Oh how I love the Perfect Kiss video.
Too young to have caught their early tours of duty to the colonies, and with live videos of New Order thin on the ground in 1985, the Perfect Kiss clip was the first time I really saw the band perform. Now they weren’t just a band that released remarkable alternative / dance records that were sleeved obliquely; with the occasional moody photo appearing in the alternative music press to put a face to the music… Now they seemed a lot more real.
I loved their reticence to look into the camera lens; an apprehension and disdain that was the polar opposite to most other bands fighting over themselves for mid-’80s screen attention, and which reached its nadir with the can we go now look on all their faces at the clip’s end.
I loved Bernard’s singing; often flying too close to the sun of vocal discord – and all the better for it. I loved the cowbell. I can picture the four of them at Britannia Row during their marathon Perfect Kiss session: “we need something else… more cowbell!”. Can you picture Joy Division ever using a cowbell? Excellent!
I loved Gillian’s demure coolness and grace. Watching her turn dials on the sequencer – like some sort of glamorous NASA mission controller – to herald those distinctive Perfect Kiss synth lines, evolved my developing brain on multiple levels.
I loved Hooky – all hair and leather jacket, with spare guitar pick in mouth – switching between his rollicking bass performance and his bashing away at the electronic pads.
I loved Stephen’s technical concentration and hint of amusement. I loved the frogs and car crashes. I loved the synths being performed live and with feeling, rather than as an over-produced and over-quantized backing tape. New Order always seem to give a human touch to the art of electronic music.
They’re just so cool…
Apparently not about AIDS, but instead centred on a gun-toting American that the band met one night before going out, Perfect Kiss – in its epic 9 minute 12″ version – is a tour-de-force of synths, metallic sequences, electronic percussion, samples, rolling bass, huge walls of sound breaking down into periods of forest-like ambience, and sheer energy. Subsequently edited down for the album and 7″ single, as well as a handy dub version The Kiss Of Death and short reprise piece Perfect Pit, Perfect Kiss exists in various original forms but interestingly has never been picked up for remix attention (excluding the Hot Tracks and Razormaid DJ mash-ups of the period). Surely an oversight to be addressed by an enthusiastic modern practitioner…
The Perfect Kiss: an essential and definitive highlight of New Order’s mid-’80s output.