Nearly a year had passed since the shocking events of May 1980. In the immediate aftermath tentative steps had been taken to help the band regroup; recording anonymously with Kevin Hewick in June, then in September the Western Works demo session, US mini-tour, and Ceremony recording; throughout all of which the vocal duties in the band were somewhat fluid.
By the time of their first John Peel session, recorded in January 1981, the band (now including Gillian) had cleared the decks and developed a clutch of brand new tracks; one of the earliest being Dreams Never End, which – since its inception – has featured Peter Hook on vox.
Had Factory approached things differently in the early 80s and released singles from albums*, Dreams Never End would have been an excellent candidate. Once its long intro builds up, the track kicks into 3 mins 15 secs of speedy rolling bass riffs, Chic-like guitar, and rapid fire cymbals. The structure of Dreams Never End gives it its gravitas; in that Hooky’s vocals (of which there are only verses) are underpinned by manic choppy guitar interplay and train-like drum patterns, with the space normally occupied by chorus vocals replaced with the lead guitar cutting loose from its muted percussive form into a wonderfully emotive melody/chord riff. The production by Martin Hannett is on a high par with the Ceremony recording, possibly because its a similar style of song: no synths = less production experimentation (which could be hit or miss e.g. Everything’s Gone Green vs. Senses… to be discussed further).
The song’s lyrics – abstract and (if I’m honest here, some of the harder of the band’s to sing along to 😉 ) very dark – are understandably more akin to Joy Division than what would evolve into New Order. Hooky does a good job on vox, and the track is one of the stronger vocal productions on Movement; aided in part by Hannett’s double tracking, using multiple vocal takes at both high and low registers. Contrast this recording with that on the 1st Peel Session which has only a single high register vocal recording, and to these ears sounds slightly weaker for it, although having said that the Peel version still packs a punch. It’s also worth noting the two demo versions included in the Movement deluxe edition released in 2019 because they offer fantastic insight into how quickly the band got ‘back to work’ and strengthened over the course of 6-12 months leading to the album recording. The Western Works demos – written and recorded so soon after Ian’s death – are worth their weight in gold; not for their musical qualities – because they sound raw and tentative – but for their commitment to change. The Cargo demo shows further progression (including speeding up the track, which was necessary), and although the band isn’t happy with Movement, I do believe the album versions shows Dreams Never End in its best (subdued green & blue) light.
Over the years Hooky’s voice has gotten more gravelly, lending itself to better renditions of Dreams Never End; the last performance of which by New Order was in 1988, after which Hooky kept it’s light on as Revenge, Monaco, and The Light.
* I like the notion that Factory (and the band [?]) wanted to give maximum value to fans by only offering new work across the releases (i.e no duplication). This was certainly true for the Joy Division and early New Order albums. Later comments by the band – with respect to their financial position – laments the singles-not-on-albums issue as a detrimental one. A classic Factory art vs. reality dichotomy…
Original version currently available on: Movement