Went into a bit of a New Order hole over the weekend, which caught even me off guard. (Was it all those "most influential albums from my teen years" memes on Facebook?) As I dug through my music library I was surprised to realize I was this huge fan from back in the day -- culminating with my seeing and managing to meet them at Mesa Amphitheater back in 1986 -- who barely owns any music by them now. As I read through their discography I discovered I had wound up with nothing but a bunch of singles and "Power, Corruption & Lies" in my iTunes library because the bulk of my love affair with remnants of Joy Division took place in the early '80s when my oldest brother was away at college at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Bill would come home every other weekend with a pile of laundry and a pile of records -- often import 12-inch singles he'd found out about from the local New Wave station.
The first two Pretenders albums, Altered Images' "Happy Birthday," Romeo Void's "It's a Condition" and Bananarama's "Really Saying Something" and "Shy Boy" 12-inchers (b/w the superior "Don't Call Us") were definitely highlights. But it was the "1981-1982 (Factus 8)" EP by a British synth band called New Order that introduced me to a whole new sound, paving the way for the Human League, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, O.M.D. and Yaz. All five songs were instantly likable. But it was "Temptation" -- "Up, down, turn around, please don't let me hit the ground! -- that I listened to over and over again until my mom asked if there was something wrong with my Yorx stereo (that spun records just a tad too quickly) my parents got me for Christmas at Price Club, the precursor to Costco. From there Bill brought home 12-inch versions of "Blue Monday," "Confusion" (not to be confused with the overproduced 1987 version recorded for "Substance") and "Thieves Like Us." Then in May 1984 he graduated from college and my supply dried up.
From what I can remember, the band put out "Power, Corruption & Lies" with none of the singles I had grown to love -- and during the magical year of 1983 when I had minimal cash and a long list of must-buy albums -- so I didn't get it until another "Why don't I own more New Order?" moment in the CD era. (Still, I recall being completely fascinated with the album from reading about it and seeing its cover art singled out in my copy of U.K.-published copy of "The Rock Yearbook 1983.") The band then released its first high-profile U.S. release -- promoted with a video of "The Perfect Kiss" directed by Jonathan Demme -- but despite my now having my first job, I passed on "Low-Life" because what I heard didn't really catch my ear the way their earlier material did. "Bizarre Love Triangle" got me -- and the world excited about the band all over again -- and then the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack gave us the neurotically wonderful "Shellshock." What I didn't realize was that at this point I sort of stopped paying much attention -- you could hear New Order constantly on any alternative radio station or dance club -- and that's when the band apparently reached the height of its popularity. The rather delightful "Regret" in 1993 would become their biggest U.S. single (I didn't even know it by name until I played it yesterday!), and they would go on to score more than 20 Top 20 singles in the U.K. in the '90s and aughts, including some World Cup anthem I've never heard of that topped the charts in 1990! Still, some 35 years since my brother first brought home that EP, it's those early songs -- the "Oh, you've got green eyes/ Oh, you've got blue eyes/ Oh, you've got grey eyes/ And I've never seen anyone quite like you before" refrain from "Temptation" still gives me goose bumps -- and the sublime "Power, Corruption & Lies" (it's hard to top songs like "Age of Consent," "5-8-6" and "Your Silent Face") that maintain my status as a major fan.
Ironically, I do have the first CD by The Other Two, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris' '90s side project that I love so much!