Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

There are some albums that just feel sacrilegious to review, and both of Joy Division‘s fall comfortably into that category. There really isn’t much that you can say that hasn’t already been said, but it celebrates its fortieth anniversary this week, and so it seems a good time to challenge yourself and give it a go. Let’s put it on and try to listen with fresh ears, and see where it takes us.

It opens with Disorder, which may or may not be one of Ian Curtis‘s finest moments, but it definitely gives you a pretty solid introduction to the group and what they’re trying to do. More punk than some of their songs, it’s a strong, emotional opener.

In common with all of Joy Division‘s releases, there are no singles on here, so now, forty years on, the album’s structure seems a little unusual. The dark, grungy Day of the Lords is the second track, right where most albums would put their prime single. It’s beautifully miserable in the way that Curtis so quickly mastered, with typically dark and cheerless lyrics. Where will it end?

Joy Division were right at the start of their chart career at this point, having no singles under their belt, and just a handful of recordings on compilations. That career was, of course, tragically short – this may have been their first album, but Curtis had less than a year to live before his suicide in May 1980. If you include New Order‘s subsequent decades of success, there is a clear progression of sound, but without that, there’s nothing raw or immature about this – this is Joy Division‘s sound

Candidate is a softer, less accessible, shorter piece that fits perfectly without challenging the listener unnecessarily. In a way, every Joy Division track has its challenges – many of their songs are hymns for misfits – but when you hear them together in album form, it’s interesting how few of them jar. So Insight, with its slightly uncomfortably discordant vocal and zapping synth effects, somehow seems a perfect fit amongst the punk and grunge of earlier tracks.

You couldn’t comment on Unknown Pleasures without mentioning the artwork – Peter Saville‘s exquisite take on the waveforms, perfectly framed and coloured, complement the music brilliantly. Although Saville seems to have been involved, it’s hard not to be a little offended by the new fortieth anniversary reissue of the album, where the artwork has been inexplicably switched to black-on-white to fit Bernard Sumner‘s original sleeve idea.

The first side closes with New Dawn Fades, one of two or three tracks on here that probably would have been singles if this had been a more recent release. It has a fascinating spacious, epic quality, which seems to just build and build without ever really reaching its explosion. If you weren’t convinced by this album yet, you should be by now.

Or maybe the first track on the second side is the one that clinches it? She’s Lost Control is brilliant, absolutely one of Joy Division‘s finest tracks. It’s accessible as a pop song, and yet dark and rocky, with the excellent early experimental percussive drum effects. If you had to introduce contemporary music to an alien, She’s Lost Control wouldn’t be a bad way to do it.

Shadowplay too has a loyal following, maybe because of the haunting line about “waiting for you,” or maybe because of the catchy guitar line, or perhaps something else entirely. This one I understand less well – it’s a good track, definitely one of the better ones on here, but I think I prefer the previous two.

A couple of shorter tracks follow, Wilderness and Interzone. Both stand out in their own way – the first is cut to a similar template to some of the earlier tracks, while the second is an intriguingly experimental rock piece, with hard-panned tracks and twin-tracked vocals.

Closing the album is the longer, and broader I Remember Nothing, delivering a haunting vocal and moody backing. At the time, without the four decades that have come since its release, I wonder whether this might have seemed an oddly inaccessible track to close the album, but now, with the benefit of time, it seems a perfect closer.

Unknown Pleasures is great, of course – you knew that already. It’s emotional, dark, at times dreamlike, and somehow accessible to indie kids and electroboys/girls alike. Curtis’s raw, bloody, poetic genius is on full form here, and impressively so for a debut album. To a modern eye, it’s perhaps a shame that there wasn’t space for a single or two, but this is true to Joy Division‘s form, nonetheless. And forty years on, it somehow still seems every bit as legendary as it ever did.

It’s difficult to recommend a version of Unknown Pleasures to own without a deeper knowledge of the differences, so you might need to do some of your own research here. This is the regular deluxe edition, to get you started.

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NME Award Winners 1994-2018 (Part Two)

Let’s now complete our summary of the NME Awards, with all the winners in one single, easy-to-digest place. So, as an extension of part two of the NME Poll Winners 1952-1992, here’s the final part!

Best Newcomer

Continuing the list that saw Cliff Richard and The Stone Roses share the limelight previously, these are the more recent newcomers.

Best New Artist

  • 1994 – Elastica (Best New Band), Credit to the Nation (Best New Solo Act)
  • 1995 – Oasis
  • 1996 – Supergrass
  • 1997 – Kula Shaker
  • 1998 – Embrace
  • 1999 – Gomez
  • 2000 – Muse
  • 2001 – Coldplay
  • 2002 – The Strokes
  • 2003 – The Libertines
  • 2004 – Kings of Leon
  • 2005 – Razorlight
  • 2006 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2007 – Klaxons
  • 2008 – The Enemy
  • 2009 – MGMT
  • 2010 – Bombay Bicycle Club
  • 2011 – Hurts
  • 2012 – The Vaccines
  • 2013 – Palma Violets
  • 2014 – Drenge
  • 2015 – Royal Blood
  • 2016 – Rat Boy
  • 2017 – Dua Lipa
  • 2018 – Stefflon Don

Philip Hall Under the Radar Award

  • 1995 – Gene
  • 1996 – Rocket from the Crypt
  • 1997 – Super Furry Animals
  • 2000 – Terris
  • 2001 – Starsailor
  • 2002 – The Coral
  • 2003 – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • 2005 – Kaiser Chiefs
  • 2006 – The Long Blondes
  • 2007 – The Twang
  • 2008 – Glasvegas
  • 2009 – The Big Pink
  • 2010 – The Drums
  • 2011 – The Naked and Famous
  • 2012 – The Child of Lov
  • 2014 – Fat White Family
  • 2018 – Pale Waves

Best Live Music Categories

Most award ceremonies now seem to recognise live music, but the NME Awards have been doing it since way back in the early 1990s.

Best Live Act

  • 1995 – Blur
  • 1996 – Oasis (Best Live Act), Pulp (NME Live Act of the Year)
  • 1997 – Manic Street Preachers
  • 2000 – Super Furry Animals (Best Live Act), Mogwai (NME Live Act of the Year)
  • 2001 – Moby
  • 2002 – U2
  • 2003 – The Datsuns
  • 2004 – Queens of the Stone Age
  • 2005 – Muse
  • 2006 – Franz Ferdinand
  • 2007 – Kasabian
  • 2008 – Muse
  • 2009 – Muse
  • 2010 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2011 – Biffy Clyro
  • 2012 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2013 – The Rolling Stones
  • 2014 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2015 – Royal Blood
  • 2016 – Wolf Alice
  • 2017 – The 1975
  • 2018 – Kasabian

Best Festival Headliner

  • 2017 – Adele
  • 2018 – Muse

Best Live Event

  • 1994 – Megadog
  • 1995 – Orbital at Glastonbury Festival
  • 1996 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 1997 – Oasis at Knebworth (Best Musical Event)
  • 1998 – Glastonbury Festival (Best Musical Event)
  • 1999 – Glastonbury Festival (Best Musical Event)
  • 2000 – Glastonbury Festival (Best Musical Event)
  • 2001 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds (Best Musical Event)
  • 2002 – Ozzfest (Best Musical Event)
  • 2003 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds (Best Musical Event)
  • 2005 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2006 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds (Best Musical Event)
  • 2007 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds
  • 2008 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds
  • 2009 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2010 – Blur at Hyde Park

Best Festival

  • 2010 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2011 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2012 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2013 – Carling Weekend – Reading and Leeds
  • 2014 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2015 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2016 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2017 – Glastonbury Festival
  • 2018 – Glastonbury Festival

Best Small Festival

  • 2011 – RockNess
  • 2012 – RockNess
  • 2013 – Festival No. 6
  • 2014 – Sŵn
  • 2015 – Liverpool Psych Fest
  • 2016 – End of the Road
  • 2017 – End of the Road
  • 2018 – Festival No. 6

Radio Session of the Year

  • 1997 – Suede (Radio 1 Evening Session of the Year)
  • 1998 – Radiohead (Radio 1 Evening Session of the Year)
  • 1999 – Junior Carter (Breezeblock Mix of the Year)
  • 2000 – Supergrass (Radio 1 Session of the Year), Ooberman (Best NME Premier Show Performance)
  • 2001 – Coldplay (Radio 1 Session of the Year)
  • 2002 – The Charlatans (Radio 1 Session of the Year)

Best Club / Live Venue

  • 1994 – The Forum
  • 1995 – Brixton Academy
  • 1996 – Brixton Academy
  • 1997 – Brixton Academy
  • 1998 – Brixton Academy
  • 1999 – Brixton Academy
  • 2000 – Brixton Academy
  • 2001 – Cream
  • 2003 – London Astoria
  • 2004 – Brixton Academy
  • 2005 – Brixton Academy
  • 2006 – Brixton Academy
  • 2007 – Brixton Academy
  • 2008 – Wembley Stadium

Tour Award

  • 2001 – Amen / JJ72 / Alfie
  • 2002 – Lostprophets / Andrew WK / The Coral

Genre-Specific Artist Categories

These are just a selection of the artist categories that relate to a particular genre of music.

Best Dance Act

  • 1994 – Orbital
  • 1996 – The Prodigy (Best Dance Act), Goldie (Vibes Award for Best Dance Act)
  • 1997 – The Prodigy (Best Dance Act), Orbital (Vibes Award for Best Dance Act)
  • 1998 – The Prodigy
  • 1999 – Fatboy Slim
  • 2000 – The Chemical Brothers (Best Dance Act), Death in Vegas (On the Decks Award for Best Dance Act)
  • 2001 – Fatboy Slim
  • 2002 – Basement Jaxx

Best Hip Hop / Rap Act

  • 1994 – Cypress Hill
  • 1995 – Warren G
  • 2001 – Eminem
  • 2002 – Missy Elliott

Best Metal Act

  • 2001 – Marilyn Manson
  • 2002 – Lostprophets

Best Rock Act

  • 2001 – U2

Best Pop Act

  • 2001 – All Saints
  • 2002 – Kylie Minogue

Best R&B / SOUL Act

  • 2001 – Kelis
  • 2002 – Aaliyah

One-off awards

There are a whole load of odd, eclectic, and occasionally wonderful one-off awards. Here are all the ones I could find.

One-off Awards

  • 1996 – Special Award for Services Beyond the Call of Duty – Tony Crean
  • 1999 – Brain That Should Be Kept Alive for Posterity – Nicky Wire
  • 1999 – Would Make the Best Drugs Czar – Shaun Ryder
  • 1999 – Would To See On A Blind Date – Marilyn Manson and Billie Piper
  • 1999 – Would Most Like as Your Doctor – Natalie Imbruglia
  • 1999 – Would Most Like to Go Shopping with – Brian Molko
  • 1999 – Would Most Like to Cook You a Meal – Tiny Woods
  • 1999 – Would Most Like to Be Marooned on a Desert Island with – Louise
  • 1999 – Would Most Like as Prime Minister – Nicky Wire
  • 1999 – Most Like as Your Driving Instructor – Jay Kay
  • 1999 – Most Like to See in a Ring with Mike Tyson – Billie Piper
  • 2004 – Fight of the Year – Jack White vs. Jason von Bondie
  • 2004 – Living Legend – Arthur Lee
  • 2004 – Most Missed – Johnny Cash
  • 2005 – Special Award for Lifelong Service to Music – John Peel
  • 2010 – Giving it Back Fan Award – Lily Allen
  • 2014 – Songwriters’ Songwriter – Paul McCartney
  • 2016 – Best Actor – Idris Elba
  • 2016 – Best Actress – Vicky McClure
  • 2016 – Vlogger of the Year – KSI

Best Solo Artist

In earlier decades, this award had been split pretty arbitrarily, and this continues. I’ve grouped these into British and International, since this is what they are currently going with, but we’re actually looking at about six different award categories here.

Best British Solo Artist

  • 1995 – Paul Weller (Best Solo Artist)
  • 1996 – Paul Weller (Best Solo Artist)
  • 1999 – Robbie Williams (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2001 – Badly Drawn Boy (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2002 – Ian Brown (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2005 – Graham Coxon (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2007 – Jamie T (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2008 – Kate Nash (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2009 – Pete Doherty (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2010 – Jamie T (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2011 – Laura Marling (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2012 – Florence + the Machine (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2013 – Florence + the Machine (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2014 – Lily Allen (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2015 – Jake Bugg (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2016 – Charlie XCX
  • 2017 – M.I.A. (Female), Skepta (Male)
  • 2018 – Loyle Carner

Best International Solo Artist

  • 1994 – Björk (Best Solo Artist)
  • 1997, 1998, 2000 – Beck (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2003-2004 – Ryan Adams (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2006 – Kanye West (Best Solo Artist)
  • 2016 – Taylor Swift
  • 2017 – Christine and the Queens (Female), Frank Ocean (Male)
  • 2018 – Lorde

Best DJ

  • 2000 – Fatboy Slim
  • 2001 – Carl Cox

Best Group

Next, here are the categories for best group – of which there are still many.

Best British Band

  • 1994 – Suede (Best Band)
  • 1995 – Blur (Best Band)
  • 1996-1997 – Oasis (Best Band)
  • 1998 – The Verve (Best Band)
  • 1999 – Manic Street Preachers (Best Band)
  • 2000 – Blur (Best Band), Travis (NME Band of the Year)
  • 2001 – Radiohead (Best Band)
  • 2003 – Oasis (Best British Band and NME Band of the Year)
  • 2004-2005 – The Libertines
  • 2006 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2007 – Muse
  • 2008 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2009 – Oasis
  • 2010-2011 – Muse
  • 2012 – Kasabian
  • 2013 – Biffy Clyro
  • 2014 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2015 – Kasabian
  • 2016 – The Maccabees
  • 2017 – Biffy Clyro
  • 2018 – Alt-J

Best International Band

  • 2002 – The Strokes (Best Band)
  • 2003 – The Hives
  • 2004 – Kings of Leon
  • 2005 – The Killers
  • 2006 – The Strokes
  • 2007 – My Chemical Romance
  • 2008-2009 – The Killers
  • 2010 – Paramore
  • 2011 – My Chemical Romance
  • 2012 – Foo Fighters
  • 2013 – The Killers
  • 2014 – Haim
  • 2015 – Foo Fighters
  • 2016 – Run the Jewels
  • 2017 – Metallica
  • 2018 – Haim

Best Band Ever

  • 2000 – The Beatles

Worst Band

  • 1997 – Oasis
  • 2003 – Nickelback
  • 2005 – Insane Clown Posse
  • 2006 – Son of Dork
  • 2007 – Panic! At the Disco
  • 2008 – The Hoosiers
  • 2009-2011 – Jonas Brothers
  • 2012-2013 – One Direction
  • 2014 – The 1975
  • 2015-2017 – 5 Seconds of Summer

Best Collaboration

  • 2018 – Craig David and Bastille

Most Dedicated Fans / Best Fan Community

  • 2012-2013 – Muse
  • 2014 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2015 – Muse
  • 2016 – The Libertines

Best of All Time Awards

Finally, NME introduced the Godlike Genius Award in 1994, and have therefore followed with a suite of “best of all time” awards.

Godlike Genius Award

  • 1994 – John Peel
  • 1995 – Alan McGee
  • 1996 – Michael Eavis
  • 1997 – Mark E. Smith
  • 1999 – Massive Attack
  • 2000 – Shaun Ryder
  • 2001 – U2
  • 2002 – Nick Kent and Pennie Smith
  • 2005 – New Order and Joy Division
  • 2006 – Ian Brown
  • 2007 – Primal Scream
  • 2008 – Manic Street Preachers
  • 2009 – The Cure
  • 2010 – Paul Weller
  • 2011 – Dave Grohl
  • 2012 – Noel Gallagher
  • 2013 – Johnny Marr
  • 2014 – Blondie
  • 2015 – Suede
  • 2016 – Coldplay
  • 2017 – Pet Shop Boys
  • 2018 – Liam Gallagher

Outstanding Contribution to Music

  • 2002 – The Charlatans
  • 2009 – Elbow
  • 2010 – The Specials
  • 2011 – PJ Harvey
  • 2012 – Pulp
  • 2013 – The Cribs
  • 2014 – Belle and Sebastian
  • 2017 – WIley

The Fuck Me! / John Peel Award for Innovation / NME Innovation Award

  • 2003 – The Polyphonic Spree
  • 2004 – Dizzee Rascal
  • 2005 – The Others
  • 2006 – Gorillaz
  • 2007 – Enter Shikari
  • 2008 – Radiohead
  • 2011 – Crystal Castles
  • 2014 – Damon Albarn
  • 2018 – Boy Better Know

NME Icon

  • 2018 – Shirley Manson

And that concludes the results of the NME Polls and Awards, from 1954 to 2018. Join us in 2019 for another new ceremony!

NME Awards – 2004-2006

I’ve split the more recent years of the NME Awards out into multiple posts, as there’s a lot more to say about them. So here’s 2004-2006:

NME Awards 2004

Hosted on 12 Feb 2004, by Vernon Kay.

  • Best Video: Radiohead, for There There. Also nominated: Radiohead, for There ThereThe Darkness, for I Believe in a Thing Called LoveThe White Stripes, for The Hardest Button To ButtonMuse, for Time is Running Out
  • Best Album: Radiohead, for Hail to the Thief. Also nominated: The White Stripes, for ElephantMuse, for AbsolutionThe DarknessThe Strokes
  • Best New Band: Kings of Leon
  • Best International Band: Kings of Leon. Also nominated: The White Stripes
  • Living Legend: Arthur Lee
  • Best Live Band: Queens of the Stone Age. Nominated: RadioheadMuse
  • Best UK Band: The Libertines. Nominated: RadioheadQueens of the Stone AgeMuse
  • Best Single: The White Stripes, for Seven Nation Army. Also nominated: Radiohead, for There ThereThe Darkness, for I Believe in a Thing Called Love
  • Best Solo Artist: Ryan Adams
  • Worst Single: Fast Food Rockers, for Fast Food Song
  • Most Missed: Johnny Cash
  • Best Website: NME.com
  • Hero of the Year: Pete Doherty
  • Villainof the Year: George H. W. Bush
  • Fight of the Year : Jack White vs Jason von Bondie
  • Waster of the Year: Pete Doherty
  • Sexiest Man: Har Mar Superstar
  • Sexiest Woman: Brody Dalle
  • Best Haircut: Caleb Followill
  • Best Live Venue: Brixton Academy
  • Best Album Artwork: Radiohead, for Hail to the Thief
  • Best TV Show: The Office
  • Best Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • The Fuck Me! Award For Innovation: Dizzee Rascal

Shockwaves NME Awards 2005

Host: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

  • Best Radio Show: Zane Lowe. Also nominated: Steve LamacqChris MoylesColin Murray and Edith BowmanChristian O’Connell
  • Best Solo Artist: Graham Coxon. Also nominated: Ian BrownEminemMorrisseyThe Streets
  • Best Live Band: Muse. Also nominated: BabyshamblesFranz FerdinandThe LibertinesRazorlight
  • Best Track: Franz Ferdinand, for Take Me Out. Also nominated: The Libertines, for Can’t Stand Me NowRazorlight, for Golden TouchThe Streets, for Dry Your EyesU2, for Vertigo
  • Best Music DVD: Oasis, for Definitely Maybe. Also nominated: Nirvana, for With the Lights OutPixies, for PixiesScissor Sisters, for We are Scissor Sisters and So Are YouThe White Stripes, for Live Under Blackpool Lights
  • Philip Hall Radar Award: Kaiser Chiefs
  • Best TV Show: Little Britain
  • Best International Band: The Killers. Also nominated: Kings of LeonScissor SistersThe StrokesU2
  • Best New Band: Razorlight. Also nominated: BabyshamblesBloc PartyKasabianThe Killers
  • Best Video: Green Day, for American Idiot. Also nominated: Beastie Boys, for Triple TroubleEminem, for MoshFranz Ferdinand, for Take Me OutThe Streets, for Fit But You Know It
  • Special Award for Lifelong Service to Music: John Peel
  • John Peel Award for Musical Innovation: The Others
  • Best Film: Shaun of the Dead
  • Best Album: Franz Ferdinand, for Franz Ferdinand. Also nominated: Green Day, for American IdiotThe Libertines, for The LibertinesScissor Sisters, for Scissor SistersThe Streets, for A Grand Don’t Come for Free
  • Best Live Event: Glastonbury
  • Best British Band: The Libertines. Also nominated: KasabianFranz FerdinandMuseSnow Patrol
  • Godlike Genius Award: New Order & Joy Division
  • Best Dressed: Brandon Flowers, of The Killers
  • Worst Dressed: Jonathan Ross
  • Best Live Venue: London Carling Brixton Academy
  • Best Website: NME.com
  • Hero of the Year: John Peel
  • Sexiest Man: Brandon Flowers
  • Sexiest Woman: Barbara Knox
  • Worst Album: Insane Clown Posse, for Carnival of Carnage
  • Worst Band: Insane Clown Posse

Shockwaves NME Awards 2006

Host: Russell Brand

  • Best New Band: Arctic Monkeys. Also nominated: Editors, Magic NumbersMaximo ParkWe Are Scientists
  • Best Video: Oasis, for The Importance of Being Idle. Also nominated: Franz Ferdinand, for Do You Want ToGorillaz, for DareKaiser Chiefs, for I Predict a RiotThe Strokes, for Juicebox
  • Best International Band: The Strokes. Also nominated: Arcade FireGreen DayThe KillersFoo Fighters
  • Best TV Show: Gonzo. Also nominated: Little BritainLostThe Mighty BooshPeep Show
  • Best Solo Artist: Kanye West. Also nominated: Antony and the JohnsonsRichard AshcroftIan BrownGraham Coxon
  • Philip Hall Radar Award: The Long Blondes
  • Best Radio Show: Zane Lowe. Also nominated:, Steve LamacqChris MoylesLauren LaverneColin Murray and Edith Bowman
  • Best Event: Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds Festivals. Also nominated: Glastonbury, Live8, T in the Park, V Festival
  • Best Live Band: Franz Ferdinand. Also nominated: Arctic MonkeysGreen DayKaiser ChiefsOasis
  • Best Music DVD: Live 8. Also nominated: Dig!Green Day, for Bullet in a BibleKaiser Chiefs, for EnjoymentMorrissey, for Who Put the M in Manchester
  • Best Film: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Also nominated: Batman BeginsCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryKing KongSin City
  • John Peel Music Innovation Award: Gorillaz
  • Best Track: Arctic Monkeys, for I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor. Also nominated: Babyshambles, for Fuck ForeverFranz Ferdinand, for Do You Want ToKaiser Chiefs, for I Predict a RiotOasis, for The Importance of Being Idle
  • Best Album: Kaiser Chiefs, for Employment. Also nominated: Babyshambles, for Down in AlbionBloc Party, for Silent AlarmFranz Ferdinand, for You Could Have it So Much BetterOasis, for Don’t Believe the Truth
  • Best British Band: Arctic Monkeys. Also nominated: Bloc PartyKaiser ChiefsFranz FerdinandOasis
  • Godlike Genius Award: Ian Brown
  • Best Website: NME.com. Also nominated: Kaiser Chiefs, MySpace.com, OasisWe Are Scientists
  • Best Venue: London Brixton Carling Academy. Also nominated: Glasgow Barrowlands, London Astoria, London KOKO, Manchester Apollo
  • Hero of the Year: Bob Geldof. Also nominated: Carl BarâtPete DohertyLiam GallagherAlex Turner
  • Villain of the Year: George W. Bush. Also nominated: Tony BlairJames BluntPete DohertyJustin Hawkins
  • Best Dressed: Ricky Wilson. Also nominated: Pete DohertyBrandon FlowersLiam GallagherAlex Kapranos
  • Worst Dressed: Justin Hawkins. Also nominated: Pete DohertyChris MartinJack WhiteRobbie Williams
  • Worst Album: James Blunt, for Back to Bedlam. Also nominated: Babyshambles, for Down in AlbionThe Bravery, for The BraveryThe Darkness, for One Way Ticket to Hell… And BackMcFly, for Wonderland
  • Worst Band: Son of Dork. Also nominated: BabyshamblesColdplayThe DarknessMcFly
  • Sexiest Man: Pete Doherty
  • Sexiest Woman: Madonna

See also

Edited 12 June 2018 – added some winners

Stowaway Heroes – John Peel

This week’s stowaway hero really is somebody who needs no introduction. John Peel remains a household name, not just in the UK, although people further afield may not quite be sure why he’s so special. A highly influential BBC Radio 1 DJ for five decades, I’ve always thought it was fair to say that he was single-handedly the inspiration for the radio station BBC 6 Music as well.

His blissful semi-professionalism was a wonderful part of his show, as he regularly played records at the wrong speed, and often made them sound much better in the process. It’s tempting to wonder if that might be why he championed the Cuban Boys (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

An early champion of Joy Division, they appeared twice on his show and were played many more times. Here he is with the sad announcement of Ian Curtis‘s death in May 1980:

Pretty much any act worth their salt appeared on his show at some point, and you could pick any of them to showcase just how good the show was. Here’s my choice, The Human League, performing Being Boiled in 1978:

Sadly, Peel left us much too soon, dying in 2004, aged 65 – and while that would have made him nearly 80 at the time of writing, the world was a much richer place with his show in it. We all have different reasons to like Peel, but there’s really no way that he can’t be one of our stowaway heroes.

New Order – Substance

Released thirty years ago this week, New Order‘s first compilation, the companion album for Joy Division‘s slightly later album of the same name, is widely celebrated as one of the best compilations of its era. Uniquely, thanks to their habit of releasing non-album singles, more than half of the tracks had never appeared on another New Order album.

The singles are presented here in relatively simple, chronological form, and so it opens with one of two versions of Ceremony, the Joy Division track that New Order recorded after Ian Curtis‘s suicide. It’s a great track, if somewhat poignant.

Continuing with their early works with producer Martin Hannett, we then get Everything’s Gone Green, representing their second single from late 1981. I’ve never been hugely fond of either this or Procession, which makes up the other half of the single. As a minimum it’s an interesting period piece, but it’s noticeably lower quality than Ceremony, and to me seems to show a group struggling to find its way after the death of its guiding light.

By Temptation (1982), they seemed to be starting to find their way. It could have been a lot more polished, but you could definitely see what their sound was starting to become. This version was slightly re-edited for Substance.

What can you say about Blue Monday that hasn’t been said before? Not much. Let’s just say it’s fantastic, groundbreaking, and unforgettable, and leave it at that. However good anything else on here might be, it’s never going to be as good as this.

A tweaked version of Confusion is next, unsurprisingly a sizeable hit after Blue Monday, just missing out on a top ten placing. Written with Arthur Baker, it’s an oddly experimental track, full of huge eighties snares and orchestral hits, but somehow it also displays a certain brilliance. Five tracks in, and New Order are firmly and consistently producing great music.

Thieves Like Us is probably the most “pop” of the earlier tracks. From the traditional New Order instrumental introduction that lasts over two minutes – more than a third of the song – despite being challenging and unusual, is already accessible, and Bernard Sumner‘s vocal, when it finally arrives, is unusually well delivered.

The eight-minute 12″ version of The Perfect Kiss is an odd inclusion in a way – it just seems a bit too long among the other singles. Which is only ironic because due to limited playing time on the CD, this is actually slightly edited from the original release. Still, it’s a great piece of music, and speaking personally, I’m all for frog and sheep samples in my music.

Also from Low-Life is Sub-culture, which follows, also in the form of a slightly obscure edited remix, which apparently led to sleeve designer Peter Saville refusing to design a sleeve for the single. Then comes the brilliant Shellshock, again an edited 12″ version, but sounding every bit as resonant as any of the single versions on here.

There are then two tracks from 1986’s Brotherhood – firstly, State of the Nation, a number 30 hit in September of that year. Honestly, by this stage it would be hard for New Order to do anything wrong – particularly not with their singles. Truly brilliant. But not, honestly, quite as good as Bizarre Love Triangle, which appears here remixed by Shep Pettibone in typically extravagant form. It’s perplexing and confusing that this only reached number 56 on its original release.

Finally, promoting the album was the fantastic one-off single True Faith. If you were forced to name a New Order track, the chances are good that you would pick either this or Blue Monday – it’s utterly fantastic, and unusually (at least as far as I’m concerned) the title actually seems to fit the song. Everything just seems to come together perfectly.

So Substance is an unusual compilation, focusing generally on the 12″ versions rather than the ones you might have heard on the radio, but as a companion to New Order‘s first four albums, it’s rather fantastic. The second disc gets you a whole load of b-sides and alternative mixes. You would probably have to be an established fan these days to buy this instead of the more recent Singles, but it’s definitely an essential purchase for completists.

You can still find Substance at all major retailers.

Artist of the Week – New Order

My radio show Music for the Masses ran for a couple of years in total around fifteen years ago, and in its second incarnation I ran an Artist of the week section, which I’ve been trying to digitise recently just so we’ve got it as a vaguely interesting archive of where our favourite artists were back then. It’s full of errors and hyperbole, so once again, please accept my apologies for that.

This week’s artist of the week doesn’t need any introduction – in fact, I hardly need to say anything about them at all, as the story is already very widely known. They are New Order.

They formed in 1980 out of the remains of Joy Division, and initially continued in much the same vein. The debut album Movement was in many ways overshadowed by Ian Curtis‘s death, and was not especially successful.

The second album Power, Corruption and Lies followed in 1983, and was the first to see them experimenting with industrial electronic sounds, it was the first of many classic albums, and followed hot on the heels of the best selling 12″ single ever, Blue Monday, which sold well over a million copies.

They were always best known for their refusal to accept standard music industry practices, such as playing Top of the Pops and releasing singles that appeared on albums. The following albums Low-Life and Brotherhood are still some of their best, containing many groundbreaking tracks, and their almost universal compilation Substance added True Faith to their astonishing list of hit singles.

At the end of the 1980s they released Technique; which is arguably their finest album to date, which was followed by their first and only number one with the football hit World in Motion.

In 1993 they made their return with Republic. These days most fans regard it as a mistake, and it’s true that the album tracks have lost the exploratory feel of earlier albums – however, the hits Regret and World in Motion [sic.] are more of New Order‘s best tracks to date, so it should not be forgotten.

Against all odds, after spending most of the 1990s concentrating on other projects, they returned once more with 2001 ‘s Get Ready album, a much harder and darker offering which is still entirely listenable, and now, four years on, they are back again with a new album Waiting for the Sirens’ Call, due next week. Judging by the first single Krafty, it sees them return to their electronic roots, and looks extremely promising.

Well, of course as I mentioned at the beginning, their roots weren’t really electronic, but hey, I’ve already apologised for the errors in here – of which there are definitely many – so I won’t repeat myself again.