New Order. One of the truly great bands of the last 35 (!) years. That’s undisputed fact, but you know that already. Theirs is a history you’ll be well familiar with; the untimely death of a key member forcing their metamorphosis from the finest industrial grey post-punk act to a technicolour pop explosion, albeit with a heavy hint of the shading of yore.
If you can ignore the sad pantomime of claims and accusations that’s become synonymous with their brand over the past few years, and put up with some of the sub-par material they’ve put their name to in that time – due to the availability of illegal downloads, Waiting For The Siren’s Call was the first New Order album I didn’t buy on the day of release. It was a right clunker before it was even in the shops to buy and it’s still a right clunker now. Their most recent, last year’s Music Complete was a fine return to the heady rush of Technique and a sun-kissed late 80s Ibiza, so, y’know, you take the good with the not so good. Every band who’s been at it for this long are allowed the odd dip in form, are they not? Despite this, I’d wager that New Order are probably one of your favourite bands.
New Order, NYC 1981
Hidden at the back of their sparkling discography is 1981’s second single Procession. It popped up via the lottery of the iPod shuffle on the commute to work the other day, and it’s subsequently become my latest musical obsession. My play counts (I know, I know) currently show I’ve listened to it 14 times since Tuesday. It’s playing as I type and it’s likely to cross the 20 plays threshold before this piece is published. I’m still not fed up of it.
Ask a casual New Order fan to list their favourite tracks and it’s unlikely Procession would be one that makes the list, yet it’s beautiful and otherworldly, strange and obscure, soulful and hypnotic, arty, pretentious and in short, everything that makes New Order so unique.
New Order – Procession
It‘s the record that sees the band peek through the outer shell of the Joy Divsion cocoon, almost but not quite ready to fly as New Order. Bernard still has the Curtis-apeing vocals (and image – see above), all character-free one liners (in itself character) which he tries his best to sing from somewhere below his knees, but the band soars. Driven by Hook’s instantly-recognisable trademark bassline, it’s awash with synths, electronically-enhanced drums and a wheezing, clattering guitar that verges on the point of being in tune. The magic touch though is Gillian Gilbert’s call-and-response vocals in the ‘chorus’, the sweet yin to Bernard’s morose yang. It works a treat – one of New Order’s finest compositions.
Taken from the excellent Factory Records – Complete Graphic Album
In true band style, Procession never made it onto any New Order album at the time, such was the high standard bands like this set for themselves in those days. Procession was released in a multitude of sleeves (9 differently-coloured ones – collect ’em all, Factory fetishists) featuring some beautiful Italian Futurist artwork on the cover. New Order and Futurism, the perfect partners.
10 thoughts on “Random Order”
Great song. Great post. Thanks for sharing it. Procession is really in between the dark and the light. Like a sunrise when a new day or in this case a new band really begins. There is something playful and joyous about it which wasn’t there before. I know it is a slightly macabre thought but maybe in the end Ian Curtis did not die for nothing.
Slightly macabre thought – but spot on. Thanks for the comment.
Listen to Procession most days. This was the 2nd NO song I heard after Temptation and was instantly hook(y)ed. Fabulous. Also love the factory graphic book, pure genius that Pete Saville.
Thanks. That Factory book is a work of art in itself.
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I run out of words sometimes to write about 80s New order. Cracking post Craig.
My favourite New Order 7″, bought on the day of release. 18 months later they played my coastal town. Procession was played in Edinburgh and Stirling a few days before. Did they play it in Ayr? Did they fuck. Last time i seen them was with your good self in 2001. If memory serves me right it started quite well then petered out to a bit of a drag. Still guest list whores like ourselves can’t complain.
…and the best bit of the night? Pat Nevin asking me to move to the side cos he couldn’t see. “Thanks big man”. Hehe.
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That’s right, then again Wee Jimmy Krankie would be “big man” to him.
Texted you earlier on. You’ve maybe changed your number again though. Or you’re just ignoring me. I’m cool wi’ dat.
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Cheers! (Missed this comment first time around).
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