Slow Jam

Primitive NotionSlow Jam > Rock The Shack

I freely admit, dear readers, that in several recent reviews there has been a tendency towards targeted observations of the less-than-exuberant kind. This is unpleasant territory for the hardcore fan, of which I am one, and it rankles to cast aspersions on anything that Bernard, Peter, Stephen, Gillian, Phil and/or Tom have worked hard to write, perform, record, and produce. In June this year they’ll have been at it (it being the releasing of music) for 40 years*! Hell of an achievement really.

And yet it’s right to call them out when they occasionally put a fart to vinyl, because – like I was proselytising to my teenage son the other day – there is no success without mistakes; no evolution without the occasional failure. New Order are precisely the wonderful thing that they are because we can count on them to cough up the (very) occasional furball. And we need them to, it keeps them human, keeps us talking, and otherwise we’d have nothing to gauge a Your Silent Face from a Times Change.

I raised in an earlier review the expectation that preceded Get Ready, and I was certainly guilty of putting up a Trump-sized wall of it leading up to the album’s release. I’d gotten myself ready for an album of genius proportions, made up of unimaginably brilliant electronic and alternative rock originals, blowing my mind with the inventiveness of it all, justifying 8 years of side projects to clear their collective heads, and reinstating the band at the pointy end of the creative pyramid. Funnily enough that didn’t eventuate, and what I took away from the album at the time was a big hit of WTF?, as the band set out on some jam with what my heart was telling me was a motley crowd of producers and collaborators riding on New Order’s coattails and in fact holding them back from greatness. It occurs to me now that one of my main blockages was that I’d never expected this group of pioneers – these self-taught champions of the synth, the abstract, the alternative, and the leftfield – to ever use words like ‘Jam’, ‘Rock’, ‘Shack’, ‘Shake’ or ‘Wild’ in their song titles; let alone be caught singing about beer, getting high, and the tribulations of Joe, Jack & Jehovah. They seemed to be straying into territory where a song called ‘Railroad Whisky Blues’ or ‘Long Wild Hair’ was a distinct possibility, and producers were urging a keep it real mentality. Fuck that, thought I. This wasn’t my New Order.

But that was 2001. It might surprise you to hear me say – particularly as I have sensed an expectation (on your part) of a hatchet job (on my part) on the next few tracks on the album – that Get Ready is actually good. In spending a (long) time re-listening for these reviews, I’ve revisited my dated prejudices and there’s a change in mood. Well… for Slow Jam anyway!

They could so easily have called this ‘Monochrome’ and it would have been so much cooler and so much more New Order-y sounding, because I frankly hate the title. But, judging this book not by its cover, I’ve always in fact really enjoyed Slow Jam precisely for what its (stupid) name suggests – its a head-nodding chug of a track with a cool groove and some enthusiasm from Bernard; not something he commonly expresses (and is increasingly noticeable over the forthcoming albums). The sentiment of the chorus: ‘I don’t want the world to change, I like the way it is / To hit and not to miss, I can’t get enough of this‘ really resonates with me, and feels like a counter to the old chestnut of having not found what one is looking for. Yes, of course we get some lyrical dodginess in Sumner’s beer / sea / sick / arithmetic thing, but I seem more willing to let it go compared with similar turns in Primitive Notion or Rock The Shack, possibly because I’m enjoying his lower-than-usual singing register in the verses. Calling the song ‘Arithmetic’ would have been even more cute!

Here in Australia we were treated to the song being used on a half-decent Ford TV advertisement, resulting in Slow Jam being locally issued as a rare promo CD and considered for release as a third single from the album.

* An Ideal For Living: June 1978

Rating: xxxio

Available on: Get Ready

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12 thoughts on “Slow Jam

  1. Always liked Slow Jam. Still on my playlist today. Even the BBC Session version was good. Better than most of the tracks from GR an should not be paired up with Rock the Shack which is pony.

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  2. Gotta’ say, I’m rather pleased to see “Slow Jam” get three and a half starts. I’ve never quite agreed with the hatred (or at least hefty dislike) which this track typically seems to receive. Lyrically, it is mighty daft, but I have long enjoyed the instrumental as well as Mr. Sumner’s vocal performance.

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  3. How I wish I could agree with you…but this song…just not good. The only question for me is whether Slow Jam is worse than Rock the Shack!

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  4. I’m not really sure what to say about this track. Like you, I feel bad saying anything negative about New Order.

    That being said, this is a clunker, in my eyes (ears). One of only a handful of tracks (Chemical, Liar, RTS, Run Wild and Superheated) that I genuinely dislike. In fact, I think this is the worst track on the album; more so than the much reviled Rock The Shack. At least that song has a bit of pace and life in it.

    Slow Jam just plods along and I find it incredibly boring. The ‘arithmetic’ rhyme is also probably my least favourite couplet in the band’s entire catalogue. It’s lines like that that give the ‘I love Joy Division but hate New Order’ fans ammunition. Sumner is capable of writing some great lyrics, but also equally capable of shockers like the ones in this song.

    I do agree with you – without tracks like this, we may not appreciate the solid gold stuff as much.

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  5. Always thought this song was the low point of get ready….. but every now and again I do quite enjoy this track. It reminds me of 60mph less successful brother, their both quite straight forward feeling rock songs but theirs just more of a spark to the one that got the nod as a single. But i do think the peel session version is much better and always put that version on playlist versions of this album.

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  6. This track is an awesome love song. It is a dynamic journey we are on with Barney in the captain’s chair of his boat and on the sea he connects with so personally as he clears his head from all the stresses in the world.

    The title and mid-tempo synth at the start tricks one into thinking we will get another Viciois Streak-type track. Then the guitars hit.

    Barney speaks His thoughts for 16 measures. Visuals I get are that he is hung over from spending the night on the water, was passed out but has awakened to clarity, resolve and determination.

    The track gains momentum with the rocking chorus – sonic guitars and Hooky’s classic bass.

    Then back down for verse two. Hooky is in the mix with the synth line, complimenting each other perfectly.

    I like how the second verse is 12 measures. All too often second verses are no more than half of what the first verse is, almost as if the band is just rushing back to the chorus b/c they don’t have anything else to say. Here, though, the journey continues.

    Chorus two takes us back to the momentous shredding some have an issue with. Is it New Ordery? No. Was it 2001? Yes.

    And then… break to just the guitar for a nice little calm interlude. Hooky comes in too to noodle around with his sound. Barney starts the engine and begins the rough ride back. Then Stephen, then presumably Gillian.

    Outro with all ‘jamming’ as the wake of the water sprays behind, contributing to the misty sea.

    ***

    I can’t get enough of this song. The pre-mix adds almost one whole minute!

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  7. Yep….quite a marmite song for me. Some days i like it….some days i happily skip over as it plods along a bit. Quite like Barney’s vocal delivery on this….just a bit of a shame about the dodgy words. I do find the chorus quite euphoric however.

    Is it Hooky at the end on backing vocals singing ‘Cant get enough of this….’?

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  8. Not one of my favourites. It’s not a terrible track but the lyrics are. They go beyond the occasionally charmingly daft as in many songs to downright awful. Apart from the aforementioned ‘arithmetic’ couplet and some nonsense about birds being tired and needing a beer there is the ‘clothes looking neat in the middle of the night’ atrocity. You can get away with stuff like that, and it might even be humorous, if the song had some other depth or real meaning, but it seems basically to be about Barney lounging on his yacht to forget the cares of the world. Good for you, but no need to share.

    I love this band and like others don’t really like criticising, as even their ‘bad’ songs have some redeeming features and are better than many other bands (in this case, it’s sung well, has a good chorus and some nice bass). But this seems clumsy and clunky, and a bit lethargic. The squelchy synth is quite repetitive too and reminds me of the one in ‘Dracula’s Castle’ which is also a weak point of that song.

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  9. Slow Jam is my favorite track on Get Ready, a 5 Star song, and even holds a place in my New Order Top 10. I can’t understand why most fans are so lukewarm on it.

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  10. It’s a boring song (IMO). If it wasn’t for rock the shit then slow wank jam would be my least favourite get ready track.

    It just plods away and doesn’t excite. The chorus is better the verse. That’s about it.

    Oh and it’s better than Chemical.

    It’s the stumble before the total embarrassing fall…..

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