Thursday, March 21, 2013

Classic Album Review: New Order - Substance (1987)

We’ve seen a number of New Order compilations released in recent years, something that rightly and accurately reflects the enduring popularity of a band that effectively peaked in the late Eighties. However, whether it is a Best Of, a Rest Of, or a straightforward singles compilation, none of them quite capture the true essence of New Order in the way that Substance does. Released in 1987, this is the original compilation of hits covering the first six years of the band’s existence. And how!

As any fan of the band will tell you, New Order (or Factory) weren’t big on the idea of including singles on the standard album releases at first, so a number of these early tracks used to be quite hard to track down. Which was a real shame, because some of that early stuff ranks right up there with the band’s best work, and thankfully Substance addresses this in no uncertain terms. 

Substance is a double CD set with (mostly or all?) 12” versions of the band’s first dozen “singles” on the first CD, and all of the corresponding B-sides on the second CD.

Such was the consistent quality of New Order’s output it is difficult to rate one above the other, but the A-side CD probably just shades it. As each is compiled in chronological release-date order, we get a compelling insight as to how the band evolved from the ashes of Joy Division to become crossover pioneers of the electronic dance music (soon to become “Techno”) scene. Thoroughly recommended.

10 New Order Essentials: ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Temptation’ (clip below), ‘Everything’s Gone Green’, ‘Perfect Kiss’, ‘Ceremony’, ‘Subculture’, ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, ‘True Faith’, ‘Procession’, and ‘Thieves Like Us’.

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