Low-Life is the third studio album by English rock band New Order, released on 13 May 1985 by Factory Records. It is considered to be among the band's strongest work, displaying the moment they completed their transformation from post-punk hold-overs to dance-rockers. The album shows New Order's increased incorporation of synthesisers and samplers, while still preserving the rock elements of their earlier work. The original Factory CD issues of the album were mastered with pre-emphasis.

UK vinyl and CD cover
Studio album by
Released13 May 1985 (1985-05-13)
StudioJam and Britannia Row, London
ProducerNew Order
New Order chronology
Power, Corruption & Lies
Singles from Low-Life
  1. "The Perfect Kiss"
    Released: 13 May 1985
  2. "Sub-culture"
    Released: 28 October 1985

The songs on this album formed the basis of the band's live concert video Pumped Full of Drugs, filmed in Tokyo shortly before the album's release. The music video for "The Perfect Kiss" was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Artwork edit

The album's artwork is the only New Order release to feature photographs of the band members on its cover; according to designer Peter Saville, the decision to do this was due to him growing tired of his previous "concept covers."[4] To photograph the band, Saville took portraits of them with instant film, which he saw as more versatile than conventional 135 film, stating that "you could push it and do funny things with it. It was very graphic and very dynamic. The grain and the texture made everything look like a movie film."[4] Saville further stated that the band were initially reluctant to depict themselves in the artwork; however, thanks in part to the rapid turnaround of instant film, they grew to enjoy the photoshoot after seeing the results.[4] The album comes packaged with drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris on the front cover, while inside the case are four photographs and a semi-transparent piece of paper with the band's name, allowing consumers to choose which band member is seen through the sleeve.

Singles and re-releases edit

The album was preceded by the release of the full-length version of "The Perfect Kiss" as a single (only an edited version appears on the album). John Robie's remix of "Sub-culture" was also released as a 12″ single. Both of these extended versions eventually were included on 1987's Substance.

In 2008, the album was re-released in a Collector's Edition with a bonus disc, including the 17-minute complete version of "Elegia", which was only previously available on a limited edition disc of the 2002 box set Retro and, for the first time in digital format, the unedited 12″ mix of "The Perfect Kiss".

In 2023, the album was re-released as the Definitive Edition, featuring bonus CDs and DVDs with previously unreleased content.[5]

Reception edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [6]
The A.V. ClubA−[7]
Blender     [8]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[9]
Q     [10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [11]
Uncut     [13]
The Village VoiceB+[14]

In a contemporary review of Low-Life for the Los Angeles Times, Richard Cromelin stated that New Order's "varied menu of soul-pop, techno-rock, delicate instrumental moods, and driving, clattering percussion offers adventure in texture at every turn", and that while the album does not contain "anything as transcendent" as "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by New Order's precursor Joy Division, "its confidence and imagination suggest that the possibility is still there."[15] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice noted New Order's attempt to insert some "affect" into its music and wrote that the band "has its heart (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in the right place, so one doesn't want to quibble."[14] While panning "Love Vigilantes" as "an appallingly naive self-parody", Steve Sutherland of Melody Maker found that the remainder of the album "boasts the most articulate sound since The Cocteaus' Treasure, elevating depression to ecstasy."[16]

John Bush of AllMusic wrote that Low-Life was "in every way, the artistic equal" of New Order's previous album Power, Corruption & Lies, as well as "the point where the band's fusion of rock and electronics became seamless".[6] The A.V. Club's Josh Modell similarly noted that the album "completely locked the disco influences into sync with New Order's pop leanings".[7] David Quantick, writing in Uncut, felt that Low-Life was "the first New Order album that sounds like an album", with Bernard Sumner's "most human lyrics" complementing Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris' "pop axis" and Peter Hook's "breath-taking" bass performances.[13] In 2000, Q magazine placed Low-Life at number 97 on its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever".[17] Low-Life was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[18]

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by New Order, except where noted

Side one
1."Love Vigilantes"4:16
2."The Perfect Kiss"4:51
3."This Time of Night"4:45
Side two
2."Sooner Than You Think"5:12
4."Face Up"5:02
Total length:40:05
2008 collector's edition bonus disc
1."The Perfect Kiss" (12″ version)8:49
2."Sub-culture" (John Robie remix)7:27
3."Shellshock" (Substance edit; writers: New Order, Robie)6:28
4."Shame of the Nation" (12″ version; writers: New Order, Robie)7:55
5."Elegia" (full version)17:29
6."Let's Go" (from the Salvation! soundtrack)3:44
7."Salvation Theme" (from the Salvation! soundtrack)2:18
8."Dub Vulture"7:57
Total length:62:08
2023 definitive edition bonus disc
1."Love Vigilantes" (TV pitch instrumental edit)6:14
2."The Perfect Kiss" (writing session recording)3:17
3."Untitled No. 1" (writing session recording)1:30
4."Sunrise" (instrumental rough mix)5:48
5."Elegia" (full length version)17:30
6."Sooner Than You Think" (album session unedited version)6:24
7."Sub-Culture" (album session early instrumental version)6:07
8."Face Up" (writing session recording)3:34
9."Let's Go" (album session instrumental)4:14
10."Untitled No. 2" (writing session recording)5:53
11."Sunrise" (writing session recording)4:32
12."Love Vigilantes" (writing session recording)4:18
13."Sooner Than You Think" (writing session recording)3:04
14."Skullcrusher" (demo)5:37
Total length:78:10

Personnel edit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Low-Life.[19]

Charts edit

Chart performance for Low-Life
Chart (1985) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[20] 70
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[21] 26
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[22] 34
European Albums (Music & Media)[23] 41
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[24] 11
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 20
UK Albums (OCC)[26] 7
UK Independent Albums (MRIB)[27] 1
US Billboard 200[28] 94

Certifications edit

Certifications for Low-Life
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[29] Gold 50,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release history edit

  • UK LP – Factory Records (FACT 100)
  • UK CD – Factory Records (FACD 100)
  • UK cassette – Factory Records (FACT 100C)
  • US LP – Qwest Records (25289-1)
  • US cassette – Qwest Records (9 25289-4)
  • UK CD (1993 re-release) – London Records (520 020-2)

References edit

  1. ^ a b Ewing, Tom (10 November 2008). "New Order: Movement / Power, Corruption and Lies / Low-Life / Brotherhood / Technique [Collector's Editions]". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Ulyatt, Jonathan (28 September 2014). "Peter Hook & The Light @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London – 27/09/2014". Gigwise. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. ^ Murray, Noel; Robinson, Tasha; Tobias, Scott; Bahn, Christopher; Heller, Jason; Hyden, Steven (26 March 2007). "Inventory: 26 Songs that are just as good as short stories". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "The day 'Good' became 'So'". petergabriel.com. 2 September 2015. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Low-Life (Definitive Edition)". New Order - Official Store. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  6. ^ a b Bush, John. "Low-Life – New Order". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b Modell, Josh (10 November 2008). "New Order". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (February 2009). "Let's Dance". Blender. Vol. 8, no. 1. p. 66. Archived from the original on 11 January 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  9. ^ Howe, Sean (7 November 2008). "New Order: Reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  10. ^ Maconie, Stuart (May 1993). "Smile!". Q. No. 80. pp. 66–72. ISSN 0955-4955.
  11. ^ Gross, Joe (2004). "New Order". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 582–583. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ Harrison, Andrew (August 1993). "Republish". Select. No. 38. ISSN 0959-8367.
  13. ^ a b Quantick, David (24 September 2008). "New Order – Reissues". Uncut. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (24 September 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  15. ^ Cromelin, Richard (2 June 1985). "New Music Of A High Order On 'Low Life'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  16. ^ Sutherland, Steve (18 May 1985). "Blood Simple". Melody Maker. ISSN 0025-9012.
  17. ^ "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever! – New Order: Low-Life". Q. No. 165. June 2000. p. 61. ISSN 0955-4955.
  18. ^ Shade, Chris (2006). "New Order: Low-Life". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing. p. 541. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.
  19. ^ Low-Life (liner notes). New Order. Factory Records. 1985. FACT 100.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  20. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 215. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0553". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – New Order – Low-Life" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  23. ^ "European Top 100 Albums" (PDF). Eurotipsheet. Vol. 2, no. 24. 17 June 1985. p. 16. OCLC 29800226 – via World Radio History.
  24. ^ "Charts.nz – New Order – Low-Life". Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – New Order – Low-Life". Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  27. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). "New Order". Indie Hits 1980–1989: The Complete U.K. Independent Charts (Singles & Albums). Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-95172-069-4. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  28. ^ "New Order Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  29. ^ "Canadian album certifications – New Order – Lowlife". Music Canada. 31 January 1989. Retrieved 7 July 2019.

External links edit