Tuesday, 4 February 2003

New Order - Retro

noretro So, here's the box set. Retro, that's for Retrospective, certainly not for the music attitude, as New Order have always been the most forward looking of the bands. No truly rare tracks for the fans. Disappointing? Not at all! Well, I'd have liked if they included rarer tracks like Mesh, which is so good it gives the name to my personal site, but still there's plenty of good stuff here.
Four CDs, and a booklet which alone is worth the price, and another wonderful artwork (a disco mirrorball attacked by an eagle?). Since compiling the set would have made the band members argue for months, they gave the task to four fans who are also friends. The first CD was compiled by journalist Miranda Sawyer and she did a really good job. She compiled a sort of alternative International, the greatest hits compilation, but there are some priceless gems here, like two electro masterpieces: the original 12" version of Temptation from 1982, even better than the most popular 1987 version, which was previously available on CD only on the 1981-1982 compilation, which is hard to find in the most of the world, and most of all the wonderful original 12" version of Confusion, even better than the most popular 1987 version as well, previously never available on CD.
John McCready is another journo, and he compiled a CD with more obscure tracks, at least to those who have not all the albums... this box set is an excellent way to start with New Order, because there are four CDs which cover the most of their unique career, and quite enough to convert you into a devoted fan who buys everything else... There's Let's Go, which appeared only on the 1963 single before, and Cries And Whispers (except we all thought it was Mesh, but now we know, thank you Steve...), and other album tracks which will want you to get them all at once.

Mike Pickering is part of the history of New Order. He was A&R at Factory, member of Quando Quango and DJ at the Hacienda. He made a CD of remixes (except some classic 12" versions like Everything's Gone Green), where we find Koma & Bones from the new Confusion 2002 12", the rare Paradise 12" remix and other great remixes from singles like World In Motion and Crystal.
Then there's the live CD, compiled by Bobby Gillespie, which now is leader of Primal Scream and was part of Jesus And Mary Chain, but most of all was the bassist of Wake, a great Factory band very inspired by New Order. The band members thought his selection was too oriented to the early tracks and so managed to argue with such a devoted fan to change the tracks to a wider compilation, which features wild performances of Procession and In A Lonely Place (with Bernard's fierce screams) and brilliant live tracks of Everything's Gone Green, Age Of Consent, The Perfect Kiss, Fine Time (from the mad American 1989 tour) and Turn My Way with Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins (fan and friend of the band since a teenager) in Liverpool, and I witnessed that bit in history.
There's also a limited edition including a fifth bonus CD with more rarities, like Temptation 1998, Transmission live, the video version of Perfect Kiss and the full 17 minutes version of Elegia.

And then there's the booklet, with some wonderful photographs never seen before, and some interesting, emotional and hilarious bits. I could have written some of the words of the guests in my own review... Here are some (don't read if you don't want to spoil them before having the booklet) which tell better than any others what New Order are:

Steve MorrisIt was Rob's idea originally, God rest his soul. He wanted to do a box set and put every single version of every single and all the stuff tied in and then somebody realised it was going to be 20 CDs and we wouldn't make any money... There's something for everyone at Christmas. McCready's CD is for the snotty nephew who didn't get the trainset he wanted, but a sweater instead. The frustrated housewife would go for Mike Pickering: not been out clubbing in a while, get a groove while doing the dishes. Granny would go for Miranda's, she can hum along, cos she'll know them already. And Bobby's live one would be for the getting-slightly-tubby ex football hooligan.

Bernard SumnerWe were using electronics live in the early days, when nobody else was using electronics, they were using tapes. We insisted on using the sequencers that we used in the studio.

BarneyIf we got back together after all that we'd been through, we know we're not going to split up again.

Miranda SawyerThose of us who grew up in Manchester in the 80s and 90s have much to thank New Order for: they gave us our good times, by creating the places to go, and then by keeping them open with their own hard-come-easy-go cash... they gave us the cool passion of their music... and they did it all without turning into twats. Which is nigh-on impossible in pop music, and uttelry heroic when you think of the trauma new Order endured. The deaths, the debts, the playing, the partying, the long tours, the slow grind of love and friendship. And all for this. The music, and the feeling it creates. Lucky for us.

BarneyWe never used to do encores. We used to play for forty minutes and go offstage. It wasn't arrogance. It was just that when we went to concerts we got bored after forty minutes. So we thought, it's possible that the machines could play a song, so we could just come in and press a button and we wouldn't have todo an encore, but the audience would get one and that'll confuse them and they'll all fuck off.
Steve: It didn't always work.
Barney: Blue Monday developed out of that. Except it couldn't be just machines because Hooky likes playnig his bass... and we needed a vocal...

John McCreadyThis music still stands. The era that spawned it, the era it spawned, is six feet underground inn our cultural consciousness. Yet these songs can still nag you with a thousand suggestions...

BarneyWhen we were struggling to start again after Ian died everyone had a go at singing. To be honest, I think Steve had the best voice... I didn't know how to sing, I didn't want to be a singer, I never ever thought I would be a singer, but I had to be really, if we were to carry on.

Mike PickeringIn '88 I met Derrick May and Kevin Sanderson, the creators of the Detroit sound I was playing at the Hacienda, it was evident a great part of their sound was taken from New Order, who they idolised.

Bobbie GillespieYou know the way it is now, bands release an album every two or three years and take a single off the album, but with New Order, between Movement and Power Corruption And Lies, they released Everything's Gone Green, Procession, Temptation and Blue Monday. Everything was an art statement. They were always going forward musically, and they were never scared to do something new, they were really brave.

Peter HookThat Tolworth gig in 1981 the T shirt tout guy tried to give us some money, because we didn't have any, and he felt guilty cos he was selling so many bootleg T shirts. But we thre him out, because we were very anti-merchandise, being poncey and anti exploiting your image and all that crap. And then Bernard ran down the road after him, going, 'Come back, come back! I'll have it!'.

HookyAfter Reading 1993 I was nearly in tears... you just knew it was the last one. I never thought that we would get back together again.

BarneyWe were all there (for the concert at the Olympia in Liverpool in 2001) because we wanted to be there. Obviously we have fond memories of that. It's been a pleasure to play with New Order. Even when I didn't enjoy it I always put everything I had into it.