Bernard Sumner of New Order, Johnny Marr of The Smiths, both of the Pet Shop Boys, and Anne Dudley of Art of Noise. No, it’s not the lineup for an epic charity fundraiser (though a few of those folks could have probably used the cash at the time.) The story starts in 1988 with Bernie Sumner, who wished to add more synth programming to New Order’s music - you can hear evidence of this aesthetic tug of war between the members of the group on 1989’s Technique, which is evenly split between sequenced dance tracks and more rock oriented tunes. (They went so far with the latter that they unintentionally ripped off John Denverand had to pay him a ton of cash.) Frustrated with Hooky & Co, Bernard decided to try his hand at a solo album. This turned out to be a bit lonely, so he called up Johnny Marr of the recently deceased Smiths (trivia: they had met when working on 1984’s Factory Dance classic Love Tempo by Quando Quango) and the group was effectively founded. They were inspired by contemporary dance acts like Technotronic and The KLF, originally intending to to exist as an anonymous group solely releasing white label 12”s, but that was a quaint idea considering the unmistakable qualities of Marr’s guitar work and Sumner’s quirky vocals. Their peers were immediately receptive to this new project, leading to a long revolving door of top-tier collaborators over the 200 days it took to record this debut LP. The first single released was “Getting Away With It” - featuring Neil Tennant and strings arranged by Dudley, it’s a brilliant piece of lush, melodramatic synthpop that sits among the best singles of any of the artists involved. “Idiot Country” is strangled guitars, waves of synth tones, and jittery programmed rhythms. “The Patience of a Saint” is murmuring basslines and 909-esque rhythms backing a cooly arrogant vocal by Tennant. “Get The Message” is all-encompassing guitar strums grounded by the skull-rattling breakbeats of the Madchester sound, Bernie’s detached vocals barely rising above the instrumentation. Recommended for fans of the golden age of UK indie, quirky dance music, and tasteful melodrama.
- black vinyl pressing
- sleeve features black and silver artwork from the original UK CD version, not the more commonly seen orange and tan colorway, includes printed inner
- features guest appearances from Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), Anne Dudley (Art of Noise, American History X OST), Donald Johnson (A Certain Ratio), David Palmer (ABC)
- original release year: 1991
- music label: Warner Bros 2020
reviewed by DIO'S GATEKEEPER 03/2020