Brutal

Avalanche < Brutal > Crystal

An Interregnum… of sorts…

  • 1994: (New Order) Nineteen63, The Best Of, True Faith-94.
  • 1995: (New Order) The Rest Of, Blue Monday-95, (The Other Two) Innocence, (Joy Division) Permanent, Love Will Tear Us Apart-95
  • 1996: (Electronic) Raise The Pressure, Forbidden City, For You, Second Nature
  • 1997: (New Order) Video 5-8-6, (Electronic) Until The End Of Time, (Monaco) Music For Pleasure, What Do You Want From Me?, Sweet Lips, Shine, gigs, (Sub Sub w. Bernard) This Time I’m Not Wrong, (Joy Division) Heart And Soul Box
  • 1998: (New Order) Temptation 98, gigs, (Monaco) gigs
  • 1999: (Electronic) Twisted Tenderness, Vivid, Late At Night, Make It Happen, (The Other Two) Super Highways, You Can Fly, (Monaco) gigs
  • 2000: (Monaco) Monaco, I’ve Got A Feeling, gigs

The mid-’90s – with Republic seemingly the band’s closing statement; completed under such duress after the Factory collapse, nightmares at The Haçienda, and band harmony at a low point – was on the one hand a dark time for fans of the band, but on the other hand (and in hindsight) a good opportunity to let go of it all for a while. It was a break we all had to have (band + fans) because had New Order been forced (by the label, management or themselves) to stick it out immediately beyond Republic, I think we’d have been on board a train wreck. Instead: they all got a chance to express themselves separately, London got some ROI by taking the easy path of compilations and remixes*, and enough air eventually cleared to give Rob Gretton (having himself kept busy with his excellent Robs Records label) the opportunity to regroup the band in 1998** – an admirable exclamation mark on his inestimable role in the story, which so tragically ended the following year. There’s a lot to like across Raise The Pressure, Music For Pleasure, and Superhighways in particular, and they were all very welcome additions to the collection. We’d never have gotten to Get Ready without them.

The standalone Brutal recordings occurred in September 1999, some time before the Get Ready sessions, although I’m told the Brutal sessions apparently also yielded an early version of what later became 60 Miles An Hour (working title ‘The Beach‘ – obviously in relation to the movie soundtrack for which Brutal was recorded). The sessions afforded the band – at this time still the original four but mainly Bernard, Peter and Stephen, with Phil not yet on the scene – a chance to test the waters with recording new material. Based on various peoples’ books and interviews, the band weren’t overly enthused with Rollo’s production, let alone that the track was barely noticeable in the movie scene in which it is used.

So what of it? To these ears Brutal’s sound is unlike any of the rockier tracks produced by New Order to-date – e.g. Run, 1963, Way Of Life, Love Vigilantes, Dreams Never End or Ceremony. It’s an early indication of the palette to come over the next 2 albums; bordering on straight blues-rock with as much swagger as can be affected. It’s particularly there in the drum production and choice of guitar effects, and upon first hearing it it felt like a de-evolution – so many others had been on this path before. The track lacks imagination, feeling as it does like a standard rock plod – certainly not what I was expecting (with such high anticipation) at the time. On a positive note I really like the ‘eastern’ string motifs, and although I found the verses a little pedestrian, the chorus – with Pauline Taylor’s backing and the ‘It’s Alright‘ assurances – was pretty decent (something I noticed on the lesser tracks on Republic, i.e. they were often saved by a quality chorus).

All things aside, Brutal was a new recording from New Order; something I’d just about given up on. It was a glimmer of hope for more to come, and I figured at the time I’d take it.

 

* Although in my opinion The Best Of (with it’s unnecessary ’94 reworkings and not-really-best-of track selection) and The Rest Of (with some truly pants remixes) were poorly executed opportunities. The only highlights from the entire campaign were the TF-94 Perfecto mix and the BM-95 Hardfloor mix.
** With only 4 (reportedly awesome) New Order gigs performed in 1998, I’m still sore – having travelled to Europe and the UK that year – that the UK Phoenix Festival was cancelled, for which we had tickets and which would have been my first NO live opportunity (having inexplicably missed their Aus/NZ tour in 1987). This wrong would eventually be righted at The Big Day Out, Gold Coast in 2002 (inclusive of Viking investiture – thanks JG et al).

Rating: xxxoo

Available on: Brutal

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12 thoughts on “Brutal

  1. Count me in for being part of that sweet ROI for London — I bought all of those best-of/remix albums, gleefully. I really still adore Best of and Rest of — that Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix of Confusion might be my favorite version of the song!

    The thing I remember most about Brutal was that there was some webpage…just one page…maybe it was neworder.com? neworder.co.uk? It was blue and white and we saw our four favorite people in the world, Barney and Hooky and Gillian and Stephen, just their headshots and all of them looking up at the sky. At least this is what my brain, almost two decades later, thinks it saw. It was a super mysterious page, and I think all it said was “Brutal New Order” — and I was like, “What is this?” Then I heard about The Beach and how there was going to be NEW New Order and I was really, really happy.

    The song itself is just OK, but after eight years of nothing new, I was one happy camper.

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  2. Love this track. Bernard’s guitar shredding really shines here, and the Hooky hook is classic sounding NO.

    I avoid anything ‘Leo’ and this was Pre-Internet days for me so I did not discover until around the time of the Recycle blog project. Imagine my delight!

    Nice live version on YouTube.

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  3. I remember going to watch ‘The Beach’ at the cinema in huge anticipation to hear the new song. I just couldn’t hear a snip of it anywhere to my huge disappointment. I later found a copy of it on the net and had mixed feelings. So excited to hear a new song for 6 years or so – but slightly disappointed with the song. Seems to plod along and sounds very dense….forging a new heavy guitary sound that i’m not overly keen on. But it was a big welcome back to NO.

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  4. I was quite disappointed with this song when I first heard it it. It sounded a little bland and I couldn’t really get over the plodding pace and some of the silly lyrics (..like a drunk on the stairs who just fell down…etc.).

    I was also slightly annoyed that I had to spend £12-£15 on an album filled with lesser bands just to get to hear the track, let alone own it. That probably coloured my judgement considerably; the spectacle wasn’t deemed worth the entry fee.

    Finally, in the years that immediately followed the release, I looked at this record as being the template that New Order seemed to follow for many of the tracks on Get Ready, WFTSC and associated b-sides, i.e. conventional guitar-based rock records.
    For a few years, I stayed a little ‘angry’ at this track for that, which was stupid of me.
    And angry at the ‘clones’ that ‘Brutal’ created.

    But time is a great healer and, listening to it now, I rather like it. Especially those ‘eastern’ bits. They’re rather lush and interesting.

    Also, here in 2017, I’m listening to ‘Get Ready’ more than I have ever done and realise that the direction the band went in really wasn’t that bad.
    There are some absolute gems on that LP, with the brightest, most lustrous one, being next up…

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    1. Funnily enough, I find several of the tracks on the soundtrack actually really good; namely those by Leftfield, Moby, Underworld, Orbital and … here’s where I lose my credibility … the track by All Saints 😎 !!

      Time is indeed the great healer – and I think I’ll also find myself revisiting my early impressions for the next 2 albums.

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      1. Man oh man….New Order, Faithless, Underworld, Moby, Leftfield, and Orbital, all on the same movie soundtrack….You would have thought it would have to be a great movie! (NOT)…..my favorite song there was Mory Kante’s Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)- pure awesomeness!!!

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      2. Agree with your soundtrack tune choices there Dennis and I’d throw in Lonely Soul by UNKLE although I’m sure I already had it by then. Pure Shores is the best thing All Saints ever did, and the fact that William Orbit produced it makes it *almost* credible. However I still managed to resisit paying £15.99 for the album at the time, and didn’t own Brutal until Retro came out. The only thing I like about Brutal is Hook’s bass. And I think it set a template for Get Ready which is probably my least favourite NO album…

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    1. I grant you its different to Republic, but for me it just doesn’t cut it. I think they nailed the rockier direction with forthcoming tracks like 60MPH, Slow Jam, I Told You So and Turn, but Brutal is for me a misfire – albeit a welcome one. Does that make sense?

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      1. Hopefully you mean the stunning ITYS off Lost Sirens rather than the WFTSC album version which for me is also a (kind of) welcome misfire ;-)– I guess I’ll have to wait for your review..

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  5. I love this song, albeit while recognising it’s hardly the most original in their canon, and it’s a bit derivative. It certainly has swagger and more oomph than some of the weaker tracks on GR. I think I’m helped because I only got into it in depth c 2002 and the Retro collection, so I didn’t have many disappointed hopes about the song itself (the collection was another matter). True, it set a template for diminishing returns in subsequent years…

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