Oct 7, 2005 · 3 minute read
Rachel Stevens — Come And Get It
It’s quite a sad reflection on the music industry today that this album is already been written off as a commercial failure, and it isn’t even out until the 17th. Now, it’s a fine enough album, with a few great tracks, some ones that are quite good, and a few that are, well, a trifle dull. The problem is that it all sounds so anonymous; by the time the CD finishes, you get the feeling that pretty much any pop starlet could have been responsible for the past hour (with the exception of Some Girls
, which Polydor have added to this album seemingly in a fit of desperation). I’m not one who insists that pop has to be about something, or have a message, but I would like to feel that the singer brings something to the project, as opposed to being just a simple cog in the producer’s machine. People say that Stevens is a return to the sophisticated “New Pop” of the 1980s, but I think music critics have put too much emphasis on the role of the producer in that era. Sure, without Trevor Horn, Relax
would be forgettable, but it’s a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song, unmistakably. There’s nothing here that suggests Ms. Stevens is capable of doing the same.
(Part of the commercial failure of this album, though, has to be placed at the foot of Polydor and 19 Entertainment, who released two of the weakest tracks from the album as singles. Plus, Negotiate With Love
came out at the end of March, meaning that it’s been over six months since the first single and the album’s release, which seems awfully silly. A preferred release strategy, if I might be so bold, would have been to release I Said Never Again
as the first single back in April, followed six weeks later with the Cure-sampling It’s All About Me
(I’m sure some interest could have been made out of that, even if pop sampling isn’t all that notable these days). Followthat with the album a week or so later, and then release two more singles at six weeks intervals (probably the Eighth Wonder-aping Funny How
and I Will Be There
). Then, in October, cynically re-issue the album with a DVD containing the videos for all four singles (and Some Girls
). Oh, and hire Michel Gondry to make one of them)
Also, I feel vindicated in my earlier Mud comments after finding out that Rob Davis co-wrote I Said Never Again
Girls Aloud — Biology
Meanwhile, back at Camp Xenomania, they’ve come up with a cunning strategy: a detenté, if you will of the two main movements of British music in the 1990s. Which is to say that they’ve taken a Britpop song via The Kinks and ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky
, and stapled it to the Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life
. It really is better than it sounds, trust me, even if only the start seems to stick in the memory on the first ten listens.
Oct 3, 2005 · 6 minute read
(Note: This entry is long, pompous, and paints me firmly as a K-ROCKIST of the worst sort. I apologise in advance. I am withholding my supply of chocolate digestive biscuits from myself as a punishment)
So, I know you’re thinking: given that Substance
, (The Best of)
, (The Rest of)
, and International
all exist, what possible room is there for yet another New Order hits collection?
Well, the gimmick behind Singles
is that this collection, unlike others, features the actual 7” singles that New Order have released over the past twenty-five years, instead of album tracks, 12” mixes, or remixes. This Is A Lie, but hey, nobody ever expected them to be consistent.
The compilation starts off by including the original version of Ceremony
, never before seen on compact disc. This was recorded when they were a three-piece; when Gillian joined the band, this original single was replaced by a shorter, 12” version which featured all four members. Now, it’s not a vast difference, but this version sounds better to me, the rougher-production bringing out the most from Ian Curtis’s final moment. So, hurrah!
Two more treats follow (skipping over Procession
, as fabulous as it is, simply because there’s no difference between this and the Substance
version); the first appearance of the 7” mixes of Everything’s Gone Green
! Retro-sequencer fun! The 12” version of Temptation
is so much better though. But I’m biased, as I love that song more than butterflies.
And then, oh, and then. Yes, then it all starts to fall apart. Now, I can’t blame them for Confusion
. God knows, Arthur Baker has remixed it so many times you could probably fill an entire album with different takes on the track. It seems to be a song that New Order just can’t help making new versions of, even by accident. They’ve done it again here, because this isn’t the 7” mix of Confusion
(either the Factory or Rough Trade version); it’s the 12” mix with three minutes lopped off. And lo, the Confusion
beast grew once more…
The Perfect Kiss
. I’m getting annoyed now. Ooooh. Rage. Building. Up. Is this the 7” edit? The fabled 12” mix cruelly edited on the Substance
compact disc and currently only available in its prime by either buying the original vinyl record or a cassette version of Substance
? No, annoyingly, this is the album version that you’ll find on Low-life
. ARRRRRGH! WOULD IT HAVE BEEN SO HARD? breaks down in tears
40 SECONDS! THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING! MY VINYL COPY HAS A SCRATCH IN IT!
(the latter being slightly infamous for Peter Saville refusing to do a cover for the single release, as he didn’t like the mix. So Factory supplied it in a black sleeve) are all present and correct. But (come on, you know what’s coming, don’t you?) THEY DO IT AGAIN! Bizarre Love Triangle
is taken straight from Brotherhood
, not from either the 7” or 12” singles. Grrr. It’s still awesome, of course, but you’d think they could have included the right version. It’s not like New Order’s catalogue is a complicated as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s (where Trevor Horn would often issue new mixes seemingly just for the hell of it).
The cover of Singles
is the negative of this cover for 1987’s True Faith / 1963
(once again, neither of these is the original single. True Faith
is the 12” version previous seen on Substance
is…well…Arthur Baker did a remix of it, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that we have another new edit in addition to the original 1988 and 1995 releases. Oh God, Johnny, don’t point that gun at me, we still have CD2 to go)
CD2 kicks off with Blue Monday 1988
. Followed by Run2!
Or not. You see, Run2
was withdrawn from sale after a lawsuit by John Denver, who thought it sounded a little too similar to Leaving On A Jetplane
. However, Run2
has appeared in the listings of many a New Order compilation. Each time, hopes are raised, and savagely dashed, as it turns out to just be the original Run
. I think, by now, they’re doing it on purpose.
“Get round the back!” I love World In Motion
. I know it’s sneered upon by sniffier New Order fans, but come on! John Barnes! It’s one-on-one! They don’t make lyrics like that anymore (and indeed, in the Criminal Justice Act of 1994, such lyrics were outlawed, but apparently, curry-themed anthems are allowed). “We’re singing for Eng-er-land!” How can people hate this?
is another album version instead of the single, but as it’s Spooky
, nobody cares (unfair, actually, listening to it again. In fact, most of Republic
is unfairly maligned. Sure, it’s not as good as Technique
, and I can see how it could be considered a disappointment after that, but it’s still got a nice groove. (Yes, I just used ‘groove’ strikes a Westwood pose
The rest of the compilation follows the single gimmick correctly, so I have nothing to complain about. So, I’ll say that as comebacks go, Crystal
is up there with “TALK TO THE HAND!” Everything wonderful about twenty years of electronic pop reflected and refracted around a glitterball synth. Even if it reveals that Barney hasn’t found the honey section of the supermarket yet (it’s actually quite cheap!). After Here To Stay
, the curio from the 24 Hour Party People
soundtrack, produced by The Chemical Brothers, the band (now minus Gillian) decided to have another three year rest, perhaps in order to stop themselves hating each other again, and perhaps just because they’re a bunch of slackers.
Anyway, CD2 ends with the singles from 2005’s Waiting For The Sirens’ Call
may sound like the band hit ‘New Order Preset 2 (Republic Edition)’, but hey, it’s effective. As much I like Ana Matronic, the same can’t be said of Jetstream
, which never really takes off (I’m so sorry. But it had to be done). Waiting For The Sirens’ Call
though, are both great.
So, what have we learnt? Aside from me being a complete obsessive who shouldn’t be allowed out of the house? Despite the practice they’ve had over the years, the definitive New Order compilation is still elusive. Singles
is riddled with labelling errors, wrong track selections, and extensive duplication with past collections. Yet, it’s utterly essential and fantastic. If you don’t know various FAC numbers off by heart (only a few! It’s not as if I’ve memorised the entire catalogue! Stop looking at me like that!), this is a great way to get the best of New Order (I’d also advise picking up Substance
when it floats into one of HMV’s roaming sales, as it’s mainly 12” mixes and is just as wonderful). If you do happen to know what FAC123 is without looking it up (SHUT YOUR MOUTH), then Singles
will irritate you. It really will, but you’ll buy it anyway for what it includes, and grumble quietly about the mistakes. Or write huge-ass blog entries about them. Who knows?