Being a New Order fan through the past two decades has sometimes seemed like volunteering for perpetual rounds of ecstasy followed quickly by disappointment. Ecstasy at the times when the band uncorks yet another brilliant song and disappointment at the endless rounds of false starts to recordings, slapdash compilations, album filler, and notorious onstage antics complete with the ever-present rumors of permanent breakups. However, it doesn't take long viewing the brilliant new Item DVD collection, put together by Rhino, to be once again reassured it is all abundantly worth it.
The new collection is a 2 DVD set. One disc is an expanded version of a 1994 documentary on the band called The New Order Story and the second is a disc filled with 24 New Order videos including 2 new videos created specifically for this release. For those who remain unaware, New Order is the band that arose out of the ashes of the legendary British post punk band Joy Division upon the suicide of lead vocalist Ian Curtis in 1980. New Order have been at the forefront of electronic pop and dance music for over 20 years. They have delivered hits such as "True Faith," "Bizarre Love Triangle," and "Blue Monday," a song that Q magazine list in its top 10 list of songs that "changed the world." Earlier this year "Krafty," the lead single from their album Waiting For the Sirens Call, reached the pop top 10 in the UK and #2 on the U.S. dance music chart, and New Order looked more relevant than ever as critically acclaimed groups like the Killers, Bravery, and Bloc Party openly acknowledged their musical debts to New Order.
The documentary The New Order Story is revealing and quite enjoyable to watch. It has been padded from its 1994 release to include more interview and live footage. For those who have never seen live footage of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, the film included here is a revelation. His loss was truly a tragic one in the history of popular music. Extensive interviews with band members, Factory Records exec. Tony Wilson, and the band's manager Rob Gretton, give a penetrating look into the band's history. The emergence of lead vocalist Bernard Sumner from a shy, buried-in-the-mix singer to idiosyncratic, but effective, frontman is but one of many fascinating stories explored here. The documentary also touches on New Order's relationship to the development of techno and hip hop music in New York. Some may be surprised to see Quincy Jones interviewed in relation to New Order's signing to his Qwest label for release of their early material in the U.S. Viewing this documentary is 2 hours well spent.