(Above: Sometimes the simplest cover artwork is the best.)
Thirty years ago today, New Order released Substance, a double LP that’s probably best known as the album that casual fans know. New Order came to be in 1980 after Joy Division split following the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. They’re best known for “Blue Monday,” which remains the best-selling 12″ single of all time.
“Blue Monday” got a revision on this album – “Blue Monday 1988“- re-introducing it to new listeners who might have been drawn in from MTV. The band produced a video for “True Faith” – a strange video characterized by, well, a lot of slapping. It was the sort of video that you couldn’t look away from, and another perfect excuse for skittish parents to exclaim “What the hell are you watching, anyway?” as they left the room. (Not that this happened.)
But the song that I think of when I think of this LP is “Bizarre Love Triangle.” It’s had more than a few iterations over the years. There’s a single mix, made famous in part by its inclusion in the film Married to the Mob. Of course, there’s the inevitable remixes and 12″ versions to be found. It’s been remade a few times, perhaps most notably by Frente!, who gave it a sorrowful acoustic feel. The LP version, though, is, in my opinion, the one to listen to. When we first hooked up a CD player in the WLRA studio in 1988, this was the first disc we grabbed to see if the audio chain processing would handle the stereo separation. (The processing did fine. The studio speakers? That’s another story. I may still owe someone a few bucks for those.) I also thought to dub it to cassette and play it in the car. A lot. At that point I was driving a Pontiac Fiero – the one with the speakers in the headrests – and this song sounded really good in a small space.
Fast-forward thirty years: the post-punk darlings have become the poster children for 80s Night at your local establishment. Forty-somethings immediately recognize it and crowd the dance floor. It won’t be long until the song is used to peddle some sort of pill that ends in -mab with a laundry list of side effects. Until then, I’d rather think of disrupting the people upstairs in Fitzpatrick Hall.
You can bother the neighbors with the LP mix of “Bizarre Love Triangle” by clicking here.