The Game

Unlearn This Hatred < The Game > Superheated

For life is good, and it is special … For this is life and it’s immortal”

Bernard’s musings on The Game (of life?) feel right on the money, with some of his most determinedly optimistic-in-the-face-of-it-all lyrics yet; an angle he’s been developing for some time, and – given the life he’s lead – one which is heartwarming and quite moving.

Although (having just turned the half-century) I’m closer in age to Tom & Phil then I am to Bernard, Stephen & Gillian, its hugely reassuring to have your favourite band from your generation still delivering the goods when it comes to articulating in music what you also feel about your own experiences, challenges, and the world around us. Ask me to describe how I felt as a teen, 20-something, 30-ish, 40+ and beyond, and I can easily point to a New Order track from the equivalent period and say “listen to that and you’ll understand me”. We’re so lucky to have not lost them (a few times) to the machinations of their own politics & events, and if we get another album post-Music Complete (and I’m sure we will) then indeed life is special.

I love the The Game for 2 main reasons: the lyrics and the chorus instrumentation; that segue from the glitchiness and high-energy of the main sequence down to the majesty and grandeur of the chorus. A panoramic vista of huge percussion from Stephen, gorgeous strings, guitar tones, and layer upon layer of atmosphere; something that I always gravitate-to with New Order. The guitars leading us into the closing instrumental break are also sublime.

Magnificent.

The Extended Mix is just as good; the way it opens quietly on the first verse and into a beautifully stretched instrumental intro where you can take in all the programming subtleties. In fact the restructuring applied in this mix offers lots of new detail right across the board. If I have one (very minor) quibble it is that some of the grandiosity of the original’s choruses is missing, mainly because of the absence of the strings.

…but then Mark Reeder takes The Game to a whole new level.

His Spielt Mit Version* is simply beautiful. The pianos. The bass. The space and depth. The strings. The vocal layering. The keeping to a slow tempo throughout. The strings! This version is a perfect example of why a remix doesn’t have to be an uptempo dance mix, it can be a rolling storm of dark elegance. Reeder understands wonderfully well that less can be so much more, and this version is easily in my top 10 New Order remixes ever.

Have I really – after over 3 years – nearly reached the end of these reviews, with Superheated up next and only a small handful of outliers? 😦

It’s so near, yet we can’t touch it
But it is here, and we love it

* From which there is also the shortened Stella Polaris Edit

Rating: xxxxx

Available on: Music Complete
Extended Mix available on: Complete Music
Mark Reeder Spielt Mit Version available on: Complete Music: Remix EP

19 thoughts on “The Game

  1. “Reeder[‘s]… version is easily in my top 10 New Order remixes ever.”
    I agree with you that Mr Reeder’s mix is great. I can’t imagine another remix that would do a better job of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse. And yes the strings in particular are spot on. So we agree on the remix. BUT: Five stars? No way Jose! The Game strikes me as being barely good enough for the album. Would have made an ok B-side, perhaps. I’m not sure (and barely care) where the verses end and the chorus begins. It’s a dirge of a tune. Oh and the tedious pop-rock guitar towards the end (is that Phil?). No thank you. Thank God most of the rest of MC was better than this. A 2 star track for me, elevated to 3 by the Reeder remix.

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  2. It’s a standout track from the album for me. It’s one song that I never get tired of (unlike plastic, POTHL or Tutti Fruiti).

    I love the optimism and the arrangement and great Barney soloing in the outro.

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  3. Have to agree with you on this one Dennis, it took a few plays for it to really sink in but The Game is another outstanding track on an outstanding album, can’t believe it has been 3 years since this all started … time really flies when you’re having fun. 5 stars

    Looking forward, as always, to your next review

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  4. DIRGE is not a bad thing, firstly. Secondly, I agree with you on every level. Reeder does it again!!!!

    OMG, PLEASE say there’s another album ready to pop out…so I have something online to read every three weeks…. 🙂

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  5. This was one of my introduction tracks into New Order, one of the few on Music complete I repeated over and over again before delving into their back catalogue. I must mention that I only listened to the extended versions at the time.

    This has to be one of my favourite tracks that I come back to time and time again. The extended versions build up, and break down only 3 minutes into the song was all mixed perfectly. I enjoy every part of this song, each layer of music adds something.

    Little digs however are just the croaky voice and the background voices at 3:40. Not all to my taste but I quickly forget about those nit picks with the impact of the instrumental.

    Obviously its a five star. Its one that’s up there with The Perfect Kiss for me.

    I really hope that the Superheated review is positive. As whilst the Music Complete version is a bit…ehhh…the Complete Music version improves the song massively and is the best of the extended releases with better mixing and better song structure.

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  6. This is a decent track but nothing exceptional in my humble opinion. I much prefer the extended version to the album version. The guitar solo at the end has a ‘Brotherhood era’ touch about it. The Reeder mix is enjoyable and reminds me of the ambient mix of Ruined In A Day.

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  7. I’m glad I’m not the only party pooper around here!

    Not often I disagree with your review more than marginally, but in the words of Let’s go, this song ‘did nothing for me’. It’s got some good bits (but then all NO songs do) and I agree the Reeder mix is really interesting, but the original is by some way my least favourite song on the album and one I could quite happily cut. Not a bad song (again few NO songs are), just bland.

    It reminds me a bit of ‘Sooner than you think’ in terms of being a slowie that meanders without much point or finesse (and is similarly ‘pedestrian’ as your review of that song has it). 5 stars means it’s in the same league not just as the 80s classics, but tracks like Regret, Crystal, WFTSC etc. as well as the first half of this album. I can’t imagine this in a future NO ‘best of’ (hey, we must be due one, it’s been a couple of years since the Singles remaster!) I can never even remember it much afterwards. Would give it c. 3 stars, and I even prefer Ruined in a Day (original, let alone K-klass remix). Oops, I said it.

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    1. Interesting.
      The Game does more for me than Restless, and I just think it has some gorgeous elements & its always on my MC target list. Clearly one of those tracks which divide the fanbase. Good!
      DR

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      1. Although, typically, I’ve given it another listen after your review, and can hear some of what you’re hearing! Maybe there’s still time for it to grow on me before the next album? Just another sign that this album is so good – there isn’t a ‘duff’ track that everyone agrees is poor.

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  8. This is an interesting one! I’d say my scores have always been within 1 star of yours until this point. I’ve listened to this track many times and couldn’t go above a score of 3. My perfect version of this fantastic album omits this and the previous track. Who’d have thought that the (possibly) most divisive track would come at this late point haha.

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      1. I think there are lot of Game doubters out there. Had a look back as Slicing Up Eyeballs ranking of every NO song from top to bottom by their readers in Nov. 2017. The Game was ranked at joint 136 (a three way tie with Salvation Theme and Fine Line) out of a total of 157 tracks.

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      2. Hey man, I feel how I feel about the tracks I review. That’s the point.

        The SUE rankings are interesting but don’t reflect my own premier league. I’ll be summarising my rankings soon, and everyone one can take that or leave it too.

        I stand behind my full enjoyment of The Game.

        DR

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      3. Those rankings were interesting, thanks for the reminder, but (as ever) raise some eyebrows. Jetstream is higher than Academic and just below Turn (!!!!). An obvious and fully explicable bias towards the 80s albums too…

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  9. “Rankings” are barely meaningful. How the author of this blog, or of SUE, can rank how they like, and at the end of the day, it should have no meaning for the reader. I find comparing one song with another, based on quality, to be useless. What HAS had tons of meaning in this blog, is being able to know the author’s, and other fans, comments and recollections of each track. It has helped me gain perspective on how NewOrder sits, in the realm of pop music, outside of what I have already formed in my head by being in love with the music. The music hasn’t changed for me, I still obsess over this, my favorite band, and I can’t deny that I have loved reading the new entries of this blog each time. Dennis’ recounting of his affection for them, as well as having had relatively close experiences with them and their path, really has been enlightening for this reader. I am grateful.

    I sure hope that a new album is produced soon, so that I can have the excitement of clicking on this blog in my bookmarks and finding a New Entry every once in a while.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed. And it would be rather dull if we all agreed fully with every score.
      This blog has been a joy to read (Thanks Dennis) and it’s sad that we’re almost at the end (for now).

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I too will miss this blog, very much. Reading your insightful posts, Dennis, has been a joy.
    Have also loved seeing all my fellow NO fans’ opinions.

    PS I love The Game too.
    A great song and I like the way that the verse is fast and the chorus slow. Seems unconventional and I like that about it.

    To me, The Game is the last track on the LP, as I never listen to ‘Superheated’. More about that later. 😉

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