'Ceremony': 32 new takes on New Order, courtesy of Tampa label 24 Hour Service Station
A labor of love and admiration, Ceremony: A New Order Tribute pays homage to a few gods — and one godfather — of the '80s British alternative scene.
Produced by Tampa label 24 Hour Service Station, the new double CD features artists from Tampa Bay, Orlando, England and elsewhere, covering songs by the Manchester band that patented a mix of electronic dance music, pop and punk — a formula reworked to this day by acts like the Postal Service, LCD Soundsystem and any number of bands found on Pitchfork or CMJ.
Though all of the tunes are by New Order, the CD is more of a love song to late producer Tony Wilson, dedicated to “Mr. Manchester,” the media mogul and mastermind who propelled Joy Division and its offspring New Order to fame, along with other trendsetting bands. Wilson, who co-founded independent label Factory Records, died of cancer in 2007. The 2002 film 24-Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan, details to some effect the impact Wilson had on emerging British new wave/alternative artists in the late '70s to '80s.
The Ceremony CD was officially released on Feb. 20, the date that would have been his 60th birthday.
24 Hour Service Station honchos Marshall Dickson and his fiancee, Sonshine Ward, found inspiration throughout their careers from Wilson, whose death moved Dickson to pay respect in a tangible way that could be felt by others.
“His unique vision and aesthetic of a record label gave complete creative control and freedom to the artists — more a friendly partnership than a stiff business structure — and inspired me to establish my own label ... to release music by bands I personally felt the world needed to hear,” Dickson said.
The CD includes faithful yet original takes on New Order’s hits as well as some more-or-less obscure tunes. The impressive range of styles lend more of a subtle personal touch than an overt makeover.
A number of Florida and Tampa Bay artists are featured on the double album. Internationally renowned Tampa electronic act Rabbit in the Moon recorded their take of Blue Monday. The Dark Esquire, a project by the Dumbwaiters’ Brian Repetto, offers a stunningly spooky version of Temptation. The Beauvilles, Geri X., Win Win Winter, Light Yourself on Fire and the Sheaks also offer songs.
Peter Hook, who co-founded New Order with Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, appears on the opening track of the CD in a spoken word salute to Wilson. Having Hook commingle, even if just digitally, with Tampa Bay bands was a mind-blowing experience for Dickson and Ward.
What was communication like with the former member of one of the couple’s all-time favorite bands? Well, they got to the call-him-by-his-nickname level, for starters.
“Hooky’s a great man, but still a human like the rest of us,” Ward said. “Our relationship began through a MySpace message, and continued through personal e-mails, which then led to phone conversations with his manager on how to expand this newfound relationship between (his label) Hacienda Records and 24 Hour Service Station. I first asked him for a quote to add to the album and Web site. His response: 'I would be delighted to write something for the album cover — may I even record it? Or is that corny?’ Of course we didn’t think that was corny — we thought that would be perfect!”
A portion of the proceeds from record sales will benefit the Salford Foundation Trust’s Tony Wilson Awards, established in memory of Wilson, which benefits children and teens who demonstrate talent in the arts.
The 32-track double-CD is available for $19.95 at newordertribute.com. Even more New Order covers — including 12 versions of one song, Ceremony — are available on the Web site, as well as iTunes, Amazon and eMusic.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*