New Order ‘Movement (Definitive Edition)’ (Rhino)

The sights and sounds of a band in transition, this new boxset traces the tentative steps of a fledgling New Order as they morphed from Joy Division following Ian Curtis’ untimely death in 1980. Or in other words, it’s New Order’s debut album, first released in November 1981, lovingly remastered, bundled with a couple of live sets from the period and a whole load of demos. And it all comes in a very nice box too. 

We are awash with boxset reissues these days. For the most part, they’re bloated major label back catalogue cash cows. Sure, no one’s making us buy them, but they’re not going to buy themselves, right? It’s pretty refreshing when you actually see some thought going in. There’s a comprehensive Heaven 17 set doing the rounds at the moment, and as Martyn Ware explains elsewhere in these pages, “it’s about fleshing out the context over time and condensing it into one thing”. Which is well put, as both the H17 and this ‘Movement’ collection tell a story you wouldn’t have got first time round. 

‘Movement’ isn’t New Order’s best album, but it is their most important for a number of reasons. Despite the name on the sleeve, I’ve always seen ‘Movement’ as Joy Division’s last album, rather than New Order’s first. For starters, a handful of the tracks were Joy Division songs. A couple of weeks before Curtis’ death in May 1980, Joy Division would play their last show, the set, at Birmingham University, contained a new song, ‘Ceremony’, a track that would become the first New Order single. 

Vowing to continue following the suicide of their frontman, New Order debuted a couple of songs live that summer. ‘Dreams Never End’ and ‘Truth’ are both Joy Division tracks in all but name. So far, so Joy Division. The turning point came as an accident, like all the best turning points. The newly minted three-piece couldn’t settle on who should be the new singer so they’d take it in turns. Eventually, Bernard drew the long straw/short straw (depending on how you look at it) and New Order began to take shape. The thing was, playing guitar, synths and singing was a stretch by anyone’s standards. In a move key to pretty much everything that would follow, in October 1980, Gillian Gilbert joined the fold as keyboard player. 

Immediately taking the pressure of Sumner, she allowed the band to explore a more synth-driven sound. No Gilbert, no New Order. And that experimentation is laid bare in the live DVD included here. There’s two shows, one from 27 September 1980 at Hurrah’s on West 62nd Street in New York City and a second, just over a year later, from New York’s Peppermint Lounge on 22 November 1981 (not to be confused with the shambolic Ukrainian National Home show in the city three days earlier). It’s these trips that saw the band visit the disco nightspots and get bitten by the electro bug sweeping the city and these sets are bookends that see the end of Joy Division and the beginning of New Order. The first sees the band as a three-piece, by the second Gilbert is on board and there’s a distinct increase of kit on stage, notably more synths. 

And here’s the real killer. The turning point in all this is right here, tucked away, at the end of the Peppermint Lounge set is a new song which they debuted at the Ukrainian National Home show. ‘Temptation’ is the first, full-blown “proper” New Order track and by the time they show it off live in New York, it’s pretty much fully formed. A little tinker with the lyrics and, well, New Order broke the Top 30 for the first time upon its release in May 1982.

A quick rattle through the rest of the boxset only adds to the tale. There’s a couple of live TV appearances – Granada Studios in 1981, BBC Riverside in 82 and a ragtag collection of live tracks spanning 81−83 and including ‘Chosen Time’ from Pennies in Norwich in 1982 and ‘Truth’ at the Haçienda in 1983. There’s also a treat of demos/versions disc which is flagged up as “previously unreleased tracks”, which is technically true even if we have heard most it via bootlegs. The highlight is the very first New Order studio session at Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works in September 1980. Yes, this session has been online for years, but it’s still a treat. Of the six tracks, you can hear the internal wrangler for the frontman chops. There’s four different vocalists, with Hooky taking the mic on ‘Dreams Never Ends’, Sumner on ‘Homage’, Morris on ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Truth’. The forth? Their manager Rob Gretton on ‘Are You Ready For This?’ Interestingly, ‘Homage’ and ‘Are You Ready…’ were never revisited, studio-wise at least. 

As stubborn as ever, the band had a particular habit of releasing singles that weren’t on albums. For the cherry on top of the icing on this particularly fine boxset cake, Rhino have seen fit to reissue the first four New Order 12-inches – ‘Ceremony’ (two versions!), ‘Everything’s Gone Green’, and ‘Temptation’ – in their original sleeves no less.  

It’s a belter of boxset and we’re crossing our fingers that Rhino are working their way through each of New Order’s albums in order. We’re already very much looking forward to ‘Power, Corruption And Lies (Definitive Edition)’. 

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