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Dec 10

ENGLANDNEWORDER – “World In Motion”

FT + Popular153 comments • 9,810 views

#646, 9th June 1990

“World In Motion” is the ultimate 1990 record, but oddly the specific World Cup it reminds me of is 2002: living in London, broadly optimistic about England’s prospects, watching football in the morning then going out in the afternoon sunshine and having a beer, maybe dancing later. That timelag made it a topsy-turvy experience, gave the sensation of the usual order of a World Cup summer being turned enjoyably upside down. The same kind of pleasant dislocation, in fact, that struck me when I heard, 12 years earlier, that New Order were going to make the England team record, and it was going to be called “E For England”.

Well, it wasn’t, but given the chain of marvelous unlikeliness this did set off – New Order doing a football song, New Order at number one, John Barnes rapping on a chart-topping hit – I can’t begrudge one missing bit of cheekiness. The mooted title also points at what makes the track work – this really, genuinely “ain’t a football song”, the sport takes its place in a more universal celebration of summer, freedom, optimism, and most of all dance music.

It’s a rightful place, too. I’d learned the fat kid’s defensive disdain for football, but even I’d become aware of a counter-melody to the constant establishment song of thuggery, tragedy and mistrust. The idea of E’d-up hooligans hugging on the terraces is one of the great fond legends of the late 80s, potent whatever its literal truth. But presenting football and dance music as incongruous, ironic partners obscured deeper connections. The lifestyle of the casual, grafting to get money for a European jaunt and returning with clothes and style ideas, has pretty obvious parallels with acid house culture in the UK (and involved lots of the same people). It’s not a huge jump from imported trainers to imported 12″s. Italy being a prime source of both, of course. So when the Italo house piano – a feature of almost every good #1 this year – drops in mid-song for the “We. Want. Goals.” sample – this record stops seeming unlikely and instead becomes something gloriously, inevitably, right.

After that pivot point you get the England half of the record. Before, you get a New Order single – and a very good one. Not perhaps their greatest – not “Bizarre Love Triangle” or “Regret” or “Run”. But their virtues – Barney’s unaffected earnestness, the efficient snap of the drum programming, and especially the beautiful overlapping runs of bass, guitar and keyboard – are all here. I sometimes get the feeling New Order fans – Americans in particular – see “World In Motion” as a novelty or an aberration, when really it’s a validation: this is a band at their peak, following their best album. They’ve gone through grim times, found a kind of salvation on the dancefloor and played their part in taking a whole culture with them. This single is as necessary to their wider story as “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. And to be honest I listen to it a great deal more often.

As for the football section – well, there are a lot of Englishmen who know few raps from memory but could recite John Barnes’ at a moment’s prompting. It has heart and gusto and – a genuine rarity this in a World Cup song – it actually talks tactics. And yes, you can’t have a football song without some degree of chanting, but “World In Motion” earns it – the “Arrivederci!” bit appears as a natural, joyful, end to the song instead of its main motive force.

In the end, though, a culture gets the football songs it deserves. And it’s easy to forget how good England sometimes felt in 1990. The optimism in “World In Motion”, the sense of possibility, was very real and hard to put into words now without sounding pie-eyed or rote – pop was revitalised, the world was changing, youth culture was transformed, Thatcher was weakening (and would finally fall that winter). Football had played a hidden role in setting up some of these cultural shifts and here it was, accepting its invitation to the party.

For Mexico 86 I’d hardly paid attention, for France 82 I’d only cared about the Panini stickers. Italia 90 was the first World Cup I followed: as it turned out I was hardly alone, and the tournament’s gone down as one beginning for the great gentrifying and commercialising changes in football in the 20 years since. At the time of “World In Motion” this future went mostly unpredicted – instead there was a Utopian streak in pop thought, a sense of the coming together of genres, classes, eras that this record with its mix of ’66 and ’88 caught exactly. Maybe it was just that I was 17. Looking back it seems a little more bittersweet, a high tide of confidence – the Utopia never arrived, and this is the last time we’ll meet 1966 on a hit record (football song or no) as an equal, not as a chastising ghost. But for now Summer is beginning, the team is ready, and the future is an open goal.

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Comments

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  1. 91
    chelovek na lune on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Och, do I have to throw in my “I grew up on a council estate, in Dagenham” line? I shared a piano teacher with a Timelord there too! Hopefully not. Ah but I couldn’t stop myself.

    I’m very fond of New Order, but one thing that thus far appears to have gone unsaid is that this was almost the very last nearly really really good single that they put out. Not that all of the singles off “Republic” were bad exactly, but, well, they were a bit too straightforwardly poppy (perhaps “Ruined In A Day” apart), and hardly playing to the group’s strength, which was always tied up in being somewhat less than obvious – even on a track as strong and as obviously hunmable as “True Faith” you had to concentrate and work out what it was all about (and what a cracker of a B-side that had too). While their later stuff was, well, at any rate, not as impact-making or original as their 80s best. No, not even “Crystal”.

    (Of course the collapse of Factory is tied up with this too).

    But after this, so much energy of the group members was devoted to side projects, with varying degrees of worthwhie effect. (“Tasty Fish”. Yes please). So maybe calling this a swansong is overstating (or even – given the wholly untypical nature of the project -misrepresenting) the point, the fact was that after this the thrill of unwrapping subtle, fantastic, enigmatic New Order singles and albums was, more or less, past. And that that pleasure was now -more or less – no more wasn’t quite evident at the time.

  2. 92
    Billy Smart on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I always feel that ‘Republic’ is a bit unfairly maligned. Okay, so ‘Regret’ is rather misguided, but the better stuff on that album is largely instrumental and reflective. And it so obviously felt like the end at the time!

    Of the 21st Century New Order however… I just continually feel an instinctive “I WISH you hadn’t reformed. And where’s Gillian?”

    Crystal contains maybe the worst couplet in a song that I know – “Here comes love! Its like honey/ You can’t buuuuuy it with money” – to which I always reply “This analogy fails because I have never found buying honey with money to be problematic”

  3. 93
    enitharmon on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Izzy, why would @84 be an apology? Why the presumption that I’m wrong and everybody else is right? I don’t hear anybody else apologising for slagging me off?

    Alex @ 88 – who the fuck are you? What do you know? Bog off.

  4. 94
    Izzy on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Nowadays I think ‘Regret’s probably their second best single, after ‘Confusion’ – both of which have now taken a slating in this thread, How wrong you are.

    I never bothered with anything after Republic – I heard ‘Crystal’ once and knew then there was no need to go further. Stepping back from dance to explore rock in the mid 90s seems like such a regressive and dull move (I may be mischaracterising them here, but that’s how it seemed to me – the side projects too, and Johnny Marr took the same trajectory)

  5. 95
    the pinefox on 3 Jan 2011 #

    surprised that anyone who likes pop would say that ‘Regret’ was misguided

    also think it’s the best thing on Republic (which I quite like) by a mile

    not clear what ‘True Faith’ is about, or how anyone knows – would quite like to know, or then again, maybe I wouldn’t

    OK New Order may have been jumped over in the Party People film but I doubt that people who like pop really consider them an embarrassing interlude between JD and HM (who seem much less substantial than either) – that would be very perverse

    what are ‘Blake lyrics’ in this instance?

  6. 96
    Les Tennant on 3 Jan 2011 #

    “why would @84 be an apology?”

    My guess is because you practically accused everyone else here of being smug pampered public school toffs intellectually inferior to you. You also suggested that Popular club organisers were prejudiced against you based on your gender and class and that was why you’d never been invited to play some records at the night. London Lee already said sorry if he’d come across as rude and I’m not sure who else was “slagging you off” before your outburst at #79?

  7. 97
    Tom on 3 Jan 2011 #

    “Les”: if you must get involved use your real name please! (And before anyone jumps to conclusions, no, it’s not Marcello or Waldo!)

    Alex: Rosie isn’t an anonymous troll, she’s been a regular for years. Obviously I was disappointed in what she said about the club night but I’ve corrected her on that and the topic is I hope closed. And I think it’s good that we’ve got someone a bit reactionary about modern pop along – she makes me think a bit harder about how to justify some of the stuff I like. Anyway, the worst thing that ever happened to punk was everyone comfily agreeing it was a Good Thing.

    I agree w/the Pinefox that the idea that NO are less important than JD is a minority view – or at least it seems to be over here.

    And the only thing I regret about “Regret” is that it wasn’t a curtain-call single, it would have been one of the best career-enders ever, a bittersweet coda to a job well done.

  8. 98
    Les Tennant on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I think ‘anonymity’ is reasonable as long as people aren’t using it to actively insult people! Also this fake nose and giant moustache doth become me.

  9. 99
    LondonLee on 3 Jan 2011 #

    ‘Confusion’ isn’t all that bad but it failed to live up to the expectations. The follow up to Blue Monday! They’re in New York working with Arthur Baker!

    Then out comes this middling song that just paled next to Planet Rock or Walking On Sunshine.

  10. 100
    the pinefox on 3 Jan 2011 #

    true that ‘regret’ would be a great last – or first! – 45, but seems a bit fantastic / counter-intuitive re a comeback record – like saying ‘the fly’ or ‘suedehead’ should have concluded U2’s / SPM’s careers!

    I think ‘regret’ might be my favourite 45 of 1993
    another one that I liked a lot, in the charts at the same time, that I associate with it, was ‘who do you think you are?’.
    I taped them both off the radio and played them back to back, rewound, played again, etc
    then bought both on cassingle
    then bought both on CD single
    then bought both on CD LPs!
    admittedly this is not a web page about 1993

  11. 101
    Tom on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Well, not yet.

  12. 102
    Izzy on 3 Jan 2011 #

    #99: thanks, that’s the first time I think I’ve seen details about what ‘Confusion’s flaws are supposed to be – normally whenever I see reference to it there’s an assumption it was the worst thing they ever did, when my view couldn’t be more opposite.

    There’s a certain amount of sense to it, but ‘Planet Rock’s an outrageously high benchmark! It could never live up to that because: ‘Planet Rock’ was first; ‘Confusion’ was always going to have prettier touches and it’d be unrealistic to expect them to come up with something quite as brutal; and they still had to fit in Barney’s vocals.

    I guess if you think ‘Blue Monday’ was better than ‘Planet Rock’ (can well imagine this to be the indie consensus) then getting a sub-‘Planet Rock’ would be underwhelming, but it shouldn’t’ve been – the rhythm tracks aren’t massively different; the arrangement is but that’s more because one is sample-based and the other structure-based, and not because one is inferior; it’s only in the vocals where ‘Planet Rock’ leaps far ahead. Anyway, more son-of-‘Planet Rock’s are a good thing in my view.

  13. 103
    Steve Mannion on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I liked all of the Republic singles – and two of them came with notable videos which really stuck in my mind. ‘Ruined In A Day’ featuring Keith Allen playing charades with a bunch of Buddhist monks while Sumner dances appallingly in the background. ‘World’ is an audacious cinematic ‘one shot’ move from the Riviera sea to a weeping woman in a hotel room and just the kind of music video that doesn’t get made anymore.

    The Other Two’s ‘Selfish’ is always worth a mention and its emergence in the same year as ‘Republic’ always felt a bit odd but welcome. I might like it a bit more than ‘Regret’ in fact.

  14. 104
    LondonLee on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I realize there was no way New Order could top Planet Rock but Confusion just seemed so thin as a song and a production. I do think Planet Rock is superior to Blue Monday too (though having attended many student parties around that time you’re right that the indie consensus was different) but Walking On Sunshine is the best of all of them.

  15. 105
    Billy Smart on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: New Order have been on UK TV quite a few times;

    BIG WORLD CAFE: with Eagle Eye Cherry, Mariella Frostrup, New Order, Womack & Womack, Fishbone, Mary Kante (1989)

    THE BILL: The New Order Of Things (1987)

    FRIDAY NIGHT WITH JONATHAN ROSS: with David Hasselhoff, Kelly Osbourne, Jeremy Dyson, Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, New Order, Ana Matronic (2005)

    LATER… WITH JOOLS HOLLAND: with New Order, The Coral, Faith Evans, Rufus Wainwright, Acoustic Ladyland, James Blunt, Son Of Dave (2005)

    THE O ZONE: with New Order (1993)

    RIVERSIDE: with New Order, Bow Wow Wow (1982)

    RIVERSIDE: with Paul Haig, John Sessions, New Order (1983)

    THE ROXY: with New Order (1987)

    T IN THE PARK 2005: with Keane, James Brown, Streets, Audioslave, Foo Fighters, New Order, Suzanne Vega, Kasabian, The L.A.’s (2005)

    THE TUBE: with Jools Holland, Paula Yates, Depeche Mode, New Order, Muriel Gray (Presenter), Alan Freeman, Julian Temple, Steve Wooley, Peristalsis Brothers (1986)

    WHISTLE TEST: with New Order, Fine Young Cannibals, John Cale (1985)

  16. 106
    Steve Mannion on 3 Jan 2011 #

    Izzy I’ve always liked ‘Confusion’ too and to have been so inspired by ‘Planet Rock’ only reinforces the already established sonic links between NO and Kraftwerk. Again, the BBC documentary Planet Rock demonstrates this with Sumner’s anecdote about them asking him how they got some of the sounds on ‘Blue Monday’.

  17. 107
    will on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I’m assumin’ New Order on the Bill in 1987 is a deliberate mistake! I think I would have remember that one.

    Whilst we’re on the subject, for my money NO’s greatest single is Thieves Like Us.

  18. 108
    heather on 3 Jan 2011 #

    I like every single thing NO ever did up to 1994 (honestly, listen to ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Spooky’ again. They’re less complex and pearlised than the earlier stuff but they’re still lovely). Everything… except ‘Confusion’. And I do like serious hardkore tekkno etc, so it’s not that. It’s just a bad song, badly mixed. But, you know, mileage, opinions. I’m still horrified that a famous music website (it might have been Pitchfork) had nothing but contempt for ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ whurp? dkjfuh?

    Aaanyway, by ‘Blake lyrics’, I meant that Barney’s lyrics had the same sort of simplicity as William Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ etc – plain words, simple rhymes and yet somehow very affecting. Same as his voice. I use him a lot in arguements about ‘Good Singers’ like Celine Dion and Leona Lewis, and how their talent means nothing to me compared to Barney’s awkward flat whispering.

    (And just to lighten the awe, my best recollection of ‘True Faith’ is at Reading when Barney rearranged the lyrics to say rude things about Michael Jackson. It suffers from ‘designated retro-radio single’ a bit for me, although it’s v. good)

    “And now you live your life like a shadow in the pouring rain” deary me… surely no other band has so much for a newcomer to *discover*.

  19. 109
    George on 4 Jan 2011 #

    Yet another defense for ‘Regret’ here. ‘World’ aside, it’s easily the best song on an album which wasn’t anything to right home about – then again they never made a genuinely great studio album, despite getting close occasionally.

    If, like me, your introduction to New Order was ‘Substance’ (a ‘best of’ admittedly) then everything else seemed like a disappointment.

    According to one of the many great NO anecdotes the band wrote their lyrics by committee, with all four members (whilst sat around a table) writing a line onto a notepad before passing it on. It would certainly explain the clunkiness of some of their songs.

  20. 110
    swanstep on 4 Jan 2011 #

    For me everything NO did up to Power, Corruption, and Lies is pretty ace: the original single versions of Ceremony and of Temptation (both 7″ and 12″) still crackle with real magic I find (really worth tracking down if you’ve only heard their re-recordings on Substance), and the single I bought as Procession w/ Everything’s gone green as its b-side (EGG later was a single in its own right) stands tall with the greatest two-siders of the past I’d say.

  21. 111
    Billy Smart on 4 Jan 2011 #

    #109 But it also explains the brilliance of their songs – the rest of the group are daring Bernard to sing the most audacious thing that they can imagine, ideally something that sounds both silly and personally revealing. Think of say the “it’s called love” passage in Thieves Like Us or the gay love and death narrative of 1963 or “Oh you’ve got green eyes! Oh you’ve got grey eyes! Oh you’ve got blue eyes!” epiphany in Temptation, or – insert personal choice out of dozens more. The happy result being: Bernard Sumner, the world’s greatest poet of disco existentialism!

  22. 112
    George on 4 Jan 2011 #

    It was, and remains, exhilarating stuff. The Human League were another band with a tendency for endearingly awkward lyrics.

    The less said about Duran Duran’s the better.

  23. 113
    heather on 4 Jan 2011 #

    “The less said about Duran Duran’s the better.”

    Could be hard. Could be about as easy as a nuclear war.

    Incidentally, the most random lyric I ever found by accident was when I was doing a ‘make your blogfriends guess random songs from the first line’ meme… and got to hear the opening of ‘Gold’ by Spands.

    “Thank you for coming round. Sorry that the chairs are all worn. I left them here, I could have sworn…”

  24. 114
    Cumbrian on 4 Jan 2011 #

    @59: C4’s coverage of the Tour started in 1985 by the looks of things:

    http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/?page_id=1255

    This was the best that I could find in terms of proof via the Internet. In 85, apparently, there were daily reports that were expanded to the half hour round up in 1986. By this point, they’d already gone for the Pete Shelley tune. I can’t find anything on what the music was for 1985 – so it might be that.

    Your Slient Face is maddeningly familiar from something or other – I’m not sure it’s the TdF though. I don’t think is releated – because I have not seen the film – but YSF was used on the film Bronson apparently. Maybe someone else with better google fu than me can help out.

  25. 115
    thefatgit on 4 Jan 2011 #

    Cheers for the effort Cumbrian :) I’m still waving the flag for YSF before Pete Shelley got in there, but the thought occurred to me that BBC2 might have covered TdF before C4. Maybe, just maybe the Beeb used it for their coverage. But of course, I’m only guessing here.

  26. 116
    Jimmy the Swede on 4 Jan 2011 #

    I’m pleased to see that the unplesantness upthread has stopped and I would have considered this interjection superflous but have decided to append it for the simple reason that this forum has brought Rosie and I into friendship and I can assure everyone that she is never in the market to offend anyone. Whilst she was clearly off-beam about Club Popular (on the couple of times I have been present, one of the great delights was to watch Kat bouncing around like Tigger at the controls whilst DJing) and also wrong about the public school swipe (the only thing public about the hellhole comp I went to, for instance, was that the public stayed well away from it), she has been and remains one of the most celebrated and wisest of contributors to this forum. Like many of us (and this particularly applies to the Freaky Trigger Cabinet), Rosie is a creative writer and it shows. Writers are strange beasts and rather like Hamsters who are placed in the same cage, are naturally apt to have an almighty go at eachother at the drop of a hat. This is particualry true when a heartfelt opinion is challenged and there have been some very lively examples of this over the years, God only knows. The fact is, there is no right or wrong when opinons (which do not involve basic facts) are aired. And we can disagree with each other until we are blue in the face but that surely is the fact of the matter.

  27. 117
    wichita lineman on 5 Jan 2011 #

    Smash Hits watch:

    30 May-14 June 1990, cover star Adamski. ‘Norman Cook, Candy Flip and Adamski reveal HOW TO MAKE A HIT RECORD IN YOUR BEDROOM!’

    Single of the fortnight: Happy Mondays and Karl Denver ‘Lazyitis’. “Quite the weirdest record in a long time” says Richard Lowe.

  28. 118
    Mark G on 5 Jan 2011 #

    So, am I too late? Is everyone here? Whatever, I’m starting anyway…

    Back whenever, about 4 years before this record, The Redskins were hosting a series of dates at the Mean Fiddler, basically a bunch of artists/comedians, a short set maybe, then the comedy again. Bad idea, subsequent acts got heckled/hassled ….

    One of the later nights was Keith Allen basically slagging the national side off, saying they were crap, always would disappoint and would do again. To which Atilla the Stockbroker (clearing up after his set behind them) said “No they’re not they’re brilliant!” and they both had a stand-up wager about how far the team would get.

    4 years on, he’s writing the team song, and did again at least twice since.

  29. 119
    Erithian on 5 Jan 2011 #

    Attila the Stockbroker – absolutely top bloke! Got to know him (aka John) through the FSA and bumped into him on a train going to Selhurst Park for a Charlton v Liverpool game in the late 80s. My new girlfriend was with me and was impressed with how well-connected I was! Being a Brighton fan he contributed an article to the Palace fanzine after they lost 9-0 to Liverpool – it was his reworking of “19” about how Palace lost n-n-n-n-nine-nil (see the “19” thread for more lyrics).

    Fast forward to January 2005 and Attila is in the top 20 as the force behind “Seagulls Ska”, a single supporting Brighton’s campaign for a new stadium at Falmer. Based on the Piranhas’ version of “Tom Hark”, it peaked at 17.

    Then there’s his classic “Y Viva Albania”:
    “If you want to see a really big statue / Of Comrade Enver Hoxha / And a little one of Josef Stalin too / Albania’s just for you.”
    Happy days!

  30. 120
    swanstep on 5 Jan 2011 #

    Japan’s virtuoso bassist, Mick Karn has finally succumbed to his cancer at age 52. The Guardian’s basic obit is here. I’m sure that more extensive tributes will follow. Japan’s albums have barely dated at all, and Karn’s bass is a huge part of that.

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