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New Order

New Order are an English indie rock band that formed in 1980 from Joy Division following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. The current members of New Order are Bernard Sumner (lead vocalist), Peter Hook (bassist), and Stephen Morris (percussion), all from Joy Division, plus recently, Phil Cunningham (guitar/synth). Formerly Gillian Gilbert (guitar/synth) was in the band, but has temporarly left due to her daughter suffering from a degenerative disease. Hook was married to comedy actress Caroline Aherne for a short time; Gilbert and Morris are a married couple.



New Order initially started on a similar route as their previous incarnation, performing melodic, dark songs. Soon however, they found their own sound and became a well known icon in new wave and alternative circuits, exhibiting a good deal of longevity. They have heavily influenced techno, and were themselves influenced by the likes of Donna Summer and Kraftwerk.

New Order and Joy Division were both among the most successful artists on the Factory Records label, run by Granada television personality Anthony Wilson, and partnered with Factory in the financing of the Manchester club The Hacienda.

Unusually for such a major group, New Order never had a formal contract with their label. (This was in fact Factory's normal practice until the mid-1980s. As Anthony Wilson put it, "all our bands are free to fuck off whenever they please".) Because of this, the group (rather than Factory Records) legally owned all their own recorded material. This has often been cited, not least by Wilson himself, as the main reason why London Records' offer to buy the ailing label in 1992 fell through.

Each member of this band has been involved with other bands: Sumner partnered with former member of The Smiths, Johnny Marr, in Electronic; Hook formed the bands Revenge and Monaco; and Morris and Gilbert formed the aptly named The Other Two.

Their music has tended to be heavily synth-based, like other new wave bands', and among their better known hits are "True Faith" (1987), and "Bizarre Love Triangle" (1986). Their 12"-only release "Blue Monday" is the best selling 12" single of all time, though because the packaging was so elaborate--resembling a large 5" floppy disk--the band was said to lose a small amount of money on each copy sold.

New Order recorded the official song for English football team's 1990 World Cup bid, "World in Motion," under the ad-hoc band name EnglandNewOrder. The song, co-written with comedian Keith Allen, was a number one UK hit.

In recent years New Order have become more comfortable with the Joy Division era of their repertoire, often performing live versions of JD classics such as "Transmission" and "Isolation." Joy Division and New Order were portrayed in the film 24 Hour Party People, which depicts Factory and its bands during their heyday.

Their 2001 release Get Ready is a departure from their older style as it is not heavily synth-dependent, but the bass-playing and Bernard's vocals make it still sound distinctively like New Order.

In 2002, Q magazine named New Order in their list of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die", although this was as part of a sub-list of "5 Bands That Could Go Either Way".

By early 2005 the band is said to writing and working another record...


New Order, and Factory Records products in general, frequently bore the minimalist packaging of Peter Saville. The group's record sleeves bucked the '80s trend by rarely showing the band members (The Low-Life LP was the exception proving the rule) or even providing basic information such as the band name or the title of the release. Song names were often hidden within the shrink wrapped package, either on the disc itself (such as the "Confusion" single) or on an inconspicuous part of an inner sleeve ("The Perfect Kiss" single). Saville elaborated on this concept on the NewOrderStory video, saying his intention was to sell the band as a "known secret" of sorts. The distinctive minimalist style was enough to allow fans to identify the band's products without explicit labeling.

The band rarely gave interviews in the '80s, later ascribing this to not wanting to discuss Ian Curtis. This along with the Peter Saville sleeve designs and the tendency to give short performances with no encores gave the band a standoffish reputation. They opened up a bit in the '90s. The aforementioned NewOrderStory (and in particular the long UK version) featured extensive personal interviews.

New Order released many singles for songs not included on LPs. Singles were released in many formats and often with varying track lists and exclusive artwork. According to Tony Wilson, Factory intentionally released other singles, LPs and compilations in non-UK markets to increase their collectability. Indeed, the complete New Order discography is far too sprawling for most fans to collect in its entirety, and the compilations released by Factory and other labels are notoriously incomplete. In the late 90s, London Records spoke of releasing a Depeche Mode-like singles retrospective for New Order, complete with original packaging and track lists. In fact, the project was at times named Cardboard and Plastic and Recycle, with t-shirts for the latter appearing at the infrequent New Order gig. Eventually, the financial aspects caused the project to devolve into the Retro box set (2003), which featured many tracks that were readily available elsewhere. The single-disc International compilation (2003) similarly omits the classic, out of print recordings in favor of updating (The Best of) New Order (1995) and Substance (1987). At least one single, Run2 (1989), may never be reissued. It was deleted long ago after John Denver successfully sued New Order for stealing the melody of his "Leaving on a Jet Plane." The melody appears in the wordless chorus of the title track.

Many New Order song titles rarely have anything to do with the song. In some cases songs with normal titles appear to have had their titles swapped to other songs. For example, the phrase "This Time of Night" appears in the song "As It Is When It Was" on Brotherhood but is the title of a song on Low-Life. Other song titles were taken from the titles of old movies ("Thieves Like Us," "Cries and Whispers," etc.)

Singles often feature remixes. The number of remixes were few at first but increased a great deal with the release of 1993's Republic. New Order remixes tend to have one or more of these characteristics:

  • Dub Versions: Inspired by the dub musical genre, these have titles related to the original track (e.g., "The Beach," a lyric in "Blue Monday," is a dub version of that song; "Bizarre Dub Triangle" is the dub version of "Bizarre Love Triangle," etc.). Dubs were often the solitary b-side on the Factory original 12" singles, and were often recognizable rearrangements of the title tracks with few, if any, added parts.
  • Edits: These were shortened versions of other mixes, often meant for distribution on a 7" record.
  • Extended Versions: These preserve much of the original track but add extended intros, outros and instrumental parts (e.g., "Round and Round 12" Version", "True Faith (Shep Pettibone Mix)").
  • Instrumentals: The title track minus vocals (e.g., "Fine Line", "Vanishing Point Instrumental"). An interesting twist on this is the "Confusion (A Capella Mix)" which has a sole vocal track.
  • Re-recordings: Later takes of the title track (e.g., "Ceremony" on the white and blue 12" and on Substance, "Shame of the Nation").
  • Live Versions: Live recordings (e.g., "The Perfect Kiss (Video Version)", the 60 Miles An Hour Tour Disc).

Bassist Peter Hook contributed to New Order's sound by developing an idiosyncratic bass guitar technique. He often played high-pitched melodies with a signature heavy chorus effect, leaving the lower registers to keyboards or sequencers.

Drummer Stephen Morris regularly played a mixture of acoustic and electronic drums, and in many cases played along seamlessly with sequenced parts.

All the band members could and did switch instruments throughout gigs, as evidenced on Jonathan Demme's video for "The Perfect Kiss" and the fairly common Taras Shevchenko and Pumped Full of Drugs concert videos. In particular, every member could be seen playing keyboard at times.


Whilst not being in any way a Christian Rock band, a large number of New Order song titles and lyrics make references to the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and other aspects of the Christian church. These are not overt references, but appear regularly enough to have some significance.

During a gig held on a Sunday, Sumner mentioned how he would "rather be at home watching Stars on Sunday ", a long since finished religious programme shown in some regions of England. As the religious theme carried over into a few of his songs with Electronic, it can be assumed he is responsible for it in the New Order tracks.


Studio albums



  • 1981-1982 New Order (1982)


See also: post punk, List of songs whose title does not appear in the lyrics, New Order tracks which include the title in the lyrics

External links

  • Fan-run site
  • New Order Discography
  • Joy Division Discography
  • Ian Curtis and Joy Division fans club
  • MusicBrainz Discography
  • '24 Hour Party People' IMDb Entry

Last updated: 02-26-2005 13:00:46