Very occasionally our Mancunian friends have been known to prise open a small window into their leftfield listenings, with the recording or performance of a cover version: Sister Ray and Do The Ostrich by Velvet Underground, When I’m With You by The Sparks, Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols, Vietnam by Jimmy Cliff, and here with Turn The Heater On; recorded as a tribute to Ian Curtis for whom this song – originally by Keith Hudson – was a favourite. This singular outing – from the band’s rather wonderful 1982 Peel Session – is an intriguing moody electronic reggae trip. Who’d have thought, right?
Turn The Heater On is underlined by deep bass tracked identically by synthbass, with heavily reverbed reggae guitar chops, some despairing melodica cries, and a wonderfully odd percussion performance infused with Hannett-like electronic shrieks and burbles. Nice! With Bernard delivering a pared back and quite hypnotic vocal, the whole track is a fascinating insight into the band’s readiness to experiment, play with their influences (whilst adding to them), and above all do anything but conform to expectations.
That the band chose for their various Peel Session performances to stand way outside the spotlight of their popular releases and record some of their more esoteric work, is further evidence of their excellent disregard for convention. Its the same happy disregard that sees the band often publicly road-testing new songs whilst still in a very formative state; resulting in unpolished gems. Now whether all this is because they are caring and sharing (maybe), feel an overwhelming need to put themselves ‘out there’ (possibly), or couldn’t care either way and are just doing what they think is interesting (probably), it is fine by us…
Turn The Heater On was a unique sidetrack along the path of alternative electronic dance/rock that was being forged by New Order in 1982. Ian would no doubt have enjoyed it, had he – at the height of his powers – instead retired to a life of poetry and contemplation in his (Black Books-like?) bookstore, listening with satisfaction to his bandmates as they carried on the mission that he helped start.
Most recently available on: The John Peel Sessions