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New Order – Top Dance Chart Tracks

I read a quote from an LA DJ called Jed the Fish in which he claims New Order had more to do with the emergence of House music than the Warehouse music of Chicago and “Frankie Knuckles and the whole so-called House music scene. Unless you were actually from regional Chicago, had you ever heard of House music until New Order? Be real, now.”

I hadn’t, to be quite real. I came late to the New Order party too. I was a big Joy Division fan, and when the remaining members reconstituted as New Order so quickly after the suicide death of Joy Division front man Ian Curtis, I just couldn’t abide it. But as I began to get interested in House music, New Order remixes led me into the lush and rich landscape of four-on-the-floor disco drive. They (and ecstasy) were my jumping off point.

While New Order were wildly popular with fans of the underground, especially on the club scene, they didn’t make much noise in the Top 40 of the Billboard US Hot 100 chart. 1993’s “Regret,” their highest charting track on the Hot 100, peaked at #28.

It was House remixes for 7″ and 12″ single releases, and particularly the DJs that re-imagined the tracks, that raised New Order to deity status. In their heyday and beyond they were regulars at the top of the Billboard US Dance and Club Songs charts. They had a ton of club hits, including five #1s. There is no shortage of New Order remix sensations, so let’s take a listen to ten that performed best in the charts.


Dance Chart peak: #1
chart debut: 9/1/01
weeks on chart: 14

The full-length “Bedrock Mix” by John Digweed and Nick Muir expands the consciousness of “Crystal,” at that time New Order’s first new music in eight years. With bass thumping hard on the beat, it’s a quintessential four-on-the-floor House mix and it blew up in the clubs. It was a big comeback for the band, and their biggest Billboard Dance Club Songs chart hit.
NOte: The promotional video for the “Crystal” album single featured some youngsters lip-syncing to the song as “The Killers,” which later inspired Brendan Flowers and his mates to call their band The Killers.

“Blue Monday 1988 / Touched by the Hand of God”

Dance Chart peak: #1
chart debut: 3/5/88
weeks on chart: 12

“Blue Monday” has been released a number of times and, according to music business veteran and New Order aficionado Denise Garbo, is the best-selling 12″ of all time. Presented here is an extended 1988 master-mix by Quincy Jones and John Potoker, featuring some creepy sound effects and an intensification of the already-relentless groove.
NOte: The original 1983 single release of “Blue Monday” featured an elaborate sleeve design, with die-cuts to resemble a 5 1/4″ floppy disc. According to Denise Garbo, the sleeve was so expensive to produce that Factory, the band’s label, lost money on each unit sold.

The 1988 remix was a double A-side that also featured “Touched by the Hand of God.”
NOte: The video that accompanied the “Touched” album single was directed by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, and parodied hair-metal groups of the ’80s, featuring the band lip-syncing while wearing wigs and tight trousers.

“Round & Round”

Dance Chart peak: #1
chart debut: 4/15/89
weeks on chart: 11

“R&R” is one of New Order’s most synthetic songs, almost entirely sequenced. Detroit’s Kevin Saunderson was commissioned for this banging club remix, which adds some dance-floor drama, more bubbling synth pads and some heavy breaks. Per fan chats, the song is likely about the band’s dissolving relationship with Tony Wilson, the auteur of Factory and The Hacienda, the Manchester club that was the band’s temple of debauchery.
NOte: “R&R” was issued as a single by Tony Wilson against the wishes of the band, which probably didn’t help that relationship.


Dance Chart peak: #1
chart debut: 5/8/93
weeks on chart: 11

While riding at #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, “Regret” also topped the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, with a huge assist to its myriad remixes. Featured here is the popular “Fire Island Mix” by Pete Heller and Terry Farley – I dig the deep and soulful house jams on this version. The album version of “Regret” peaked at #28 on Billboard’s Hot 100, the band’s biggest mainstream success.
NOte: At the end of 1993, the song also came in at #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks’ year-end chart.

“World (The Price of Love)”

Dance Chart peak: #1
chart debut: 8/21/93
weeks on chart: 11

“World” is my personal favorite. Paul Oakenfold’s popular “Perfecto Mix” features an absolutely enormous four (and one)-on-the-floor groove and was even used for an alternate edit of the video. Clubheads pushed this heavy, soulful remix to #1 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
NOte: Simply listed as “World” on the Republic album, the subtitle (The Price of Love) was added for the single release.

“Fine Time”

Dance Chart peak: #2
chart debut: 1/7/89
weeks on chart: 12

The “Silk Mix” by Steve “Silk” Hurley, a pioneering American club DJ and producer, takes this track to places even the brazen original daren’t go. Adam D of Fourculture magazine touted its bass line as “irresistible.” In this remix, that bass line is taking no prisoners and zero shit.
NOte: The song was written in Ibiza, and drummer Stephen Morris recalled, “My car had been towed away and I had to remind myself to go and pay the fine. I just wrote “Fine Time” on this piece of paper to remind myself to go get it and thought, that’s a good title.”

“True Faith”

Dance Chart peak: #3
chart debut: 8/29/87
weeks on chart: 11

This big-ass remix comes courtesy of Shep Pettibone, American producer, DJ and dance-floor remix king-maker. Pettibone brought his pounding cocaine groove to New Order, as he had for big time acts like Madonna and Pet Shop Boys. I have total empathy for bassist Peter Hook’s lament about “True Faith”: “I eventually managed to get my bass on the original [album] version. But, of course, the first thing any remixers do is take off my bass and put their own on. I sometimes feel like attaching a note saying, ‘How about keeping the bass?'”
NOte: Pettibone did two separate remixes of “True Faith.” His “True Dub” version also totally slaps.

“Bizarre Love Triangle / State of the Nation”

Dance Chart peak: #4
chart debut: 11/15/86
weeks on chart: 13

This remix single has been alogrithmed as “love, rhythmic, romantic, longing, bittersweet, male vocals, melodic, energetic, anxious, ethereal, lush, and sentimental.” And that’s just from people trying to sell you something. “BLT” speaks for itself, and the 12″ mix by Shep Pettibone delivers all the familiar sequences and pads, with even more melodic, energetic dorkiness.
NOte: New Order’s live versions since 1998 have been based on the Shep 12″ remix.

Here’s a clip of the band playing “State of the Nation” at some club in NYC in 1985. Cool to see Gillian on guitar.


Dance Chart peak: #5
chart debut: 9/3/83
weeks on chart: 14

“Confusion” features both Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner on bass. (Of course Hookie explained that remixers removed their bass anyway.) The album version was produced by New York DJ and producer Arthur Baker, who also did multiple remixes of the track. My favorite is “Confusion Instrumental,” which tends to be a bit more chill and bass-centric, where the original is more angular and severe.
NOte: Two Baker mixes “Confused Beats” and “Confusion” were intended to be played in sequence, resulting in a 13+ minute Baker master mix.

“The Perfect Kiss”

Dance Chart peak: #5
chart debut: 6/15/85
weeks on chart: 12

The full 12″ single version of “Kiss” doesn’t strike me as much different from the edited version released from Low-Life. The 12″ version features a third verse and therefore a more complex arrangement. I couldn’t find any information about a remix producer, so I’m assuming that this is the band-produced mix. It’s heavy and synthetic and features some awesome frog sound effects starting at 5:15 and a sheep bleat at the end. This was a club track from its conception.
NOte: The song was reportedly not performed live between 1993 and 2006 due to the complexity of converting the programs from the E-mu Emulator to the Roland synth.

New Order are a blueprint for how successful a group can be by cultivating a fiercely dedicated, non-mainstream fan base. If you weren’t frequenting clubs in the ’80s and ’90s you might not have even heard of them. By opening their material up to outside producers and DJs, they reached a far wider audience than if they had relied on radio spins and MTV. They’re also evidence that disco never died, it got forced underground and reimagined as House music. To my chagrin, “Shellshock” was never a big club hit. I would’ve loved to tell the story of how a young Denise Garbo used it as accompaniment for a gymnastics routine. It truly is never enough.

I’m aware that there are those who could do without further discussion of New Order songs; they would rather listen to the songs minus my in-depth analysis. This is hard for me to believe, but I respect it. Many opinions that are not mine are not wrong. Listen to the songs; these are some imaginative re-imaginings of some killer source material.

This is a really good film

On Screen: New Order Decades – A Documentary Film



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