NME Poll Winners 1952-1992 (Part Two)

Finally, having worked through all the other categories, let’s take a look at the artist winners for the NME Polls from 1952 to 1992. As I mentioned last week, it’s hard to trace the winners of a particular category through time, so I’ve taken a few liberties. Essentially anything that seems to be roughly the same category has been treated as the same thing. Also, for the year ranges, there are a few missing years here and there, so for instance 1967-1970 could mean anything between 2 and 3 wins.

Best Newcomer

For thirty-five years, the NME Poll included a newcomer award, variously titled “World’s Most Promising New Name”, “Best New Group”, and various other things. It’s an amazing time capsule of new acts throughout the ages – who would have thought that Cliff Richard and The Stone Roses could appear on the same list?

Best New Artist

  • 1956 – Ronnie Scott
  • 1958 – Cliff Richard
  • 1959 – Craig Douglas
  • 1960 – Emile Ford
  • 1961 – John Leyton
  • 1962 – Frank Ifield
  • 1963 – Gerry Marsden
  • 1964 – Mick Jagger
  • 1965 – Seekers (group) & Donovan (solo)
  • 1966 – Spencer Davis Group (group) & Stevie Winwood (solo)
  • 1967 – Bee Gees (group) & Engelbert Humperdinck (solo)
  • 1968 – Love Affair (group & Mary Hopkins (solo)
  • 1970 – Jethro Tull
  • 1971 – McGuinness Flint (group) & Elton John (solo)
  • 1972 – New Seekers (group) & Rod Stewart (solo)
  • 1973 – Golden Earring (World) & Leo Sayer (British)
  • 1975 – Bad Company
  • 1976 – Eddie and the Hot Rods
  • 1977 – Tom Robinson
  • 1978 – Public Image Ltd.
  • 1979 – The Specials
  • 1980 – UB40
  • 1981 – Altered Images
  • 1983 – The Smiths
  • 1984 – Bronski Beat
  • 1985 – The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • 1986 – The Housemartins
  • 1987 – The Proclaimers
  • 1988 – The House of Love
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses
  • 1990 – The Charlatans
  • 1991 – Kingmaker
  • 1992 – Suede

Technical Categories

A lot of categories seem to have come and gone throughout the history of the awards to celebrate particular types of performer. Here are some of the highlights!

Musician of the Year

  • 1952 – Ronnie Scott
  • 1954 – Eric Delaney
  • 1957 – Eddie Calvert

Best Guitarist

  • 1954 – Bert Weedon
  • 1973 – Eric Clapton
  • 1976 – Jimmy Page
  • 1978 – Mick Jones
  • 1979-1982 – Paul Weller
  • 1983 – The Edge

Best Bassist

  • 1973, 1976 – Paul McCartney
  • 1978 – Jean Jacques Burnel
  • 1979-1982 – Bruce Foxton
  • 1983 – Peter Hook

Best Keyboardist/Electronics

  • 1973, 1976-1977 – Rick Wakeman
  • 1978-1981 – Dave Greenfield
  • 1982 – Vince Clarke
  • 1983 – Steve Nieve

Best Drummer

  • 1973, 1975 – Carl Palmer
  • 1976 – John Bonham
  • 1977 – Paul Cook
  • 1978 – Keith Moon
  • 1979-1982 – Rick Buckler
  • 1983 – Budgie

Best Instrumentalist

  • 1962-1963 – Jet Harris
  • 1973 – Roy Wood
  • 1975-1977 – Mike Oldfield
  • 1981 – Saxa
  • 1982 – The Emerald Express, Violin
  • 1983 – The TKO Horns
  • 1985 – Johnny Marr

Best Producer

  • 1973 – David Bowie
  • 1975 – Eddie Offord

Best Songwriter/Composer

  • 1973 – Elton John / Bernie Taupin
  • 1976 – Bob Dylan
  • 1978 – Elvis Costello
  • 1979-1982 – Paul Weller
  • 1983 – Elvis Costello
  • 1984-1985 – Morrissey / Johnny Marr

Best Solo Artist

Curiously, the solo artist categories were for the longest time broken up into “world”, “British”, and even “US” for a while.

Best Female Singer

  • 1952-1954 – Lita Roza
  • 1957 – Ruby Murray
  • 1958 – Alma Cogan
  • 1959-1961 – Connie Francis
  • 1962-1964 – Brenda Lee
  • 1965-1967 – Dusty Springfield
  • 1968 – Lulu
  • 1970 – Dusty Springfield
  • 1971-1973 – Diana Ross
  • 1975 – Joni Mitchell
  • 1976 – Linda Ronstadt
  • 1977 – Julie Covington
  • 1978 – Debbie Harry
  • 1979 – Kate Bush
  • 1981-1983 – Siouxsie Sioux
  • 1984-1986 – Elizabeth Fraser
  • 1987 – Suzanne Vega

Best British Female Singer

  • 1955, 1957 – Alma Cogan
  • 1959-1960 – Shirley Bassey
  • 1961-1962 – Helen Shapiro
  • 1963 – Kathy Kirby
  • 1964-1966 – Dusty Springfield
  • 1968, 1970 – Lulu
  • 1971-1972 – Cilla Black
  • 1973 – Maggie Bell
  • 1975 – Kiki Dee

Best US Female Singer

  • 1955-1957 – Doris Day
  • 1958 – Connie Francis

Best Male Singer

  • 1952-1954 – Dickie Valentine
  • 1955 – Frank Sinatra
  • 1956 – Dickie Valentine
  • 1958 – Frankie Vaughan
  • 1959-1962 – Elvis Presley
  • 1963 – Cliff Richard
  • 1964-1972 – Elvis Presley
  • 1973 – David Bowie
  • 1975-1976 – Robert Plant
  • 1977-1978 – David Bowie
  • 1979 – Sting
  • 1980 – Paul Weller
  • 1981 – David Bowie
  • 1982 – Paul Weller
  • 1983 – David Bowie
  • 1984 – Bono
  • 1985-1992 – Morrissey

Best British Male Singer

  • 1955, 1957 – Dickie Valentine
  • 1959-1967 – Cliff Richard
  • 1968-1970 – Tom Jones
  • 1971-1972 – Cliff Richard
  • 1973 – David Bowie
  • 1975 – Paul Rodgers

Best US Male Singer

  • 1955-1956 – Frank Sinatra
  • 1957 – Pat Boone
  • 1958 – Elvis Presley

Outstanding Popular Singer

  • 1955 – Frank Sinatra
  • 1957 – Pat Boone
  • 1958 – Elvis Presley

Best Instrumental Personality

  • 1958 – Eddie Calvert
  • 1959-1960 – Russ Conway
  • 1961 – Bert Weedon

Best Musical Personality

  • 1955 – Bill Haley
  • 1956 – Dickie Valentine
  • 1957-1959 – Elvis Presley
  • 1960 – Duane Eddy
  • 1961-1972 – Elvis Presley

Best British Musical Personality

  • 1956 – Dickie Valentine
  • 1957 – Tommy Steele
  • 1958-1959 – Frankie Vaughan
  • 1960 – Lonnie Donegan
  • 1961 – Adam Faith
  • 1962-1963 – Joe Brown
  • 1964 – Cliff Richard
  • 1965 – John Lennon
  • 1966-1972 – Cliff Richard

Genre-Specific Categories

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

Best Soul / Funk Act

  • 1973, 1975 – Stevie Wonder
  • 1984 – Womack & Womack
  • 1985 – Cameo

Best Reggae Act

  • 1984 – Smiley Culture
  • 1985 – UB40

Best R&B / Blues Act

  • 1964-1965 – The Rolling Stones
  • 1966 – Spencer Davis Group
  • 1967-1968 – The Rolling Stones
  • 1970 – Fleetwood Mac

Best Traditional Jazz Act

  • 1961 – Acker Bilk
  • 1962-1963 – Kenny Ball

Best Group

Finally, we reach the categories for best group – of which there are a few.

Best Group

  • 1954 – Stargazers
  • 1955 – Four Aces
  • 1956 – Stargazers
  • 1957 – The Platters
  • 1958-1962 – Everly Brothers
  • 1963-1965 – The Beatles
  • 1966 – The Beach Boys
  • 1967-1970 – The Beatles
  • 1971 – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • 1972 – T. Rex
  • 1973 – Yes
  • 1975 – Roxy Music
  • 1976 – Led Zeppelin
  • 1977 – Sex Pistols
  • 1978 – The Clash
  • 1979-1982 – The Jam
  • 1983 – New Order
  • 1984-1987 – The Smiths
  • 1988 – The Wedding Present
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses
  • 1990 – Happy Mondays
  • 1991-1992 – R.E.M.

Best British Group

  • 1955 – Stargazers
  • 1957 – King Brothers
  • 1958-1959 – The Mudlarks
  • 1960 – King Brothers
  • 1961-1962 – The Springfields
  • 1963-1971 – The Beatles
  • 1972 – T. Rex
  • 1973 – Yes

Best British Small Band

  • 1952 – Johnny Dankworth Seven
  • 1954 – Ronnie Scott and His Orchestra
  • 1955-1957 – The Kirchins
  • 1958-1959 – Lonnie Donegan
  • 1960-1963 – The Shadows

Best British Large Band or Orchestra

  • 1952-1961 – Ted Heath and His Music
  • 1962-1963 – Joe Loss

Best British Instrumental Unit

  • 1964-1971 – The Shadows
  • 1972 – Collective Consciousness Society

Best Live Act

  • 1973 – Alice Cooper (World) & Genesis (British)
  • 1975 – Genesis
  • 1982 – The Jam
  • 1985 – The Pogues

That’s it for now – we’ll continue our journey through the NME Awards soon.


NME Poll Winners – The 1980s

Throughout the 1980s, the NME Poll Winners suffered without an annual ceremony where they could drink lots and vomit on the politicians of the day. Overshadowed by the more popular BPI Awards and British Rock & Pop Awards, it’s notable by the late eighties that contemporary pop has been eschewed altogether by NME’s readership.

Oh, and you might enjoy the slightly questionable choices for “human being of the year”…


  • Best Group: The Jam
  • Best New Act: UB40
  • Best Male Singer: Paul Weller
  • Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
  • Best Drummer: Rick Buckler
  • Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
  • Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
  • Best Keyboardist: Dave Greenfield
  • Best Other Instrumentalist: Saxa
  • Best Single: The Jam, for Going Underground
  • Best Album: The Jam, for Sound Affects
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: The Jam, for Sound Affects
  • Best Disc Jockey: John Peel
  • Best Dressed Person: Adam Ant
  • Haircut of the Year: Eugene Reynolds
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Paul Weller
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Event of the Year: Death of John Lennon
  • TV Programme: Not the Nine O’Clock News
  • Movie of the Year: The Elephant Man


  • Best Group: The Jam
  • Best New Act: Altered Images
  • Most Missed Person: John Lennon
  • Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
  • Best Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
  • Best Male Singer: David Bowie
  • Best Single: The Specials, for Ghost Town
  • Best LP: Echo and the Bunnymen, for Heaven Up Here
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: Echo and the Bunnymen, for Heaven Up Here
  • Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
  • Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
  • Best Drummer: Rick Buckler
  • Best Keyboardist: Dave Greenfield
  • Best TV Programme: Coronation Street
  • Best Radio Show: John Peel
  • Best Film: Gregory’s Girl
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Paul Weller
  • Best Dressed Person: Michael Foot
  • Creep of the Year: Adam Ant*

* The NME website says “Adam Andy” but I suspect this must be a typo – please correct me if you disagree!


  • Best Group: The Jam
  • Best Male Singer: Paul Weller
  • Best Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Paul Weller
  • Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
  • Best Single: The Jam, for Town Called Malice
  • Best Longplayer: The Jam, for The Gift
  • Best Live Act: The Jam
  • Best Dancefloor Favourite: Wham!, for Young Guns (Go for It)
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: Siouxsie and the Banshees – A Kiss in the Dreamhouse
  • Event of the Year: The Jam Split
  • Best Dressed Male: Paul Weller
  • Best Dressed Female: Siouxsie Sioux
  • Best Haircut: Paul Weller
  • Best Electronics: Vince Clarke
  • Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
  • Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
  • Best Drummer: Rick Buckler
  • Best Miscellaneous Instrument: The Emerald Express, Violin
  • Best Radio Show: John Peel
  • Best Music Video: Madness, for House of Fun
  • Best TV Show: The Young Ones
  • Best Film: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial


  • Best Group: New Order
  • Best New Act: The Smiths
  • Best Dressed Female: Siouxsie Sioux
  • Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
  • Songwriter: Elvis Costello
  • Male Singer: David Bowie
  • Best Dressed Male: David Bowie
  • Best Long Player: Elvis Costello, for Punch the Clock
  • Best Single: New Order, for Blue Monday
  • Best Film: Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  • Best Promo Video: Michael Jackson, for Thriller
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Paul Weller
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • TV Show: The Tube
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: New Order, for Power, Corruption and Lies
  • Best Radio Programme: John Peel
  • Best Guitarist: The Edge
  • Best Drummer: Budgie
  • Best Miscellaneous Musician: The TKO Horns
  • Best Bassist: Peter Hook
  • Best Keyboardist: Steve Nieve


  • Best Group: The Smiths
  • Best New Act: Bronski Beat
  • Best Reggae Act: Smiley Culture
  • Best Soul Act: Womack & Womack
  • Best TV Show: The Tube
  • Best Radio Show: John Peel
  • Best Single: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, for Relax
  • Best LP: Cocteau Twins, for Treasure
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, for Welcome to the Pleasuredome
  • Promo Video: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, for Two Tribes
  • Best Film: Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Best Male Singer: Bono
  • Best Songwriter: Morrissey / Johnny Marr
  • Best Female Singer: Elizabeth Fraser
  • Best Instrumentalist: Johnny Marr
  • Best Dressed Person: Paul Weller
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Arthur Scargill


  • Best Group: The Smiths
  • Best New Act: The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Best Male Singer: Morrissey
  • Best Female Singer: Elizabeth Fraser
  • Best Songwriter: Morrissey / Johnny Marr
  • Best Single: The Jesus and Mary Chain, for Never Understand
  • LP of the Year: The Smiths, for Meat is Murder
  • Best Soul/Funk Band: Cameo
  • Best Reggae Act: UB40
  • Best Live Act: The Pogues
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Bob Geldof
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Best Dressed: Morrissey
  • Worst Dressed: Bob Geldof
  • Best Haircut: Morrissey
  • Worst Haircut: Feargal Sharkey
  • Biggest Mouth: Bob Geldof
  • Best Film: Letter to Brezhnev
  • Best TV Programme: The Old Grey Whistle Test
  • Best Radio Show: John Peel
  • Best Video: Talking Heads, for Road to Nowhere
  • Best Dressed Sleeve: The Pogues, for Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
  • Best Hype: The Jesus and Mary Chain


  • Best Single: The Smiths, for Panic
  • Best LP: The Smiths, for The Queen is Dead
  • Best Male Singer: Morrissey
  • Best Female Singer: Elizabeth Fraser
  • Best Group: The Smiths
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Morrissey
  • Best Club/Venue: Town & Country Club
  • Best Dance Record: Cameo, for Word Up
  • Threat of the Year: AIDS
  • Sex Symbol: Joanne Whalley
  • Event of the Year: 1986 FIFA World Cup
  • Best Film: Mona Lisa
  • Best TV Show: The Singing Detective
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Best New Music: The Housemartins
  • Best Radio Show: John Peel


  • Best Group: The Smiths
  • Best Single: Prince, for Sign O The Times
  • Best LP: The Smiths, for Strangeways Here We Come
  • Male Singer: Morrissey
  • Best Female Singer: Suzanne Vega
  • Best New Act: The Proclaimers
  • Best Dance Record: M/A/R/R/S, for Pump Up the Volume
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Morrissey
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher
  • Bad News of the Year: Another Conservative Victory at the General Election
  • Safe Sex: Morrissey
  • Radio: John Peel
  • Best TV Programme: Brookside
  • Best Film: Angel Heart
  • Event of the Year: Nuclear Agreement


  • Best Band: The Wedding Present
  • Solo Artist: Morrissey
  • Best New Band/Act: The House of Love
  • Best Single: The House of Love, for Destroy the Heart
  • Best LP: R.E.M., for Green
  • Best TV Show: Brookside
  • Ugly Bastard of the Year: Bros (collective award)
  • Object of Desire of the Year: Wendy James
  • Film of the Year: A Fish Called Wanda
  • Favourite NME Cover of 1988: Morrissey
  • Best Night Out: The Wedding Present
  • Radio Show of the Year: John Peel
  • Stimulant of the Year: Acid
  • Event of the Year: Nelson Mandela‘s Birthday Bash
  • Bad News of the Year: US Election Result
  • Most Wonderful Human Being: Morrissey
  • Creep of the Year: Margaret Thatcher


  • Band of the Year: The Stone Roses
  • LP of the Year: The Stone Roses, for The Stone Roses
  • Single of the Year: The Stone Roses, for Fool’s Gold
  • Best New Band/Artist: The Stone Roses
  • Best Solo Artist: Morrissey
  • Best Dance Record: Happy Mondays, for WFL
  • Hype of the Year: Batman
  • Object of Desire: Wendy James
  • Radio Show: John Peel
  • TV Show: Blackadder
  • Film of the Year: Dead Poets’ Society
  • Fashion of the Year: Flares
  • Club/Venue of the Year: The Haçienda
  • Event of the Year (Music): Reading Festival
  • Event of the Year (Real Life): Revolution in Eastern Europe
  • Bastard of the Year: Margaret Thatcher

See also

Monaco – Music for Pleasure

Sha la la la la la la. Yes, What Do You Want from Me? is an extremely good song. Peter Hook is on great form, the lyrics are better than many of New Order‘s and singer and guitarist David Potts was on fine vocal form too.

Music for Pleasure, released twenty years ago this week, was Peter Hook‘s second attempt at a solo project after 1990’s largely forgotten Revenge project. Monaco, though, were pretty successful for a while, and of course What Do You Want from Me? is the single you remember, with its enormous bass guitar part and all the sha la la-ing.

The album followed reasonably quickly after the single though, and third single Shine comes next, still sounding a lot like New Order, or even Electronic during this period. It’s a bit more rocky, and Potts can’t quite reach the high notes, but it’s still a great song.

Getting the singles out of the way right at the start, we then jump to Sweet Lips, which came out just before the album, and was also a pretty sizeable hit. It’s much more dancey than either of the other singles, and it’s another fantastically catchy song. The album version is a slightly extended mix, which works well too.

1997 was, of course, just a couple of years after Oasis had turned up and persuaded everyone to dig out their 1960s record collections, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Monaco wanted some of the action as well. Buzz Gum is a pretty respectable imitation of all the other indie stuff that was going on in the mid-1990s.

It’s tempting to wonder whether loading all the singles at the front of the album was the best idea – it started off so promisingly, but Blue is pretty dreary, although it’s also mercifully short. Then comes Junk, a nine minute dance piece, which actually sounds as dated as the indie tracks now, but it’s pretty good.

Billy Bones is a slightly trippy slow-rock piece, which is pretty pleasant, then Happy Jack is another low-grade indie track, this time with a particularly average vocal as well. Tender is better – if you’ve forgotten the album, this is the one with the catchy “in my mind I live in California” line.

Sedona (which is in Arizona, not California) is the last track, and is the best thing we’ve had on here since the singles at the start. It’s a huge, and epic piece, bobbing along at a fairly leisurely tempo, and with some slightly naff synth reed sounds, but it’s a clever exploration of sounds, and makes for a great instrumental closing piece. After a minute of silence at the end, someone turns up to add “Oi! You can turn it off now!”

Strictly speaking, I could have done that three quarters of an hour ago, but I didn’t. Music for Pleasure is a mixed bag, but when it’s good, it is very good indeed. And it clearly must have had some kind of impact on me – I would never have suspected it when the album came out twenty years ago, but now I do live in California. Thanks, Monaco!

You should still be able to find copies of Music for Pleasure floating around, but I’m not sure I would pay that much for them…

New Order – Get Ready

After eight long years of compilations and oddities, New Order came back in 2001 with Crystal. Reinvigorated by their recent side projects with ElectronicMonaco, and The Other Two (all of whom had managed exactly one very good album since 1993; two had also thrown out a less good one too), now they were back together to show the indie music scene how it was done.

Admittedly, they were a little late – they missed the bulk of the indie explosion by a comfortable margin – but they were just in time to turn up, show anyone else who was hanging around that they were largely recording dirges, and then disappear back into whatever hole it is that New Order hide in whenever they’re not releasing things. Well, except of course that the following year actually brought us the brilliant 24 Hour Party People and Here to Stay, but let’s leave that for that another time.

Get Ready is, though, like most of New Order‘s albums, a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Crystal is great, and accessible to many, and 60 Miles an Hour is a competent second track and second single too. Unlike the first, it was probably never going to find them too many new fans, but it kept plenty of people coming back for more.

However, it really is hard to imagine the collaboration with The Smashing Pumpkins‘s Billy Corgan really making too many people happy – it mainly seems to mean that New Order have gained another guitar line and another slightly questionable singing talent. Neither of which was exactly lacking anyway.

New Order being back together was really more than enough of a novelty, and the four-piece proved their brilliance with such understated works of genius as Vicious Streak, which, while not unexpectedly long, somehow seems as though it’s going to last forever. Primitive Notion is good too – much more of a rock piece than New Order ever used to present their fans with, but let’s just agree to see that as another string to their bow.

Admittedly, by Slow Jam you might find yourself dreaming of the beats of Blue Monday. There’s nothing wrong with this one, or Rock the Shack, the collaboration with The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Bobby Gillespie, but New Order‘s sound was always so unique, whereas on Get Ready they just seem to be trying to find their feet again by trying to imitate what all the indie acts had been doing for the preceding five or six years. It’s not the most comfortable place for New Order to sit.

Get Ready does feel as though they were trying to practice what they preached – the instruction in the title is less for us, and more for them, as they learnt again what they were meant to sound like. When they get it right, as on Someone Like You, they’re absolutely brilliant, but a lot of this album falls a little short. For now, just enjoy how great they are when all the ingredients are right.

Close Range is good – but far from perfect. There are moments on here when it seems as though they’re just dialling it in. Bernard Sumner‘s lyrics are distinctly average (at the low end of the spectrum, it has been pointed out before that Crystal‘s somewhat confusing wording about buying honey with money could have done with a little more work, and there’s nothing on this whole CD that really grabs you and makes you think he’s pushing himself. Peter Hook‘s bass “hooks” seem a bit lacklustre here too.

So it’s really no major disappointment that Run Wild is the last track on here, closing things off with an unusually religious, Midwest American piece. It’s not great, but neither is it too bad either. Like the entirety of Get Ready, really. After Crystal, pretty much the best thing you can say about it is this: we had New Order back.

You can still find the original release of Get Ready at all major retailers.

Peel Sessions – New Order, 26 January 1981

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.

Vinyl Moments – New Order

There’s something almost spiritual about listening to Blue Monday on vinyl. This is a format being used at its best, and it’s absolutely the way it was meant to be heard. In the first of a new series of Vinyl Moments, it’s only right that New Order come first.


Listening to Blue Monday always transports you to Manchester in 1983 anyway, regardless of the part of the world you grew up in and whether you have ever even visited the rainy northern city. There’s something particularly evocative about it. It’s so good, in fact, that I had to play Side B, The Beach, as well.

The Beach is, essentially, an alternative version of Blue Monday with ideas above its station. As part of the 12″ single, it’s a key piece of the jigsaw puzzle, and is always worth a listen in its own right.

The next 12″ single I own is equally important, the brilliant True Faith. Originally released to promote the first singles album Substance in 1987 and subsequently reissued in less good form in 1994, this is really New Order at their best – a huge, catchy song with a clever lyric and an appropriately big Peter Hook bass line.

On Side B, you get 1963. More melancholic but every bit as good as the A-side, this really makes for another great single. The vinyl may be less essential this time around, but it still sounds very good indeed.

By the way, I know the image above shows The Perfect Kiss as well, but to my intense disappointment, when I bought that a number of years ago, it turned out to have a record by someone else inside the sleeve. There’s a lesson there about checking what you’ve picked up before you buy it.

Instead, as a side-step, The Other Two & You comes next, the one-off album by the two members of New Order who weren’t at the time part of Electronic or Revenge, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert. Since it’s all I own, it was the LP that I was listening to when I reviewed the album last year, and since it’s not a particular favourite of mine, I won’t put it on again.

Instead, let’s close with the fantastic Regret. After the collapse of Factory Records, it wouldn’t have been too surprising if New Order had collapsed as well, but instead they reappeared with Republic, containing four superlative new singles and some other highlights besides. It would take something much more fundamental to make New Order collapse – as far as I can make out, primarily in-fighting and egotism – and even then they bounced back.

Whatever the circumstances, Regret is truly exceptional – every bit as good as True Faith and all the other classics. Unfortunately my 7″ single must have a slight warp in it, as it seemed to wobble a bit a couple of times. I couldn’t make my mind up whether to play New Order‘s own remix from Side B, but it’s a good version, so I decided to go with it anyway, rounding off the trio of singles in fine fashion.

Next time, we’ll stick with the works of Bernard Sumner, and move on to his side-project with Johnny Marr, Electronic.

The Other Two – The Other Two & You

The New Order side-project The Other Two is unusual in having been born of two other side projects – in the early 1990s, Bernard Sumner was off having enormous hits with Electronic, and Peter Hook was, well, doing whatever it was he did in Revenge. So the other two, then called Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris, were left to form The Other Two.

Having grown out of such forced circumstances, it’s not, unfortunately but not entirely unexpectedly, a particularly good album. Having spent a couple of years in gestation, it actually appeared the same year as the rather better RepublicIt opens with Tasty Fish, a nice enough Stephen Hague-produced song, which has a pretty catchy chorus, although you would be hard pushed to define exactly what it’s about. It was a minor hit, landing just outside the top forty in 1991.

The Greatest Thing is a surprising second track, and does stand out somewhat. A couple of tracks in, and you realise that between them, Morris and Gilbert are every bit as good at writing lyrics as Sumner, and Gilbert’s vocal delivery is possibly technically better than that of her bandmate. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to hear very New Order-like songs delivered with a female vocalist.

But none of them are entirely memorable, as second single Selfish demonstrates. Also a minor hit, it had some impact in the US, but has been largely forgotten by most people, and when you listen to it this is understandable. It’s nice – probably largely due to Hague’s production – but ask me in a few hours how the melody line went, and I’ll have totally forgotten.

The fourth track is Movin’ On, and even while listening to it, you’re hard pushed to find anything to say about it. Great production, good lyrics, and an entirely forgettable melody. If this was the first album you had ever owned, it might mean something to you, but I’m afraid I’m lost for words here.

Side A closes with the nice instrumental Ninth Configuration, which might actually be the best track yet. There’s a nice driving bass part, which does remind you of the lack of Peter Hook on this release. That’s not entirely a bad thing, especially if it leaves him with one less thing to be bitter about, but it is notable just how much this sounds like New Order otherwise.

If the rule of albums says that Side B is always less good than Side A, that could mean some interesting diversions here. But actually things start to look up a bit with the opening track Feel This Love. This is much closer to what you might expect The Other Two to be. Next is the slightly acid-inspired but very much late 1980s sounding Spirit Level, largely instrumental with some weird vocal samples. Despite having absolutely no melody, it’s strangely compelling.

Then comes the soft and gentle Night Voice, another short instrumental, but this time a pleasantly atmospheric one, in the style of film music. Finally, a more rhythmic introduction brings us to Innocence, the last track, and one of the more catchy. It’s every bit as unmemorable as anything else on this album, but it’s nice enough while it lasts. Which isn’t especially long – this is a very short release.

So The Other Two & You is good – sometimes even up to the standard of New Order. It’s just very forgettable – so maybe it’s one best left for the fans. If you have one of the CD versions (I don’t) you also get the earlier promotional single Loved It, and optionally a pile of remixes by the brilliant Pascal Gabriel and Moby.

The special edition of The Other Two & You is still available here.