Feb 13, 2016
Last week’s reactivation of this blog was a familiar affair, featuring perennial Heard on the Wire favourites.It also served as an introduction to this week’s post, with the Joy Division’s Transmission leading nicely into the latest work by two of the three surviving members of the band.
New Order released their ninth studio LP in 2015. It was their first without the defining sound of Peter Hook’s bass playing, Years of tensions between him and singer–guitarist–songwriter Bernard Sumner having finally taken their toll.
Hook’s absence may well have been one reason why the band returned to the dance-influenced sound of arguably their most popular and well-received LP, 1989’s Technique, rather than continuing in the vein that made their last record with Hook, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, largely underwhelming and in parts utterly mediocre.
The new record also saw the return of keyboard player Gillian Gilbert. Gilbert returned to the band in 2011 for two gigs, one in Paris and the second in Brussels, which I witnessed. The impact of Gilbert’s return was palpable, putting a richness and texture back into a sound that had become stale and pedestrian.
And the evidence of that is clear on Music Complete, certainly the band’s best record since 1992’s Republic (a much-underrated recording). It’s not without it’s skip-to-the-next track moments; Stray Dog featuring Iggy Pop is a challenging listen, so say the least while Brandon Flowers brings nothing the LP closer, Superheated. It would be the best song on a Killers LP, but frankly that’s not good enough for New Order.
But that isn’t to say that collaboration can’t work and it certainly does on the record’s standout track. Produced and co-written by the Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, this is New Order at their very best. This version comes from the extended mix of the LP, in all its coloured vinyl gorgeousness.
New Order // Singularity [extended mix]
Technique was the band’s first number one and is widely considered to be their finest LP. But being the contrarian I am, it wouldn’t claim a place among my top three, a list that comprises Republic, Brotherhood and 1983’s Power Corruption and Lies, the record that, for me, defines the band.
Regular readers will know how much I love a good cover version. Here are two, both takes on tracks from “PCL”. The first is on a 2016 single by Philadelphia’s Cayetana; the second, 22 years older, comes from College Park, Maryland.
Cayetana // Age of Consent
Velocity Girl // Your Silent Face
And how about this for a New Order cover, two for the price of one from Canada’s short-lived Barcelona Pavilion‽
The Barcelona Pavilion // Regret Temptation