"People didn't want us to forget about Joy Division. That's what we were trying to do" – Peter Hook.
"It's like dancing in the rain. That's what I think about when I think of Manchester and New Order." Kelly Lee Owens
May 3 will mark the 40th Anniversary of New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies, the sophomore New Order album – after the end of Joy Division. As band members attest, the album clearly shifted from the genealogy that conditioned its electronic existence. Joy Division fans were emotively unhappy. New Order formed from the musicians of Joy Division after Ian Curtis's suicide, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, and Stephen Morris, with the addition of Gillian Gilbert on keyboards.
'Power, Corruption & Lies' was basically the first real New Order record," says Morris. "It's when we stopped being Joy Division and found a new direction through the means of technology and dance music."
With an instrumentation and melody a bit less electrified than later albums, where remixes would seem redundant – which is ironic given the influence on electronic music, the album sounds like an awakening soul. Full of experimental sound and instrumentation, rolling, mesmerizing, and breathing beats, the guitar melodies, riffs, and groovy strumming that get lost in later albums mark before and after moments in music early in the decade of Margaret Thatcher's evisceration of the public and embrace of empire and free market ideology. From Factory Records to the Hacienda dance and concert venue (these are some capitalist colonial designations), New Order ushered in a culture of electronic music that honored and reflected its namesake.
That's all ill say as the band has some thoughts about their art that are much more useful and informative.
As Stephen Morris made clear, "It felt like we had become New Order, really. It felt like we'd done something ourselves that had a bit of an identity. Joy Divison fans hated it. They really hated it, and that's how I knew we were onto a winner…. It was like going from black and white to color."
This post of interviews and reflections by Andrew Trendell, from NME in 2020, "It felt like we were changing the world": inside New Order's seminal 'Power, Corruption & Lies,'" is a must-read for any enthusiast.
As Morris tells us: "You never think of Joy Division as a band who had any fun – even though we did have a lot of fun. The 21st Century perspective of us is that we were four dour young men living in basements. New Order was the complete opposite of that."
"As much I enjoyed 'Movement' [first New Order album] musically, the process was a bit harrowing," says Hooky. "Half of the stuff was left over from Joy Division, and the other half was us desperately trying to learn how to be half as good as Ian Curtis. It was a fraught process, to say the least."
Check out this short video of interview clips with the band talking about the significance of the album, the role of LSD in making the album, and this provocative line of questioning: Do Joy Division fans still hate New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies?
In this actively staid video of "Blue Monday," performed and played live, which was rare for BBC's "Tops of the Pops" with its Milli Vanilli approach to TV, live actually meant the band pushing some buttons, Bernard Sumner experimenting with voice, and Peter Hook picking his bass and tapping some electronic drums. Without Hook's movements, the band is almost at a standstill, deeply engrained in the electronic circuits swirling around, through the screen, and with the release of PC&L a few weeks later, into the musical atmosphere of the earth.
This The Guardian article from 2015, "New Order: There's no point in staying together for the kids," gives insight into the split of the band with Peter Hook, a new musical lineup, and the album Music Complete.