Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

Hey Now What You Doing < Waiting For The Sirens’ Call > Krafty

I’ve been treading water for a while, hanging on for dear life as the eye of a storm approaches. Re-reading both Peter’s and Bernard’s recent biographies* (and specifically their recollections on this period) it’s remarkable that another album ever saw the light of day; let alone 2 albums’ worth of material, because in any other reality the toxic combination of friction, alcoholism & rehab, family pressures & illness, jockeying for control (perceived or otherwise), competing initiatives etc., could so easily have short circuited anything creative – stopping the Sirens’ sessions in their tracks. Same-but-different ‘under duress’ forces were at work circa-Republic and yet we can be thankful for stunners like Regret and Avalanche. Similarly, over a decade later, when logic would suggest that it’s all just too hard, the band can still deliver a track like Waiting For The Sirens’ Call.

… and what a track.

There’s a pattern to many (if not most) of my favourite New Order songs, because they all feature:

  • Human-condition themes from Bernard that involve reflection, regret and / or redemption, and a sense of place and time.
  • An exquisite blend of electronics and rock. To me this is the peerless New Order sound (that they should never lose sight of, or feel indifference towards).
  • Melody, melody and more melody; usually led from the front by the bassline.
  • Strings. Beautiful soaring strings.
  • Textural and riff-laden guitars.
  • Driving percussion, preferably played rather than programmed.
  • A reprise completely unlike any of the preceding verses and choruses. I love the reprise in WFTSC; really emotional and heartfelt** from Bernard.

WFTSC ticks all of these boxes, with all parts – choruses, verses, and breaks – firing in beautiful harmony. It’s no surprise that it’s the one track from the album that features in  live sets to this day (recent Σ gigs notwithstanding) and was included in the 2007 iTunes Originals set. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest (cue the flood gates) that it’s the last great classic New Order track prior to the shitstorm; and (although thankfully things have worked out otherwise) correspondingly at the time I thought that its release as the final single*** was a great way to go out.

The Rich Costey Mix from the CDS – an edit of which appeared on the 1st 7″ and subsequently the Singles compilation – structurally follows the album version but sonically sits differently, being to my ears ‘lifted’ and ‘clarified’, particularly around the non-electronic parts. It’s probably a case of ‘6 of one and half a dozen of the other’ but I prefer the ambiance and atmosphere of the album mix and Band Mix (from the 2nd 7″); the latter in my opinion which would have been a slightly better choice for inclusion on Singles.

The Jacknife Lee Remix – also from the CDS, and with an edit on the 3rd 7″ – is serviceable but doesn’t blow me away; offering only a new main synth sequence to pique the interest, and suffering by shifting Hooky’s excellent riffs way too distant in the mix, and substituting Morris’s quality performance for some fairly featureless drum programming.

I’m not sure how the various remixes were commissioned at the time, because in my opinion the best of all – the Planet Funk Remix from the New State Recordings 12″ issue (NSER007) – should have been offered up as the primary remix on a dedicated London-issued 12″ ****.  This version is terrific – one of the top drawer remixes in the New Order canon. I love the progressive lead-in, with its phasing sequences and reverbed keyboard stabs, and the added FX on Bernard’s vox. It’s an uncomplicated but really effective reinterpretation.

Conversely the Asle Dub from the same 12″ is less than stellar; hanging its hat on looped repetitions of the ‘How many times’ vocal and a whispered (re-sung by Asle?) ‘I got it all wrong’ sample, which grate very quickly. On a positive note the Asle Dub does enjoy sections of solid stomping house. There’s an unreleased Full Blown Vocal Mix (also by Asle) which didn’t make it to official release but may have been a better option. Finally, there is the Filterheadz Remix on the B-side of the New State NSER010 12″ edition, which to be perfectly honest I haven’t heard yet, so I’ll reserve this spot for additional comments when I can find a copy! UPDATE: My copy of this 12″ arrived, and I have to say the Filterheadz Remix isn’t bad at all; at its core a chattering drum-loop driven and buzzing low-end techno excursion. There’s not much left of the original song’s form and function, save for the remix’s best section – the excellent breakdown between ~2:00 and ~4:00 – which is moody and dark, with retained but highly effected vocal lines, guitars and chords. Filterheadz’ is a worthy mix, curiously limited to this 12″.

So this is it. Along with Crystal, Waiting For The Sirens’ Call is New Order’s finest song from their Get Ready / Sirens’ period, and for me it is a stone cold New Order classic.

* Bring on Stephen Morris’s book
** I don’t know about you, but to this day there are numerous New Order songs that I’ve heard a thousand times or more and yet they still really choke me up. The reprise in this song is one of those moments.
*** The formats of the WFTSC single release were very curious: a set of 3 x 7″ records with a collectible sleeve to house them all, a singular CDS with only 2 tracks on it (neither of them the best of the available remixes), and no London-issue 12″. Respect though to London for the quirky 7″ series (and in particular their B-sides – being really excellent contemporary remixes of much older singles), and kudos to New State Recordings on their WFTSC 12″, featuring the superfine Planet Funk Remix; part of their (somewhat oddly grouped) 12″ x 12 remix reissue program. By ‘oddly grouped’ I mean this, this, and this as examples. Odd.
**** By my reckoning WFTSC was the first New Order single ever to not have a primary-label 12″, which for this band – a pioneer of the format – seems completely and utterly sacrilegious!

Rating: xxxxx

Available on: Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

14 thoughts on “Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

  1. Fantastic review, fantastic song. 5 stars all the way. The way the bass interweaves with the vocals in the first verse is my favourite snippet in the entire NO canon. I never get tired of it, and my only tiny gripe with the song is that they didn’t repeat it later in one of the verses (as they repeated the opening synth crescendo in the single version of Round and Round, also one of my favourite bits).

    One of the great things about the song is the space and build-up. The single versions seem to lose this a little, being more compressed and hurried. It needs all 5 minutes plus to really shine.

    Curiously, they’ve never really pulled this song off live, till recently. To my ears, it always sounded a bit cluttered and strained, like Bernard was really struggling to keep up with the backing track. But in the last couple of years, they’ve performed a version of the Planet Funk remix, which, despite missing my favourite part, really holds its own alongside the remixed Bizarre Love Triangle. As you say, it’s a terrific mix, and it sounds amazing live.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Best song on the album, hands down. And I agree — one of NO’s best moments altogether. Even though Music Complete is still up ahead for what is left of the band, for me, this will always be the “final” finest NO song, too. 🙂 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For completists’ sake, you didn’t mention the Tribute mix, which despite Hooky bigging it up at the time, is just a vaguely irritating curio – containing various offcuts of previous songs. It was (if I recall correctly), supposed to be the b-side of the single release of Turn, which apart from the edit on Singles, never eventually appeared, the 12X12 set appearing in its stead. I got it off NOOL sometime back and was pretty disappointed given Hooky’s enthusiasm.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry to disagree with you all, for me it is the 3rd best track on Sirens, I absolutely hated the way the remixes were done (On 3×7″ vinyl, in 2005 for Christ’s sake!!!! … 2018 it MAY have worked), I have to agree that it is amazing how the band put out any kind of album during that period.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a proper spine-tingling classic, but that new version that splices the Planet Funk remix with the original towards its crescendo with Bernard’s guitar riff, is one of the best things they’ve ever done. Hearing it at the Castlefield Bowl and feeling, ahem, ‘slightly euphoric was just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A fine review of an excellent song and some tip top comments to boot.

    The PF remix is right up there with Shep & Richard X’s best NO works – it totally floored me when I first heard it live at the Olympia.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with all you have said, as well. A beautiful NO classic, to be sure. The Planet Funk mix echoes in my head quite often, and when I saw the Glastonbury version on youtube, I was ecstatic! sidenote: the intro and outro to the PF version allow for some wonderful mixing possibilities…

    When I first heard the song, I thought to myself: OH NO, there’s that darn ship in the harbor again! lol. And perhaps I’m dim, but can somebody explain to me about that document that he’s travelling with to Paris and Spain and all that?

    Puzzling lyrics notwithstanding, I love love love this song.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m surely going to be in the minority here….its a really good song – but I never think of it as NO classic. I can see why people would think this….as it has all the classic hallmarks of a New Order track – but lacks a little something for me. Planet Funk version is definitely one of the best remixes though. Another great review.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re not alone! 🙂

      Although I really like the track, it stops a little way short of being a classic, for me.

      It’s certainly one of the best tracks on the album but, for me, probably trails behind Guilt Is A Useless Emotion and Turn (maybe even Dracula’s Castle – don’t judge me! 🙂 ).

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Combine all the ingredients of a great new order song and this is what you get. On reflection I think the emotion that a great new order song evokes is an optimistic yearning. I Love Hooky’s bass on this which is why I’m so surprised I think the best version of this is the planet funk mix which cuts it out completely. I think they’ve hit it spot on live, the Planet funk version morphing into the original hits the best of both worlds. A 12″ release would have been ideal but the three 7″ single give us 3 good remixes, though I wish the EGG track was the Martin Buttrich remix.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s a 3/5 track for me. The synths are too bland and generic. It’s all too MOR. The vocals from Bernard are weak and highlight his obvious short comings. He really struggles with he chorus and it sounds the wrong key for him. I also hate the way the verse leads into the chorus. It’s messy (like Dracula’s Castle is) and could have done with a drum break or something.

    The document Bernard croons about could be an R.E.M. album, a passport or court papers being drawn up.
    The bass is great though as this the outright coda which is the best bit. Ohio’s acoustic guitars sound great and i wish this part was used as the main section for he song.

    I the Planet Funk mix is far superior and it sounds like a completely new song.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “There’s a pattern to many (if not most) of my favourite New Order songs…”
    You’ve really been thinking about this! In all rock/pop/whatever music I tend to look for energy, melody and pathos, but yeah you’ve gone specific about NO’s own golden ingredients. Maybe get NO to stick it up as a checklist in the studio for the next album? You have the power, Dennis!

    “it’s the last great classic New Order track prior to the shitstorm”. Agreed.

    “The Rich Costey Mix from the CDS…being to my ears ‘lifted’ and ‘clarified’.”
    If I did a blind “tasting” of either the CDS or Album version, I would struggle to say which one I was listening to. I’d love to know other people’s honest results of this!

    “the Planet Funk Remix … should have been… on a dedicated London-issued 12″.
    Yes, plenty of NO fans buy singles on multiple formats. Surely it would have been easy money (London already paid for these remixes, right?), and that Planet Funk mix may have even got them some dancefloor exposure. A radio edit of that mix might have even got the track played by radio/media that otherwise wouldn’t play it.

    ” Finally, … the Filterheadz Remix…which to be perfectly honest I haven’t heard yet”.
    My policy with the 12x 12″s was to only buy the ones that had previously unavailable stuff. So I bought this. Listening now – it’s a full-on tech house thing with pummelling drums. I was waiting for “the excellence of dance” to appear a la Lionrock’s 1963. However it does eventually bring in the chorus and other elements including a break in the middle with just voice and guitar. A bit too full-on to truly gel with the mid-tempo pace of Bernard’s vocals, and not as good as Planet Funk (surprise!) but I’d dance to it if I was uh, “on da floor”. I can see why it was grouped with Dave Clarke’s propulsive (forward vox) EGG on this 12″ along with the equally ‘pumping’ Confusion remix.

    “Along with Crystal, Waiting For The Sirens’ Call is New Order’s finest song from their Get Ready / Sirens’ period”.
    Agreed. Isn’t it boring when people just agree on everything? Must try harder to disagree next time!

    “kudos to New State Recordings on their WFTSC 12″, featuring the superfine Planet Funk Remix; part of their (somewhat oddly grouped) 12″ x 12 remix reissue program. By ‘oddly grouped’ I mean this, this, and this as examples”.
    The first of your “This’s” I have just addresed; the remixes are all full throttle jobs. The second “This” features two Breaks (or ‘Nu Skool Breaks’) remixes. I imagine that’s why they’re grouped together. The third “This”: I understand why DubVulture and Shame are together – both b-sidey 12″ dub mixes from ’80s. Not sure how the I Told You So remix fits in there though…

    Liked by 1 person

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