As I’m putting together the Top 10 of 2008, I thought I’d unveil a new feature on Baked Beans & Glitter: Rediscovered. In Rediscovered, I’ll highlight an era, album, or specific track of an influential band, and hopefully do them justice.
So, occasionally, I’ll get bouts of insomnia, and when I can’t get any reading done, I’ll usually put on the TV. Last night was one of those nights, but thank goodness, because a channel was playing a recent New Order show from Glasgow, Scotland. As many of my close friends know, I’m a massive New Order fan, and this show only reconfirmed why.
If you’re not familiar with New Order, I’ll provide just a little background information on the band. Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris (the current members who make up New Order) joined underground legend Ian Curtis to make up the timelessly-influential group Joy Division. Though I’m sure there will be a week that I’ll cover Joy Division exclusively, many bands today attest to the monumental impact Joy Division had on the musical landscape in the early days of punk rock. In fact, I would go so far to say that though they made up the darker elements of punk, Joy Division was post-punk long before the last embers of punk were glowing. Then, as quickly as Joy Division rose, they came to an end. On May 18, 1980, lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide days before their first American tour.
Now, what happened next was the stuff of legend. I won’t attest to being a blogger of mythical things, but New Order became the phoenix that rose from the ashes of Joy Division’s demise. Factory Records, the record label of both Joy Division and New Order, was managed by local Manchester TV personality Tony Wilson, who ran the label in what was then a very unorthodox method–by letting the bands under them dictate most of their direction, and keeping it local, in Manchester. In New Order’s first album release after Curtis’ death, Movement, you hear a band struggling to find their own way, both vocally and musically. Factory Records put out a handful of singles for the band, some of which became New Order’s turning points. Singles “Temptation” and “Ceremony” combined elements of the dark, punk-driven guitars that characterized Joy Division, with the frequently joyous, emotional vocal swoons that would characterize New Order for years.
The band then turned around to release Power, Corruption, and Lies in 1983. This album saw a marked change in the band’s style, with the power-punk flair of Joy Division’s sunnier moments, and now, adding in the dance/electronica synthesizers that would become the staple of Factory Records. In standout track “Age Of Consent”, you’ll hear the dance-punk flavor that has become the rage today in modern indie music–and remember, this is 1983. Factory Records, and their legendary club in Manchester, would be the birthplace of modern dance, electronica, rave, and post-punk, and if anyone had as big a role ushering in this new sound as New Order, I’d like to know.
To see all of these moments documented in the most wonderful way, get 24 Hour Party People, the great Steve Coogan-led movie about Factory Records and the many, many bands that spawned from the Manchester scene.