NEW ORDER in the 80s

By Mark Nobes

New Order formed in 1980, following the demise of Joy Division and the suicide of their lead singer Ian Curtis in May 1980. The band's post-punk/electro sound gave New Order much critical acclaim, and their ground-breaking 1983 hit single "Blue Monday" became the best-selling 12" of all time.

The band's first single "Ceremony" and its B-side "In A Lonely Place" were penned before Curtis took his own life.  

80s Albums

Movement cassette album (Polygram Canada 1981) New Order

Movement cassette album (Polygram, Canada)

Movement (1981 Debut Album)

Released in November 1981, New Order's first album was a continuation of the post-punk guitar sound of Joy Division, being dark and melodic, although the use of synths was more evident. It appeared that the band just weren't entirely sure which direction they were heading, and were struggling without the song-writing skills of Curtis. Reviews of the album were quite negative at the time. However, reviews of Movement have been a lot more positive in recent times.
The album reached No.30 in the UK and No.1 on the Indie chart. It also reached No.8 in New Zealand, and the band developed a big following here during the 1980s.

Power, Corruption & Lies (1983 )

In 1981, the band visited New York and experienced the new post-disco, electro and Italian Disco sound, which would soon have a big influence on their sound.

It was the second album that saw a dramatic new style and which finally set them apart from Joy Division. "Power, Corruption & Lies" featured a more electronic, synth-based sound which was influenced by the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. This was combined with the post-punk guitar sound that had featured on their first album, Movement

There were some elements of this new sound in that first album, although it was slated by the critics at the time. It appeared that the band just weren't entirely sure which direction they were heading, and were struggling without the song-writing skills of Curtis. However, reviews of Movement have been a lot more positive in recent times.

Released on 2nd May 1983, the album reached No.4 in the UK and also No.1 on the UK's Indie chart, receiving a Silver sales certificate. The album also reached No.3 in new Zealand and was a top 20 hit in several European countries.
Power, Corruption & Lies LP sleeve ft. roses. New Order

Low Life (1985 Album)

This is the only album sleeve to include photos of the band members, and features Stephen Morris on the front. The album received mostly favourable reviews, and in issue 38 of Select magazine (Aug 1993), Andrew Harrison gave it a score of 5/5.
This is often regarded as New Order's finest work, and felt like the transformation from guitar rock to dance rock was complete, giving a distinctive, imaginative and confident sound.
Released on May 13th 1985, Low Life sold particularly well in Canada, receiving a Gold sales certificate here and selling over 50,000 units. The album reached No.7 in the UK and No.1 on the Indie chart and No.11 in New Zealand. It was also the first album by the band to chart in the U.S., reaching No.94 here.
This was also the first album from which singles were released, although neither made it into the UK Top 40. "The Perfect Kiss" reached No.46 (and No.1 on the UK Indie chart), and No.5 on the U.S. dance chart.
The second single "Sub-Culture" reached No.63 in the UK and No.35 on the U.S. dance chart.
Low Life LP (first press 1985) New Order

Brotherhood (1986 Album)

The band's fourth studio album was released on September 29th 1986, reaching No.9 in the UK and also No.15 on Australia's ARIA chart. 
The album was generally well-received, but the reviews were not as glowing as its predecessor, Low-Life, or the next album, Technique, leaving it nestled uncomfortably in-between two classic albums and often overlooked. 
Lead single, "State Of The Nation", reached No.30 in the UK. Record Mirror reviewer, Robin Smith, slated the single, describing it as "colourless". The second single, "Bizarre Love Triangle", stalled at No.56, but received rave reviews from the critics, with NME claiming it as "New Order's finest pop moment".

Technique (1989 Album)

Released on Jan 30th 1989, the band's fifth studio album became the first the top the UK album charts and receive a Gold sales certificate. It was partially recorded in Ibiza, and is heavily influenced by the Balearic and Acid House sound.
Three singles were released from the album; "Fine Time" (No.11), "Round & Round (No.21) and Run 2 (No.49). UK chart positions are shown in brackets.
Technique cassette album by New Order (1989)

Studio Albums

Movement (1981) #30

Power, Corruption & Lies (1983) #4

Low-Life (1985) #7

Brotherhood (1986) #9

Technique (1989) #1

Republic (1993) #1

Get Ready (2001) #6

Waiting For The Siren's Call (2005) #5

Lost Sirens (2013) #23

Music Complete (2015) #2

Chart positions shown are for the United Kingdom.

80s Singles

"Temptation" (1982)

Released on May 10th 1982, this was the band's fourth consecutive non-album single and reached #29 here in the UK. Interestingly, the single sleeve does not feature either the band's name or the title of the song. 

The track was recorded as a 8:47 12 inch and then edited down to 5:21 (that's still as long as some 12" records I've bought!) by engineer Peter Woolliscroft. The 12" and B-side "Hurt" were later included on the "Mopping-Up" EP 1981-1982, which was released later in 1982. The "yelp" noise on the 12" was, apparently, caused by band members pushing a snowball down lead singer Bernard Sumner's shirt during recording!
The first 4 minutes of the video (in the playlist above) are in black and white and feature a young lady walking through a bustling street and then stealing a record from a record shop by shoving it under her jacket. She also steals a bunch of flowers. The colour quickly fades in when the lady starts playing the record at home. 
A re-recorded version was included on the singles compilation album "Substance" in 1987 and gained notoriety after also being included on the original 1996 soundtrack to the movie Trainspotting. A second soundtrack album was released in 1997 which featured all new tracks. Joy Division's "Atmosphere" was included as track 13.
Temptation 7
Trainspotting Soundtrack 1996 version

"Blue Monday" (1983)

This classic electro/dance track was recorded in 1982, released as a single in 1983 and later remixed in 1988 and 1995. The original version still remains the finest, and the unnecessary remix in 1988 did nothing to enhance the track and made it sound more cluttered. It became the biggest-selling 12" single ever released in the UK. It was the Oberheim DMC drum machine that gave the track its distinct stuttering beat, and the track was very influential and ahead of its time. It was was the final nail in the coffin for the classic disco groove that we had all grown accustomed to.

The main bass line was created on a Moog Source, and the extra bass guitar was provided by Peter Hook.
New Order
Blue Monday 1983 vinyl sleeve front

Blue Monday 1988 by New Order

"Blue Monday 1988" vinyl single sleeve front

"Confusion" (1983)

This was the follow-up to the massive 80's electro club hit Blue Monday, and was produced by influential New York DJ, Arthur Baker. The song was released as a stand-alone single in August 1983 and reached #12 in the UK in 1983. Both Peter Hook and Bernard Sumners play bass guitar on the song.

The 1983 12" vinyl features four versions of "Confusion"; Confusion (8:12), Confused Beats (5:19), Confusion Instrumental (7:38) and Confusion Rough Mix (8:04). The first two tracks (on the A-side) are mixed together by Arthur Baker to create one, long mix. The "Rough Mix" on the B-side is the original New Order recording.

"True Faith" (1983)

The lead single from Substance from was produced by Stephen Hague, and was the first single since their debut Ceremony to be issued in the UK as two separate 12" singles. The second 12" single features two remixes of True Faith by Shep Pettibone. Both versions of the 12" (and also the edited 7") also include the song 1963.

True Faith peaked at No.4 in the UK and also reached #3 in the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs chart. I still have the 7" vinyl gathering dust in a box, as I now have nothing to play it on. Hmm, need to get a record deck!

This song and Blue Monday (1983) are my favourite New Order tracks.

By the way, was this the first video to feature happy slapping? It gets my vote for being one of the strangest videos of the 80s, that's for sure!

True Faith 7

"Touched By The hand of God" (1987)

The song had originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film Salvation! and the version released as a single in December 1987 was remixed by New York DJ, Arthur Baker. In the video, we see the band members having fun mocking glam rock/hair metal bands. Seeing Bernard Sumner in that blonde wig was a very disturbing experience indeed! The idea for the video came from the band's manager, Rob Gretton.

New Order

"Fine Time" (1988)

Released on 28th November 1988, the lead single from New Order's fifth studio album, "Technique" reached #11 in the UK. The title of the song came from band member Stephen Morris. His car had been towed away after being illegally parked, and Morris wrote down "fine time" on a piece of paper to remind himself to pay the fine.

New Order

80s Singles Discography

1981 Ceremony  #34

1981 Procession  #38

1981 Everything's Gone Green  -

1982 Temptation  #29

1983 Blue Monday  #9

1983 Confusion  #12

1984 Thieves Like Us  #18

1984 Murder  #92

1985 The Perfect Kiss  #46

1985 Sub-Culture  #63

1986 Shellshock  #28

1986 State Of The Nation  #30

1986 Bizarre Love Triangle  #56

1987 True Faith  #4

1987 Touched By The Hand of God  #20

1988 Blue Monday 1988  #3

1989 Round & Round  #21

1989 Run 2  #49

Chart positions shown are for the UK