Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for May 24, 2013

[No Joy, Just Division] -- If you want some 80s tunes appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend, I direct you to my Flashback post from May 27, 2011. Of course, I also hope you'll check out this new post.

I'm a big New Order fan. Like many -- but not all -- of their fans, I discovered the band well after their days as Joy Division. I have previously, albeit briefly, written about the transition from Joy Division to New Order (see the first Flashback tune in my Second Acts post (Friday 80s Flashback for November 19, 2010). But it is good to return to this idea so that there can be no illusions that 80s music formed fully on its own in a vacuum. The music we love owes a debt to preceding decades. And this became all the clearer to me as I recently listened to New Order/Joy Division bassist Peter Hook interviewed on Sound Opinions. He knows, I mean really knows, there would have been no New Order if not for Joy Division. (And there may have been no Joy Division if not for the Sex Pistols). Lets face it: New Order started out as pretty much Joy Division (1976 - 1980) without founder/singer Ian Curtis. Even New Order's first album included songs written by Joy Division. However, whereas Joy Division was formed as a response to the Sex Pistols ("We just wanted to be punks!" says Peter Hook in the Sound Opinions interview), New Order evolved from their dark and melodic origins to become something of an alternative dance / new wave band for the post punk generation. In the Sound Opinions interview, bassist Peter Hook says he believes Joy Division would have eventually reached the place that New Order did, but I'm not so sure. I mean, I do agree that Ian Curtis' songwriting would have evolved, but I'm not so sure he would have embraced synthpop as much as his former bandmates. I just don't think it would have been in his nature.

Today's theme comes from the fact that New Order is in a bit of a feud -- the latest incarnation of the band did not invite Peter Hook to join them. However, as bitter as the feelings are over the business of New Order, it is refreshing that Hook says he would still relish the opportunity to play with his old bandmates once again.

Check out the interview using the embedded widget below. And if you want to hear a few New Order tracks in their entirety, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"This is why events unnerve me | They find it all, a different story."

In the wake of Ian Curtis' suicide, the members of Joy Division were in mourning. They channeled their sorrows into a new band, re-working some recent material and developing some new songs. The band's debut, Movement, was released in November 1981. The first single, "Ceremony," is clearly informed by the band members' sense of shock and loss.

Flashback #2"Caressing the marble and stone | Love that was special for one | The waste in the fever I heat | How I wish you were here."

One of the two Joy Division songs that carried over to New Order's debut album, "In A Lonely Place" was the B-Side for the band's debut single. In the Sound Opinions interview, Peter Hook says this song "sounds like Joy Division." He's not wrong.

Flashback #3"I stood there beside myself  |  Thinking hard about the weather | Then came by a friend of mine | Suggested we go out together."

Fast forward a few years to 1985, and we see New Order firmly embracing their role as an alternative dance band. Well, they've fleshed out their sound and fully embraced the synthpop additions. It's the dance halls that have embraced the band as "alternative dance." Our final flashback of the day, "The Perfect Kiss," was the first New Order song was on a studio album at the same time it was released as a single. (If you don't understand why that is an important distinction, you didn't listen to the Sound Opinions interview where Peter Hook said it didn't make sense to have their fans buy a song twice -- Remarkable, eh? -- You bought the single, you should get new material on the album). "The Perfect Kiss" was the first single from Low-Life (1985), and it has some keen effects such as frogs croaking and sheep bleating (well, synthesized sheep).

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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