heard on the wire

You can’t beat a boy who loves New Order


There are some bands who get a free pass, whose new records will be bought without a second thought, who even manage to survive the occasional indiscretion.

The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit, Nick Cave, Helen Love, the Wedding Present and Cinerama are definitely on that list, but top of it are New Order. That they’re top is odd in some ways, since of them all they have perhaps committed the worse indiscretion — the mediocrity that was their last full LP, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call whose low points, the title track and the Scissor Sister-accompanied Jetstream, are such an execrably bad records that I stopped buying every version I could find, something I’d been doing since I bought Temptation on seven- and 12-inch.

But such is the band’s stock stored up over five of the finest LPs ever made and a few magnificent singles on the side, that such indiscretions can be forgiven. Thus, the offer to place and advance order for this, the Deluxe Vinyl Box Set of the forthcoming new LP, Music Complete, couldn’t be resisted, despite evidence that any high expectations should be reined in.

The thing is, I quite like Restless, the first single from the new record, although it’s plainly a long way from the band’s best, little different from what the previous two and a half LPs¹ delivered. We knew that it would lack the signature Peter Hook bass sound, since the low-slung genius has long departed, but that doesn’t mean we feel his absence any less.

Singer, guitarist and all-round genius Bernard Sumner has said that the LP recalls the band’s dance-influenced days of the mid- to late-80s. And certainly the return of keyboard player Gillian Gilbert, who revitalised the band’s live shows, should help in of that. I can’t really hear it here, but if it is the case, then the rest of the LP should serve up something more interesting. You see, when it comes to New Order, I’m ever the optimist.

New Order // Restless

Coincidentally, another of the names on that list has a new single out. John Peel once said of the Fall, that “they are always different; they are always the same”. The same might be said Helen Love. Love was once asked if the only records she owned were Ramones records, such is her devotion to the US punk popsters and posthumous t-shirt darlings. This is just the latest in a long line of songs playing tribute to Joey and the boys.

Helen Love // You Can’t Beat a Boy who Loves the Ramones

Langhorne Slim almost makes the list, but good as has records are — and they are very, very good — they haven’t embedded themselves in the same way that New Order’s have, or indeed as those from the other artists on my list have. This is a track from his fifth and latest long player, The Spirit Moves.

Langhorne Slim and the Law // Airplane

And what of Leftfield, whose two nineties LPs rank not only among the finest electronic records ever made but also among the finest LPs, period? It’s sixteen years since the second of those was released and the duo is now just one, but they’re (or rather he’s) back and it’s as if nothing has changed, but still nothing’s the same. Sound familiar?

This track features serious music journalists’ latest flavour of the month, the Seaford Mods, and is almost certainly the best thing they’ll ever do.

Leftfield // Head and Shoulders

June 9, 2002, I saw New Order at Finsbury Park. This is what I recall: whom I was with; the weather, tt was wet and cold, Air, the support act, who were suitably dreary, and Peter Hook’s Dee Dee graffiti on an amp, as a tribute to the recently deceased Ramones bass player. I don’t remember the gig being this good. See, you really can’t beat a boy who loves the Ramones.

New Order // 511 Finsbury Park 9 June 2002

¹ Two full LPs, Get Ready and Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, plus the collection of leftover tracks from the Sirens sessions, Lost Sirens.

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