Old friend… I’m sorry, I know you’ve been waiting.
Not for me – because I know the Christmas period has made me slack and inattentive to the task at hand, namely to confront the many burdens of Lost Sirens – but… to finally reach Part 3 in Bernard’s “Whatcha Doin?” trilogy! It’s been a long time since the last time, and I know the anticipation has been almost unbearable, so come inside, sit yourself on that chair and light a (very small bargain-priced) sparkler to celebrate this moment. It’s nearly New Years Eve anyway.
Total wasn’t too bad an idea, particularly as it was specifically designed for newbs who may have had their interests piqued by the Control or 24-Hour Party People movies and for which an obvious connection between Joy Division and New Order was needed. For the rest of us it was simply yet another compilation; and we’d already processed Retro, International, Singles*, and The Best of Joy Division in very recent memory. Either way, including Hellbent on Total was a cynical choice; purely designed to get us to buy the compilation because… you know… it was (light another sparkler now and wave it around) >>previously unreleased<< ! Halle-frick’n-lujah. Thankfully it wasn’t marked as an album-only purchase for the digital release, so one could indeed buy just it, which I’m sure many did (myself included).
At best Hellbent is what it is, a 2nd-rate album leftover. I will be discussing the relative merits of the Lost Sirens tracks vs those on WFTSC in the forthcoming review block, but for now I still can’t quite believe Rhino abandoned – on a compilation supposedly offering a ‘total look’ at Joy Division and New Order – tracks like Heart and Soul, or Everything’s Gone Green, or Confusion, or Shellshock, or Here To Stay, for Hellbent**. Everything apart from its chorus & outro is hell-bent on being pedestrian. The verses are lyrically and sonically devoid of any heart whatsoever. Hooky’s performance is dialled-in, and not until Bernard opens up into the chorus (with an apology) do we get some decent depth and melody to grab onto; and it’s the song’s saving grace.
There’s half a good track in Hellbent, but that doesn’t justify its appearance on a best-of compilation. Not by a long shot.
* Which for me, along with Substance, is the definitive New Order compilation.
** I would have also swapped Krafty for Waiting For The Sirens’ Call as the better song from that album.
Rating: (for the chorus)