THE REST OF: New Order

Ah, the double-edged sword of The Best Of collection. To many they hold the ultimate in a band’s back catalogue – their Greatest Hits, the complete singles collection – and they’re not wrong; but anyone who really knows them knows that it’s Fools’ Gold, with the real treasure hiding in long players, behind A-sides and buried with demos by bizarre collaborators. The Rest Of intends to assist with that, creating a playlist of tracks that could wipe the floor with radio-friendly numbers of an act you thought you knew. Here are the Greatest Bits that may have passed you by… Think we missed anything out? Let us know @Gigslutz_

**It’s purely coincidental that following their 1994 The Best Of, New Order’s remix album was titled The Rest Of.

Few bands survive when their frontman – and primary lyricist – removes themselves from the line-up, and Joy Division were no exception. When Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980, the remaining members of the band (Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris) removed themselves from the digital shadows from which they’d soundtracked the late ‘70s for post-punk goths who wanted to dance, focussing instead on the undeniable beats they knew they could create.

Not that the transition was an instant one, of course. Movement (1981), their first collection together, attempted to merge the echoes of their former incarnation with hints of synths, thanks to Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert’s inclusion into the band, creating something which is almost exactly 50% Joy Division and 50% the New Order we’d come to know a few albums down the line. At this point the unit was still a confused one, with vocal duties shared (Hooky sings ‘Dreams Never End’ and the haunting ‘Doubts Even Here’) and all singles around the time of this LP and its follow up, Power, Corruption & Lies (1983), remaining absent from the albums.

While ‘Blue Monday’ (released two months before Power…) provided their new world order, ‘586’ acted as its younger sibling, still living at home with the rest of its album-track siblings, showing promise but not quite ready to cut the apron strings of its parent’s past endeavours, while ’Ultraviolence’ would be similar in age to ‘Blue…’, but not quite as world ready. By 1985’s Low-Life the transformation was almost complete, as shown in sequenced singles ‘The Perfect Kiss’ and ‘Subculture’. ‘Sunrise’ is the exception, its slow build and guitar-heavy foundations reminiscent of the now-established act covering their former selves, while instrumental waltz ‘Elegia’ is dedicated to Curtis, the lack of lyrics a humbling gesture.

It’s a difficult and sad thing to fathom that, had life taken a different path for Ian Curtis, we’d have been gifted with more of his Joy Division genius, yet denied the equally important New Order.

With ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ climbing charts in America and Australia, Brotherhood-era New Order seemed relaxed with themselves and their sound, however trips to Ibiza to record its follow up, Technique (1989), where acid was served to listeners – and quite probably ordered by the Mr. and Mrs. Discos of the band – created heavy drum drops beneath unpredictably layered echoes and keys. Should your children ever ask what Ibiza sounded like in the late-‘80s, play them this, loud: It’s the hedonism of the The Haçienda on holiday – the original ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’ but without the bed and breakfast. 1993’s Republic took a step back towards the ‘80s indie-numbers they nearly made, coated in the expected dance anthem sound, before the band took a step back themselves.

It would be another eight years before Get Ready gained rave reviews, with many declaring lead single ‘Crystal’ – all alternative drums, seductive backing vocals and subtle, shiny synths, tied together with the familiar guitar patterns – to be one of the band’s best to date. The rest of the album (particularly the raw, almost anthemic ‘Close Range’) would not disappoint. Waiting For The Sirens’ Call (2005) didn’t have the gusto of its predecessor, perhaps due to Gilbert’s short departure to focus on her family, but proved that while approaching 50, few bands could write dance tracks like they could. (‘Guilt Is A Useless Emotion’ would receive a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.)

Following Hooky’s departure, 2013’s Lost Sirens – a handful of multi-genre leftovers, with the highlight an alternative version of ‘I Told You So’ – looked like being New Order’s final bow. However, with Music Complete set for release in September, featuring guest appearances from Brandon Flowers and Iggy Pop, and production from The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, the band may well prove that, unlike Joy Division, they can survive, despite one of their most memorable members removing themselves, presumably for good.

The Rest Of: New Order

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Dan Bull

Reviews Editor
London. Likes: Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Prince Charles Cinema, Duran Duran Dislikes: Soreen, All-hits setlists, "I liked them before everyone else..."