Oh, how I was looking forward to the reissue of one of my favorite New Order albums, Technique. Originally released in 1989, the year I graduated from Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, Bernard Sumner’s lyrics mirror my isolationism in my life. Songs like “Loveless” and “Guilty Partner” reflected the beating loneliness inside this outcast.
“My life ain’t no holiday
I’ve been through the point of no return
I’ve seen what a man can do
I’ve seen all the hate of a woman too…”
I know I’m not the only one, but my high school years were anything but legendary. As I’ve written so many times before, albums like Technique helped me get through the days and nights of being a shy stuttering teen who wished he could speak the words that Bernard sang and I could never say.
“I can’t see the sense in your leaving
All I need is your love to believe in
And for you I would do what I can
But I cant change the way that I am.”
Going to a very affluent high school made it difficult for someone like me to find compadres who truly understood the weirdness lurking inside of me. I was the one who was dubbed “hippie born to late” in the hallways with my tie dye Doors t-shirts, carrying my beaten up copy of Rolling Stone magazine and my walkman with Technique cranked up in my ears, hoping that someone, anyone, would stop me, hear me and ask what I was listening to. No one ever did, they just laughed and kept walking which led me to keep on moving, faster, and I had been running ever since, until this past year.
So when I heard that Technique was being re-released, I was ecstatic. The album was the soundtrack of my Senior year in high school. When I opened up my copy of the reissue, dubbed `The Factory Years,’ I expected these reissues to have the same care and content as the Joy Division re-releases of 2007. Boy was I surprised; disappointed is a better word.
Technique had all nine songs that I had engraved in my head from my final year at Churchill with a skimpy disc of remixes and instrumental oddities that left me aching for more. There was a poor excuse for liner notes with an essay that basically described New Order’s recording experience for Technique as the band being 24-hour party people. What a shock, recorded during the heyday of the Acid House scene, it’s no surprise that the Bernard, Peter, Gillian and Stephen were rolling on ecstasy and dancing all night long. What I wanted was more substance and some behind-the-music insight to some of my favorite songs form my teenage youth.
Why is there a computerized voice-Hal like voice saying “the past doesn’t matter” on “Fine Time?” And was Barry White the influence for Bernard’s low-pitched vocal for “Fine Time?” Was Technique really supposed to be Bernard’s solo album, but Factory balked and wanted another New Order album? Was the riff on “Run” truly a blatant swipe of John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane?”
I would have loved to read some kind of anecdotes on what inspired Bernard to write “All the Way,” and one of the best New Order tracks ever recorded “Dream Attack.”
What I can say is that all nine songs from Technique are perfectly sequenced. Listening to it, coming home from work, I realized how it seamlessly flows together like a treasured short story collection coming to life. An album like this deserves the best kind of reissue; alas this version does it no justice. This and the editions of New Order’s first four albums—Movement, Power Corruption & Lies, Low-Life and Brotherhood are part of a re-release event that was supposed to cement the band’s greatness with these remastered CDs. Instead, all of the faulty mastering and packaging issues tarnish New Order’s legacy.
What I’ve always loved about New Order is that the band put poignant meaning behind their electric dance beats. It wasn’t just dance music just to shake your ass to; Bernard’s lyrics echoed my life beyond the dance floor. In many ways, songs like “Vanishing Point” gave my static life rhythmic colors with true faith lyrics that kept me going when I felt lost and a lonely soul during high school.
“And they gave him away
Like in whistle down the wind
By the look on his face
He never gave in…”
I never gave in because of albums like Technique. A personal one that deserves a better re-issue than the one New Order sanctioned with this inadequate re-release. We, New Order fans, all deserve more. How could Rhino do it right with The Sound of The Smiths, but fail us with their horrible mastering issues these Factory Years discs? Rhino would do right to follow the example of The Cure and Depeche Mode with their own remaster series with extensive liner notes, DVD videos and demos to see how a band rewards its followers with a true and faithful reissue.
“But I know that I’m ok
cause you’re here with me today
I haven’t got a single problem
Now that I’m with you…”
They were my musical friends; songs like “Run” are what I’ve always come back to. They are the ones who sheltered me with their rhythmic honesty when I needed some lyrical reassurance in my younger days. All I had to do is put on my cassette version of Technique and heed the advice of Bernard Sumner. The memory of these songs is everlasting, I used to find my peace of mind in songs like “Mr. Disco.” I wanted a reissue that was equal to the powerful meaning that Technique had in my life. No thanks to the glitch-ridden package here, I’m still waiting.
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