CD Review of Get Ready by New Order
Label
Reprise/Wea
New Order: Get Ready

Reviewed by David Medsker

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I
t just sounded too good, didn't it? New Order, after a lengthy hiatus (eight years, to be precise), decided to quit fighting and make another record, even though the rock landscape has changed so much that they're practically a nostalgia act now. Not only that, their last record, 1993's Republic, was not that good, despite a killer single in "Regret." Get Ready, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of nearly every other record New Order has ever made; it's remarkably consistent, but there is no sure-fire hit single like "Bizarre Love Triangle" or "Round & Round." At this stage of their career, I find it far more impressive that they made a good record than if they had just made a great single.

The album's first single, "Crystal," starts things off, and after the glossy intro has concluded and drummer Stephen Morris comes a-thumpin', there is a sense of something different, or at least something New Order hasn't done in a long time; guitars, lots and lots of guitars, are running the show. Not only that, Get Ready has the best drumming that Morris has ever done. He plays like a man possessed, whereas he would previously share the spotlight with the latest drum machine to hit the market. "Crystal," which actually has a nick of late Deacon Blue in its "Heeeeey, hoooooo" backing vocals, is nonetheless vintage New Order, with a soaring chorus and lots of energy. It also, unfortunately, has some of the worst lyrics singer Bernard Sumner has ever written (rhyming honey with money, and the line "Don't wanna own a key, don't wanna wash my car," ugh, pops up in another song). Lyrics have never been Barney's specialty, but they were clearly not even remotely a priority on Get Ready. If you can get past that, though, prepare for a great ride.

The collaborations on Get Ready, a new concept to New Order, are well chosen. (Thankfully, Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas are nowhere to be found.) Billy Corgan lends his unmistakable vocal to "Turn My Way," and Primal Scream help New Order loosen up on "Rock the Shack." I'm still wondering what happened with the song they recorded with the Chemical Brothers, though the Chemicals' presence is felt in the sinister keyboard riffs that run through "Primitive Notion." "Close Range" has a jumpy drum track that at first sounds more like Electronic, Barney's side project with Smiths guitar god Johnny Marr, than typical New Order. Then Peter Hook's rubbery bass lines show up and suddenly it makes perfect sense.

"Vicious Streak" would have been in a John Hughes movie had it been released back then. It's classic alternative mope rock, a more upbeat cousin of Low Life's "Elegia." The album closes, believe it or not, with the acoustic ballad "Run Wild," showing that New Order is capable of acting their age, though they're too busy blowing the younger upstart bands off the stage to dedicate much time to it.

I approached this album with extreme trepidation. There are lots of bands from the classic alternative era of the late 1980s whose best days are long past (Love and Rockets, The Cult, and we might be witnessing the fall of REM). New Order, however, is not yet one of them. Get Ready has more spark than they've shown in years. Thank heaven for small miracles.

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