23 August 2009

Anyone want a BLT?

So, Bizarre Love Triangle. Who'd have thought this would be the single that sidelined us temporarily?

There are three hurdles here. While a US CD single was released in the mid-90's containing all the mixes, it appears to be an early victim of the loudness war. The volume of the disc isn't maxed out, but the dynamics within each track are crushed. My friend who is doing the audio restoration had intended to source Bizarre Dub Triangle (a.k.a. I Don't Care) from this disc, but it wouldn't have sounded right alongside the other tracks. He doesn't own a physical copy of the 12" single, so off to Toronto my copy goes. I mailed it a few days ago but it could take up to two weeks to reach him.

We'd also planned to include the unique Canadian 7" mix, but discovered that (just like The Perfect Kiss) one version was issued commercially, then withdrawn, then a second version was released in its place. Neither of us has a physical copy of that second (unique) mix, so a friend in England is sending his over. Again, it could take a couple of weeks to reach Toronto.

Finally, the artwork, which is a photo of treated metal that has some distinct markings running from front to back, is taking a little longer than expected. Scanning the sleeve was no problem but piecing it together to make a nice, seamless image for the slipcase requires some photoshop trickery to fill in the 1/8" inch gap where the image wraps around the spine of the single. I've made a couple of attempts already but they weren't up to my (admittedly unforgiving) standards. I'll continue working on it while waiting for the audio to be finished.

Once Bizarre Love Triangle has been posted, there are seven singles left:

True Faith (already done)
Touched By The Hand Of God
Blue Monday '88
Fine Time (already done)
Round & Round
Run 2 (already done)
World In Motion

18 August 2009

Recycle 12: State Of The Nation



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (48 MB)

State Of The Nation
Factory Records FAC 153
Produced by New Order/New Order and John Robie
September 1986

Tracklisting:

1. State Of The Nation
2. Shame Of The Nation
3. State Of The Nation (7" Edit)
4. Shame Of The Nation (7" Edit)

1 and 2 sourced from
Substance
3 and 4 edited from 1 and 2

Notes form the restorer:

Unlike most of the tracks on Substance, I thought these needed a bit of boost in the highs instead of a cut.
State Of The Nation is either an album cut from Brotherhood or a non-LP single, depending on which version of the album you bought. The vinyl LP doesn't have it at all, while the CD has it tacked on at the end, and then there's the deluxe cassette edition I have which has both State and Shame added one apiece onto each side.

Once again, the band broke form by not only giving the song a title that referenced the lyrics, but also using the most obvious line for it. The big surprise here is the B-side, which given the previous tracks with titles that consisted of similar wordplay (Shellcock, Dub-Vulture), would lead one to expect a randomized and chopped-up dub mix. Instead, Shame Of The Nation is really John Robie's mix and production of the song, for which he was given co-production and songwriting credit, whereas State is credited only to the band. Unlike his previous efforts, here he pulls back on the excessive effects and edits that characterized Shellshock and Sub-Culture, giving something that is equally as listenable as the A-side.

It seems this one is regarded as a somewhat average effort by the group. Personally, while I didn't care much for it at first, the song has really grown on me. I will occasionally drop State in one of my DJ sets.

06 August 2009

John Hughes

"When you grow up, your heart dies."

John Hughes is dead.

I was born in 1970. John Hughes' films were an integral part of my teenage years. When I came home from work this evening the first thing I did was watch the last 15 minutes of Pretty in Pink, where Andie makes the dress and goes to the prom anyway. I sat there choking back tears and thinking how Hughes' passing affects me 1000 times more than Michael Jackson's.

I hadn't planned on posting another single yet, but it seems appropriate to go ahead and post Shellshock.

Thank you, John. You taught me so much, and all these years later your films still move me in a way few others can.

Recycle 11: Shellshock



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (68 MB)

Shellshock
Factory Records FAC 143
Produced by New Order and John Robie
March 1986

Tracklisting:

1. Shellshock
2. Shellcock
3. Thieves Like Us Instrumental '86
4. Shellshock (7" Edit)
5. Thieves Like Us Instrumental '86 (7" Edit)

1 and 2 sourced from Factory UK 45RPM 12" single FAC 143
3 sourced from A&M Canada 45RPM 12" single SP-12174
4 sourced from Factory UK 45RPM 7" single FAC 143
5 edited from 3

Notes from the restorer:

I initially created the full-length Shellshock by taking the Substance edit and putting back the edited-out portions from vinyl, carefully EQing it to match. While most people couldn't hear where the edits were, one person claimed to, so for this version, it's all from vinyl. I was hesitant do to this, for there is a very faint bit of pre-echo audible at the intro... but oh well.

Annoyingly, the 7" version cannot be created from editing the other versions down. I say annoyingly because I spent a couple of hours working on it and was almost done, only to discover that there's a brief snippet at around the three-minute mark which isn't anywhere in the 12" or dub versions.
Written for the Pretty In Pink soundtrack (which used a version different from both the 7" and 12" editions here), the single was New Order's second collaboration with John Robie. While it's not quite so excessive as his re-work of Sub-Culture, the full 12" version is still quite long and peppered with Robie's trademark abrupt edits. The song was edited down to under 7 minutes for the Substance compilation, and the full-length version has never appeared on CD.

It's always been my understanding that New Order was asked to do the entire soundtrack for
Pretty In Pink but for whatever reason the studio opted not to use their work. While not confirmed, I suspect some of the music they created was used for the film Salvation! a year later. With the deadline approaching fast, several bands went into the studio to record music for the soundtrack. Shellshock was one of those 24-hour marathon sessions, as was OMD's If You Leave, which went on to become one of the biggest singles of the 80's.

The instrumental mix of Thieves Like Us was used in the film, as was Elegia. There's also a poster for
Lowlife hanging in the record shop where Andie/Molly Ringwald works. It's obvious that John Hughes (or at least director Howard Deutch) was a fan.

The instrumental version of Thieves Like Us is very similar to but *not* the same as the one on the flip of Murder. The full-length version of this was not issued in the UK, but only on the international editions of the single licensed on the A&M label.

05 August 2009

Stats and commentary

In just the few hours this blog has been live Sub-Culture is leading the race with the most downloads. Murder is last, but to be fair both those cuts are on Substance (although they have been tidied up a bit).

Keep in mind that the commentary for each single is frequently the combined thoughts of two different people. It's meant to entertain, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I love all of these singles as though they were my own children, but that said, some are geniuses while other are stuck in remedial math. ;)

04 August 2009

Halfway

We've now reached the halfway point. While the singles for Shellshock and State Of The Nation are already finished, I'll wait a few days before posting them and moving on. Currently my friend the audio restoration guru and I are in the middle of Bizarre Love Triangle, with a couple of later singles like True Faith and Run 2 already finished. Patience.

By now some folks are probably asking "what about this and that edit?" The focus here is only those tracks that appeared on the Factory/UK releases, with the occasional odd duck. No one wants to listen to 15 different edits of the same song (something I'll touch on if and when I tackle the post-Factory singles). I mean, I'm a collector, but it's not my job to complete your collection for you. Do what I did - log on to eBay, GEMM, or visit your local record shop. :)

Once the remaining ten singles are done there'll be some more surprises to wrap up New Order's Factory years. Remember that rarities box set you wished Retro was going to be? Yeah.

Then it's on to tackling Joy Division's singles.

Recycle 10: Sub-Culture



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (59 MB)

Sub-Culture
Factory Records FAC 133
Produced New Order
November 1985

Tracklisting:

1. Sub-Culture
2. Dub-Vulture
3. Sub-Culture (7" Edit)
4. Dub-Vulture (7" Edit)
5. Sub-Culture (Record Mirror Exclusive Mix)

1 and 2 sourced from Rough Trade DE 45 RPM 12" RTD 023 T
3 and 4 edited from elements of 1 and 2
5 sourced and edited from an unofficial CD-R created by a certain remix service

1 - 4 EQ matched to
Substance

After the brilliance of The Perfect Kiss, things went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sub-Culture was a good, albeit flawed, song from
Low-Life and an ideal choice for a single, now that the band was putting singles on albums (or would that be pulling singles from albums?) With their now-trademark sequences and riffs, the strong melody is somewhat let down by Bernard's rather poor vocal performance. While he's never been known for technical perfection, he's alarmingly off-key in this song at certain points. Evidently remixer John Robie thought so too, for he did everything he could to bury the original vocal in the 12" mix. Unfortunately, the results weren't really any improvement.

While it's customary for remixes to be jazzed-up and to focus on different elements, the 12" remix of this was pushed so far over the top that it fell back down, crashed onto the floor, and shattered into a thousand pieces. At least, that's what it sounds like. Much like a written work where every sentence ends with exclamation marks!!, there's just far too much embellishment and hardly any substance here (pun not intended). Robie hired backing vocalists to drown out Barney, and they sound very out-of-place on a New Order track. He peppered the piece with jarring orchestra hits, pointless fills, and other needless effects. The bass sequence was delayed by a sixteenth note which only adds to aural chaos, and countless abrupt jump-cut-esque edits were done, mimicking an effect which was very fashionable for about 15 minutes in the mid '80s. mid '80s. mid '80s. for aboutfor aboutfor aboutfor aboutfor aboutffffffffffrrrrforforforforforforforforforforfor for for *TIGHT!*. In essence, the A-side already sounds like a just-throw-the-two-track-in-the-blender dub version, and thus the B-side is just completely absurd, eventually decaying into a blast of solid noise.

I find this quickly gets very tiresome. Seems that just about everyone agrees, for the song was edited down to under 5 minutes for the
Substance compilation, and the B-side was not included on the CD at all. Having said that, much better remixes of the song do exist, but they were never issued commercially. The R*zorm*id DJ remix service did three different versions of this song, and one of them came out on a 7" 33 RPM EP (along with three other songs by other artists) which was included as a freebie with an issue of Record Mirror magazine in the UK. I think most people will agree that this is a tremendous improvement over the absurd 12" version. The original EP sounds pretty bad due to the limitations of the format, but fortunately the R*zorm*id mixes were made available in the form of an unofficial CD-R release a few years back, so we have the RM version here in pristine quality.

One other unique thing about Sub-Culture is that it has no proper sleeve, which is quite unusual for a group and label that put so much effort into visual presentation. Allegedly, sleeve designer Peter Saville was so unimpressed with the song that he refused to create any artwork for it. I have no idea if that's true or not, but it wouldn't surprise me either way. :)

I think Subculture gets a bum rap because the remixes are so jarring and over the top. However, it's one of those songs that really shines in a live context. I think the band missed an opportunity with this single. With a re-recorded vocal and more traditional/danceable mixes a la the 5th mix, this could have been a hit. While it topped the indie singles chart in the UK, it only reached #63 in the traditional singles chart.

Recycle 09: The Perfect Kiss



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (82 MB)

The Perfect Kiss
Factory Records FAC 123
Produced New Order
May 1985

Tracklisting:

1. The Perfect Kiss
2. The Kiss Of Death
3. Perfect Pit
4. The Perfect Kiss (7" Edit)
5. The Kiss Of Death (7" Edit)
6. The Perfect Kiss (Ivan Ivan Edit)
7. The Kiss Of Death (Ivan Ivan Edit)
8. The Perfect Kiss (Live Video Version)

1, 2, and 3 sourced from Rough Trade DE 45 RPM 12" single FAC 123/RTD 022T
4 edited from album version, sourced from London
Low-Life CD 8573 81313-2
5, 6, and 7 edited from elements of 1, 2, and 3
8 sourced from
A Collection DVD

Notes from the restorer:

12" EQ matched to Substance.
4 with considerable bass added to make it fit in better
8 massive high cut and low boost, channels re-synced, phase on highs corrected, extra treble on right channel

This was much more work than I expected. It seems many UK copies have the A-side pressed off-centre, which causes a slight but noticeable wow/pitch fluctuation. I didn't want to gouge out the spindle hole on £50 Note's copy to correct this, so I used my German copy (which I bought new sometime in the early 90s) instead.

The single edits were another matter entirely. As far as we can tell, the first UK single version was simply the album mix coupled with the 5-minute edit of Kiss Of Death on the flip. Since I expect any serious New Order fan already has a copy of
Low-Life, I saw no reason in including that here. Anyway, apparently this was withdrawn and replaced with the much shorter Ivan Ivan edits. Outside of the UK, it seems the version released is what I'm presenting here as the" 7" edit. This is the album version with some very minor edits, and the five-minute Kiss Of Death (titled Perfect Kiss Instrumental on some copies) on the flip. I've heard of another withdrawn UK 7" version that supposedly contains unique elements not found anywhere else... but as I've yet to actually hear this, I'm not sure it exists.

The video of the song simply shows the band playing the song in their studio (filmed by Jonathan Demme). What's interesting is that unlike most videos, they're not lip-syncing to the album; they're actually playing the song live, so we've decided to include that here. The video version posed all sorts of problems for me: one channel slightly delayed, phase problems, really messed-up EQ (with less treble on the right channel)... I've been able to fix most of this, but there's still a bit of a comb-filter effect that I can't fix, and the phase between the two channels shifts around a bit at first. And then there's the fact that it sounds like it's out of tune compared to the album and single versions...

...at first, I assumed that the video version was likely playing at the wrong speed, since pitch often goes out the window when videos are converted from film 24 FPS to 25 FPS PAL TV broadcast, or from PAL to NTSC 29.97 FPS. And it's unlikely that the band would retune all their instruments for one song.

But upon closer examination, it turns out that the video is at concert pitch. The album and single versions play about 20 cents flat.

I considered the possibility that the album and single versions had been unwittingly slowed down. This sort of thing is rare, but it does happen (for example, every single copy of Miles Davis' landmark jazz LP
Kind Of Blue made until the mid-90s has one side playing half a semitone sharp). Then I discovered that the video and album/single versions, though not in tune, are in near-perfect sync. If you pitch up the album (or slow down the video) they're in tune but they don't stay in sync at all. Since the song has sequencers and drum machines driving the tempo, it would seem unlikely that there would be any tempo variations between versions unless the band wanted them. The best guess I can come up with is that after recording the song, they decided the tempo was slightly too fast, and back then, the only way to address that was to slow the tape down, or re-record the entire song. Thing is, the difference isn't really significant... but it sure does sound rather jarring to hear the album and then the video.
Truly an epic New Order track, The Perfect Kiss has everything that made the band famous: dark lyrics, driving synth chords, automated rhythms, and a long duration that builds into an incredible climax. It's also got a touch of daftness with the non-sequitur of sampled frogs in the middle. :) It marked the first time that a New Order single appeared on one of their albums, although the version on Low-Life is much shorter and a slightly different mix. This version starts to fade out just as the track is reaching its emotional peak.

Surprisingly, the full-length version has never appeared on CD. The version on
Substance has about 40 seconds edited out (my favorite part of the song), supposedly done due to timing limits on earlier CDs. This has never been corrected, and the track has never appeared in full anywhere else. So, enjoy it here in its full glory.

This is my favorite song of all time. The full-length version was the first New Order song I ever heard, but it would take another 18 months before things clicked and I started to really get into them. I used to mow lawns after school, and New Order become a constant companion on my Walkman. This song really captured my imagination, and because I hadn't seen the video (and wouldn't until 1989) I'd developed a really elaborate short film in my head that included things like a film noir plot with German dialogue and English subtitles!

The majestic synth jam at the end of the song - particularly starting at the 7:04 mark - still gives me chills 24 years later. When I got to hear it live at Wembley in '06, I nearly cried.

Recycle 08: Murder



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (21 MB)

Muder
Factory Benelux (Belgium) FBN 22
Produced New Order
May 1984

Tracklisting:

1. Murder
2. Thieves Like Us Instrumental

Sourced from the
Substance CD. Just a bit of level adjusting and a slight touch of limiting.

Murder was New Order's second and last exclusive single for Factory Benelux. For a group which had occasionally put very strong songs on B-sides (Cries And Whispers, Lonesome Tonight, 1963), this one seems more like a B-side than an A-side, and was relegated to the B-side disc on the
Substance compilation. It's a short song by New Order standards, and not very melodic. Driven by a pounding, somewhat tribal drum rhythm, it's really just a few riffs which repeat throughout the track. It's instrumental aside from some dialogue and music samples from the films Caligula and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Originally intended for Power, Corruption & Lies, Murder was left off at the last minute.

New Order (and Joy Division before them) had a long-standing relationship with film. The band started naming songs after movies because their original rehearsal space had some old posters hanging on the wall:
The Sound Of Music (named so by Ian Curtis because he did actually love the movie, but also to be funny), Ice Age (Eiszeit), In A Lonely Place, Cries And Whispers, Age Of Consent, Thieves Like Us, and on Technique we have Vanishing Point, which is not only a film, but the lyrics make a direct reference to Whistle Down The Wind.

To me, Murder is the last of the New Order songs to bear any resemblance to Joy Division. I love this track a lot, and I think it would have been right at home on
Power, Corruption & Lies, which has one more film connection in the song Ultraviolence, taking it's title from Clockwork Orange.

What's most interesting to me here is the use of sampled dialogue in lieu of any lyrics. Having bought an E-Mu Emulator in late 1982 - one of the first affordable sampling synthesizers - if the band had actually put this on the album, it would have been the first record to use sampling in such a way. By the late 90's sampled dialogue in dance and industrial music was commonplace.

Just as one would say "a school of fish" or "a flock of sheep", the correct usage is "a murder of crows". In both films, the sampled dialogue deals with murder - either human or mechanical - but in
Caligula, Malcolm McDowell keeps seeing crows as an omen of impending death, and he fears them.

Murder is one of the very few songs from the Factory years that was never played live. Best of all is the sleeve, which serves as a night-time counterpart to Thieves Like Us.

Recycle 07: Thieves Like Us



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (39 MB)

Thieves Like Us
Factory Records FAC 103
Produced by Arthur Baker and New Order
April 1984

Tracklisting:
1. Thieves Like Us
2. Lonesome Tonight
3. Thieves Like Us (Promo 7" Edit)
4. Lonesome Tonight (Promo 7" Edit)

1 and 2 sourced from
Substance, 3 and 4 edited from 1 and 2. Just a bit of level adjusting and a slight touch of limiting.

Between '84 and '86 New Order had this odd flirtation with country music. Lonesome Tonight is my favorite of the bunch, but you also get Love Vigilantes, As It Was When It Was, and a principle character in Paradise named Jolene. Drummer Stephen Morris had this to say about the song:

"It came into being as a result of a mild Elvis fixation. The live version of Are You Lonesome Tonight (the one where Elvis changes the lyrics to great comic effect and cracks up in hysterical laughter) was very popular on the New Order car cassette player at the time. I found it very hard to listen to without cracking up in sympathy with The King - and we all like a laugh, don't we? It was at a gig in Ireland I think, stuck for an encore, that Bernard had the idea of doing Lonesome Tonight. Not knowing how the tune goes has never held us back, so in the grand tradition of New Order cover versions we made something up and Bernard sang the Presley lyrics with the odd bit of swearing. We enjoyed it so much it became a semi regular item in the set. The lyrics and music evolved over time until all that remained was the title, which refused to go. I really love Lonesome Tonight, and like 1963 a great lost B side. Although live it could be a bit hit and miss, when it did work it was always fantastic."

The same can be said about Thieves Like Us, which is built around the guitar line from Hot Chocolate's 1974 single Emma. It didn't always sound great live because it's such a dense song, but when it did work, it was magical.

Recycle 06: Confusion



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (73 MB)

Confusion
Factory Records FAC 93
Produced by Arthur Baker and New Order
August 1983

Tracklisting:
1. Confusion
2. Confused Beats
3. Confusion Instrumental
4. Confusion Rough Mix
5. Confusion (UK Promo Edit)

1 - 4 sourced from Factory NL 45 RPM 12" single FAC 93
5 edited from 1, 2, and 3

Notes from the restorer:

This 12" is cut quite bright and with very little bass, presumably because at ~14 minutes per side at 45 RPM, the mastering would be under similar constraints to an LP except for a little more headroom on the highs. Major bass boost and treble cut were applied to match the Instrumental version on Substance. Although I could've sourced that one track from the CD, I used the vinyl just for consistency.
This was New Order's first effort with Arthur Baker, who had made a name for himself in the New York music scene with his production work on several early and influential hip-hop and dance records. Confusion followed the formula of many dance records at the time in that it had four different mixes of the track on one record, making it ideal for DJs to chop up and remix live. In true dance music fashion, the song has since been remixed many times, first for the Substance compilation, then again in 1990, another time in 1991 for Volume magazine, and quite drastically by The Pump Panel in 1995.

Personally, I don't think this is one of their stronger songs, and the fact that it's quite repetitive only emphasizes its weaknesses. Four mixes is a bit overkill too, unless you really, really like the song... although in all fairness, records like this weren't intended to be heard from beginning to end. I do much prefer this version to the remix on
Substance though. I'm assuming it was redone because it seemed dated at the time. However, the Substance version makes heavy use of then-novel DX7 bell-like timbres, and ironically now sounds more dated than the original. I think the version on Substance is overcooked. Every live version I've heard pisses all over the recorded versions - a compact (5 minute) structure, a much heavier beat, harder electro-style sequencer tracks, and Barney and Hooky both playing bass. They stripped out all of the Arthur Baker elements and made it much more their own song.

Recycle 05: Blue Monday



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (35 MB)

Blue Monday
Factory Records FAC 73
Produced by New Order
March 1983

Tracklisting:

1. Blue Monday
2. The Beach
3. Blue Monday (Promo Edit)

1 and 2 sourced from
Substance CD, minor edit on 1
3 edited from 1

Notes from the restorer:

Before taking on this project, I'd read quite a bit of discussion about how the version of Blue Monday on the Substance compilation had been slightly edited, with some of the opening beats removed. This would seem perfectly sensible, given that several other songs were edited down for this compilation. But when I compared the original 12" to the CD, it turns out that the opposite is true: the 12" is shorter, having the first two beats trimmed off (well, more like one and three-quarters; you can hear the tail end of the previous beat). So, I edited this one down to match.

I had originally intended to source this from vinyl, as I have a first UK pressing (A1/B1 in the deadwax) which presumably would have the best sonics. To my surprise, there was a pretty significant mastering flaw on the vinyl. It sounds like the tape deck's playback head isn't aligned properly, giving a distracting phase-y quality that occasionally shifts around during the song. You can still hear this slightly on
Substance-- particularly in the reverb on the opening beats -- but it's *really* bad on the 12".

I was supplied a file with the promo edit of the song, but since it had clearly originated from a lossy source, I decided to re-create it.
Okay, here comes the big one, at least in terms of impact. A big hit BITD and still getting steady play today, Blue Monday marked a major change in direction for the group. Primarily electronic and well-suited to the dancefloor, it melded the sounds and beats of the underground Hi-NRG scene with post-punk. Depending on your point of view, this was either the beginning of the band's golden era, or the end of it. Much has already been written about the impact and significance of this song, so there's no need for me to rehash it here.

As refreshing as it sounded at the time (and still holds up pretty well today), it wasn't entirely as original as it may have seemed. The same rapid-fire kick drum pattern can be found in Donna Summer's Our Love, from her 1979
Bad Girls LP. The choir sound was sampled from Kraftwerk's Uranium from their 1975 Radio-Activity LP (synth trainspotter note: the sound originated not a Mellotron as is often reported, but a ridiculously obscure instrument called the Vako Orchestron). The Wikipedia entry cites Sylvester's You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Klein + M.B.O.'s Dirty Talk as influences while Bernard Sumner has also named Patrick Cowley and (by extension of the nod to Donna Summer) Giorgio Moroder.

New Order had a reputation as being very difficult in the early years. Because of Ian Curtis' suicide, the band were reluctant to give interviews, and manager Rob Gretton seized on that and ran with it, helping build a mystique around them as "the band that won't give interviews." Their live sets were often VERY short, say, 40 minutes in length. Peter Hook would play with his back to the audience. He says it wasn't arrogance, it was nerves, and that after 40 minutes of seeing any band live the audience starts to get bored anyway, so it just seemed the right thing to do in keeping the sets short. They didn't play encores because they thought it was fake and pretentious. All rolled together, this behavior often resulted in fights breaking out in the audience, damaged property, people asking for money back, promoters getting pissed off, and general mayhem at the end of a New Order show. It added to the legend.

As a sort of compromise, Blue Monday was an experiment. The band wanted to write a song that could essentially play itself as an encore, giving the crowd what they wanted, and leaving the band backstage to sit and drink the rider. It was born out of 5 8 6, an instrumental piece Stephen Morris had written for the opening of The Ha├žienda nightclub.

Synthesizers, computers, and sequencers were developing at an alarming rate in the early 80's, but even so, the leap in sound, production, songwriting, and skill between Temptation and Blue Monday - which appeared a mere 10 months later - is staggering.

The promo edit is VERY rare. It's debated whether the UK promo 7" actually exists. Only 25 copies were pressed in Japan, and rumor has it that half of them are in Peter Hook's possession. Nevertheless, a video was made in 1983 (by Stephen Morris) using the short version. It uses lots of Tron-like vector graphics and colorized images of tanks...in other words, it looks like something Front 242 would have done in 1987.

Peter Saville's floppy disc sleeve design was inspired by visiting the band in the studio. He picked up an old-school floppy and asked what it was, and if he could have it. Stephen told him "no, that has the new album on it!" The result was an inner/outer sleeve with a diecut, metallic ink, and 4-color printing for something that would sell at the price of a single. Legend has it Factory actually lost 5 pence on every copy sold, but as it wasn't available in 7" format, it went on to become the best selling 12" single in history. It's gone into the UK Top 20 three separate times.

Although some would argue that it has been unjustly overplayed and that New Order did much better, it's still an outstanding track. It's been covered, sampled, and mashed-up countless times since. It was somewhat pointlessly remixed in 1988 by Quincy Jones (which I'll get to later) and then in 1995, it was even more pointlessly remixed by... well, just about everyone. None of these versions offer any improvement on the original.

Recycle 04: Temptation



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (64 MB)

Temptation
Factory Records FAC 63
Produced by New Order
April 1982

Tracklisting:

1. Temptation
2. Hurt
3. Temptation (7" Version)
4. Hurt (7" Mix)

1 and 2 sourced from PolyGram Canada
1981 - 1982 CD EP 830 408-2
3 and 4 sourced from Factory UK 33 RPM 7" FAC 63

Notes from the restorer:

This was quite difficult. Major compromises had to be made to fit the 7" versions on disc, even at 33 RPM. The 7" is cut very low, so the surface noise is quite evident. It was mastered with little bass and too much treble. There's a lot of distortion too, but I can't tell what is due to tracing distortion/goove wear and what is due to the mix. In contrast, the 12" versions sound muffled and muddled. So getting all of them to play nice together was no easy task. I'm still not happy with the sound of the 7" versions, but I can't get them any better right now.

Interestingly enough, the 7" was re-issued in 2009. I was provided with a FLAC rip of this, and it sounds... quite different, and not just because the channels were reversed. It seemed clearer, but less open, if that makes any sense. I don't know if this was due to the difference in playback equipment -- which makes a major difference with vinyl -- or mastering, which can also make a major difference. I decided to go with the original Factory issue.

12" versions have a slight (~2dB) cut at about 3K and about +2dB shelving above 10K.
7" versions have about 5dB low/mid boost all the way up to about 1K, and -2dB above 12K. Hurt has some additional cut at about 9K.
Temptation was the band's first self-produced single, and it shows :) . The mix is often very muddled, unfocused, and distorted, and would have really benefited from further refinement, which I guess explains why they did just that when they put it on the Substance compilation.

The song was quite long for the group's standards at the time, and even the 7" version is over 5 minutes long and had to be cut at 33RPM. The vinyl geek in me is tickled by how the 7" is 33 while the 12" is 45, the opposite of the standard for each respective format.

The 7" is not just a different mix, but I'm told a different recording altogether. I had assumed that Hurt was merely an edit of the longer 12" version, but this turned out not to be the case either. It's a different mix, with more reverb and high end (although it's hard to tell due to the vast difference in mastering). A key difference is right around the 3:40 mark. On the 12" version, it breaks down to drums and vocals (run through pitch-shifted delay), while on the 7" the whole band is still there.

Recycle 03: Everything's Gone Green



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (26 MB)

Everything's Gone Green
Factory Benelux (Belgium) FBN8
Produced by Martin Hannett
November 1981

Tracklisting:

1. Everything's Gone Green (12" Version)
2. Cries And Whispers (usually mis-titled Mesh)
3. Mesh (usually mis-titled Cries And Whispers)
1 and 3 sourced from PolyGram Canada
1981 - 1982 CD EP 830 408-2
2 sourced from
Substance

Everything's Gone Green is an unusual New Order single in many ways. First of all, the 12" and B-sides were issued by Factory Benelux, so it was only available in the UK as an import. Second, the A-side was the B-side to Procession, as noted on the previous installment. Third, it was their first recording to feature a sequencer, which would go on to become a defining part of their sound in just a couple of years. It was also their last work to be produced by Martin Hannett. Finally, due to a mix-up on the sleeve, the two B-side tracks had their titles transposed on the
Substance compilation, which was never corrected in the 20+ years that the album was in print. The artwork for this bundle has been revised to reflect the correct running order.

While all of these tracks have been issued on CD at some point, the respective discs (both the Factory Benelux issue in 1990, and the Canadian
1981 - 1982 EP) have been out-of-print for many years now.

Recycle 02: Procession



[Link removed 20 November 2012] (19 MB)

Procession
Factory Records FAC 53
Produced by Martin Hannett
September 1981

Tracklisting:

1. Procession
2. Everything's Gone Green (7" Version)

Sourced from:
1. PolyGram Canada 1981 - 1982 CD EP 830 408-2
2: FAC 53 UK 45 RPM 7" single

Notes from the restorer:

Track 2 was transcribed at 33 RPM, de-clicked, and then pitch-shifted to 45 RPM in the digital domain at which point the remaining processing was done (20Hz highpass filter, convert from stereo to mid/side, noise reduction on side channel only, convert back to stereo, EQ and just a touch of limiting).

The sleeve for this came in no less than 9 different colours. Green was picked to match the B-side. :)
Procession was a bit of an usual choice for a single, lacking any strong melody or riff. Seems that the band feels the same way, since it was relegated to the B-side disc on the Substance compilation. Then again, the single doesn't even list an A or B side, and even the deadwax inscription doesn't provide any clues. The side with Procession has the word "soft", while Everything's Gone Green shows "hard". Nonetheless, all the discographies list Procession as the A-side, so I'll play along.

The version here of Everything's Gone Green is not just an edit of the 12", but a slightly different mix.

Recycle 01: Ceremony


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (58 MB)

Ceremony
Factory Records FAC 33
Produced by Martin Hannett
March 1981/September 1981

Tracklisting:

1. Ceremony (1st Version)
2. In A Lonely Place (7" Edit)
3. In A Lonely Place
4. Ceremony (2nd Version)
5. In A Lonely Place (Alternate Mix)

Sourced from:
1: FAC 33 Italian 45 RPM 12" single
3: FAC 33 45 RPM UK 12" single (green sleeve, 2nd version of Ceremony on A-side)
4 and 5: current CD issue of Substance
2 edited from 3 to match B-side of FAC 33 Italy

Notes from the restorer:

Despite being spread out over the entire side of a 12" single, the Italian pressing of the original recording has loads of compression on it. I suspect this was applied at the mastering stage but I don't know.

Tracks 1 - 3 were transcribed at 33 RPM, de-clicked, and then pitch-shifted to 45 RPM in the digital domain at which point the remaining processing was done (20Hz highpass filter, convert from stereo to mid/side, noise reduction on side channel only, convert back to stereo, EQ and just a touch of limiting). The 7" edit of In A Lonely Place is nothing more than an early fade of the full-lengh first version.

Slight EQ and a touch of limiting on the tracks sourced from
Substance. Nothing drastic.
New Order's first single was initially done during the brief period when the band was a trio, effectively being Joy Division minus Ian Curtis. The song itself was one originally performed by Joy Division. Soon after it's release, Gillian Gilbert joined the band, and the decision was made to re-record the song with her. This second version is much more common today, having been included on the Substance compilation. Personally, I prefer the first version, being much more upfront and having that delightful eerie sound that kicks in at around the 2-minute mark.

The original version is quite difficult to obtain these days, for it was not in print very long. Futhermore, the catalog number was not changed for the new version. The sleeve was changed, however there were still old ones left over, so these were re-used. To complicate things even more, the B-side was ever-so-slighly-remixed too, with the most notable difference being that the synthetic "thunder" noises occur at different times. So, depending when and where you got the record, it may have the first versions on both sides, the new version of side one with the old version of side two, or the new versions of both.


During the course of transcribing this single six distinct pressings/variations were identified.

Recycle

Welcome!

The purpose of this blog is to archive the work of Joy Division and New Order during their tenure on the legendary Factory Records from Manchester, England. While the stories of both bands have been documented thoroughly in book, film, and CD/box set formats, many of their recordings from 1978-1990 remain unreleased on any other format than the original (now out-of-print) vinyl singles.

The concept for Recycle was proposed by the late Rob Gretton, who was the manager of both bands until his death from a heart attack in 1999. He wanted to release a comprehensive singles box similar to what The Clash, Blondie, and Depeche Mode have done, with each disc collecting all the A-sides, B-sides, and remixes of each single, and house them in miniature sleeves with faithfully restored/reproduced artwork. When Gretton died, the project died with him.

Although London Records/Rhino is about to roll out 2-disc deluxe editions of the five studio albums New Order recorded for Factory, there's not enough room on the bonus discs to collect everything together, and as many of you may know, the first rollout of these discs was a huge disaster, plagued with horrible mastering and culling many tracks from vinyl, despite being promoted as remastered. Most of the master tapes are missing, and it's taken the label almost a year to fix the problems and get remanufactured discs into the stores.

New Order was such a singles band that it seems criminal not to give them the singles box treatment. Substance isn't even in print anymore, so it's back to the basics. Sourcing from my personal collection and working closely with a friend who is an audio restoration expert (along with input from a small circle of other superfans), I'll be posting Recycle as a virtual box set of 20 singles, from 1981's Ceremony to 1990's World In Motion, providing detailed notes and anecdotes along the way.

A few things you should know:

- The files are in AAC/iTunes format at 256kbps. They are already fully tagged and ready for your iPod. They will not be made available in any other format.

- Each folder also contains jpegs of the sleeves (7", 12" and CD formats).

- Documentation of the artwork restoration process can be found here.

- Using files found in the above link, creative types can assemble their own minature sleeves following these instructions.

I hope you enjoy this project as much as I do. It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time and has reaffirmed just how important this music has been in my life. Whether you've been a fan since the early days or have just discovered Joy Division and New Order, if you like what you hear, please support the band by purchasing their catalog.

Cheers, and thanks for listening.

DJ £50 Note