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Thursday, April 28, 2005

old order

people sometimes ask me what i'm listening to and they want something new... but i'm going back.. new order's "power corruption and lies".. their 1983 album really holds up well.. i remember as a kid first seeing the wonderful cover - a fantin latour painting- in a rolling stone issue that came out sometime in late 1989 and picked the top 100 albums of the 80s... if i remember correctly it came in something like 90.. anyways..eventually in college i picked it up and really enjoyed it and still do... new order's new album just came out.. i downloaded it a few months ago.. its called "waiting for the siren's call".. it just doesn't seem to hit me like their other stuff...

"power corruption and lies" - the lp- includes three out and out classics: "your silent face" with its flowing kraftwerkian synths, "age of consent", and "leave me alone".. the cd appended the contemporanous mega smash "blue monday" and its instrumental twin "the beach"... of course, as an album, the LP is superior..its always dicey when you start adding songs...

"power corruption and lies" marks the point where new order fully becomes "new order" and leaves joy division behind....their first record, "movement", was a stilted effort to continue in the vein of joy division sans ian curtis. the problem of course was not only that ian curtis had hanged himself but also that even if he had stayed alive he would have moved forward..this can be seen clearly in comparing some of his last songs such as "love will tear us apart" which were absorbing synths and dance rhythms... anyways after the failure of "movement" new order released an ep which included their first bonafide masterpiece all of their own: "temptation" (moby just covers this on his new album "hotel")...after this there was no looking back.. classic album after classic album...great dance 12 inch after 12 inch rolled off these guys...from 1982 to 1989 these guys were as hot as it gets...if you don't believe me check out "power lies", "low life", "brotherhood" and "technique" and their 12 inch singles compilation which is almost another double album to itself "substance"...

i find it difficult to translate what exactly makes new order NEW ORDER....there's a couple of characteristics to the band that are interesting...

1. class.. everything is classy about these guys.. look at the cover art.. its usually peter saville artwork... my impression is that saville is a graphics arts designer and photographer.. anyhow, most new order artwork is his....and generally it holds up quite well ... whats also refreshing about it, and if i were in a band i would do the same, is that new order avoids the traditional pitfall of emblazoning their ugly mugs all over their work... how tired and boring is it to buy an album by a band and see their faces on it?. truly uncreative...

2. new order is a true pioneer in merging dance synths with traditional bass/guitar rock.. in melding technologies if you will.. most bands you hear are one or the other but new order has a plethora of songs combining racous guitar , and butt thumping bass (more on that later) with synthesizers/sequencers/drum machines and just about every other modern innovation they can get their hand on.. i remember reading in the aforementioned rolling stone review of Power Corruption and Lies how they recorded the album just after receving their new rolland synthesizers and basically they were learning how to play them on that record.. well, since that time new order has recorded more rock oriented albums such as "brotherhood" and say 2001's "get ready" and more dance/synth affairs such as "low life" and the dance masterwork "technique" which to my mind is still one of the alltime high points in dance music...

3. a distinguishing feature of new order has to be their man in black peter hook...i don't know too much about the mechanics of playing bass guitar but he plays it like some gunslinger in a mid 1960s spaghetti western makes those ennio morricone songs come alive... i'm sure some would tell me that he's simply coming at bass from the john ox entwistle of the who school of rock but to me on any number of songs it sounds different.. its very agressive bass ... its bass leading the charge if you will with the guitar at times complementing the bass and not the other more traditional way... there's some video i think included on the substance new order vidoes compilation dvd/vhs thingie which shows peter hook on his bass and he is JAMMING buddy... its bass as a lead guitar...

4. though i have yet to see it in pring that bernard sumner aka bernard albrecht aka bernard morris brings home the bacon both on the guitar and vocals and even lyrics department... the man gets little credit for it but i think he's doing a lot of things right .. perhaps it has to do with him coming at it from a different angle as he never expected to sing... on the early new order flop album following ian curtis' death its hard to tell if its bernard or peter hook singing. i think for a while they were both giving it a shot....and on that album bernard is definetly trying to sound like the model ian.. but subsequently he started singing in his own inimitable fashion...

though most critical writing on new order fails to echo my sentiments i always see new order as being the next link in the line of alternative music emanating from the velvets (there are plenty of signs from the heavily distortive rewritten cover of "sister ray" on the 1988 live bbc concert to naming their record imprint "factory" after andy warhol, etc.)to kraftwerk through david bowie (i'm thinking "low" here) and i see them, taking into account their joy division incarnation, as the most important band of the past 25 years... lately there is a bevy of new bands - the interpols of the world- worshipping at the altar of joy division with one hand while laying their hands on as much joy division moves, style, and chordage as they can with the other.. i would be somewhat surprised if in a few years its not new order thats being aped...although perhaps new order's innovations and contributions to music are already everywhere but its like nobody can tell cause its everything.. if that makes any sense... i think iggy pop was getting at this in his tribute piece to bo diddley where he wrote (rolling stone april 15, 2004): "i think bo and chuck berry have suffered the trivialization of people who are covered too much. their influence is everywhere, but their personal careers could use a boost.."...

(to be revised)

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