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When Joy Division's Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980 the three remaining members, Bernard Sumner (b. Bernard Dicken, 4 January 1956, Salford, Manchester, England; guitar, vocals), Peter Hook (b. 13 February 1956, Manchester, England; bass) and Stephen Morris (b. 28 October 1957, Macclesfield, Cheshire, England; drums) continued under the name New Order.
Sumner took over vocal duties and the trio embarked on a low-key tour of the USA, intent on continuing as an entity independent of the massive reputation Joy Division had achieved shortly before their demise.
Later that same year they recruited Morris's girlfriend, Gillian Gilbert (b. 27 January 1961, Manchester, England; keyboards, guitar) and wrote and rehearsed their debut, Movement , which was released the following year. Their first single, 'Ceremony', penned by Joy Division, was a UK Top 40 hit in the spring of 1981, and extended the legacy of their previous band. Hook's deep, resonant bass line and Morris's crisp, incessant drumming were both Joy Division trademarks. The vocals, however, were weak, Sumner clearly at this stage feeling uncomfortable as frontman.
Much was made, in 1983, of the band 'rising from the ashes' of Joy Division in the music press, when Power, Corruption And Lies was released. Their experimentation with electronic gadgetry was fully realized and the album contained many surprises and memorable songs. The catchy bass riff and quirky lyrics of 'Age Of Consent' made it an instant classic, while the sign-off line on the otherwise elegiac 'Your Silent Face', 'You've caught me at a bad time/So why don't you piss off', showed that Sumner no longer felt under any pressure to match the poetic, introspective lyricism of Ian Curtis.
As well as redefining their sound they clearly now relished the role of 'most miserable sods in pop'. 'Blue Monday', released at this time in 12-inch format only, went on to become the biggest-selling 12-inch single of all time in the UK. In 1983 'disco' was a dirty word in the independent fraternity and 'Blue Monday', which combined an infectious dance beat with a calm, aloof vocal, was a brave step into uncharted territory. As well as influencing a legion of UK bands, it would be retrospectively regarded as a crucial link between the disco of the 70s and the dance/house music wave at the end of the 80s.
New Order had now clearly established themselves, and throughout the 80s and into the 90s they remained the top independent band in the UK, staying loyal to Manchester's Factory Records. Their subsequent collaboration with 'hot' New York hip-hop producer Arthur Baker spawned the anti-climactic 'Confusion' (1983) and 'Thieves Like Us' (1984). Both singles continued their preference for the 12-inch format, stretching in excess of six minutes, and stressing their lack of concern for the exposure gained by recording with mainstream radio in mind.
Low Life appeared in 1985 and is perhaps their most consistently appealing album to date. While the 12-inch version of Low Life 's 'Perfect Kiss' was a magnificent single, showing the band at their most inspired and innovative, the collaboration with producer John Robie on the single version of 'Subculture' indicated that their tendency to experiment and 'play around' could also spell disaster.
Their next album, 1986's Brotherhood, although containing strong tracks such as 'Bizarre Love Triangle', offered nothing unexpected. It was not until the UK Top 5 single 'True Faith' in 1987, produced and co-written by Stephen Hague hot on the heels of his success with the Pet Shop Boys , and accompanied by an award-winning Phillipe Decouffle video, that New Order found themselves satisfying long-term fans and general public alike.
The following year Quincy Jones's remix of 'Blue Monday' provided the group with another Top 5 hit. If the recycling of old songs and proposed 'personal' projects fuelled rumours of a split then 1989's Technique promptly dispelled them. The album, recorded in Ibiza, contained upbeat bass- and drums-dominated tracks that characterized the best of their early output. Its most striking feature, however, was their flirtation with the popular Balearic style, as in the hit single 'Fine Time', which contained lines such as 'I've met a lot of cool chicks, But I've never met a girl with all her own teeth', delivered in a voice that parodied Barry White 's notoriously sexist, gravelly vocals of the 70s.
Meanwhile, the band had changed significantly as a live act. Their reputation for inconsistency and apathy, as well as their staunch refusal to play encores, was by now replaced with confident, crowd-pleasing hour-long sets. In the summer of 1990 they reached the UK number 1 position with 'World In Motion', accompanied by the England World Cup Squad, with a song that earned the questionable accolade of best football record of all time, and caused a band member to observe, 'this is probably the last straw for Joy Division fans'.
Rather than exploiting their recent successes with endless tours, the group unexpectedly branched out into various spin-off ventures. Hook formed the hard-rocking Revenge, Sumner joined former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr in Electronic and Morris/Gilbert recorded an album under the self-effacing title the Other Two.
The extra-curricular work prompted persistent rumours that New Order had
irrevocably split, but no official announcement or press admission was forthcoming. In the summer of 1991 the group announced that they had reconvened for a new album which was eventually released in 1993. Republic consequently met with mixed reviews reflecting critical confusion about their status and direction. While retaining the mix of rock and dance music successfully honed on Technique, the tone was decidedly more downbeat, even sombre. Sadly, it arrived too late to help the doomed Factory label, and afterwards the band's membership would return to varied solo projects. Hook formed Monaco in 1996.
New Order came back together in 1998 for a series of concert that ended with the 2 Temptation concerts for the new year 1999. At that moment, New Order decided to rehease Joy Division tracks and make them their own, claiming it as a lost legacy. A project called Recycle was in the air but never came true. Rob Gretton, their manager passed away in 2000 while the band was preparing their recording come back. Management duties has been then given to Andy Robinson, former tour manager, and Rebecca Boulton. Together they are Prime Management, located in Manchester.
New Order released a first track for Dan Boyle's movie The Beach, called Brutal, which was recorded at the same moment as Crystal and 60 Miles An Hour. Later in 2001, Get Ready was released and New Order scored their first Top 10 hit in many years. Get Ready saw only 2 singles coming out of it, Crystal and 60 Miles An Hour, the band decided then to finish their collaboration with the Chemical Brothers, called Here To Stay, which they decided to release as a single, and give it to the movie about the Factory history and Anthony Wilson, 24 Hour Party People.
New Order got back to studio in 2004 to record Waiting For The Sirens' Call, and they have wrote so many songs that they decided to keep the 7 left-overs to release another album in 2006.
Last updated on 2005-08-30 8:17:00 PM - 8:17:00 PM
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