Monday, December 07, 2009

'80s Music Monday: New Order

New Order was my absolute favorite band during the '80s. A few others came close, but they were number one.

They were the successor to Joy Division. After Ian Curtis committed suicide, the band decided to continue under a new name. Their first single, "Ceremony," was actually written by Curtis, but was never fully completed by Joy Division.

Their new sound added more synthesizer, but remained gloomy but melodic, if lacking the tone of desperation that Curtis had brought. But they quickly evolved into a more upbeat and danceable sound, although their lyrics remained thoughtful and deadly serious. They became hugely influential, especially in techno but also in dance-rock. The Killers, for example, are named after a New Order lyric.

What I loved about them was the combination of the danceable music -- synth-pop with guitar, with the bass often playing melody (like the Who) and keyboards playing the bassline (like the Doors) -- combined with the lyrics. I found lyrics like these from "True Faith"

I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see the light in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun

or these from "Blue Monday"

How does it feel to treat me like you do?
When you've laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are
I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel
Tell me now, How do I feel

deeply resonant.

Here's five from New Order.

"Ceremony" (1981)

"Blue Monday '88" (1983/1988)
This is a Quincy Jones remix from 1988. I don't like it quite as much as the single or the Substance version, but it's still great.

"Perfect Kiss" (1985)
Rumor has it that this song is about Ian Curtis, but I don't think that's ever been officially confirmed. This is a unique version recorded for the video.

"Bizarre Love Triangle" (1986)

"True Faith" (1987)
A beautiful song with a very strange but compelling video.

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