It will come as little surprise that an “alternative” act as high-profile as New Order appeared on John Peel‘s radio show more than once. But their first appearance, comfortably two months before the release of their debut single Ceremony, is perhaps the most intriguing. Recorded at the end of January 1981, and initially broadcast on February 16th, it shows an early but fairly polished set from the very birth of a legend.
In all honesty, I’m no particular fan of the first New Order album Movement, although that may be because I’ve only got an early CD release with slightly questionable sound quality. But here on their first Peel session, ten months earlier, their musical exploration is truly fascinating.
Truth is my favourite track on the album, and it’s also rather good here, showing them as much more proficient with the drum machine than they would be until Blue Monday appeared nearly three years later. It’s an intriguingly experimental recording, which does remind you a lot of their earlier incarnation, while at the same time sounding fresh and different.
Senses and ICB, as on the album, are less exciting – the first is an instrumental with a few more experimental aspects, but one that seems to go on forever. The latter drags somewhat too, and an unexciting vocal doesn’t help enormously either.
Finally, we get the album’s opener and one of the more promising songs Dreams Never End. The surprise vocal from Peter Hook always startles me, and it’s notable that this is more of a traditional “rock” song. It’s good though, and you can certainly see this fitting well on John Peel‘s seminal radio show back in 1981.
We’ll cover the second session in a future article. You can read more about New Order‘s relationship with John Peel‘s radio show here. This session is available on the CD The Peel Sessions, which is no longer widely available.