Alarm Clock

This is the tune I was looking for before getting distracted by West India Company, a 1990 offering from German DJ West Bam (Maximillian Lenz). Offering doesn’t really do this speaker shaking 12″ justice. It’s a slap in the face and a shiver down the spine with a juddering riff (sampled from Gang Of Four apparently and then borrowed from this by Weatherall for his legendary My Bloody Valentine remix) and a Tutonic breakbeat. Wakey wakey!

Alarm Clock

In 2013 West Bam released a new album which had this song on it, She Wants, with vocals by Bernhard Sumner (sic) and a slightly disturbing, NSFW video. If last year’s new New Order album had been more like this, I’d have liked it more.

I Just Want To See Your Face

In the early 80s Factory signed lots of bands who sounded very Factory. Many of them struggled to escape from the long shadow cast by Joy Division and New Order. Occasionally someone would produce something that stepped forward from those shadows. Section 25’s Looking From A Hilltop, from 1984, is one of those records. The single release had this version on the B-side, produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson from ACR, it is years ahead of itself. A pulsing bassline, percussion and drum machine way up front, with layers of synths, guitars and noises and hard to hear vocals. It is one of Factory’s most startling moments and despite being eight minutes long it never feels like it. Various underground djs and left of the dial radio stations in the States picked up on it pushing it further onwards. From Blackpool too. Kiss me quick.

Looking From A Hilltop (Megamix)

Haze

I’d forgotten about this one and found it while wasting time on Youtube recently. 1999’s Electronic album Twisted Tenderness didn’t exactly set the world alight and Sumner and Marr moved onto different and separate things afterwards. Track 2 is a little gem though, a highlight in either man’s back catalogue outside their main bands. Johnny Marr had got back into playing distorted guitar and the whole thing has menace and convincing swagger.

Haze

This live version done for Jo Whiley’s Channel 4 music show is even heavier.

This Time I’m Not Wrong

I’ve posted this before but thought it might be worth looking at again. Bernard Sumner’s got a very distinctive voice, not a great voice maybe, but it’s very recognisable. He’s popped up on guest vocals in various places, with 808 State and The Chemical Brothers most famously. In 1997 he sang on a song with Sub Sub, not long before they mutated into Doves. The song- This Time I’m Not Wrong- came out on 12″, the last release ever on Rob’s Records (Rob Gretton’s label, New Order manager). It sounds much more like Doves than Sub Sub and when their studio/rehearsal room burned down the Williams bros and Jimi Goodwin took it as a sign to move on. Listening to this, it’s pretty clearly where early Doves song Catch The Sun came from.

This Time I’m Not Wrong

The 12″ also has an early version of Firesuite.

Firesuite

Electronic Factory

When Electronic released their first two masterful singles (1989’s Getting Away With It and 1991’s Get The Message) they seemed to have the future in their palms. They talked of collaborating with a variety of people all based around the core of the pair. Bernard wanted a break from New Order. Johnny had left The Smiths. Both wanted to do new things and break new ground. I always imagined this would lead to something a little different than just the song-based tracks that made up the first album (which I love by the way and many of the songs on it are first rate). The other stuff ended up on B-sides but I always thought they should have pursued this and made an instrumental, dance music album as well as the dance influenced pop. Lucky Bag was on the flipside of Get The Message, Hacienda house with Italo piano. Lean To The Inside was a classy, more chilled piece which came out on the Feel Every Beat 12″. A whole album of this kind of thing could have worked really well.

Lucky Bag (Miami Edit)

Lean To the Inside

Ceremony

On July 19th 1986 New Order headlined a show at GMEX (formerly Manchester’s Central railway station, for much of the 70s and early 80s a derelict carpark. We used to park there when shopping in town and my Mum and Dad got all of us kids back in the car on one occasion and drove off, leaving one of my brothers standing forlornly where the car had been, aged only three or four. Don’t worry- they realised before leaving the carpark). The show was the highlight of the Festival of the Tenth Summer,a Factory organised event celebrating ten years since punk and the show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall where the Sex Pistols set into motion everything that has happened to Manchester since. The Lesser Free Trade Hall, also the venue where Bob Dylan was accused of being Judas, is now a swish hotel. The Festival of the Tenth Summer had its own Factory catalogue number (FAC 151) and had nine other events including a fashion show, a book, a Peter Saville installation, an exhibition of Kevin Cummins photographs and so on. Very Factory. Support for New Order at the gig included The Smiths (billed as co-headliners), The Fall, A Certain Ratio, Cabaret Voltaire, OMD, John Cale, John Cooper Clarke and Buzzcocks. Not a bad line up really.

During their set New Order were joined on stage by Ian McCulloch who sang Ceremony with them. This clip shows that meeting, the only drawback being it’s less than a minute long.

There’s an audio only version of the whole song here. Ian sings in a register closer to Ian Curtis’ and certainly gives it his best shot. The bit where Hooky joins Mac at the mic is great.

Ceremony was Ian Curtis’ last song, intended for Joy Division but recorded and released as the first New Order record. The first two New Order records actually- it was released in March 1981 by the three piece New Order and produced by Martin Hannett. It was then re-released in September 1981 in a newer, slightly longer version with Gillian Gilbert on board and with a different Saville sleeve. If you want to get really trainspottery about it, the run out groove on the first version says ‘watching love grow forever’, while on the second version it has ‘this is why events unnerve me’.

New Order and Echo And The Bunnymen toured the USA together along with Public Image Ltd throughout 1987, billed as The Monsters Of Alternative Rock. The Melody Maker reported from it as the picture up top shows. According to Lydon’s autobiography ‘Bernard Sumner was having problems emotionally and looked a bit the worse for wear’ and describes him being tied to a trolley to sing at one gig as he was unable to stand. ‘Nice fella’ though says Lydon. Bernard’s favourite tipple was ‘a pint of headache’ (Pernod and blackcurrant).

To The Centre Of The City

Thirty five years ago today Ian Curtis brought his life to an abrupt and premature end. Ian’s suicide brought Joy Division to an end as well, though they found a way out eventually.

In 1978 Joy Division played live on Granada Reports, after Ian harangued Tony Wilson in a nightclub. This was Wilson’s response, their first TV appearance. The editor’s decision to superimpose footage of cars rushing along the Mancunian Way was inspired. In his autobiography Hooky recalls that each band member was given £2.50 by Rob Gretton to buy a new shirt for the occasion. Hooky also recalls being pissed off that Wilson said in his intro that the guitarist (Bernard) was from Salford (‘a important difference’) when he was a Salfordian as well and still lived there. It’s the little things that stick in the memory.