If there’s one thing Manchester’s finest have always done, it’s divide opinion among their fans and strongest supporters. To wit, New Order have released a number of albums throughout 20-year-odd career, on-and-off, and at best they’ve generally been… well… patchy.
That’s not to say they aren’t one of the greatest singles bands this country’s ever spewed forth. Take, for example, the ‘POP’ CD in this 5CD set (the 5th CD being part of the first 3,000 copies only). If there’s anyone qualified enough to choose a pop CD then it’s ex-Smash Hits editor Miranda Sawyer (usually spotted these days with Stuart Maconie and John Robb on those ‘80s nostalgia programmes on BBC2 or whatever). The ‘POP’ CD has some of New Order’s most obvious singles: ‘Fine Time’, ‘Temptation’, ‘Regret’ and… do we really need ‘Blue Monday’ again?
But ‘Blue Monday’ we do get… and it’s on the ‘CLUB’ CD too, tracklisting of which chosen by ex-Hacienda DJ and M People man (but we’ll forgive him for the latter) Mike Pickering. Never been much of a remix fan myself so this CD is of least interest but hey, if it’s what floats your boat then there’s a good range of songs and mix styles on there. Something for everything for the remix fan/DJ.
‘Retro’s’ problem is who it’s trying to appeal to. There’s been numerous ‘Best Of’ type compilations released over the years. They don’t have a massive back-catalogue of albums. There are few tracks here of interest to the hardened collector. But it’s all a very nice package and worth the money if you don’t already own much of the material contained within (well, duh).
Barney’s never had the most, uh, diverse vocal range, but he does have a voice that’s instantly recognisable. Hooky’s always had an equally distinctive way and swagger with the bass. Adding everything together, with the pioneering way with blips’n’bleeps and pre-empting those baggy beats, they’ve always turfed up at least one classic song per-album, be it ‘Temptation’ (original version and ’98 remix both here), ‘Regret’, and more recent offering ‘Crystal’. The live tracks are of varying quality, with the inclusion of a few songs from their triumphant Reading ’93 headline slot being among the best.
Overall then: GRATE… but necessary? For the fans to decide.
On a side note, it was always somewhat ironic that their original label, Factory, a label so very, very Mancunian, ended up being sold to London Records…