New Order/Retro [Boxset] Disc One: Pop Compiled by Miranda Sawyer

RetroRetro is a 2002 box set of music by the English band New Order. It comprises four themed CDs. In the UK, initial quantities came with a fifth disc which featured rare tracks.

The box set was released as a compromise. The band’s manager, Rob Gretton, had originally envisioned a box set called Recycle, which would feature all the singles New Order had released, one single per CD, in a grand 20 CD box. However, London Records deemed this as too excessive, and the idea was shelved. New Order released Get Ready in 2001 and a year later Retro surfaced.

The CDs each have a particular theme: Pop, Fan, Club and Live. Each one was selected by a friend of the band. [Wikipedia]

Fine Time—-Taken from the release Technique, this single finds the band at their most potent Dance Oriented Pop ever. This has all the classic elements of a New Order track…great highs and lows from the boards of synthesizers, the present and sometimes subtle bass of Hooky and the wonderful accessible vocal of Summer. This still remains one of my favorite New Order tracks and releases just for the grand memories that go along with it.

Temptation—-Coming out of a near silence, this single has a much more organic sound…the guitars sound much more Joy Division driven…the Hook bass present but never overpowering. This is a wonderful mix of Alternative guitar Rock and the masterful underlying synth line that rounds out the song. Summer sounds marvelous…I love the vocal on this track and the sentiment that accompanies it. This track, for me, has a certain sound of desperation and loneliness and remains a very favorite of mine.

True Faith—-Sometimes, in my musical evolution, I chose to wear blinders. In the 80’s, everything for me was about New Wave and The Smiths…everything else fell by the wayside. My first real exposure to New Order came from the release of Substance and this truly remarkable song…from there it was almost a new world of British synth acts that became my muse. The magical driving synths on this track fueled many brilliant nights on dance floors in Gay bars and lots of dancing with my Lesbian friends. This holds such grand memories that it holds a special place for that alone. I will say, Bernard sounds perhaps the best I have ever heard him sound…his vocal is clear, even and matched to the synth lines perfectly…this is fantastic.

The Perfect Kiss—-This is marvelous!!! Featuring a vocal from Bernard that at times is masterfully out of tunes and brilliantly laid back, the swirls of synths are just made for mirror balls and dance floors. the bass line is here, but is more sedate…allowing Gilbert to really work the programming with abandon. I truly am attracted to this track just for the vocal…which seems remarkably natural and unpractised. This is brilliant!

Ceremony—-Any song from the very first recordings of the band after the death of Ian really resonates with me…as the band was struggling to find a direction, they delivered to the fans some pretty remarkable dark synth masterpieces that I love dearly. This is a perfect example…this is so emotional and dark…recorded as if in a tunnel, the sound sounding even more emotive than imaginable. This is without a doubt something that I can listen to five or six times over and over again without fail. Remarkable bass, removed vocals and a synth that delivers an almost funeral song. Wow!!!

Regret—-This is wonderfully reminiscent of the sound that the band was making at the time. Seemingly relying on the Hook bass line more than ever on this CD. The band was trying hard not to retread all of the stuff they had done in the past. the remarkable thing is the smooth and really pleasant vocal from Bernard…this is a band that had practised, rehearsed and learned how to deliver to the public everything that they clamored for. A real high point in the production of the band, this remains more pleasant than imaginable.

Crystal—-This is the ‘newest’ recording from the band included in this boxset…as you listen back in awe, you realize the remarkable consistency of the band and the quality out put regardless of all the side projects and the turmoil going on inside the unit. This has some interesting female vocals added and a bass that hits you so hard, you know that the band delivered this right for the dance floor. Bernard sounds remarkable and the synth lines that are produced when added to the actual instrumentation, creates a virtual wall of sound. This is huge, wonderfully delivered and full of the Hooky bass line that is a signature for the group. Tasty!!!!

Bizarre Love Triangle—-One of the defining songs of this bands career, this is delivered with a remarkable loopy bass line synth that makes me smile even all of these years later. the energy and the enthusiasm in the synth line helped to mold a movement in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the US was taken over with dance floor anthems. This is and shall always remain brilliant. And the vocal…exquisite!!!

Confusion—-A bit rudimentary in the synth line delivery, this is built upon layers of different programs running in tandem with each other and a vocal that is again somewhat out of tone and remarkably charming. This is fantastic just because it is so elementary…the band was really able to deliver songs that were less than polished to a fantastic result. This is unpleasant, yet remarkably addictive.

Round & Round—-By this point, the band had all of the programming combined with the bass line stuff under control and mastered. Bernard delivers a vocal that is so in tune and pleasant…full of echoes and underlying emotion, you are addicted from the very onset. the chorus is a huge addictive affair that even after 20 plus years, still sounds fresh and electric. This is a ground breaking, fan pleasing genius of a band!

Blue Monday—-Still holding the title for the best-selling 12 inch single of all time this is a bit played out, a bit tedious to listen to these days, but still masterful in the intensity and brilliance of the whole damn thing. This was a remarkable welding of powerful synth lines combined with a shattering bass guitar line coming together in a perfect storm. remarkable and timeless, there has been to many things said about this track for me to hope to add something new or earth shattering.

Brutal—-This track has a remarkable lack of prominent synth line. expanding on the true instrumental qualities of the band. At times the guitars are foreign and surprising. Only the repetive bass kick seems programmed…the guitars reverberate and the Hook bass line is present although buried underneath all of the reverb lead guitars. The whole thing is accompanied by Bernard and some subtle female vocals that only round out the track and make it even larger. Remarkable!!!

Slow Jam—-This is nice, the highlight of the song is the pleasant and emotive vocal that is offered up by Bernard. I love how much he developed as the band progressed. This has some nice inflections that really make you believe what he is saying…I love this…this is ignored by many and should be paid attention too. This is truly remarkable…not only for the noisy bad sounds but for the exquisite and emotional vocal delivery!!!

Everyone Everywhere—-Wow, this is really nice…a track that I’m not really familiar with, the remarkable thing about the single is that the melding of sounds seems to be even better executed. Bernard sounds remarkably calm next to the sometime overpowering synth lines, the trademark Hook bass line seems to be buried underneath the synths and the whole thing has a feeling of being done on auto pilot. Take it or leave it, it is a part of history.

****1/2 out of 5


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