After the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis, surely no one - least of all the band themselves - could have expected that 25 years down the line the surviving three members of Joy Division would still be going strong and churning out their 30th hit single as New Order in that time.
Indeed, whilst the eerie poignant uncertainty of 'Ceremony' - the last thing Joy Division wrote together just before Curtis' death - suggested the band would attempt to continue where they'd left off, what followed next was an education in itself, proving that boys brought up on coaldust and guitars could actually dance, whilst reaffirming the fact that technological experiments in music need not necessarily be tuneless and unlistenable.
It would be easy to criticise New Order, as many have, for a number of reasons, most notably the so-called lack of respect shown to their departed frontman by, lo-and-behold, "selling out" a.k.a. achieving commercial success, or their apparent lack of charisma - try telling that to the tabloid hacks who spent years salivating over the Caroline Ahern-Peter Hook soap opera - and yet throughout the quarter of a century, they still remain effortlessly cool and annoyingly aloof, which would suggest they have and still are obviously doing something right.
Singles, spread chronologically across two CDs, follows on where 2002's Retro boxset left off, in that every nook and cranny, false start and unintentionally faded middle eight (see the original single mix of 'Temptation') is here in all its glory.
Innovators rather than followers, it's easy to see why New Order have been held in high esteem for so long, as 1983's 'Blue Monday' - possibly the first record ever to successfully mix the sound of guitars and the discotheque as well as being the biggest selling 12 inch single of its time - and 'Confusion', which predated this nation's fascination with hip-hop by half a decade at least, are both still as fresh and invigorating as they were way back then.
Towards the end of the eighties, New Order were fast becoming one of the country's best pop acts in their own right, and the likes of 'True Faith' and 'Bizarre Love Triangle' mixed the cement and paved the way for young upstarts such as Hard-Fi and Franz Ferdinand today.
The second CD sees the band embrace acid house ('Fine Time'), lick its lips with Manchester's second wave - the baggy explosion ('Run 2') and try - and ultimately fail - to teach footballers how to rap ('World In Motion')... though it's still make the most credible, non-laddish football song ever. If CD2 is a game of two halves, the finale is a bit of an anti-climax and probably the reason why this record doesn't quite achieve the ultimate accolade of 5 stars, but the pragmatic tones of 'Krafty' suggest that even now, New Order still have enough creativity left in them to carry on for a while longer yet, and for a band whose core members are probably older than most DiS readers' parents, that is a commendable achievement in itself.
As a memento of what happens when two extremely diverse factions (punk rock and disco) collide under the same roof, Singles is an absolute must. Where greatest hits compilations are concerned, I guarantee you won't find a better one than Singles this year or even this decade.
9Dom Gourlay's Score