Two discs of NME-approved Godlike Genius
Another ‘Best Of’? Are they taking the piss or what? Currently, New Order have ‘Substance’, ‘The Best Of New Order’, ‘The Rest Of New Order’, the four-CD ‘Retro’ box-set and an American import called ‘International’ all serving the needs of casual fans with their varying track selections. So with this latest addition, it seems that the Manc legends are not just taking the piss but bottling it up and selling it on as ‘salt-fortified’ apple juice.
However, this is music that can never leave you feeling ripped off and, given that ‘Singles’ brings together every New Order 45 to date, it’s the only compilation that can claim to be truly comprehensive.
The first disc (covering their halcyon days of 1981-1987) is non-stop brilliance from start to finish. Originally penned by Ian Curtis but re-recorded after his death with a very nervous sounding Bernard Sumner performing his first vocals, ‘Ceremony’ begins the New Order story by elegantly placing a full-stop at the end of Joy Division’s brief but blessed existence. The melancholy, however, is short-lived. The half-a-tab euphoria of tracks like ‘Temptation’ and ‘True Faith’ still carries enough power to dilate the pupils of any dancefloor and even the overstatement police could not possibly have any cause for complaint with the claim that these are the songs that invented Goldfrapp, The Bravery and The Killers. Oh yeah, and that ‘Blue Monday’ wasn’t bad either.
With at least three of the greatest songs of all time making up disc one [Steady on now – Ed], it’s understandable that disc two might feel like a bit of a let (or should that be ‘come’) down, but there’s still more magic to be enjoyed in New Order’s latter years than there is in David Blaine’s entire career.
Released after long lay-offs in 1993 and 2001 respectively, ‘Regret’ and ‘Crystal’ are two of the best comeback singles you’ll ever hear and let’s not forget that in the shape of ‘World In Motion’, New Order have recorded something 100 per cent unique – a football song that is worth listening to even when there isn’t a World Cup on.
In a way, it’s things like that which underline New Order’s greatness the most; we could talk about their pioneering usage of synths until the next NME Awards and make 20-page lists of all the bands that they’ve influenced but these muso arguments won’t ever make the music any more enjoyable than it already is. Leave the theory and method in the library because at its heart, ‘Singles’ is a peerless and ultimately simple example of how wonderful pop music can be.