In 2024, it's 40 years since I first started buying records properly, so it seems as good a time as any to look back at the records that really shaped my tastes, such as they are. And as Moz said, "don't forget the songs that made you cry and the songs that saved your life..".
I don't understand football fans, never have. It's the whole "we won", "we played a blinder". the whole "we" claim to success. These football fans have usually done nothing other than drink beer and shout at a television while 22 talented athletes play at a level that they can only dream of. I get that the players need the support and encouragement of the fans, but the idea that the fans can claim credit for the athletes' success is quite beyond me.
I don't watch a gig by my favourite band and scream "we were on fire" - it's they not we. The only time I can think of when I may have strayed close to something even close to football fandom with bands I loved is New Order and specifically the song Bizarre Love Triangle.
The single was released in November 1986, but I first heard it when I played my cassette of their fourth album, Brotherhood, released in September that year. I had been obsessed by them since the previous year and acquired their three albums, Movement, Power, Corruption & Lies and Low-Life, plus all of their singles to date. I was committed (read more here about my early love for them - New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies (and sneezes and chat up lines)).
As I played Brotherhood's first side, I was a little surprised by how guitary it was. It was their synth, futurist sound I loved, but I still liked it. At this stage, if they had released an album of Gillian burping, I would have found something to love about it. But I flipped the tape to side 2 and suddenly heard something more familiar. The opening track started with a repetitive synth bass line and electronic drums announcing a more familiar New Order. This was not just a song, this was a hit. It was clear to me as day that Bizarre Love Triangle was going to be huge.
The vocals were the best I had heard Barney sing, it had a soaring, melodic bass guitar line (one of Hooky's best) and splashes of swirling keyboards that sounded almost like a choir - it was incandescent. The lyrics were clearly a love song. This was going to be massive on the radio. And it's the first time I felt that sort of football fan love for them - I was proud of them, elated that the music they had been making had coalesced into this perfect tune. That said, it still fell short of shouting "we've done it!". It was still "they've done it".
The single came out a couple of months later, remixed by Shep Pettibone and it was.....not a hit...how??? I didn't love the remix, but it wasn't that different from the original album version. But it had some unnecessary effects, the bass guitar was less prominent. It was not any better than the original. It reached 56 in the UK charts. Bugger. We were robbed (see...that football fan thing had kicked in...).
Did New Order care? Probably not, though I suspect Bernard did. All the stops were pulled out for the next single, True Faith, with Stephen Hague, fresh from success with OMD and Pet Shop Boys, brought into produce and co-write. That was a massive hit - number 4 in the UK charts, a crazy and inventive hit video and even an appearance on Top Of The Pops. I bored the arse of my then girlfriend Frances about its brilliance.
Bizarre Love Triangle should have brought them that big hit though and it's still a staple in their live set 38 years after its release, an electronic classic. They played it the first time I saw them at Wembley Arena in December 1987 - my fourth ever gig, which was magnificent.
I feel less obsessive love for New Order now. I still love them, but I don't feel our success is somehow interconnected - to be fair, that ended back in my teenage years. But I still love them dearly, have seen them many times since that first gig and have seen Hooky play their albums and Joy Division's songs often (his gigs are joyous affairs and thoroughly recommended).
Blue Monday and Shellshock were my introduction to them; BLT (see what they did there?) was the moment I felt more than just fandom, like I felt I had some stake in their success and evangelising about them to any poor fool who'd listen. They were my club, my Chelsea, my Manchester United, my Dulwich Hamlet FC. New Order and me were "we" then, for a time.
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