Monday, February 11, 2008

No. 361: Substance

Band: New Order
Album: Substance
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: New Order's bass-heavy dance music is jaunty and fun and set the soundtrack for much of the 1980s.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I'm not a dance music fan, so I'm not the man to ask.
Best song: "Bizarre Love Triangle" is great.
Worst song: "Sub-culture" isn't awesome.
Is it awesome?: It's a great dance record, it's not a great record overall.

Here's a fact no one cares about: All but one of the albums numbered 361-370 are albums I didn't have on my iPod going into this project. I only owned two of them (the Rage record and the Strokes record).

With that said, it's hard to know be somewhat familiar with a couple of New Order records, specifically this classic hits compilation. It's been played in every 80s movie ever and those of us weened on those movies (mostly replayed on cable) have these songs all around.

The band was formed in the demise of Joy Division. Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner decided to carry on in the aftermath of Ian Curtis' suicide.

New Order, like Joy Division, never spoke to me on a large level. I can certainly appreciate it as dance music, but anyone who has seen me dance knows I'm not a dancer.

Still, if you're having a dance party, there are few albums better to get than this one. Put on "Blue Monday," "Thieves Like Us," "Ceremony" and "Bizarre Love Triangle." The party will thus be started.


padraig said...

I don't dance, ever, and generally hate clubs. I understand where you're coming from but I don't think you need to appreciate dance music (although I do despite my lack of interest in actually dancing) to like New Order. They fit into a lot of stuff with "endless grooves" that I love - the Neu! 4/4 motorik beat, Can's endless jams, Fela Kuti's afrobeat, a ton of roots reggae - sure, their "groove" is on the mechanical, clipped side of things, but still - and I think that you need the singles to really appreciate that quality. Cause they were waaaay ahead of the curve in anticipating guitar bands developing a dance sensibility (Stone Roses, Happy Mondays - who copped their name from "Blue Monday", Primal Scream etc. all owe New Order a massive debt) they were also pioneers in embracing the concept of the extended dancefloor remix from disco. Of course it helps that Peter Hook is the all-time supreme champion of catchy basslines, that Stephen Morris is a human metronome, etc.

I grew up loving a ton of disco/funk/dub influenced post-punk bands and New Order is one of the major links that lead me to actually checking out and getting into stuff like Chic, Giorgio Moroder and Arthur Russell as well. A bit ironic, since growing up I was one of those Joy Division fanatics who wrote off New Order for being, well, not serious enough and too dance-friendly.

padraig said...

Oh, and how can you not love the gospel-esque back-up singers on "Sub-Culture", back before that concept was endlessly played out? :)