Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Dec. 6, 2002
New OrderRetro (Warner Bros./Rhino) "Ceremony" is both the living end of Joy Division and the grand beginning of the New Order. It holds the amazing distinction of being perhaps the ultimate offering from not one, but two of the premier groups of the past 25 years. It almost has to lead off any New Order best-of collection. It's hard to fault disc one of this 4-CD box, the "best of the best" portion assembled by journalist Miranda Sawyer, but opening with Technique's "Fine Time" is the sole misstep on the 14-track disc. The live fourth CD, which does open with "Ceremony," ranks among Bobby Gillespie's best work, as the Primal Screamer hand-picked 14 inspired performances spanning 21 years. Bernard Sumner's possessed howls from a 1981 take of "In a Lonely Place" are the sound of an embryonic frontman shedding his cocoon. "Regret," from 1993's Reading Festival, is as big as it sounds, while the Billy Corgan-aided "Turn My Way" off last year's fine Get Ready sets up a closing take of "Temptation" from this January that could round out the greatest mix tape on Earth. Disc two is a meat-and-potatoes survey of prime-period album cuts like the Dario Argento-horrific "Elegia" and strong B-sides like 1984's wistful "Lonesome Tonight" and 1981's "Cries and Whispers." The shift from the subtle, darkly stupendous disc two to the club-dominated remix third disc couldn't be more dramatic. The over-the-top trance jam of the "Blue Monday" mix and notorious Euro-sport fight song "World in Motion" set the disc's tone, though sensitive gems like "1963" persist. Throughout, the unparalleled upper-register bass of "Cap'n" Peter Hook meshes with Sumner and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert's evocative atmospherics, propelling with equal aplomb smash dance hits, goth-punk forays, and some of the finest pop songs the world has known. Get Retro.