Cover version of the month #21
Galaxie 500 cover New Order
Ceremony, the debut release by New Order, was a (kind of) cover version. The song was written by Ian Curtis and performed live by Joy Division and there is also a studio version that was recorded only 4-days before his death. However all 3 known recordings of Joy Division playing Ceremony have partially audible vocals.
New Order's version was released in early 1981, less than a year after Curtis' death. I have just finished reading Peter Hook's excellent Substance autobiography and he talks of how the band just didn't know how to react to Curtis' suicide, they didn't know how to grieve and they didn't know what to do. So, Sumner, Hook and Morris did the only thing they knew.... they met up and played music. Unable to decide on a singer (eventually landing at Sumner at default after a number of shows with all 3 taking on vocals), they also struggled with a band name, thankfully choosing New Order over some bizarre suggestions by manager Rob Gretton.
New Order then rerecorded and rereleased Ceremony in the same year, due to the addition of Gillian Gilbert to the band.
Both versions are raw and full of urgency; the bass and guitar riff entwined with each other and Stephen Morris keeps the drums and percussion going throughout. Sumner's guitar is a delight - his playful style with New Order ensures he is one of my favourite guitarists.
Galaxie 500 are a band I discovered via Nirvana. I remember buying their On Fire album from Missing Records on Oswald Street. The album not only contains this excellent cover version of Ceremony, but also one of George Harrison's Isn't It A Pity.
Galaxie 500 recognise the beauty of Ceremony and add on an extra 90 seconds to the New Order version. They start with the guitar riff in all its raw glory, slowly coaxing in some light high hats and the second riff. The vocals are strained and sound all the better for it, the drums sound primitive in comparison to Stephen Morris' work with New Order, the bass is low in the mix, unlike Hook's mighty bass for New Order.
The build to the concluding Watching forever... segment is glorious - sounding fragile and soulful at the same time before the band get lost in guitars and drums for the final 90 seconds.
It is a cracking cover version that remains true to the original in many ways, but stretches it out and plays on the strength of the riffs, melody and lyrics.