I've never been a fan of dance music, especially the hyper-electronic nightclub stuff. While I can go see a blues show and dance myself to exhaustion, or join in with the fish-out-of-water- frolics that characterize a Grateful Dead audience, I just can't seem to move to music that has no other purpose than to be moved to. Perhaps it's that stronger purpose that makes New Order one of only two (with Yaz) electronica bands that I appreciate, although I still can't dance to them.
New Order is one of those enigmatic bands that can have songs I love and songs I hate on the same disc. It was in 1983 when I first went away to college and started listening to what the city kids were listening to that I discovered a beautifully haunting synth tune called Your Silent Face. I later learned that this is the perfect song to listen to while driving on a city expressway, like the Kennedy in Chicago, in the middle of the night when no one else is around. The peaceful yet sad melody complements the highway tunnels with the evenly spaced lights on each side in a way I can't describe, but can remember vividly 20+ years later. There were several other songs on that same album, called Power, Corruption, and Lies, that I like a lot as well.
On the other hand, I absolutely hated, and still hate, Blue Monday and it's B-side, The Beach. I don't care that it's the biggest selling single of the 80s. Those two songs just had nothing to say.
So as I began my little obsession with live recordings it became one of my goals to find a good sounding recording, preferably a soundboard, that had Your Silent Face and my other favorite, Temptation (which has a simple but wicked guitar line). As a bonus, I hoped to find one that had those two but not the two I hate. That's not too much to ask, is it?
Of course it is. They played Blue Monday a lot. And it seemed that this band like several others, were haunted by the spectre of poor quality bootlegs. It took a long time to find a soundboard recording at all, and even those weren't sounding too good. I finally found one that sounds pretty good a couple months ago that has both songs. It also has Blue Monday, but I don't dwell on that.
This is one time I can't delve deeply into the history, because I don't know much of it. While I appreciate this music a lot, I never felt a personal connection to the band like I have with Pink Floyd, the Dead and others. I do know that they came from the ashes of a punk band called Joy Division (I refuse to use the commonly applied term "post-punk", because it just sounds farooking stupid) which dissolved when one member committed suicide. Their sound became a bit bouncier and less gloomy as they chose a new direction as a new band.
I can say that I was very surprised listening to it, as their sound is far more layered in the studio than it is live. In fact, I initially thought that the recording was faulty, that I was missing a synthesizer or five. It isn't though, they simply keep their concerts honest by not playing a lot of taped stuff in order to emulate their studio sound. I realized that when I heard Your Silent Face and heard everything I expected to (albeit with much weaker bass than I'd like to hear).
This was recorded At Pine Knob Music Theater near Detroit Mi. on July 17, 1989.
Here's Your Silent Face (It ends a few notes early due to bad tracking on the maker's part)
Did you dance?
The music doesn't stop here. Come see my Trolling the Underground tribute to jazz legend Max Roach at Under the Bridge.