I’m sorry I haven’t been around much in the past little while. I’m getting back to it, honestly I am; there’s been a lot going on between science, writing, editing, lettering, listening to a lot of music – you get the idea – living. The sort of thing that gets in the way of music blogging and mixtape-making a bit.
I shall be back to it soon, but in the meantime, this song pretty much sums things up. Also, Crispy Ambulance are brilliant. (And they’re playing a gig with Section 25 in September at a pub in downtown London that I’ve got to say is a perfect environment, or was the last time I was in there. Live nearby? You’ll not want to miss it.)
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Buzzcocks lately. Not only were they the architects of a scene that changed the landscape of musical subcultures, not only do they sound fantastic even forty years on (how is it forty years?), but they’re a lot cleverer than they’re given credit for, and they always have been.
I’m in love with somebody I wish somebody loved me too You may wonder how this concerns you Well, perhaps the somebody is you
This song’s thirty-six years old, but their most recent release was in 2006, and they’ve got another – frankly, I think, one of their best – coming out this summer. And they’re touring in both America and Europe, so, y’know… if you can see ‘em, do it. It’ll be worth it, I promise.
After speaking at this Wellcome Trust scientific conference recently, I was offered the chance to write a conference report for Abcam. It’s gone live now, and I wanted to share it, as it’s quite a privilege to have gotten to do it! Hopefully, I’ll get to do a lot more of this sort of thing in the future…
I’ve been working hard on comics lately, and today, two of my projects have gone live on Kickstarter. I know that, like me, most of my friends are on a tight budget, but if you love comics, love stories that go beyond just “tights and capes,” love art and fantasy and science fiction and independent creators… then maybe one or the other of these fundraisers will interest you!
Torsobear is an anthology based on a “fluffy noir” world of toys where all is not as it seems. The author’s description says, “Ruxby Bear and Toyburg PD investigate cases of violence, corruption and murder in a city of toys.” The book’s beautiful and has a wide range of styles, all full-colour and with cool rewards and perks for early backers. Here it is!
Deviants is a story about superpowers, but it’s nothing like a traditional superhero comic. The author’s description says, “A diverse young cast of genetically gifted “deviants” struggle to escape their island prison, uncovering dark mysteries in the process." There’s gorgeous artwork, an intriguing storyline, strong female characters, ethnic diversity, and all kinds of awesome stuff. Take a look!
Both of these projects are really cool, and I’m thrilled to have been lucky enough to work with such brilliant creative teams. Please, if you have some spare change lying around, consider backing one of these projects, because I’d like to be able to continue working with them, and because these are some super badass comics you should read!
I’ve just spent about two solid days listening to the Buzzcocks’ forthcoming album, The Way, and I’ve got to tell you guys: wow. I don’t do a lot of straight-up reviews, but this album is worth it. It’ll be out this summer, supported by a nineteen-date tour, and let me assure you, you’re going to want this one.
It’s amazing to hear how these guys have matured as a band. The ‘old’ Buzzcocks are definitely still driving, musically-speaking (“It’s Not You,” “The Way”), but it isn’t just them you hear in the music; there’s The Stranglers, Gang of Four, Crispy Ambulance, The Jam. Some of the songs are almost mod-influenced (“In the Back”), as if The Lambrettas had joined them onstage for a song. Others harken back so well to the start of the Manchester punk era, with Martin-Hannett like soundspaces (“Virtually Real”) that he might as well have produced them himself. Some don’t belong to any one category, any one genre, but grab you by the ears right away anyway (“Chasing Rainbows Modern Times,” my personal favourite track on the album).
The entire album is gold and I could – though shan’t – go on for ages about each song, but the long and the short of it is that if you’ve ever liked the Buzzcocks, you’re going to want to keep an eye on The Way this summer. (And if you’re lucky enough to be able to get to one of the gigs? Do it.)
I like this song for a lot of reasons, but I’m becoming more and more impressed with the use of percussion. Not just drums, but listen to the other things that are going on - the triangle, the güiro, all kinds of awesome sounds that people don’t hear often enough, or don’t take enough notice of in the soundscapes of songs.
(I know that what is effectively a pop song is an odd choice for talking about things like “soundscapes,” but really, I think The Divine Comedy sort of transcend pop, and genre classification in general, a bit.)
All right, lads, we’re on the air! Tune in anytime you like over the next fourteen or so hours for punk, post-punk, house, dance, groove, Madchester, baggy, electronica, Britpop, rock, mod, world, Northern soul, and whatever else we end up feeling like. Good music, (intermittent) good conversation, and a half-decent consolation prize for not being able to be at the actual Haçienda Good Friday party.
Update: we’ve played the Three Before Eight and Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” so that calls an end to this all-nighter. It was a brilliant time and we’re definitely going to have to do this again one day, but for now, thanks for dropping by, and we’ll let you know next time we do a DJ set over at the Festival of the Twenty-Eighth Summer.
Right, so it’s that time of year again. Tomorrow is Record Store Day 2014 and music shops all across the world will be getting exclusive releases, selling regional special editions, hosting events, and generally having a fantastic time. And, of course, if you’re anywhere near a record shop of any kind, you should get in on it as well! Don’t know what to get? No problem – read on!
As promised, tomorrow into Saturday, Giles and I will be DJing a Haçienda-themed all-nighter over at my broadcast channel, the Festival of the Twenty-Eighth Summer. We’ll be doing a quasi-chronological progression, starting with punk and classic rock, moving into post-punk, house, dance and Madchester, electronica, Britpop, world, you name it. We’re expecting to start at about seven o’clock Eastern Daylight Time (or midnight at the Haçienda), and we’ll probably run into mid-morning Saturday
As usual, you’re welcome to tune in anytime and come hang out with us. As usual, song, artist and genre requests are welcome – just shoot me an ask or a submit, or use the suggestion tool on Grooveshark while we’re broadcasting. And as usual, if you want to know when we begin or if you want to be tagged in future updates, just like this post or let me know!
hey ^^ would you kindly make me a songlist of motivational songs? I'm about to face a really tough boss battle in a video game and I need motivation to not die like I did in the other bosses... WHY HAS THIS GAME TO BE SO HAAAARD?! Thank you :D
Life’s tough and video games are tough and I know things have been difficult for you lately. I made you a short mixtape, but it isn’t as much of a “mix” as mine usually are. Instead, I chose some bands and musicians I know you like (The Clash, The Jam, Carbon/Silicon) and put together a few of their most inspirational songs, or at least, the songs that I reckon make you feel a little better about its being “you against the world.” At least, they make me feel better.
Here's your mixtape. And remember, as much as it might feel like it, you're never alone. You've always got mates who'll look out for you if you're feeling down.
Video game bosses you might have to handle by yourself, though…
This entire album is massively underrated, but this song is one of the most underrated tracks on it.
Rushing through the rush hour on an all-nighter Never seen you look so young The world really looks from this doughnut store Such a funny colour in the sun
There are some of Joe Strummer’s lyrics that take my breath away, and while the vocals on Earthquake Weather may be rough and out of practice and less well-mixed than they could have been, the imagery of Joe’s words is enough to make up for all of it and more.
For once the traffic’s been conquered by the streets Listening close the waterpools You can hear the hiss and the leaks And the rattling cans of the shuffling bands Down the avenues of spare change Forty blocks north in your memories
Thank you for the recommendations! Can I request a mixtape?
You can always request a mixtape! I love making them, though it sometimes takes me a while to get them exactly the way they ought to be, and I love getting requests for them.
Anyway, I know you like the Arctic Monkeys and Fall Out Boy, and I know you like energetic or upbeat music, and I also happen to have personally verified that you are extremely awesome – so your mixtape is mostly pop, pop punk, alt rock, and music I would have called “mod” had it come out thirty years ago. Some of the songs I chose because I thought you’d like them; some I chose because I thought they suited you.
You can find it here, and I hope you like it! Tracklist, as usual, is under the cut.
I know that, today, everyone in the world and probably a few cosmonauts on the space station will be posting songs like this to mark the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day. Nevertheless, I appear to have fallen victim to the same mass mania, so here’s a song.
The Dropkick Murphys were my youth and young manhood. For a good eight years, I saw them three or four times a year, anytime they came within about five hours’ drive of the town where I lived (and they did that often, because for a while, one of their pipers was a local boy). My best mate joined their street team, so I unofficially joined as well, running up and down Whyte Avenue postering for their gigs; I’d stand at the edge of the pit at every show, or try to go unnoticed at the back of the room if it was a no-minors gig and I wasn’t eighteen yet; I’d go backstage afterward and have things shoved into my hands, posters and stickers and albums and the occasional beer I didn’t want; I’d wait outside Red’s, where they always used to play, at midnight in the middle of winter, half freezing to death while I waited for a rare night bus to come by and get me partway home. After a while, they used to recognize us and wave from the stage. We’d buy them pints and risk our lives in the pit to pass them up onto the stage (and the action in the pit at their gigs was pretty impressive; most of my badge-of-honour kicks to the head were earned at Dropkick Murphys shows).
They didn’t play this song much that I remember though I started going to a lot of their gigs at about the same time as Sing Loud, Sing Proud! was released. Still, it’s always been one that held meaning for me, and, well, here you are, anyway.
About a month from now, FAC 51 The Haçienda are doing their traditional Good Friday party (and it’s going to be amazing - if you’re lucky enough to be able to go, stop reading this post and get tickets to that instead!).
But if, like us, you’re too far away or too poor to be there, you might want to come down to the Festival of the Twenty-Eighth Summer and check out our party! We’ll be running a Haçienda-themed all-nighter – about fourteen straight hours of punk, post-punk, house, dance, Madchester and electronic music for your eardrums.
So yeah! April 18th into 19th, that’s where we’ll be, and we’ll be doing the thing properly; we’re already putting together playlists and sourcing tracks and making plans and we’ve got over a month until we’re on the air. So if you feel like tuning in at any point, or making requests, or just dropping by to hang out, we’d love to see you there!
(Side note: as usual, if you want to be sure you’re tagged in all-nighter updates, just click “like” on this post or drop me an ask anytime and I’ll make sure you get the latest.)
Sometimes I forget that most of the people who made the music I love are old enough to remember being children, sitting clustered around a black-and-white television set with rabbit-ear aerials, watching the Space Race play out in real-time. I forget that they were old enough to see the Kennedy assassination, but young enough not to know what it was they were seeing. I forget that they were old enough to understand the significance of the moon landing, but young enough to believe that they might one day walk on its surface as well. I forget that this music bridges decades across a changing world, but the Inspiral Carpets remind me.
The Manchester District Music Archive is a user-led online archive established to celebrate Greater Manchester music and its social history.
Do you lot know about the Manchester District Music Archive? It’s a free, user-edited online archive of articles, pictures, sounds, videos, and anything you can think of from Manchester’s incredibly rich musical history. Photographs predominate, obviously, but there’s everything from T-shirts to tape reels in here, a recording of as many scraps of Manchester-that-was as we can scrape together, the next best thing to being able to swear you were there.
It isn’t just the website, either. There are special online exhibitions (at the moment, one about post-punk fanzines, one about Moss Side and Hulme, and one about queer culture), physical exhibits (for instance, Giles and I went to see “Defining Me,” the one that just finished its run at the Lowry Museum), events (such as concerts, DJ sets, lectures), and more.
Come and check it out! Do you have anything you can add? Join in and make a contribution. Just want to learn as much as you possibly can? Sign up and start exploring.
The MDMA is awesome, and the more people there are out there that know about it and want to be a part of it, the better. Why not you?
John Cooper Clarke is a self-styled “punk poet” from Manchester. His work is made up of about equal parts beat, punk, stand-up comedy, and the clever retorts you always wish you could come up with in the heat of the moment and yet never can. I think he may be my favourite poet of all time.
Be warned, though; don’t listen to this (or any of his work) if you don’t like profanity, disenchantment or controversial themes. If you do, he’s a bloody genius.
It wouldn't be at all hard - I'm sure it's already been done - to make a music player that used some random noise (in the mathematical sense) to generate some, uh... random noise (in the literal sense) on the playback of a track. It wouldn't even take much more to algorithmically generate cracks and hisses and pops based on peaks and troughs and decibel level in the music. You could even store data on how often the track is played and increase the noise level on heavily played tracks.
If you wanted to make a digital track sound like it was being played on vinyl, you could, but it would involve a lot more than just the addition of random noise to change the sound appropriately. (Of course, bear in mind that I’m just being a sort of reverse audiophile here and that the average person probably wouldn’t care at all, but here, have some random thoughts nonetheless.)
Beware; below the cut there be much technical rambling about sound.
The network of influence between musicians is so intertwined and complicated that it’s practically impossible to nail down to specifics. It might be possible to pick out one or two influences on a given song or album, or trace the rise and fall of various influences throughout a band’s career (see: The Jam), but in general, it’s a fairly complex web of events and inspirations and it’s hard to isolate a single driving force, other than their own, in any artist’s work.
That said, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem has never made a secret of The Clash’s influence on his music. He’s talked about it in interviews, participated in Strummerville events, and even made it pretty much inescapable in his song, “I’da Called You Woody, Joe.”
If you listen, though, you begin to realize that it isn’t necessarily The Clash in exclusivity that inspire him, but the musicianship of Joe Strummer. (You’ll note, along with innumerable Clash references, the line in the aforementioned song that goes, “And a girl on the excitement gang,” calling back to Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros’ “Coma Girl.”)
Anyway, the point of all this rambling is to offer the following two songs up to you, not just because they’re both really good, but also because I’ve been thinking about influences and inspirations and perhaps you can hear a little of that from one song to the other here.
Five bands/musicians you wish you saw live, but now cannot for whatever reason. This can include previous lineups of still-playing bands.
Because I am pathologically incapable of choosing just five of anything, I’m afraid I have corrupted your question into “five shows you wish you’d seen live,” rather than five bands or musicians. Even so, I’ve left out dozens of artists I wanted to include, but at least I’ve managed to cheat my way into a few extra bands as openers. (Note that these are not in any particular order, and that one band’s opening for another doesn’t mean I want to see the headliner more than the openers.
Behind a cut, because, as usual, this got rather longer than expected.
Twenty-five years ago today, New Order’s Technique album was released. As a result, both Technique and I have a birthday today, which means I have an excuse to post this, my favourite song off the album. I love the sound (though I’ve got to confess that I love the 7” mix even more) and I love the lyrics and this couplet, in particular, always made a strange sort of sense to me:
The picture you see is no portrait of me It’s too real to be shown to someone I don’t know
In any event, happy birthday to Technique and all that.
It’s that time of year again – gearing up for Gallifrey One, the world’s largest Doctor Who convention. I love going, not only because there is grand fun and amazing programming and incredible opportunities to meet people, but also because some of the best friends I have are ones I’ve met at Gally and whom I see only once a year, when the convention rolls around again.
And also, I give talks there.
As usual, I’ll be talking about the music of Doctor Who this year on the “Dulcet Tones of Doctor Who" panel. This time, in a terrifying turn of events, they have put one of the actual composers from the show on the panel with me. (Yes. You read that right.) And to make matters even scarier, it’s Dominic Glynn, who is not only the composer from the era I profess to know most about, but also a music producer I admire completely apart from his work on the show.
And, for the first time, I’ll be giving another panel as well – a British Invasion panel called “The British Are Coming,” in which I’ll get to ramble in real life about British youth and music subcultures, their influence on America, which ones survived and which didn’t, and all sorts of awesome nonsense like that, normally reserved for my Internet ramblings alone. I’m intimidated, but also incredibly excited. I tried hard to land this panel, so I’m very honoured to have been given it.
So, er, the long and the short of it is, if you’re going to Gallifrey One this year, come and say hello! Or come and see a panel or two! It’ll be a good time, I promise (and I have ribbons, too).
g o d that was so sad [lies on floor] but tell me about this famous gig that everyone claims they went to cause it started so many bands (if u have the time !!!)
You mean the Sex Pistols on June 4, 1976, at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. That’s the gig everyone swears they attended because it (theoretically) gave rise to pretty much the entire Manchester punk and post-punk scene and therefore everything that happened afterward as well.
Brace yourselves for a hilarious story of my being an idiot. It starts – or so I thought – in grade two, when I was seven or eight years old in art class at school and my teacher would play the radio every day while we worked. I’d keep hearing this song, over and over again, and it stuck in my head for years. Only I’d mis-remembered the lyrics slightly, so no matter what I searched for or how hard I tried, I could never find this song again.
Right, so I was thinking about it again today because I was asked about songs from my childhood, and by some miracle, I managed to hit upon the right combination of search terms and incorrect lyrics and find this, Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.” You have no idea how big this day is or how long I’ve been looking… and please bear in mind here that not only am I an adult with reasonably good Google search capabilities, I’m actually quite familiar with Marcy Playground and probably had this song in my music collection all along. (Update: I checked. I didn’t. I feel marginally less stupid now.)
Furthermore, it turns out that this wasn’t released until November of 1997, which means that – while I’m certain I heard a radio pre-release, because I know I listened to it in Europe and yet we moved to Canada in July of that year – I was actually three years older than I thought I was when I first heard this song.
Also, I’m not sure why, at ten years old, I was able to mis-hear the word “marijuana” into the lyrics. Shouldn’t I not have known about things like that yet?
So I always thought this track sounded a lot like the material New Order was putting out at the time (in the mid-eighties) and that the Stockholm Monsters should have been held in far higher regard than they ever were. There’s actually a fascinating structure to this piece in that it starts out sounding like an electronic dance anthem and ends up being something quite different – and on top of that, the chorus is instrumental, which is beautiful. I mean, there are all sorts of things that could be said about the way the song itself is formed around its own themes, deliberate or not (“I can’t think what to say” prefacing the wordless choruses, “I just have to run and hide” at the softest point in the song), but you really don’t want to hear me ramble about that, so just listen to the trumpet work in the choruses. A lot of new wave and funk bands were incorporating brass sounds into their music at this point, but the Stockholm Monsters do it in a way that’s different to any other band I’ve heard.
This was originally released as the B side to “All at Once,” and the run-out grooves on the single read “WHEN A MAN’S MIND!/TURNS TO ROMANCE!” I’ve got it on an original pressing of Alma Mater, though (complete with Manchester Public Library stamp and FACT 80 handwritten on the label!), so mine says “YOU KNOW WHAT TONIGHT IS!/AND WHAT GOES!”
Forgive me, but in addition to answering your question, I’m going to co-opt it into a quick breakdown of mod and rocker subcultures, because triforce-of-brixton asked me to explain even though I am incredibly unqualified, and so I thought I might kill two birds with one stone.
So, er, yeah! DJing for a while. Punk, post-punk, mod, Madchester, who knows? Whatever I feel like playing? Whatever you guys want to hear? (You can suggest songs on the website, or drop me an ask.)
Anyway, come over and join us at the (ridiculously-named) Festival of the Twenty-Eighth Summer.
Update: I think we’re done for now – and wow, I did not expect to go for six hours – but everyone seemed to enjoy it, so I’ll definitely be doing it again, and I’ll definitely let you guys know when it happens. Thank you for stopping by!
Most of you have probably already heard the version of “This Is the One” off The Stone Roses’ debut album, but you may not have heard this version off Garage Flower. This was an album recorded four or five years before their eventual debut release, but the Roses initially didn’t want this one released because they weren’t happy with the job Martin Hannett did producing the songs. In a number of cases, I tend to agree with them (although if you listen to some of their other early work, like “So Young" or "Tell Me,” it’s neat in that Hannett’s sound signature is so unmistakeable). I really disagree with them about this song in particular, though; I think this is the most transcendent version of “This Is the One” I’ve ever heard.
Hey Mick, tell us what your top 5 tracks of 2013 were!
I’d love to do that! Thank you for asking. I should warn you, though, that it’s practically impossible for me to narrow things down to my five favourite tracks, so what you’re actually getting here is five of my top tracks of 2013, and perhaps even some boring backstory as well.
I’ve talked about this one before, but I guess it sums up the past year better than anything else could. Mick Jones and Tony James do wonderful things here (and the artists’ comments that originally went along with the release were essentially a love letter between best friends), the video is beautiful, and the lyrics – well, we survived, didn’t we? And the sun is still rising. And I reckon that’s about all I could have asked for out of 2013. Everything else was a bonus.
Over the past year, Giles and I have been lucky enough to see Johnny Marr play twice (once on the outbound and once on the return leg of his Messenger tour). The first time he played this, he said, “This song is for anyone who thinks they think too much. And that’s all right.” The second time, he said less, but played it with – if it’s even possible – more energy. I like the way Johnny approaches life, and I like what he’s trying to say here, and I think everyone ought to hear this song at least once, whether you choose to think about it too much or not.
I know I’m technically cheating with this one, but bear with me. The original track was released in 1980, but the album on which it appeared, The Return of the Durutti Column, was re-issued this year and I own a copy, so I’m slipping this one in and hoping you don’t notice. It’s more meaningful to me than most of the music released in 2013, because over the past year, Giles and I have been privileged to meet and form a friendship with the Reillys, so this is not only a beautiful composition of guitar and effects, it’s a song that used to mean a band I loved and now, a year later, means a friendship I also love.
These guys were the openers at this summer’s New Order show, and honestly, I think they were my second-favourite opening band all year*. They’re what’s happening next on the dance scene and they’re really cool, and this is one of the songs off the album they released this year. They also played it at the gig, and let me tell you, if you like it through your laptop speakers, imagine it live in a fourteen-thousand person venue.
As you already know, New Order are another band that Giles and I were lucky enough to see live this year. They’re also a band I’ve loved for a long time, as well as a group of people who are all really cool. They invited us to be on the guest list for their show, they were gloriously kind about our book, and they released a short, but properly quality album (with a really flash cover that Pete Hook went on to tweet about for months, and I’ve got to be honest; I hope he never stops). It may not be the band’s best album of all time, but there are a fair few memories from this year wrapped up in it.
I know. It wasn’t released in 2013. It wasn’t re-issued in 2013. It has nothing whatsoever to do with 2013, so why is it on my list of top tracks of 2013? The truth is, I would be remiss in summarizing the year in music if I didn’t include something by Crispy Ambulance. They’re another band that have, in the past year, gone from names on the covers of our favourite albums to names in our list of mobile phone contacts. They’re another band that have been incredibly supportive of our book, and of us, too. They’re another band that were once heroes and are now friends as well, and I couldn’t properly talk about music that was important this year without including them. And at any rate, I think this probably ranks as the song I listened to most over the course of 2013 (not to mention this was the year we finally found and bought the album from which it originates), so that’s got to count for something.
Other cool music that was released this year:
I’ve run out of room to recommend tracks, but these are some other things that happened in 2013 that I can’t bear not to mention.
Rubberbear have a new EP out, Elements; you can listen to it all here and wow, it’s definitely worth hearing. The Arctic Monkeys released AM; you can listen to most of that here. Miles Kane’s latest album came out; it’s a partial collaboration with Paul Weller, which sweetens the deal, and you can find parts of it here and here. And, finally, Hot Vestry released their new EP, Tell Me How It’s Done, which you can listen to here or here.
*Note: My favourite opening band this year were Slaves of Venus, who opened for Peter Hook and The Light. Look it up. You’ll enjoy the joke more when you do. (And while you’re at it, here’s what may be my favourite live track of 2013; check it out!)
For music, do you prefer vinyl to CD? MP3 to everything? Is vinyl hard to find? Are digital purchased-downloads (ie: from Bandcamp) good for the artists? Better than other formats? Are even there any cassettes left in the world, other than the Paul Simon and Van Halen ones in a shoebox under the seat of my mum's car?
Wow, that’s a fair number of questions all at once!
(And the answers got rather longer than expected, so here’s a read-more cut.)
YOOOO MY BRO! please tell me: are The Jam good? If so, what album would you recommed? thanks mate :D
Well, bear in mind, of course, that I’m just firing my personal opinions at you – but I think The Jam are pretty brilliant. They’re a mod revival band at their core, but (if such a thing is possible) I think I’d say that The Jam get about as close to punk rock as a mod group can do without hopping genres.
(And, for your personal interest, The Jam toured with The Clash on the May 1977 White Riot tour – though it wasn’t an unmitigated success, as The Jam weren’t thrilled at the financial arrangements and later dropped out of the tour after accusing The Clash of not having given them the chance to sound-check properly.)
(Also, I saw Paul Weller play last summer and before I did, I thought he’d mellowed out a lot because his recent releases have been much more easy-going than his early work – but I was wrong. When he plays live, he’s just as dynamic and energetic as he ever was. Highly recommended!)
Disagreements with The Clash aside, I’d honestly recommend any of The Jam’s albums. If you’re asking because you’re considering buying one, I’ll do something I wouldn’t normally do and suggest getting Snap! It’s a compilation, yeah, but it’s a really good and comprehensive overview of some of the band’s best work. (There’s also a version called Compact Snap! that’s available on CD only; I’d still recommend it, but it isn’t as good because they had to remove a few of the tracks in order to make it fit onto a single disc.)
More about their individual studio albums under the cut!
Hey Jey, Blue Monday is EXACTLY what i needed today and It reminded me of a question that i was thinking i should ask you (as my source of all New Order knowledgfulness). i thought i saw/read somewhere (maybe in/about 24 Hour Party People?) that the syncopation on the drum track for this song was actually a mistake—someone started it half a beat too soon/too late in the studio or something and it sounded so good they kept it. Is this trufax or did i imagine it?
You’re right! I can’t say exactly where you might have learnt that, because it’s been discussed in all sorts of places, but yes, the beat and the melody are out of sync with one another. It isn’t the drums that are off (relative to what New Order originally intended), though; it’s the sequencer track.
If you listen to it (here's the original), you can hear where the beats fall in the bass drum line, and if you follow the rhythm, you can also hear the way the melody falls in between the strong beats.
It’s actually a really easy mistake to make, because in order to create “Blue Monday,” New Order went through all sorts of electronic equipment - for instance, the drum line is on an Oberheim DMX drum machine with effects; the bass line is through a Moog Source and sequenced using a machine Bernard Sumner built himself (as were many of their early works, because they couldn’t afford a proper sequencer); some of it, I’ve heard, was done with punch and step recording (techniques where it’s quite easy to drop a single beat or note); and there are vocoders, electronic drums, all sorts of things. Frankly, it’s a miracle there aren’t more accidentally-syncopated songs out there!
(Random side note unrelated to New Order: I was listening to Dick Mills, one of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound engineers, talking about constructing the early Doctor Who soundtracks, and he was discussing exactly this process. The early equipment in the sound shop included a punch-tape sequencer, and he and the other Radiophonic staff used to roll the tapes out all throughout the corridors of the building, start at one end, and go all the way down to the other end checking each note on the tape to ensure they didn’t end up missing beats. So you can imagine what a laborious process it must have been!)