I Am Without Shoes

This is a follow up to my post last week about the various backwards B-sides released by The Stone Roses in 1988-89. The version of Full Fathom Five I posted- Elephant Stone backwards if you recall- is the CD single version, with extra guitars added to the ghostly swirl. The original version, found on the 12″ single, is different (fewer if any additional guitar parts). But what can also be discovered from the Elephant Stone 12″ single is that if you reverse the version of Full Fathom Five you get the Peter Hook produced cut of Elephant Stone single i.e. before John Leckie mixed it. Hook’s version is sparser and less produced, a truer version possibly, opening with a blare of Squire’s wah-wah pedal. So what I’m getting from all of this is that the 12″ version of Full Fathom Five is the Hook version of Elephant Stone played backwards and the CD single (and what Silvertone have served up in re-issues and re-releases ever since) is the Leckie version of Elephant Stone played backwards with extras.

There is also this which I had forgotten about until reminded by reader Michael- I Am Without Shoes…

I Am Without Shoes is She Bangs The Drums backwards with additional forwards words and is the equal of any of the other backwards B-sides. The fade in of backwards guitars and vocals at the start is a sort of slow-rush and the whole thing shimmers and burns.

The Youtube poster above has gone a step further, reversing the backwards version at 1.26 and adding it to the original backwards one, resulting in Ian’s forwards vocals from She Bangs The Drums returning at the end. According to Google the additional forwards lyrics are…

‘I’m serious
I want her
I have to be sure
I admit that I’d hate to die
Please help me
I am without shoes
I wouldn’t be selfish
I cursed myself and they laughed
Please
I am Without Shoes
Yeah
I don’t think I need to stare
Please help me
I am without shoes
I wouldn’t be selfish
I cursed myself and they laughed
Please
I am Without Shoes
Yeah
I don’t think I need to stare
Please’

These new forwards lyrics are fairly untypical Roses fare, possibly the result of Squire’s backwards lyric writing method of writing down what the backwards vocals suggested once the tapes were switched around. The title went on to inspire a Charlatans song too, from 1997’s Tellin’ Stories.

I Am Without Shoes was sometimes used as their intro music when they took the stage during the long tour they did to promote the release of their album through the spring of 1989, the tour that broke them nationally, with increasingly positive and breathless press reporting building through to a gig at the ICA where Bob Stanley said he’d seen the light and finished his review with ‘Sweet Jesus, The Stone Roses have arrived!’. On other occasions they entered to the trippy, rolling drums and bass and screeching sounds of this piece of music, built around a drum break from Small Time Hustler by Dismasters…
Next job is to put all these together- the intro tape, the two versions of Full Fathom Five, I Am Without Shoes, Guernica, Simone and Don’t Stop.

Hooky’s Technique

Peter Hook And The Light at The Albert Hall on Saturday night was a tale of three sets and a gig of two halves. Advertised as coming on stage at 8pm and opening with a short set of Joy Division songs the place was filled to burst downstairs from the way Hooky and the band took the stage. The Joy Division set was short and sweet, Hooky’s voice more than doing justice to the songs and he didn’t pull his punches. They started with Atmosphere and then played She’s Lost Control and gave us a marvellous, growly rendition of Heart And Soul. A spirited run through Love Will Tear Us Apart closed this section, the audience joining in and taking over on the chorus.

Peter Hook clearly loves doing this, he’s a part of the fabric of this place, a quarter of it’s most musically adventurous group, a huge contributor to the story of Manchester since 1977. Between 1978 and 1989 his band travelled further, and through more difficult situations, than most groups do. He’s got a band that can play the songs well and the audience love him. The breakdown in relations between him  and his former band mates is just part of the story now. The benefit for us is we get to see the songs played by one of the people that wrote them in smallish, atmospheric venues.

Off for ten minutes and then reappearing for part two the drum machine kicks into life and we’re into Fine Time. From that point on the whole place is jumping as a thousand middle aged New Order fans live out what is one of New Order’s peaks and their last truly great record, 1989’s Technique. It’s not quite a smooth and sleek as the album, which is to be expected- live music should carry a rougher edge, and Hooky’s voice isn’t always in exactly the right key being a very different instrument from Barney’s. But there’s so much to enjoy here as Technique gets played in order- All The Way, Love Less and Round And Round flying by, summoning up the summer of 89, a summer the vast majority of the audience lived through. The Spanish disco stylings of Mr Disco are sublime, filled here with the attack of two guitars, at times two basses, full drums, drum machine, samples. Vanishing Point- one of the best New Order songs not not have been a single lifts the roof of this old Methodist chapel further. Dream Attack. Boom.

Then a strange thing happens. They retire briefly and come back to play 1993’s Republic, every song, in order. You can’t go wrong with Regret and the three that follow are all decent New Order songs- World, Ruined In A Day and a pumped up Spooky. But after that the crowd visibly and audibly slumps and all that energy evaporates as Peter persists in the purity of finishing side 1 and then giving us all of side 2. I kind of admire the purity angle but Republic was a record made at gun point, trying to bring some cash in for an ailing record label. No one seems to have enjoyed making it or the circumstances surrounding it. Some of the songs I haven’t heard for a quarter of a century and I’ll be honest I didn’t recognise them and couldn’t name them- Liar, Chemical, Times Change, Special and Avalanche apparently.

So it’s a relief when it’s over and the eruption of enthusiasm and the fervour that greets the encore sends everyone home happy, delighted, singing in the streets outside. World In Motion, not everyone’s cup of tea, but it gets the crowd singing along and then three complete crowdpleasers- Blue Monday, Temptation and True Faith. Temptation is especially well received, a song we’ve all danced to, loved to, lived to for decades. We’ve all sung ‘I never seen anyone quite like you before’ and meant it.

Mr Disco

National Pastime

Drew wrote a post a while ago saying that blogging often seems to be about exposing the obscure, bringing to light long forgotten songs and the ones that got missed. In the spirit of that here is an absolute lost gem, a Factory Records B-side by Stockholm Monsters, straight outta Burnage. This song was the flipside to All At Once, released in June 1984.

Opening with clattering drums and a low slung bass, then get a beautifully naive topline and a wonderful non-singer’s vocal. Produced by Peter Hook and lost by a record company who wouldn’t pay for pluggers and promotion because they believed the music would sell itself. If this was the only song they’d released, they’d still more than deserve a place in a version of mid-80s indie scene. A little slice of perfection.

National Pastime

I’ve Been Waiting To Hear Your Voice For Too Long Now

By 1985 New Order were well into their stride, the faltering, unsure, step-by-step progress of the early years well in the past. 1983’s album Power, Corruption And Lies more or less invented electronic indie and contained at least two career high points (Age Of Consent and Your Silent Face) as well as the blueprint for Blue Monday. The run of singles from 1982 to 1985 takes in Temptation, Blue Monday, Confusion, the peerless Thieves Like Us plus its B-side Lonesome Tonight. Then they put out another album, recorded in 1984 and released in May ’85- Lowlife.

Lowlife only has eight songs on it but almost every one is a winner, disco and rock seamlessly intertwined. The sound combines full on synths and sequencers with Hooky’s distorted bass providing the rock ballast. Stephen’s drumming, with plenty of digital delay, is crisp and loud. The guitars are trebly and choppy, like Velvets era Lou Reed on acid. Lowlife is the first New Order album to contain singles and the first to feature band photographs on the cover (which Peter Saville then obscured by wrapping in tracing paper). From opener the Salford country & western of Love Vigilantes with Barney’s enigmatic Vietnam War lyric to the magnificent closer Face Up this is a record I never get bored of. Face Up is huge, a glorious synth and bass intro, sampled choral voices, synth drum pads and then … whoosh, we bounce along in NO disco heaven. The lyrics contain the usual mix of clunkers and the perfect skewering of life (see ‘your hair was blonde, your eyes were blue, guess what I’m gonna do to you’ and ‘we were young and we were pure and life was just an open door’). Up until 1989 the lyrics were usually a group effort. For Technique Barney took over lyrics and vocals completely, something else Hooky rues as a nail in the coffin.

Sub-culture is here too, another disco-rock peak, Barney’s vocals sounding like a guide vocal that he never bothered to redo (and all the better for it). That one fingered synth intro, followed by the drum machine and then the dark lyrics about walking in the park late at night and shafting on your own. Sub-culture is a close cousin of The Perfect Kiss and builds similarly, synth drums and bass riffs piling on top of each other. It was later released as a single in remixed form (by John Robie, an inferior version really with backing vox and synth stabs. Peter Saville was so disappointed he refused to design a sleeve for it). Hooky points to Robie’s influence as being one of the turning points that ruined the group. Before Robie they didn’t write songs following any rules- after Robie Bernard insisted on all the songs being in his key and eventually they became verse-chorus- middle eight formulaic. But let’s leave the blame game aside and stick to the songs. Elegia is their intense instrumental tribute to their former, deceased frontman. I posted the unedited fifteen minute version last autumn and if you haven’t heard it you should seek it out. The Perfect Kiss is inserted as track two, a peak among peaks (although it’s an edited version on Lowlife. You need the full-on 12″ version, a single for which the 12″ format might have been invented). The Perfect Kiss has peaks and troughs, bass playing that is something else entirely, and several climaxes. This Time Of Night and Sooner Than You Think are both good album tracks. If pushed I could live without Sooner…. I suppose. But today’s song is this one, closing side one, Sunrise. Possibly the rockiest song on Lowlife it opens with descending synth chords before being joined by a superb bass riff -then the whole band join in, pronto. The guitars rattle, bottle tops on the strings to get a Morricone sound and Bernard’s vocal is straining, at the top of his register. The synths continue to wash away. The guitar, bass and drums drive away. At the end Bernard thrashes the toggle switch on his guitar. Done.

Sunrise

A Given End To Your Dreams

More early New Order. Movement was released in December 1981 and was by all accounts a difficult album to make. The group were unbalanced and their way of working was broken (during the Joy Division days the group would jam and Ian Curtis would spot the good bits which would then be worked into songs). No one especially wanted to sing and none of them could play and sing at the same time (this would become part of their sound in the 80s- Barney’s guitar playing filling the bits where he’s not singing and Hooky frequently carrying the melodies. Weaknesses become strengths). Movement was produced by Martin Hannett but the relationship between the group and the producer had broken down. According to Hooky ‘Hannett would lock himself in the control room, saying ‘Start playing, I’ll come out if I hear anything I like’. He never came out’. Hannett was also suing Factory at the time which can’t have helped.

Out of this came an album which sounds a bit like Joy Division but without Curtis, trying to move forward but not really managing it. The real movement would come with the singles- Everything’s Gone Green, Procession, Temptation and the second album. Having said that time has left some highlights- Doubts Even Here, The Him and ICB all have glimmers of the future and the sounds are becoming more varied. The peak is the opener, the only song on the album which is just guitar, bass and drums and the one that Hooky sings. Dreams Never End is a properly exciting song, from the intro of driving bass and guitar lines playing around each other onwards.

Dreams Never End

Peter Saville’s cover art, Italian futurism again, is beautiful.

As a bonus here’s a lost child of the New Order story. In 1982 New Order recorded a second Peel Session. Two of the songs would later appear on Power, Corruption And Lies, an album which redefined them and their music. The two other songs were a cover of Keith Hudson’s dub reggae song Turn The Heater On (an Ian Curtis favourite and recorded for him, I’ve posted it before) and Too Late.

Too Late is a moody song, synth drums, beautifully distorted bass and glacial pace, haunting and the equal of most other songs from around this time. According to Hooky when they were having a go at recording it Bernard had nipped out of the studio. The other three put some backing vocals down. When Barney returned he showed his disgust at this and walked out. It was never finished. And in Hooky’s view this was one of the starting points for Bernard grappling for control of the band. As a result of this Too Late would only ever appear as the Peel Session version.

There Is No End To This

Before my holiday I promised/threatened some New Order posts, so that’s what’s happening for the next few days I think- nuclear war and a Nazi takeover of the US notwithstanding. It is utterly appalling that the President cannot condemn actual Nazis on the streets of the a US city, murdering people. It is utterly appalling that Nazis still exist to demonstrate openly. This is the swill that comes to the fore following Trump’s election, Farage’s games, Brexit, ‘populism’ and austerity. Racists emboldened to show their faces in daylight.

Back to the music. Procession is an overlooked New Order single being neither the defiant ‘we’re alive’ rallying cry of Ceremony nor the ‘we’ve just invented dance-rock’ blast of futurism that is Everything’s Gone Green. In his book Substance- Inside New Order Hooky names Procession as one of four key songs that led the group out of Joy Division’s rock and into New Order’s electronics. During the 80s most New Order songs were written by the group jamming and then identifying the best bits and working them into a song. Procession was different, largely written by Stephen Morris (the lyrics and vocal lines plus a lot of the keyboard parts apparently). No sequencers at this point but the road to Blue Monday (and beyond) is clearly present. The 7″ single was released in September 1981, a few months before Movement. The other side is Everything’s Gone Green, a much more significant song, a huge, throbbing piece of dance-rock and a massive step forward. Procession gets overlooked. Which it shouldn’t.

Peter Saville’s sleeve came in nine different colours (for the record I own two, a blue and a green) and is based on Italian futurist designer Fortunato Depero’s work. Everything’s Gone Green would be released later in 1981 as a full length 12″ version. These songs were the last New Order songs produced by Martin Hannett. According to  Hooky, Hannett made Barney do the vocals forty three times. Hannett was bereft without Ian Curtis and had little time for the three that were left behind. In return Hook, Sumner and Morris had had enough of Hannett and his methods and habits and felt they’d learned enough to produced themselves. Procession is light and poppy, with synths to the fore, but also dense and uptight. The vocals are muffled and indistinct in places. Hooky’s bass is still very much a Joy Division bassline and Stephen Morris’s drums are as urgent and precise as ever. There are backing vocals from Gillian, a bit of light in the shade, and it all comes together with the ‘your heart beats you late at night’ vocal followed by some spindly guitar from Barney and then a sudden end before the synth outro. Compared to the largely dour Movement from later that year things are moving forward though, clearly.

Procession

Celebration

I’m off on my summer holiday today, hitting the road to Portsmouth, an overnight ferry to St. Malo and then one night in Bordeaux. From there we are heading to a campsite north of Bayonne, on the Atlantic coast of south west France. A bit over a week later we are heading north and having four nights in the Vendee near Saint-Jean-de-Monts. So it will be two weeks before there’s any action here.

I bought Peter Hook’s latest book Substance, which focuses on his time in New Order, for one of my holiday reads. Over the last few days curiosity has got the better of me and I’m already a hundred pages in. Which led me to looking for this clip, a fledgling New Order playing a short set (half an hour, six songs) at Granada Studios in 1981 for a programme called Celebration. According to Hooky there had been a disagreement with the TV crew. Union regulations meant that only a union member could touch the sound desk- words and opinions had been exchanged. The tension is clearly present. However this is also a fascinating document of a band crawling out of tragedy and feeling their way towards a new sound. Dreams Never End (the best song off Movement), sung by Hooky, is driving and aggressive. ICB, Chosen Time, Denial and Truth show the band still playing Joy Division riffs but with the synths and electronic drums finding their way in. Just listen to the opening of Truth, Steven’s synth pads hissing, then Hooky’s bass and Barney’s melodica. Ceremony is played four songs in, guitars rawer and brighter than the studio version. The twenty seven minutes captured here are a treat all these years later but no one there at the time, audience included, seems to be having very much fun.

No doubt once I get back, having got through all 700 plus pages in Substance, there will be further New Order posts to come. See you all in a fortnight.