World In Motion

The Happy One < World In Motion > Regret

They think it’s all over…

Hold up World In Motion to – say – Temptation or Your Silent Face or All Day Long, and it’s easy to scoff & tut and say “really?“. Time travel to TJ Davidson’s rehearsal studio circa winter 1979 and play this to four particularly serious young men: they might be inclined to push you through the holes in the floor. Play this to Martin Hannett during the Closer sessions and you’d cop an enraged cough medicine-tainted spray of spittle before you were locked in a stairwell.

World In Motion has a different raison d’Γͺtre so you just have to approach it differently: enjoy it for what it is – dance shambolically , sing along with the nutters, and relax. World In Motion was the right song at the right time, by the right band on the right label, and millions loved it; myself included. It helped that I was in my last year at Uni, and this was our anthem of the moment.

Well-documented tales abound of World In Motion’s unconventional production. That they ever got to the end-product is remarkable, and probably a testament to Stephen Hague’s skills as a cat herder. The main single version really is a very polished electronic pop song, and it’s no wonder that World In Motion got to #1; being full of hooks, melodies, dancefloor drums & bass, catchy lyrics, football stars, and style. I love the sleeve for the single and its remix 12″; very sleek, very Euro, very club. It would be quite a while before Saville was to return to this caliber of design quality for the band, and again it marks a high point before the party crash.

Listening to The B-Side (which I haven’t done for many years) is instructive, because you get a more demo feel to the song even though it’s pitched as a wholly different production by Roli Mosimann. He was probably given some early working tracks to play with, including the non-Barnes rapping attempts, additional verses, and (a little too much) Keith Allen. Naff impersonation indeed. You can feel just how much work went into getting to the final single version, so Hague did remarkably well. The Remix versions are top value, with both Subbuteo versions by Pickering & Park, and the No Alla Violenza mix by Farley & Weatherall very welcome additions. Not so convinced about the Carabinieri Mix though. Of these the Violenza mix is IMHO the most interesting, with its loops and back-masks and overt house/rave-feel, but the Subbuteo Mix was the more conventional floor filler back in the day and the Subbuteo Dub has an 808 State feel to it – particularly in the bassline variation. World In Motion was well-serviced by a select handful of decent remixes from decent producers – in true Factory style. It’s unfortunate that this was all to get a little out of hand under London…

The video clip is great fun. You can imagine the planning session: [Sumner] “I want to be Elvis“… [Hook] “can I keep this shirt?“… [Morris] “it’s too bright out here“… [Gilbert] “do I really have to?“… [Allen] “‘round the back, me“… [Barnes] “fuck off Allen“… etc. Being an Aussie, and our greatest World Cup achievements still 16 years away (Grosso dove by the way – in true Italian style, but I digress), I can’t comment on the actual impact of this song, but Germany won right? How does the 1990 team sit in the pantheon of En-ger-lish sporting achievements? Answers via feedback please. At least you had a great theme song for the campaign. Perhaps that’s a good philosophy of life: all is well as long as you have a good soundtrack….

So here it is. New Order’s final release on Factory Records, and its 100% beautifully appropriate. Nothing too serious… entirely English… chaos & mayhem in its formation… football meets proper cool… one final joyous and celebratory singalong… a final nail in the post-punk coffin… emerging just as the sun sets on several summers of love. Here Factory were at their most perverse; their most carefree; their most sleek; their most loved-up. It was all going to go downhill from here as the shit started hitting the fan, but that could all wait just a little longer.

For now, for one last time, FactoryEnglandNewOrder had the world in motion…

Rating:Β xxxxi

Available on: Singles

17 thoughts on “World In Motion

  1. so there I was, here in south Florida, and get this new NO 12″, …and I was like, “huh?” the first time I listened to it. I knew nothing about the background of the song. zip. But that version where all the guys are singing the ‘we’re playing for england’ and its kinda callAndResponse-ish and I really got roped in to love it pretty quickly….even though is was NewOrderLIte…. of course, later I read what the damn thing was, and it made more sense, but at the end of the day, the background didnt matter, it was a great little dumb song.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It wasn’t the start of the decline, which was way before, around the time of republic.

    This was the literal nail in the coffin for them, and their departure from
    anything that resembled the band that was a genius in the 80s.

    This pop version has continued onto this very day.


    1. Your opinion is perfectly valid, but I don’t share it.

      For me a dip certainly happens circa Get Ready and WFTSC, but Music Complete is a complete return to form. No – there isn’t the brilliance of the new that we got around ’82/’83, but point me at any group able to sustain that level of pack-leading creativity for 40 years. Neither can we expect them to be aloof bastards all their lives – they’ve earned the right to mellow a little; just as we all do. Reviewing the songs slowly via this blog, and thinking about the context in which they were produced has helped me to better understand and respect their body of work, and in fact I’ve found myself re-evaluating many tracks which I might have otherwise given short shrift. World In Motion was actually one of them.

      Keep your feedback coming though – its much appreciated.



  3. I love this track. Great piano house break in the middle. Great lyrics and vocal melody. A little bit of cheese to help it all go down. 5 stars.

    I still play the No Alla Violenza Mix a lot, it includes a lot of Hooky’s bass bits that were otherwise edited out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I bought the Quest/Warner MAXI-SINGLE back in 1994, a few years after it came out, since I came late to the NO party. It was the last CD I bought for a long while, so I almost didn’t want to buy it! Because by then I’d learned that the band was kaput and it might actually be the last NO music I could get.

    It’s a goofy, fun song. Another one I spun a bit during parties, though because it was so very English, nobody really “got” it, including me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Previously, I’d always thought that to truly love this record, you have to be:

    a) a New Order fan
    b) a football fan (Note the word ‘football’ and not ‘soccer’ to our US friends πŸ˜‰ )
    c) an Englishman/woman; and, finally
    d) you have to have experienced the rollercoaster ride following the England team in Italia ’90.

    However, reading the above, it appears that others can love it too, and I’m very glad about that.

    One of my fondest memories was, as a young man (18 at the time), watching England beating Cameroon in the quarter-finals, playing the track twice to celebrate and then hitting the pubs. When we got to one of our local haunts, which had a wall of video screens, the song came on the jukebox multiple times. We were all dancing on tables, singing along with Barney, Keith, John and the rest of our World Cup ‘heroes’ (England’s last decent World Cup appearance, by far 😦 ).

    My favourite band, soundtracking (for me) an important sporting moment and, indeed, my young adult life.

    Great, great times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colin, I love your essay here. Tremendously. WELL DONE!

      This might be a good time to point out something very important in the evolution of the great 80’s bands. SNOBBERY, and while I’m at it, SELF IMPORTANCE.

      Fans of early NO, DM, Cure, Smiths, whomever, often thought of themselves, and the bands they love, as being a bit too important, in ways they should NOT. NO was doing great things to marry rock and dance, and they evolved in this or that direction as their creative urges dictated. AND THEY DID IN FACT MAKE SOME AMAZING MUSIC. ( That is why we love them, and that is why this blog has me hanging on anxiously for each new review.) It’s just a creative process, not a battle to hold up the standards that CERTAIN FANS have mistakenly created. There should be no such standards, and comparisons with earlier work should be done only lightly or with a sense of humor.

      Rock Crits, and Fans, who can only manage to have an opinion by comparing something to earlier work, need to get over themselves. This song has little to do with anything that preceded it. You don’t have to like it, but to make grand sweeping announcements about nails in coffins serves only to illuminate one’s being convinced that one’s opinion is quite important in the history of a GREAT music act who have gone on to please MANY of us with their work. Believe me, your opinion may be interesting to pass along, but it is certainly not IMPORTANT. BTW, are you still wearing safety pins in your face waiting for the resurrection of Johnny Rotten, or all black because you thought Black Celebration was the last important album?

      This wonderful blog is gonna get real interesting from here on in, as the band goes on a rollercoaster of creative output. Just remember, guys and gals, you cant re-create YourSilentFace over and over, and expect to be held in better light than this effort to have fun with a soccer team. LIGHTEN UP A LITTLE! It’s great to discuss why a particular song doesnt ring your chimes, in fact, it’s REALLY great! But to think you have the right to put nails in coffins is to be self-important, or perhaps, pretentious at best.

      just sayin…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Definitely the best England World Cup football song by a mile. Having John Barnes (who was the star player) rapping at the end is pure genius. I’ve heard there are versions with Gazza, Beardsley, Walker rapping too – but never heard them! Didn’t they try to get David Beckham to do the rap in the 2002, but was vetoed by the FA. As a song though – its just a very good pop tune with great hooks and lovely Italo piano!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Its probably worth mentioning before we move into Regret that there was a brilliant Electronic album inbetween. For me, its up there with anything NO have done. Imagine if these were potential New Order tracks!


    1. Electronic was truly a classic. (I oft lamented that the followup Electronic albums couldnt get to where the first one did).


  8. As an Irish NO fan I found it impossible to purchase. Ireland were in their first ever world cup in 1990. They had their own football song riding high in the Irish charts…and there’s New Order getting their only No 1 UK hit with… an England football song. Grr! I didn’t own this in any shape or form prior to Retro in 2002.

    Liked by 1 person

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