Nothing But A Fool

Academic < Nothing But A Fool > Unlearn This Hatred

Mixed feelings about this song. I’ve found it one of the most difficult to pin down with a concrete viewpoint, and so I’ve been vacillating on what to write. Let’s see if this makes sense…

Nothing But A Fool contains one of my all-time favourite chorus lyrics from Bernard; featuring classic Sumner reflections on relationships, sung sensitively but rendered angelic courtesy of Dawn Zee and Denise Johnson on backing vocals:

Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got
You think you’re better than the rest
And the world belongs to you
But you’re nothing but a fool
If you can hold her in your hands
If you can feel her in your heart
Don’t ever let her run away
Don’t ever let her drift away
‘Cause it will break you later on
When you’re left there on your own
Don’t ever let her slip away
Don’t ever let her drift away

Great advice emphasised in the choruses with beautiful strings, driving bass from Chapman and a choice drumming performance from Morris! These really are beautiful convictions; the sort that I for one am actually energised to live by. New Order have soundtracked my life since my teenage years, and even now at 50+ and well versed in the vicissitudes of life I can still be emotionally motivated by this remarkable band. “If you can hold her in your hands… Don’t ever let her drift away“… I can and I won’t!


Unfortunately – and in jarring opposition to the above sentiments – I find the song’s verses flat and uninspiring; with more than a nod to similarly lumpen tracks on the London albums. The song starts like a sequel to Stray Dog but the atmosphere established by the textured guitars in the first minute feels immediately sucked out of the song like a vacuum when it drops down into the ponderous verse lyrics, instrumentation and performance. Maybe its just me but Nothing Like A Fool feels like two songs spliced together; one a bit tired and one remarkable, and it’s that dichotomy that challenges me here.

Luckily we have a couple* of Extended Mixes on offer; offering the potential for redress.

Although the (original) Extended Mix doesn’t stray very far from the album version, the Extended Mix 2 on Music Complete is excellent; going a long way to improving the overall ‘architecture’ of the track. In particular I like the way the intro and verse instrumentation are allowed to play out for longer and with greater emphasis on low-end strings and Chapman’s bass; offering a much better progression into Bernard’s verses. In fact the strings are far more prominent throughout the mix, which I love – particularly around ~7:00. The Manchester Camerata did a lovely job and they’re given some space here to open their wings. The only real negative is that the backing vocals are less prominent in the mix, which is a shame.

Like I said… mixed feelings. Frustratingly inconsistent, I’m nevertheless sufficiently swept away by the beautiful chorus in Nothing But A Fool to still enjoy it, and particularly Extended Mix 2 which is my go-to version of the song.

* The existence of updated Extended Mixes on Complete Music – for both Nothing Like A Fool and Superheated – is quite interesting; illuminating the band’s ongoing need to actually improve (and not just extend for extension-sake) these tracks after the original boxed vinyl set had already been released. In both cases the band was 100% right in doing so, and kudos to Mute for supporting their artistic freedom.

Rating: xxxIo

Available on: Music Complete
Extended Mix 2 available on: Complete Music

8 thoughts on “Nothing But A Fool

  1. Hmmm…. maybe in a minority of one, but I LOVE this track from start to finish, album version and verses included. It’s one of my favourites on the entire album. I don’t find the verses jarring or ponderous at all. It’s heartfelt, affecting, and multilayered through and through. It might be a bit long but could go on for 20 minutes for all I care. It doesn’t sound very New Ordery – in fact there are bits that remind me of the Wedding Present, including the instrumental crescendos just before the chorus. The beginning strums a bit like Metallica (Nothing Else Matters?). Not a bad thing IMHO (judge me if you want!). I wish they’d play it live. Lots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If the running order had been slightly different and ‘Stray Dog’ came after ‘Nothing But A Fool’ … it would have been the six best consecutive songs on any of their albums.

    No, Luke you are not in a minority of one I also LOVE this track from start to finish and agree with every word you said, the first 40 seconds sound like something out of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western (and all the better for it), the lyrics of the whole song are right up there with the best the band has written, especially this one

    ‘And the years went by and without a word of lie, I still love you, But what can I do?’ (Get the hankies out)

    Love Dawn Zee and Denise Johnson on backing vocals, love the drumming and bass guitar of Morris and Chapman, love Barney’s melancholy delivery of the lyrics, but my favourite part of the track is the instrumental break starting at 5:01 and ending a 6:00 with the ‘driving bass’ of Chapman….sheer bliss.

    Anyone who has suffered a loss of any kind can relate to this song, another 5 out of 5 from me, what a corker of an album ‘Music Complete’ is

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I’d agree with the 3.5 score. I certainly think it’s a bit too long. This track and the next two are not ones that excite me or hold my attention unfortunately. But given that the amazing awesomeness of the preceding seven tracks are more than I ever expected to get from a New Order album at this point in time, I’m not going to complain 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t got a lot to add, really.

    I do like it, but I think it’s overly long and there’s something that doesn’t quite gel with me (probably the same reasons you mentioned, Dennis).

    Still, it’s pretty decent and a lot better than most of the tracks on the previous three LPs.

    3.5 sounds about right to me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 5 out of 5. Gorgeous, gorgeous kinda sad song. Great consistent lyrics of remorse, and the girl’s vocals are GORGEOUS, expecially at the end. The longer, the better….and extra kudos for TOM CHAPMAN again! you go, boy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s an ok song. I like the prodigy breathe style intro.

    Like many others have stated, the song seems to lose its way 2/3 of the way through and seems to drift on….and on….and on…..then some luscious strings come in, just as the song decides to fade out. Wtf!!

    But my biggest gripe is the driving guitar/bass that chugs away as a bridge to chorus. For me it doesn’t fit the song.

    Liked by 1 person

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