Nearly Perfect Albums – #12

Power, Corruption and Lies – New Order

There are only two albums released on Factory Records on this list and they feature three of the same musicians.  Which means, as you might have guessed that ‘Chicken Rhythms’ by Northside didn’t make it.

‘Power Corruption and Lies’ was the second album by New Order and the reason it is included on this list instead of say ‘Low Life’ or ‘Technique’ (both worthy contenders as it happens) is because it was this album that laid the history of everything that came before it to rest (if that’s not too clumsy a phrase) and laid the foundations for everything that followed.  Well ‘Temptation’ and ‘Blue Monday’ (released two months earlier than this album) probably laid the foundations, ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ hammered them home.

When I first heard this record as a 15 year old, I didn’t like it.  I think I was expecting to hear ‘Blue Monday’ but of course back then in 1990 I didn’t know that the band refused to put hit singles on their albums (although some cassette versions did have ‘Blue Monday’ on it) – and now, older and wiser this makes me love this record even more.

‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ is the sound of a band moving on, opening track ‘Age of Consent’ starts with one of Peter Hook’s finest basslines, its happy and forward thinking and then you get Barney’s lyrics ‘Won’t you please let me go…”and that joyously catchy synth follows.  Its one of the greatest opening two minutes of any album ever recorded to be honest.

Age of Consent – New Order (1983, Factory Records, Taken from ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’)

But its not all about New Order being the clued up electro pioneers that they undoubtedly are, occasionally they revert back to that old sound, just because, they can.  ‘586’ for instance, starts its life as an instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Unknown Pleasures’ but then around the two minute mark it fades away to be replaced with possibly the greatest bit of the whole album, that tight electro blast that follows is just incredible.

586 – New Order (1983, Factory Records, Taken from ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’)

If that electro blast in ’586’ is the best moment on the record then the best song is ‘Your Silent Face’.  There are very few moments in music that carry so much emotion (although I think I’ve identified three in this series already!) and the bit where Barney Sumner sings “no hearing or breathing, no movements, no colours, just silence” is just astonishing.  In fact the whole song is mesmerising from start to end – that synthesiser melody that runs through it, despite it being a very obvious Kraftwerk rip off shimmers majestically, through everything.

Your Silent Face – New Order (1983, Factory Records, Taken from ‘Power Corruption and Lies’)

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1 Comment

  1. JC says:

    PC&L should be my favourite New Order album of them all, for all the reasons you’ve outlined above. The fact I rank ‘Technique’ above it is really down to the fact that it helped me through a difficult time in my life, with its upbeat dance feel being just what I needed at the time.

    But going back to PC&L. I’ve long said ‘Temptation’ is my favourite 45 of all time, and I can’t ever see it losing that position. ‘Age of Consent’, however, is my favourite New Order song of all time….it was an incredible rush when it first blared out of the speakers in 1983. It became one of the few non-singles we managed to get played regularly at the student union nights at Strathclyde Uni.

    These days, I find myself seemingly loving ‘Your Silent Face’ more than anything else, mostly from its use in the ‘St Anthony ; An Ode To Tony Wilson’ by Mike Garry and Joe Duddell. Especially the Weatherall mix. I’m listening to it again as I type these words, and I still get a lump in my throat and have a fleeting wish that I was Mancunian.

    Finally…a mention of PC&L’s closing track, ‘Leave Me Alone’, one of New Order’s most underrated tracks, and the one which to me put the lid on the Joy Division days and really allowed them to move on and do their own, quite magical, thing.

    Great piece of writing – again!!! – and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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