New Order – Western Works

Another set of early New Order demos is Western Works, recorded in 1980. These are great quality recordings, taken directly from studio masters dating to September of that year, less than six months after Ian Curtis‘s suicide and the untimely end of Joy Division. The full story of the demos is related here.

The first two tracks are demo versions of Dreams Never End, one of the better tracks on New Order‘s debut album Movement (1981). While probably not among the band’s finest moments, both versions (with a quieter and then louder guitar part) are entirely listenable, and unlike some of the demos we’ve listened to previously, do show some promise.

Homage was, the last time we heard it, pretty awful, and the studio version isn’t an awful lot better either. It never got released officially, and perhaps that’s for the best – the chanted “in this room,” vocal is perhaps the track’s most redeeming factor, although the lyrics in general, when heard properly, turn out to be rather poignant and beautiful.

Ceremony didn’t make it onto an album either, but became a single in its own right in 1981. This demo version isn’t anywhere as good as the final release, but it is clearly one of the strongest on this collection. It started life as a Joy Division track, and is among the best of New Order‘s first couple of years, and it stands out even on this tape.

Next comes Truth, which would later appear on 1981’s Movement, and in this form starred what I can only assume is an early drum machine, and not a huge amount else. It’s raw, and it has promise, and it’s almost entirely unlike Joy Division, which was probably a good thing at the time.

The final track seems to be entitled Are You Ready Are You Ready Are You Ready for This? to which the obvious answer would be, “Sorry, could I have the question again?” Again, it mainly consists of some drum machine hi-hats, a PA-style vocal, and a few experimental electronic noises, and it’s every bit as bad as that sounds. And yet, for a band in the aftermath of their lead singer’s suicide, it’s also fascinatingly experimental, and really quite intriguing. Realistically it was never going to be released anywhere, but it’s also a truly fascinating listen – perhaps the most fascinating on this entire collection.

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