Working Overtime

Turn < Working Overtime > Exit

They just couldn’t help themselves, could they?

Finish the album on a high? No.
Avoid the gaping maw of bluesy-rock cliche? No.
Did we need any more swineing*? Hell No.

Part of me wants to rip into Working Overtime because frankly I really don’t like it, but I was re-reading the bands’ comments on this song, and their collective love for it has given me pause. Given all the contemporary and near-horizon drama surrounding the band in 2005, and that this was to be the last track on the last album to be recorded by the 3 remaining members of their original band – a band founded on the influences of Bowie, The Stooges, Velvet Underground et al – then perhaps it’s fitting and appropriate for them to rock out one last time, and who am I to deny them their tale of some “piece of dirty trash… he don’t care… working overtime… don’t need no one… by his self… in trouble all the time…” etc.; not all that far removed from the equally rocked-out sentiments in Joy Division’s earliest recording At A Later Date: “working really tires me… we try to get away… drinking rotten beer… i think i’ll turn to crime… ” etc. Or am I wishfully searching for a long arc to justify my argument? No 🙂


Working Overtime eh? It chugs. It rolls. It distorts in all the right places and it bores me senseless. Bernard “Hey (repeat)” Sumner IS The Fonz – and having listened to this song too times today I now can’t get a stupid (and completely made up) looped visual out of my mind of Bernard in a leather jacket and greasy black hair giving both thumbs up 11 times as he cranks out his vocal performance in the studio, possibly causing Hooky to consider once and for all leaving the band**.

Waiting For The Siren’s Call then. For me it’s the most bipolar of New Order’s albums, with almost a down-the-line 50/50 split between really good and really ordinary songs (one of which was considered suitable as a single – go figure), all wrapped in the most bland sleeve that Saville could possibly muster. Soon Hooky would announce his departure from the band and the next decade would be awash with the most appalling, public and acrimonious bile-letting. Horrible for fans of the band to watch, no matter which side of the trench your allegiances lay. Many veils were lifted whether we wanted them to or not, many notions were shattered, and many reputations were damaged forever. Unreleased recordings from the album sessions notwithstanding (and which would emerge in 2011 and 2013), only the short Control Soundtrack motifs remained to be recorded, and so in 2006/07 it was was very much the case that New Order’s ship – based on the core trio which agreed to set out on a remarkable journey in the months following Ian Curtis’s death in 1980 – had finally been scuttled at sea, and it was a very sad time; and in fact looking back I think I actively disconnected from following popular music for several years (something which helped my record label because I turned my attentions back to the local scene).

Neither Bad Lieutenant nor (to a much greater extent) Freebass would have any major impact on me, and I only bought Total and Lost Sirens because I’m a completist, not because they had anything new to offer in either content or idea. All of this leads to the fact that the 2012 reformation (inclusive of Gillian), the signing to Mute, Music Complete (of course), the reinvigorated and innovative tours, and even that Hooky was satisfied to revisit old glories with The Light and finally stopped leaving rank verbal deposits all over the place, was so remarkable that it gave me renewed hope and renewed passion for all things New Order, because frankly they’re hugely important to me and I didn’t want it all to end the way it did. Is that love? Yes.

* Refer Rock The Shack et al.
** Pretty sure that’s not what happened though.

Rating: xxioo

Available on: Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

12 thoughts on “Working Overtime

  1. Having listened to this on the way in (before the much superior Mac Quayle remix of GIAUE kicked in), I’m going to be a heathen and say I quite like it (3 stars from me). It’s a bit of fun, goofy trash. Yes it doesn’t really go on the album and they should definitely not have finished with it (might have been a fun b-side). Yes there’s a lot of swine-ing and it proves again that Bernard’s voice really doesn’t do rock. But it’s an energetic, if lightweight and silly, homage.

    I think you’re dead right about the politics of the band at the time, and the stench of public argument and decay really affecting people’s perception of the album and soon the entire band and its legacy. I think I tried too hard to like this album but in the end gave up, and like you, switched off the entire band for a while and bought things like Total out of a blind loyalty while deep down knowing that it diminished their legacy further. Looking back, it’s a good, but uneven album with some worthy additions to their canon. But bipolar it certainly is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always enjoyed this song, whilst simultaneously guessing how unpopular it would be with others, but I didn’t realise at the time it was an oddly apt precursor to the cacophony of noise that was to follow from the band.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yeah, it was a weird feeling inside, listening to the entire album when it was released. Thinking to myself, have I just lost a close friend? I did enjoy the single’s remixes, and I try to keep WFTSC-PlanetFunkRemix as my memory for the album. I assumed the magic had run it’s course. The online media squabbling crossed my path in years to come, but I tried to ignore it, it was such a bunch of he-said she-said trifle. Why did any of us have to hear about all that? If they couldn’t make any more magic, that was that.

    On Sept 22 2015 I turned 59 and was STARING down the throat of 60. Old man. But three days later, MC was released, and goddamn if I didnt feel young again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I missed my window of opportunity to lavish praise on the wonderful ‘Turn’.

    So I’m left with commenting on ‘Working Overtime’. Not much positivity from me on this track, I’m afraid.

    I’ve always thought that New Order have a habit of ending albums in a less than stellar way, notable exceptions being Movement, PC&L and Technique:

    Movement – Denial (Great!)
    PC&L – Leave Me Alone (Magnificent; one of their very best)
    Low Life – Face Up (Chaotic, messy, overstretched vocals etc.)
    Brotherhood – Every Little Counts (Has moments of beauty but both the start and end are a mess)
    Technique – Dream Attack (Again, like Leave Me Alone, among their best songs)
    Republic – Avalanche (Throwaway instrumental that is a bit too saccharin sweet for me).
    Get Ready – Run Wild (Bleurgh! Double-sugar with sprinkles on top)
    WFTSC – Working Overtime (Too much rock nonsense)
    Music Complete – Superheated (Again with the diabetes!)

    If you add Lost Sirens to the above, with it’s use of a remix of one of WFTSC’s weaker tracks (IMHO), you have only 3 out 10 LPs which I think ended on high points. Which, considering the very high proportion of great NO tracks to not-so-great NO tracks is, to me, a surprising statistic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. <>>

      Was going to say that the one good thing about having tracks like this at the end of the LP is being able to just switch off after the penultimate track, without overly compromising the integrity of the LP (like you might do if you skipped a track mid-album).

      As far as I’m concerned, Music Complete ends with the great The Game and this LP ends on the final note of Turn. Much better! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I felt the same way with Superheated, but I found the Extended Mix Two from Complete Music to be a vast improvement which actually made it quite OK. To be discussed in 2019 (at this rate).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Definitely a case of ending with a whimper of a song, quality-wise.

    Looking at my CD collection, after Sirens, I see Singles, Revolving World, Community 2, Power Corruption and Lies Covered, and Lost Sirens. Was it really ten years between Sirens and Music Complete? Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Would have to agree with what most have said, not one of their finest and yes the running order of WFTSC is wrong and ‘Turn’ should have finished the album, a solid 3 stars from me.

    I have to disagree about ‘Superheated’ but that can wait till 2019!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I liked, never loved (but never loathed) this tune. It kind of fits with where Bernard was at at the time right? — a little backward looking to 60s/70s rock, which we see with Vietnam and a lot of the approach with Bad Lieutenant.
    The album cover was switched to the elemental one last minute because of the Thailand tsunami, I have read. Either a picture of small boats at a dock or the single cover of WFTSC was the original cover, people who probably know more than me say.

    Liked by 1 person

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