A Short Series about Shapes – #1 – Triangle

Triangle – Field Mice (1990, Sarah Records, Taken from ‘Skywriting’)

I said on Friday that I wouldn’t mention the One Word Countdown ever again.  A promise that lasted precisely 72 hours.  Sorry.  I was going through the list of songs that I voted in my Top 30 but no one else did.  One of those was ‘Triangle’ by The Field Mice, a song which is just too darn good to ignore (it is according to me, alone, the 19th best song with a One Word Title.  Ever.)  So in a petulant two fingers to the world I’ve devised an entire series to place it into and that really is the last time I will mention the One Word Countdown.  Probably.

I first heard The Field Mice on the John Peel show.  It would have been the summer of 1991 because I remember John Peel talking about them splitting up.  About six weeks later I found myself in possession of Indie Top 20 Vol. 12, a series of releases that packaged together a bunch of tracks from the Indie Charts at the time.  I had this on cassette, which was bright yellow and very low in quality.  Track eleven on that cassette was ‘Triangle’ an eight minute blast of indietronica that experiments with about ten different genres of music including acid house, and krautrock and it sounds a lot like the sort of thing New Order would have released about five years earlier.

It was quite a departure for the Field Mice because their earlier tracks took a more lo fi indie stance that was steeped in twee nostalgia with a nod towards the sort of ethereal sounds that perhaps bands like The Cocteau Twins.

Let’s Kiss and Make Up – The Field Mice (1989, Sarah Records, Taken from ‘Snowball’)

That track was of course covered a year or so later by their drinking buddies Saint Etienne.  There version is a piano led house stomper and it is almost as beautiful as the original.   The version below is the Sarah Cracknell version which is the only version I can find but I think the original single had a different singer.

Let’s Kiss and Make Up (Sarah Cracknell Version) – Saint Etienne (1990, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘London Conversations’)

Of course New Order have a song has the word ‘triangle’ in the title.

Bizarre Love Triangle (Extended Dance Mix) – New Order (1986, Factory Records, Taken from ‘Substance’)

Which always sounds tremendous wouldn’t you say.   Easily one of New Order’s finest moments a proper head rush of synth pop, electronic hooks and another incredible drum opening, but its Bernard Sumner who makes ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ so addictive.  The way he delivers that opening line captures such as evocative image in my mind, especially the way word ‘Shot’ is almost spat out, as if right there and then, someone has hit him in the face with something fired out of a pea shooter.

Every time I think of you, I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue

Bizarre Love Triangle was covered by the Australian indie folk act Frente in 1994, and they had some relative success with it

Bizarre Love Triangle – Frente! (1994, Mushroom Records, Taken from ‘Marvin the Album’)

The Frente! version strips the song back into a semi acoustic track that sounds almost, almost as beautiful as the original, which brings us almost back to where we started because I first heard this version on an Indie Top 20 Compilation Album.

The One Word Countdown – #4

It’s got to be this time…..

Ceremony – New Order (1981, Factory Records, Eventually Taken from ‘Substance’)

Points 239

Fourth by a point!

Ok, I’ll get the arguments out of the way first.

I considered ‘Temptation’ and it would have done just as well in all probability.  It is a song that still forty years after it was released, fills dancefloors.  I also considered ‘Regret’ largely because its brilliant, but it was played at my friend Chris’ funeral last year and it has taken on a whole new meaning, and it would have annoyed me if it didn’t do as well as I would have wanted it to.

I also considered, ‘Procession’, ‘Confusion’ and very briefly ‘Shellshock’. All of which would have easily got into this the Top 20 of this dog and pony show of a countdown (Ok maybe not ‘Shellshock’).

In the end it had to be ‘Ceremony’. 

It might have been in an old documentary, but I remember Tony Wilson talking about New Order and the aftermath of the death of Ian Curtis.  “No band survives the death of their singer” he said and then with a wry look at the camera he winks, and says “Well apart from New Order”.  I may have misquoted him and I can’t find the bloody clip on You Tube to back it up – still you get the point.  What Bernard, Stephen and Peter (and later Gillian) did after Ian’s suicide was nothing short of miraculous.  The regrouping, the surge into a new direction and no song captures all that better than ‘Ceremony’ and that is basically the reason why I chose ‘Ceremony’ as opposed to all the others. 

If that’s not enough well, the guitar break at around 45 seconds in is one of my favourite bits of music of all time, and of course without ‘Ceremony’ you (probably) wouldn’t have all the brilliance of all the other songs that I have mentioned.  It is seen by many as the perfect response to the tragic events that ended Joy Division.  A song that is/was a Joy Division song (and performed if I remember rightly at their last ever live show) but given a new slant that hinted at the future.  It hinted at something different, it is a song that always to me at least, appears to have a glint in its eye, like its begging you to follow it, because there is a massive surprise waiting for you if you do.

The Musical Jury clearly agreed with me because it was one of only two songs (the other being the one at Number One) that was voted at the top of more than one Jury List

The New Order version is markedly difference from the Joy Division one, it is compared to that version all polished and shiny.  Bernie’s voice, the guitars, the drums all combining in a way that was as convincing and as confident as anything that Joy Division had ever recorded.

There is a rather wonderful cover version of ‘Ceremony’ that I have posted before but its so good it deserves a second airing.

Ceremony – Chromatics featuring Ida No (2017, Italians Do It Better Records, Taken from ‘Cherry’)

The Great One Word Title Countdown  – The How Could You Miss… List

Pro>Gen – The Shamen (1991, One Little Indian Records)

There is, of course, as most of you will know, no pleasing some people.  My personal list of hard to please people includes, my dentist, barristers, Tory Voters, cyclists in the summer, anyone under the age of 19, and now on the end of that list I have added (in green ink) Most of The No Badger Required Musical Jury.

(I’m joking of course, I owe each and every one of them a pint, they are all lovely.)

Because, not content with being asked to participate in the greatest thing to happen to music blogs since, well the last time I tried something like this.  An honour, that, let’s be frank, all of you have rapidly typed onto the bottom of your CVs and highlighted it so that it really stands out.  Some of the musical jury, took it upon themselves to question why a bunch of other songs with one word titles were not in the long list that I had created.

There are since you asked, three reasons for this.

The first reason is that the song title contains more than one word, or brackets or hyphens or something.

Let’s take the song at the top of the page, ‘Pro>Gen’ by The Shamen.  You see that little arrow, that means its not one word.  It’s a separator, so we have two words ‘Pro’ and ‘Gen’.  Of course, the other reason here, is that its ghastly, which brings us nicely onto the second reason.

The second reason is that I don’t like the song or more probably that I liked another song by the same band with a one word title more.  For instance, ‘Regret’ from New Order was shelved for a much better song by New Order (Spoiler!) with a one word title but ‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters was left off the list because its rubbish. 

Regret – New Order (1993, London Records)

Everlong – Foo Fighters (1997, Roswell Records)

The third reason, was simply, because, for whatever reason, I overlooked it.  Like these three smashers, which on any other given day would have and should have easily made it onto the long list. There were of course, a list of about 60 or 70 others that could have been included.

Birthday – The Sugarcubes (1987, One Little Indian Records)

Hit – The Wannadies (1997, Indolent Records)

Gorecki – Lamb (1996, Fontana Records)

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’)