The early-to-mid’90s was our post-Uni share house period and circa-1995 we enjoyed part of our rent being covered by a Dutch exchange student, who I remember for 4 main reasons: 1) true to his ilk he and his mate cycled everywhere on some very uncool-looking bikes they bought on the cheap, 2) he thought Australia was “zoopagüt“, 3) his idea of dressing up for a halloween party at my sister-in-law’s place was to go as a “fat Dutchman” (i.e stuff a pillow under his orange t-shirt and wear clogs), and 4) he persistently tried to turn me to the Smashing Pumpkins. Try as I might, I just never clicked with the ‘Pumpkins, bar one song: 1979 – which is great. Fair enough that they were influenced by New Order, The Cure, Bauhaus etc. but their translation of these influences got lost on me through 28-track concept albums of sprawling styles and Corgan’s nasally voice. Mind you by then I was 26 and I think my idea of alt was different to a Zero-tshirt-wearing ’90s teen idea of alt. Whenever my flatmate pointed to his copy of Melon-Sadness-whatever, I’d point to my Technique poster on the wall and we’d agree to disagree…
Fast forward 5 years and when I heard that Billy Corgan was to guest on New Order’s “comeback album” my first reaction was nonplussed, and I prayed that his appearance was to be limited to a guitar overdub or two. Some reports even suggested that his was to be a permanent joining of the the band to replace Gillian, and I shuddered at the thought of our former Dutch exchange student – now back in Nijmegen and a Doctor of something (probably cheese) – laughing at me over his stein of Oranjeboom. Thankfully Corgan’s was a 1-track collaboration and a handful of live guesties during 2001; all supposedly at the invitation of the band, being magnanimous to Billy as a longterm fan. Fair enough.
It’s an interesting phenomenon – guest appearances on New Order albums since 2001 (having never occurred previously) – with Billy Corgan, Bobby Gillespie, Ana Matronic, La Roux, Iggy Pop, and Brandon Flowers all getting a golden ticket. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of collaborations; spanning fans, an ex-label-compatriot, singers-du-jour, and a rock deity, and seems part of the band’s concerted effort to be unlike they were before, i.e. to open up and break out of their previously impenetrable inner circle of four. It may also be in keeping with the featuring trend so prevalent in pop music these days, but either way only the La Roux and Iggy experiments truly hit the mark for me.
To be brutal my issues with Turn My Way are several. Maybe it’s Steve Osborne’s mix, but Corgan’s vocal (which as I’ve said isn’t to my taste anyway) just doesn’t gel with Sumner’s. I find the track’s lead guitars become irritating after a while with too much reliance on distortion and reverse echo, the percussion is basic with little sign of a bass drum, and – although the sentiment of being free, true and individual is ace – some of the lyrics are pretty naff (e.g. not wanting to own keys / wash cars [repeat], the wheels of chance, and “the sky will not be grey“). The song is saved from disaster by a couple of high points, including the synths on the intro & breaks, the chorus vocal melody, and Hooky’s bass.
Turn My Way is one of Get Ready‘s lesser moments. Perhaps it might not be for you dear fellow-obsessive, but judging by the divergence in the feedback starting to come through on this blog, Get Ready seems to be an album that polarises opinion. I suspect this song might be one of those…
Available on: Get Ready