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(the rest of) NewOrder (1995)

Who needs this? Remix aficionados, forever testing the cusp of fashion, will surely find many of the versions collected on this remix album insufferably passe by contemporary standards, while admirers of the delicate grace of New Order's singles will probably be alarmed at the calisthenics so many of these studio boffins put them through. Take the Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix of Confusion, 10 minutes of musclebound thumping and squelchy techno sounds. Or C. J. Bolland's version of Temptation, now a full-on banging techno barrage of scant character or interest. Armand Van Helden's mix of Bizarre Love Triangle is typical of the Euro-stomp strain: first you get shouted at - "Get up! Get up!" - for a minute or two while the rhythm track is laboriously wheeled into position, then eventually you get the vocal. This goes: "Every time I see you falling-ng-ng-ng-ng-ng-ng-ng", which is clearly an improvement on the original. None of the other words puts in an appearance, though by way of compensation, Van Helden adds a section where an indistinguishable fragment of Barney Sumner's voice is looped interminably, slowed down, then speeded back up again. It's followed by Dave Clarke's martial drum-tattoo mix of Everything's Gone Green, which dispenses with the vocal problem by, er, dispensing with the vocal completely. Not all the remixes are so unsympathetic. Fluke's Spooky, K-Klass's Ruined In A Day and Shep Pettibone's True Faith are slick polishing jobs, easy on the ear and not too contemptuous of the originals, while Oakenfold & Osbourne's Perfecto Mix of World succeeds by adding a translucent layer of mystery. Farley & Heller's Fire Island mix of Regret, meanwhile, tiptoes between the two extremes, leaving most of the song intact but replacing the spiky little guitar hook that leads into the chorus with a string pad figure. Howie B's mix of Age Of Consent demonstrates the biggest problem here. He strips away the music to leave just a growling undertow and shuffle-beat, oddly akin to Walk On The Wild Side, but in so doing leaves Sumner's voice exposed in all its shaky fragility. It's one thing to jump around to the favoured beat of the moment, but throughout this album there's a sense of Sumner's appealingly hesitant sentiments being strong-armed into jackboot certainty. It's not a pretty sound at all, really. And on this showing, Peter Hook - the group's unique musical element, the one thing that set them apart - was never a member of New Order at all, his melodic lead-bass lines having been deemed surplus to disco requirements in virtually all these mixes.

Reviewed by Andy Gill

Source: Q Magazine