post-punk gems, v. 76 — New Order

Hey folks! It’s a slow summer, prose-wise, for me, but I am keeping track of our musical history, and it’s been 35 years since New Order — appearing under the name “No Name,” since they had no name — made their live debut, opening for A Certain Ratio in Manchester, just two months plus after Ian Curtis’ demise. In front of 100 folks or so, prior to deciding upon a vocalist, they played instrumental tunes, novel, but somehow familiar, according to the write-up in New Music News:

“… we were all agreed that the intensity and novelty of the performance conspired to produce an overall effect rarely equaled. If the band can maintain this level then their future is secured, whatever their name …”

Their brilliant first single, “Ceremony,” would come out the following year and, in the years that followed, I spent many hours parsing the images of their record sleeves while the vinyl spun ’round the turntable. More so than any other band I knew at age 14, their music sprung from the alternate track of pop–not from Elvis Costello back to The Beatles, but from The Velvet Underground through Kraftwerk.

Enjoy!

post-punk gems, v. 66 — A Certain Ratio

“This is the birth of rave culture … ”

Thanks to the demented and brilliant 24 Hour Party People (and many a fine book), we have a fleeting sense of the musical vigor of Manchester back in the day, and the connection between punk, post-punk, and rave culture.

It’s Joy Division, of course, and Happy Mondays, and others, including A Certain Ratio, who are described in the film as “having all the energy of Joy Division but better clothes.” I can’t attest to the clothes part, but you can hear the influence of Ian Curtis’ voice, and the energy and aesthetic of Gang of Four and the Leeds crowd (Delta 5, et. al.). In good analog fashion, A Certain Ratio released their first album on cassette only in 1979.

“Do the Du” remains danceable from beginning to end, includes A-Certain-Ratio-Madonna-@-Danceteria-1982plenty of space to breathe, and sounds absolutely fresh today. And to think Madonna opened for them! (I do miss the 10pm buffet supper.)

(See Simon Reynolds’ very smart Rip It Up and Start Again for the best account of the post punk funk bands in the UK.)

Glad the lads are still at it now and again.