- The track opens with the most recognisable kick drum rhythm ever; then that unforgettable melody hits. An error meant the melody is slightly out of synch with the beat, but the band decided they liked the way that sounded and kept it like that.
- “Tell me how do I feel? Tell me now, how should I feel?” The lyrics are delivered in a detached way, almost an electronic lack of emotion (which will be relevant a few chapters from now).
- Synth bass lines pulse, played on a synthesizer Bernard Sumner built. A feature of many New Order songs is the focus on strong bass lines (guitar or electronic). Peter Hook often played bass as the lead guitar.
- The song breaks the rules, lasting an epic 7 and a half minutes with an unconventional structure.
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
- Literary types. First track is the harsh and drilling Atrocity Exhibition, named after a J.G. Ballard novel. Ian Curtis didn’t just sing, he wrote the lyrics, and was rarely seen without a book in his hand that informed their creation.
- The proletariat. Like many of these Manchester bands, there’s a working class sensibility. In the midst of millions we still feel Isolation as we grind away at A Means To An End, losing our Heart And Soul in the process.
- Goths. Joy Division perfected melancholy and darkness in songs about sorrow and pain, loneliness, desolation, emptiness, urban decay. This album helped establish the gothic rock genre.
Monday, 25 May 2015
The song itself reinforces this. Blissed-up sounds, laid-back chorus, plus the noise of Shaun dragging on a spliff throughout. Even its position on the album, track 5 of 10, the other songs round it like slack clothes. Just be yourself he says. “Sounds good to me.”
Sunday, 24 May 2015
Perfume, this shoe-gazing dance crossover, was their biggest hit, Manc-pop at its best, and is still played by DJs in the know today. John Peel did a session with them. Perfume was single of the week in NME. It sat near the top of the indie chart in the summer of 1990. Paris Angels signed with Sheer Joy (owned by an ex-Factory employee), then Virgin. At one Manchester gig their support was St. Etienne. They were going places.
Saturday, 23 May 2015
This song was their first top 20 single (and the album it came from reached no 2 in the UK). This Is How It Feels and Saturn 5 remain two of their most well-known and appreciated songs. Why is that?
Maybe we identify with the simple chorus: this is how it feels to be lonely, to be small. The final line is often misheard as “This is how it feels when your work means nothing at all” and can be internalised and appropriated as a truth by all alienated McJob workers.
Friday, 22 May 2015
This was the fourth single from their first album, Definitely Maybe. Cigarettes & Alcohol is a perpetual favourite with many of their fans. There’s a force and confidence to the music. Not from virtuoso solos or manic punk speed, but from the dirty guitar sound, the drawled pace, the working class perspective, and a “This is how it is” public persona statement that admits of no doubt and no alternatives. Confidence that suited a world-famous band.
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Not humourless though. This song about love, with a huge heart on the single’s sleeve, had the B-side “Just Lust”.
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
- Baggy beats, funk and languid drums? Check.
- Cocky swagger? Check.
- Party calls? Check.
- Self-centred lyrics? Check.
- Laid-back delivery? Check.
The song is a conversation between a bad dad and his estranged son. Reconciliation is impossible: the dad won’t hear what the son says. Once, twice, say it again: he never will. Words are a barrier that can’t be passed as they stand across a gulf of difference. Tony Wilson described it as “the greatest poem about parenthood since Yeats”. Shaun Ryder, Bard of Salford.
Tuesday, 19 May 2015
During the album’s opening jingle jangle an echoing ghost’s voice comes into focus, as if narrowing in on a transmission from the past. Sent to tell us stories about history, customs, place, loss and love, something fresh in every catchy song, from the toe-tapping bitchiness of Unhappy Birthday, to Girlfriend In A Coma’s pop perfection ambivalence, to the soundscape sadness of Last Night I Dreamt Someone Loved Me, where a piano fronts the sound of a crowd from the miners’ strike. These are everyman songs to hum afterwards at the bus stop, in your council flat, walking to work or queuing for chips. We identify with the perspective. “Eighteen months’ hard labour” sings Morrissey – about Strangeways, or just the grinding boredom of doing a job you hate? I’m not too sure.