Illustration of an elementary school fallout shelter from National School Fallout Shelter Design Competition Awards, 1963
I missed my chance to be a big Joy Division fan, I think. When I heard Unknown Pleasures for the first time, I was 19. I think a high-school friend of my little sister put it on and I immediately thought, "Wow, this is music for high schoolers." I appreciate Joy Division now, particularly the later singles collected on Substance, but New Order has always been an easier pill to swallow. Someone described New Order as a band attempting to create artificial-sounding music with traditional rock-band instruments, and I like that about them. I'm not a huge New Order fan, but I love Power Corruption & Lies and the songs from that period. I've always wondered about Movement, the first New Order album - the one that was made immediately after the death of Ian Curtis and the disbanding of Joy Division.
So I picked up the recent 2-CD reissue of Movement. My plan was to put off buying any New Order reissues until the controversy over them and their sound-quality problems got resolved once and for all. But I found the album for a dollar - a DOLLAR! - brand new at this creepy surplus store out by the airport and decided to give it a try. The verdict? I like it. It has the dry, brittle quality of Joy Division, with the rattling percussion and scratchy guitar, but with new synth sounds and some great melodica. The production is more daring in places as well, creating interesting textures with dry reverb and stereo panning. What I hadn't expected was how terrible the vocals are. Bernard Butler and Peter Hook both try lead vocals on the album, but the hesitance in their delivery really puts me on edge for some reason and dampens my enjoyment of the record.
I have to admit, though, that the second disc is more enjoyable to listen to, containing New Order's early non-album singles. I was familiar with "Ceremony" and "Everything's Gone Green", of course, but all eight songs are great and make a great album-like listen. Best of all, the songs have confident vocals not found on Movement itself - Bernard Butler never really learned to sing, but he found a vocal style that works for him. One of my favorite b-sides on the second disc is "Mesh", originally an "Everything's Gone Green" b-side - I read somewhere that this is the first time the track has appeared on CD. Moral of the story? This release is definitely a worthwhile purchase for a dollar. For what it's worth, I couldn't hear any of the sound quality issues that people have been griping about.
"Mesh" by New Order