New Order: 1981-1982 EP (1982)

This 5-song EP was my introduction to New Order (and ultimately Joy Division, which I eased into only after being drawn in by New Order's more approachable sound), and will always have a fond place in my heart.

It's relatively obsolete at this point; the songs were later included on the 2008 deluxe-edition of New Order's 1981 full-length debut Movement.  (For some inexplicable reason, last year's latest re-re-issue of Movement included selected demos as bonus tracks but omitted the 1981-1982 EP songs.  Lame.)  And somehow this release (and the 2008 Movement edition) is not streaming on Spotify; you can find a few tracks in their EP versions (which I collected on the playlist below), but "Mesh" can be found only in its inferior demo version, and "Hurt" doesn't stream at all.

Growing up in Chicago in the 70s and early 80s, I had to come to view anything disco-like as pure evil.  Sure, we all learned to line dance to the Bee Gees, rolling out our finest disco moves at each weekend's Bar or Bat Mitzvah party.  But then came Chicago's disco demolition, and anything with a dance beat was forever banished.

So it was quite a revelation when I got to college in the fall of '84 and my buddy Chris pulled out "Temptation."  Here was dance music that sounded more punk than disco, insanely catchy and with a slight edge.  It became something of a Friday night ritual to have a dorm room pre-party, blasting "Temptation" before heading out for the night, screaming "Oh you've got green eyes, oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got grey eyes... and I've never seen anyone quite like you before" at the top of our lungs on the way to whatever party beckoned.  There are several other versions of the song included on various compilations, but I'm particularly partial to the original 12" version included on the EP, though I can't say whether this is for sentimental reasons or just because it's better.

"Everything's Gone Green" was similar in sound, perhaps a bit more atmospheric and lacking the killer hooks of "Temptation," but still rocking a compelling beat and synth sound.

While "Temptation" signaled the dance-oriented pop that would dominate New Order's future singles, the balance of the EP was a little more somber and intense.  "Procession" is great, bathed in an interesting wash of synths and guitars, a bit more rocking than Movement but still a little spooky.  "Hurt" is percussive in a similar manner as "Green," almost like a different take on the same song; while "Mesh" could be a Movement outtake, with that moody post-Joy Division darkness that pervaded the album.

It's a brief EP at 5 songs; personally, I'd add the "Ceremony"/"In A Lonely Place" single and outtake "Cries and Whispers" and arrive at an interesting album bridging the gap from Movement to 1983's Power, Corruption and Lies (basically the second disc from the 2008 Movement reissue).

Here's "Temptation":
"Everything's Gone Green":
Here's a live "Procession":
Here's a fantastic live "Hurt" (coupled with a live "Temptation") from 1981:
Finally, here's an audio rip of "Mesh":




Comments

  1. Humanfund here.

    To be blunt I don't think you've got at what makes early New Order special, say up to say Brotherhood.

    One, Bernard Summer's vulnerable quaver is a compelling counterpoint to the electronic musical onslaught, the ghostly human in the machine.

    Second, most of New Order's standout early tracks have a nearly symphonic structural build up. Start with a drum track, then add a bass line, then keyboard or rhythm guitar, etc. Think Everything's Gone Green, but also Dreams Never End and Perfect Kiss.

    Of course these 2 points are in addition to Peter Hook's bass' innovative melodicism that started with say Joy Division's Disorder and continues into mid-period New Order.

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  2. I confess. The main reason I bought this album was because I wanted to buy the cool t-shirt that showed the cover art. At the time, New Order wasn't getting any airplay in my city, so I had no idea what they sounded like. But I really wanted to wear that cool artsy t-shirt! I'd be labeled a poser if I was unfamiliar with the music of the band represented on my t-shirt (because we all know that kids who wear Misfits t-shirts can name every song they've ever written). So anyway, I bought the record and fortunately I liked it. New Order went on to become one of my favorite bands through the mid-80s and early 90s, though I'm afraid the t-shirt only made it through a few washes.

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    1. Funny... my first summer home from college, after discovering New Order freshman year, I bought a New Order t-shirt at one of the used record stores in Evanston, Illinois. (This was followed some time later by the obligatory Joy Division Unknown Pleasures t-shirt, though it really took me an extra year of so to get into Joy Division.) Alas, both of those shirts were retired a few years back (for some reason, the t-shirts that fit me as a college undergrad don't quite do the trick these days).

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    2. Yes, I too was attracted to the iconic Joy Division Unknown Pleasures t-shirt , which was displayed on the same wall as the New Order shirt at Off The Record in San Diego. I also was pretty unfamiliar with Joy Division, and bought the Love Will Tear Us Apart 12-inch based on reputation alone. I can't say I immediately loved it, and I'm not sure I ever really did. I'm more of a fan of songs that make me feel unbridled joy, and I'm afraid Joy Division rarely make me feel that way. Don't get me wrong, I do like a few Joy Division songs, but it's rare that I reach for one of their albums.

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