being the more electronic based numbers. I’m not going to argue that all ten tracks are essential but it certainly isn’t as duff a record as I first thought.

4. Vanishing Point (from Technique, 1989)

I’ll long argue that Technique is the band’s finest LP, It’s strange because it came out at a time when I was missing out on so much music and I wasn’t buying much, but as a long-standing fan and having just about everything in the collection I made sure I picked it up when it was released. It came across as such a happy and triumphant record that I fell for its charms on first listen – it seemed to have everything I wanted the band to do with its mix of guitar and electronica with so many that you just wanted to dance to…and yet the tracks that really seemed to stand out early on was this resigned sounding mid(ish)-tempo number. Maybe it was that I was feeling my own life was no holiday and I had personally reached the point of no return. Imagine that…a New Order lyric that proved to be philosophical.

5. Ruined In A Day (from Republic, 1993)

I’m closing things off with a track that I’ve come to love and appreciate only in recent years. I was never fond of much of the parent album and thought it was a sad ending (as it appeared at the time) to the band’s career. I also hated the promo video that accompanied the release of Ruined In A Day as a single and struggled to disassociate the two. But a few years ago, this came up via shuffle while I was lazing out in the garden on one of the few sunny days we get in Glasgow and it just sounded quite lovely through the headphones. It would probably have made a superb Electronic record….just imagine Johnny Marr adding a guitar solo in the middle of it and it would be damn near perfect.

So there you have it. A third volume, and while it is easy to bemoan the lack of some classics, I think it hangs together pretty well.

Bonus track today. It’s featured before on the blog in video form. If you do like this, then I urge you to go and purchase it along with the other four versions that are available:-

mp3 : Mike Garry & Joe Duddell – St Anthony : An Ode to Anthony H Wilson

Just when you thought Your Silent Face couldn’t be bettered. Buy here.

Enjoy

THE 1987 ANOMALY

Here’s the list of all the singers/bands who got to #1 in the Indie Singles Charts in 1987:-

Ciccone Youth, Age of Chance, The Smiths (three times), Erasure (two times), Gaye Bykers on Acid, The Soup Dragons, All About Eve, New Order (two times), M/A/R/R/S, Fields of the Nephilim and Nina Simone.

The last-named sort of sticks out somewhat doesn’t it?

My Baby Just Cares For Me had originally been recorded in 1958 for Nina’s debut LP Little Girl Blue. Despite the likes of Frank Sinatra, Julie London and Pat Boone all recording it in the 60s, this jazz song was really quite obscure until some marketing whizzkid decided it would make the perfect accompaniment to an advert for Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Such was the popularity of the ad that there was a demand for the song to be released as a single which happened in October 1987 on Charly Records, a small label specialising in reissuing obscurities and whose distribution arrangements meant its releases could qualify for the indie charts.

mp3 : Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares For Me

My Baby Just Cares For Me went to #5 in the mainstream charts and spent 5 week at top of the indie charts. It was preceded and then succeeded by these: –

mp3 : Fields Of The Nephilim – Blue Water
mp3 : New Order – Touched By The Hand Of God

More invaluable knowledge for pub quizzes.

LET’S NAIL THE MYTH ONCE AND FOR ALL

R-20755-1246970545

The fifth single from New Order. And the one which propelled them to stardom.

No-one can argue that it isn’t a classic. A song that was really quite like no other on its release. And the record sleeve is also one of the most recognisable of all time.

It is not known just how many copies of FAC 73 were sold after its release on 7 March 1983. It’s reckoned to be over a million, but because Factory Records weren’t part of the British Phonographic Industry, there are no reliable figures nor certifications or awards.

The story over the years is that the sleeve was so expensive that every copy sold actually cost the record label money. It’s a great story but its simply not true.

Yes, the initial editions with a die-cut cover and cut outs and silver inner sleeve were expensive to manufacture and package. However, once the single sold out its initial run the sleeve got progressively more simple and cheaper with each repressing.

I’ve got three copies of Blue Monday in the cupboard full of vinyl – all have different sleeves ranging from the more expensive original to what is no more than a plain black cover with the colour coding on the right hand side. You needed to own a copy of the Power, Corruption & Lies LP to decipher the code – it actually spells out the song title on both sides of the vinyl, the name of the band and the catalogue number. And here, ripped direct from the vinyl, is the music:-

mp3 : New Order – Blue Monday
mp3 : New Order – The Beach

Still sounds amazing all these years later.

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (1)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WEDNESDAY 18 JUNE 2008
(and again on 8 November 2013)

r-28846-1379091171-3928

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)

PS :

Bonus Birthday mix-tape for you all…..see above!!

 

BONUS POST : THE DAY I KNEW I’D NEVER BE A COMPLETIST

R-12171-1200391238.jpeg

R-12171-1354715896-7133.jpegNew Order had released a belter of a debut single in Ceremony.  The follow-up hit the shops in September 1981:-

mp3 : New Order – Procession

It was quite similar to a number of the tracks on the debut LP Movement and it wasn’t a huge shift away from the Joy Division sound albeit it did highlight that with Bernard Sumner was a completely different sort of vocalist from Ian Curtis.

I bought the only copy of this single that my local record shop had and it came in a cardboard sleeve with a strange green design which I thought alluded to the title of the b-side. I soon discovered that it had been released in nine different coloured sleeves and while I wanted to own every single one of them, there was no way an 18-year-old student, who that month had just started university, was going to waste valuable vodka money on something as unworthy as a 7″ bit of plastic.

The b-side was a precursor to what New Order would become within a few months – a band of their own right delivering electronic dance-music.

mp3 : New Order – Everything’s Gone Green

This is ripped right from vinyl folks and is a bit shorter than the versions generally available on compilation LPs, so please forgive the fact that there’s also a wee skip and a jump about 3mins in…..

Oh and here’s the other eight sleeves in miniature:-

aquablackbluebrown

 

 

 

 

 

 

orangepurpleredyellow

AS OWNED ON VINYL, CD AND CASSETTE

technique_posterThere 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

Enjoy.