New Order: Western Works recordings (1980)
If you don’t already have them, drop whatever you’re doing and download these amazing, though rough, early New Order recordings lovingly presented on the Power of Independent Trucking blog a while back.
As Joy Division, they were close with Sheffield’s Cabaret Voltaire, having shared several gigs and compilation records with the Cabs. At some point, JD was going to work with the Cabs in the Cabs’ own Western Works Studio in Sheffield, but this opportunity had not yet come to pass at the time of Ian’s death.
Suddenly with no lead singer and a wide-open new beginning, the survivors (now known as New Order) took the Cabs up on their offer and decamped to Western Works on 7 September 1980, just two days after their third gig post-Ian. Safely away from the spotlight, and with no Martin Hannett to impose his will on the session, the band laid down several tracks with the Cabs’ Chris Watson engineering.
These tracks show the band’s emotions - both musical and lyrical - laid out to bare themselves to the world. Hesitant yet brave, restrained yet oddly forward-looking, New Order find themselves seeking the path at this very early stage - a path that would not be truly explored publicly for at least another 12 months - that would lead them out of the Joy Divsion shadow into completely new realms of songcraft.
This material has been circulating amongst New Order fans since the early 1980s but never before heard by the general public in this release-ready quality.
And, unrelatedly (well, except that I came across a link to it on a related blog), here’s an interesting Guardian piece on Peter Saville’s thoughts about his Joy Division and New Order cover designs. Or, at least, interesting if you’re a big New Order fan and/or designer, like me.
There’s a real danger that this may become a New Order appreciation blog.