Unlike most bands of the Eighties, history has been kind to New Order. Their best work continues to resonate, inspiring newer electro-rock acts like LCD Soundsystem and prompting an ever wider array of cover versions (including Radiohead at last count). So why is it so hard to create a decent New Order compilation? On the eve of the latest round of Factory Records remasters, I sifted through all the New Order "hits" packages, finally coming to the conclusion that it is possible to create a definitive NO overview... providing one doesn't work for Warner Brothers.
New Order made a few stellar albums, but they were first and foremost a singles band. So, in Part One, I'll run down every primary single in chronological order, from 1981's first post-Joy Division efforts to the final (pre-breakup) gasp of 1993's Republic. Many of NO's best singles never appeared on a proper album; some were released in both 7" and 12" versions; and still others were remixed and re-recorded ad infinitum. And did I mention that Warner Brothers has issued six separate New Order compilations, none of which are remotely "definitive"?
Ladies and gentlemen, I struggled so you don't have to. With this handy guide and the content provider of your choice, you can download and assemble a collection that actually does justice to the legacy of New Order. (Please note: All timings are approximate and may vary slightly between collections.)
....THE TOP 20 SINGLES...
1. Ceremony (1981). Written by Ian Curtis before becoming NO's debut single. Two versions were released: The March 1981 pressing runs 10 seconds longer than the September 1981 re-recording with new member Gillian Gilbert. It's the second version that appears on most (but not all) compilations.
Original 7" and 12" version (4:34) = Singles, Movement (Collectors Edition)
12" version with Gillian Gilbert (4:23) = Substance, International, Retro, Movement (Collectors Edition)
2. Procession (1981). A minor early single. The good news: It was only released as a 7", making it one of the few New Order tracks that does not vary from compilation to compilation.
7" version (4:27) = Substance, Retro, Singles, Movement (Collectors Edition)
3. Everything's Gone Green (1981). Another transition single, and already the confusion is beginning: A 4-minute version appears as the B-side of "Procession," then the full 12" version surfaces three months later.
7" version (4:11) = Singles
12" version (5:33) = Substance, Retro, Movement (Collectors Edition)
4. Temptation (1982). One of the stand-out New Order tracks, and a rarity in that three very distinct--and equally essential--versions exist. The 7" edit features more electronic touches than the rockier 12" version, while the 1987 re-recording combines both elements beautifully (and features an arguably better Bernard Sumner vocal to boot). Inclusion on both Substance and the popular Trainspotting soundtrack has made "Temptation '87" the best-known version for casual fans, so of course Warner has (perversely) left it off nearly all subsequent NO compilations.
7" version (5:21) = Singles, Movement (Collectors Edition)
12" version (8:47) = Retro, Movement (Collectors Edition)
1987 version (6:59) = Substance, International (bonus disc version only)
5. Blue Monday (1983/1988). Far and away New Order's best known song, and since it was only released in one format, every compilation features the same version... Right? If only it were that simple. "Blue Monday" actually charted twice in the Eighties, the second time as a remix under the title "Blue Monday 88" (and the only version to chart Stateside). Compounding matters, most CD versions lop off the first few beats of the song, an oversight that began with the original Substance and took nearly twenty years to correct. Both takes on "Monday" are essential in their own right, but the gross mishandling of NO's signature track speaks volumes about all New Order compilations in general.
12" version (7:29) = Substance, Retro, Power Corruption & Lies (Collectors Edition)
12" version with missing beats (7:26) = International, Singles
"Blue Monday 88" 7" version (4:07) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), Singles
"Blue Monday 88" 12" version (7:10) = Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
6. Confusion (1983). Another baffling one, originally released as a 12" single in 1983, then completely re-recorded in 1987. The B-side of the 12" featured a "rough mix" that has yet to surface on CD in its uncut form, although an edit eventually appeared on the Singles compilation. And the 2002 comp International includes the 1987 version, but makes no mention of this in the track listing. Sheesh...
12" version (8:12) = Retro, Power Corruption & Lies (Collectors Edition)
12" Rough Mix (Edit) (4:56) = Singles
1987 version (4:42) = Substance, International
7. Thieves Like Us (1984). One of New Order's strongest--and most overlooked--singles. It deserves to be heard in its uncut form, so be grateful most compilations do it justice.
7" version (3:54) = Singles
12" version (6:36) = Substance, The Best Of New Order (European version), International, Power Corruption & Lies (Collectors Edition)
8. The Perfect Kiss (1985). A stone-cold classic.... and one that has never been properly issued on any New Order compilation. Most feature the album version from Low-Life, an edit of the original 12" single; the vinyl release of Substance got it right, but the CD excised an entire minute! For all its other problems, the new deluxe remaster of Low-Life does remedy the situation, putting the complete "Perfect Kiss" on CD for the first time ever.
Album version (4:49) = The Best Of New Order (European version), International, Retro, Singles, Low-Life (Collectors Edition)
12" version edit (8:02) = Substance
12" version (8:46) = Low-Life (Collectors Edition)
9. Sub-Culture (1985). Another track that was badly edited for the CD issue of Substance, then roundly ignored by subsequent compilations. Again, the Low-Life reissue restores the complete version, though all good New Order fans know the original album version beats the John Robie single remix by a country mile.
7" version (3:28) = Singles
12" version edit (4:48) = Substance
12" version (7:26) = Low-Life (Collectors Edition)
10. Shellshock (1986). Amazingly enough, the full version of "Shellshock" has never appeared on CD, with most compilations substituting a 6:28 edit (dating back to the Pretty In Pink soundtrack) for the original, nearly 10-minute 12" mix.
7" version (4:24) = The Best Of New Order (European version), Singles
12" version edit (6:28) = Substance, International, Retro, Low-Life (Collectors Edition)
11. State Of The Nation (1986). Yet another track skipped by most collections. New Order was about to enter a fantastic stretch of singles, though, so we'll let this omission slide.
7" version (3:27) = Singles
12" version (6:32) = Substance, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
12. Bizarre Love Triangle (1986). One of the absolute great New Order singles in both its original album form and the landmark Shep Pettibone remix. It's the latter that appears on most comps, though either version is readily available. (In fact, the Retro box set offers both.) Of course, leave it to The Best Of New Order to muddy the waters with a pointless 1994 remix.
Album version (4:22) = Retro, Singles, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
12" version (6:44) = Substance, International, Retro, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
1994 remix (3:51) = The Best Of New Order (all versions)
13. True Faith (1987/1994). Again, this should be easy: New Order's breakthrough single in America, released in its original 12" form on Substance to avoid all future disparity. Yet we still get the baffling "updated" remixes courtesy of The Best Of New Order. Dodge that compilation, though, and everything else is pretty uniform, unless you're hunting the 9-minute Shep Pettibone remix. (Well worth seeking out, by the way.)
12" version (5:55) = Substance, International, Retro, Singles
12" remix (9:02) = The Rest Of New Order, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
1994 remix edit (4:27) = The Best Of New Order (U.S. version)
1994 remix (5:34) = The Best Of New Order (European version)
14. 1963 (1987/1995). First issued as the B-side of "True Faith," "1963" became an instant fan favorite, which meant it eventually fell victim to New Order's mid-90's quest to remix and re-release every old track in sight. At least this one got a proper charting (under the revamped title "Nineteen63") via a halfway-decent Arthur Baker remix. The original version is still the best, so naturally you won't find it on any compilation besides Substance; in fact, just to make things especially confusing, you'll get a slightly different version of "1963" with every package you buy.
12" version (5:32) = Substance, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
1994 remix (3:47) = The Best Of New Order (European version)
"Nineteen63" 95 Arthur Baker radio remix (4:04) = The Best Of New Order (U.S. version)
"Nineteen63" 95 Arthur Baker remix edit (4:21) = Singles
"Nineteen63" 95 Arthur Baker remix (5:05) = Retro
14. Touched By The Hand Of God (1987). NO's first post-Substance effort yielded yet another sprawling single, so it's a shame all comps (save International) settle for the radio edit instead. Also a warning: Avoid the version on the remastered Brotherhood, which is inexplicably riddled with clicks and pops.
7" version (3:42) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), Retro, Singles
12" version (7:04) = International, Brotherhood (Collectors Edition)
15. Fine Time (1988). From here on out, things get (somewhat) simpler: Singles tend to appear on corresponding albums, and remixes stay on the B-sides. The atypical "Fine Time" is a perfect example, as all American comps feature either the album version from Technique or the single edit (though the 6-minute "Silk Mix" is easy enough to track down for completists).
7" version (3:10) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), Singles
Album version (4:42) = Retro, Technique (Collectors Edition)
"Silk Mix" remix (6:15) = International (bonus disc version only), Technique (Collectors Edition)
16. Round & Round (1989). Two distinct versions here: The album mix runs longer, while the re-recorded single emphasizes the (incredibly catchy) chorus. Ignore the 12" mix, which is basically the single plus an extended instrumental opening, and the 1994 remix, which is--as usual--a throwaway.
7" version (4:02) = International, Singles
Album version (4:31) = Retro, Technique (Collectors Edition)
12" version (6:52) = Technique (Collectors Edition)
1994 remix (4:00) = The Best Of New Order (all versions)
17. Run/Run 2 (1989). A source of huge confusion in the NO singles discography, yet it can be cleared up very simply: "Run" is an album track from Technique, while "Run 2" was the remixed single, pulled from production after John Denver sued the band for copyright infringement. No matter what each tracklisting says, "Run 2" (AKA the single remix) has never shown up on a New Order compilation, with its sole CD appearance finally coming via the Technique remaster.
"Run" album version (4:28) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), Singles, Technique (Collectors Edition)
"Run 2" extended 12" version (5:22) = Technique (Collectors Edition)
18. World In Motion (1990). The band's final Factory single, their one-and-only U.K. #1, and an incredibly odd footnote in the NO canon for anyone outside the realm of English football.
Single mix (4:30) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), Singles
Subbuteo mix (5:08) = Retro
Carabinieri mix (5:52) = Technique (Collectors Edition)
19. Regret (1993). New Order's last truly great single, so it's fitting that London Records (following the demise of Factory) finally got one right for the comps: The album version (AKA the 7" single) appears in identical form across the board.
Album version (4:08) = The Best Of New Order (all versions), International, Retro, Singles
20. Ruined In A Day (1993). More singles would follow--including decent efforts like "Crystal" and "Here To Stay"--but nothing too terribly essential, and certainly nothing that can't easily be tracked down on the proper albums. Shortly after the release of "Ruined" and Republic, New Order would go on hiatus, and the flood of confounding compilations would begin in earnest.
Radio edit (3:57) = The Best Of New Order (European version), Singles
Album version (4:22) = The Best Of New Order (U.S. version)