Vicious Circle

Ruined In A Day < Vicious Circle > Spooky

The only B-side as such from the Republic-era singles, although it was left off the vinyl issues so I suppose it’s less of a B-side and more of a bonus. Vicious Circle was one of the tracks worked on for Republic (with a working title of ‘Icke One’ according to James Zeiter – although why remains hazy), and the only ‘spare’ from the Republic sessions to emerge fully formed. Rumors persist of a small handful of cassettes (of short instrumental demos) ‘issued’ by Factory as FACT300 (which was a potential catalogue number for a new NO album, had the label survived and the album been released on Factory), but its likely that this was at-best an informal listening tape shared among the ‘inner circle’ and given posthumous Factory catalogue status.

The band’s version of Vicious Circle from the Ruined In A Day cassingle is quite an interesting production with lots of ideas. Taking its percussion, bassline, house piano, and samples, the track sounds very 1988; closer to Technique and sounding somewhere in between Mr Disco and MTO in its backbone but with much better melodies and motifs than the latter. The string pads and chords are much closer in sound however to Republic’s broad reverbed palette. The section from about 1:15 to 2:15 with the melodic breakdown, buzzing sequencer, rubbery bassline change, and ‘keep it all’ vocal sample works really well. The top end sequence that mixes in right near the end after the ‘I feel it / L.O.V.E’ samples is also very nice, but then the track seems to drift and fade to an unthoughtful close. As a B-side Vicious Circle (strong name for what is really a light hearted instrumental – perhaps it was destined for a lyrically darker theme) is perfectly fine; a demo steered far enough along its course to be of good value, but needing lots more work to become a fully formed song. The Mike Haas mix from the RIAD CD single seems more cohesive, running with particular ideas from the New Order version and sounding less ‘raw’; but as such perhaps losing some of the naive fun of the original. Of particular interest is a short Hooky bassline motif right near the end of the Haas mix that sounds a lot like a riff (re)used later on the Monaco track ‘Sweet Lips’.

It’s a mark of the time that Vicious Circle was the only ‘left-over’ of the ~92/93 sessions. Republic – with compact disc as its primary format – features 11 tracks, whereas all previous albums (with LP as their primary format – and thus limited to 22 minutes per side) only featured 8 or 9 tracks. In a parallel universe I can see Republic as a tighter 9-track LP, with 3 great singles issued – each with a ‘proper’ B-side and remixes:

  • Regret b/w Chemical + mixes
  • World b/w Vicious Circle + mixes
  • Ruined In A Day
  • Spooky
  • Everyone Everywhere
  • Young Offender b/w Times Change + mixes
  • Liar
  • Special
  • Avalanche

It’s also interesting to note that the next two albums / studio sessions (i.e for Get Ready + WFTSC) resulted in a surfeit of ‘spares’ that ended up as B-sides (or indeed a whole other ‘album’ in Lost Sirens), and yet Music Complete has none but we got Complete Music – an album of the band’s (largely superb) extended versions. So what’s the best model in terms of releasing a truly great New Order album?

a) Album with no singles
b) Album with singles, B-sides and/or versions/mixes
c) Album with singles, but no B-sides other than versions/mixes

I can point to each of the above with a specific album in mind and mark it as a creative high-point; namely Power Corruption & Lies, Technique and Music Complete respectively. Equally one could do the same and come up with ‘lesser’ representatives; namely Movement, Get Ready, and Brotherhood. I guess what I’m getting at is that New Order have no fixed rules when it comes to their album releases. At times they’ve been incredibly productive and the geiser has kept gushing, and at other times they’ve had to squeeze every drop out of a limited well. They’ve confounded us (and probably themselves) over the years. They’ve mixed it up (no pun intended) and kept us guessing / wanting less / wanting more.

I firmly believe that it is this unpredicability in their art which is one of New Order’s most endearing qualities, and gives them such a passionate (albeit at times bipolar) fanbase.

Rating: xxioo

The New Order Mix most recently available on: the Ruined In A Day cassingle

In the absence of an official Spotify link,
click the icon above to listen to Vicious Circle (The New Order Mix).

2 thoughts on “Vicious Circle

  1. I agree with you so much…… and may I extend your thoughts by saying that you shouldn’t compare a beloved music creator’s various works with the other works by that same creator. Art reflects time and place and all that, right? Just take each collection of songs at their own value.

    I will throw in there that I LOVE the way Music Complete was followed by Complete Music. Complete Music is not extended versions…. I would prefer to believe that Complete Music has the original fully realized complete versions of each song….. and that Music Complete was edited to please somebody else…like Mute or whomever. I dunno. I just can do without the Iggy song, though. lol, that one should have been an instrumental served up as a B side.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was always familiar with the Mike Haas version – but not so with the cassette version. Its a decent instrumental. Yes….the bass riff is totally lifted for Sweet Lips (Monaco). I always enjoyed New Order B-side instrumentals. Without thinking too hard…was this the last ever one?

    Liked by 1 person

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