heard on the wire

You lose your sting and die


A friend and reader suggested recently this week that ELO might have been better than New Order. Doctors have been called. (He’s a Brentford fan, so he has previous).

He was referring to the bands’ performances at the recent Glastonbury festival, where Jeff Lynne’s ELO, as the hirsute, prog-ish, sometimes-pretentious rockers are now known, brought lots of grey-haired, pot-bellied men of my age to the Pyramid stage on a soggy afternoon. Later New Order lit up the night sky on one of the festival’s plethora of other stages, presumably to an audience comprising, in a not insignificant part, of grey-haired, pot-bellied men of my age.

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And then there were 12


I’ve now been asked twice to do this. I know it’s one of those Facebook memes, but this blog got up and running with one of those, so who am I to resist?

Anyone, the challenge, if that’s what it is, is:

List 12 albums that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed. No compilations.

So without taking too long and thinking too hard, this is my list, a little predictable perhaps, but I feel that’s perhaps the point. I’m listing them as I heard them — as far as I recall — but feel free to wrest them into any order you wish.

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I feel this burning flame


The boiler’s on the blink. My fingers are cold and all I can think about is heat.

There’s a stew in the oven — beef skirt with Guinness — and wine in my glass but all I can think about is heat.

New Order are not known for their covers. As far as I know their are just two official recordings of other people’s songs: a version of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray that appeared on a BBC release of their 1987 Glastonbury set and an earlier take on an obscure reggae song.

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Up, down, turnaround


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.

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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.

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There’s still this appeal


Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

If you could have grown up in any musical era, which would you choose? A fatuous question, perhaps, but now which begs another: what was the greatest era of popular music?

I’ve mentioned the recent, excellent BBC4 three-part documentary on rock ’n’ roll, tracing its story from its origins in 1950s black America to its huge commercial success across white America in the sixties. It’s hard to argue with anyone who says that those early years are non pareil, the years of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. Likewise, who can contradict those who point to the years covered in the third part of the documentary, when the Beatles defined pop music, the Rolling Stones were still good and the Beach Boys breathed fresh life into rock ’n’ roll?

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No more ground boutique at match in Chelsea


It happens occasionally, that a song is so good I simply have to play it twice. Often, as was the recent case with Cinerama’s King’s Cross, because the song perfectly fits the day’s theme, and sometimes because the random shuffling of an iPod gives me no choice.

The Fall have released at least four versions of the tune many know better as the music that accompanies (or accompanied—it’s been a while) Saturday’s football results on the BBC. The first version appeared on the band’s twenty-fourth studio LP, The Real New Fall LP Formerly ‘Country On The Click”, released in 2003. The band later reprised it for a John Peel session, before releasing a third recording that was one of my two 2004 choices for “a song from each year of my life”. A fourth turned up Interim, on a compilation of previously unreleased Fall material.

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Some people like to deceive you

New Order Republic singles

Republic is a strange record. The sixth New Order LP contains as many indifferent tunes as it does great New Order moments. It’s a record of two halves, the first a collection of run of the mill LP tracks, that became fabulous singles, the second a collection of run of the mill LP tracks.

It gave us one great New Order single and spawned both their best remix and best video and includes the great underrated New Order song. On the other hand, it has singer Bernard Sumner rapping.

According to bass player Peter Hook, it was an LP that had to be made—and was only made—to meet financial commitments.

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Nothing in this world can touch the music that I’ve heard


It’s 25 years since the release of Technique, the New Order LP that perhaps defines the 1980s as well as any released in that musically exceptional decade.

More than any other record that the band made, Technique is a perfect blend of the band’s “rock” roots and the electronic and dance influences they absorbed throughout the decade. It’s also very much of its time. Partially recorded in Ibiza, its opening track, Fine Time, is the purest dance track that the band ever recorded.

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How’s it taste, that bitter end?


One of the advantages of having been an eMusic subscriber for longer than I care to remember is that every time they increase the price of their downloads, they throw me a wedge of free credit that allows me to occasionally download an LP on a whim without being entirely sure whether I’ll like it.

Thankfully this more than makes up for eMusic’s many drawbacks, from confusing one artist with another, to sub-standard file quality, antediluvian social sharing and music discovery and inadequate 30-second previews.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


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