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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > Jul-18 > CLASSIC ALBUM ELECTRONIC

CLASSIC ALBUM ELECTRONIC

REDEFINING THE CONCEPT OF THE SUPERGROUP, JOHNNY MARR AND BERNARD SUMNER SHOOK OFF THE SHACKLES OF BEING AT THE FOREFRONT OF TWO OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT BANDS OF THE 80S TO FORM ELECTRONIC AND AIMED STRAIGHT FOR THE DANCEFLOOR

Given the negative connotations surrounding the term ‘Supergroup’ and its conjuring up of images of past-it rockers eager to top up their pension funds, it’s understandable that fans were intrigued, if not wary, at what Electronic – a 1989 summit of New Order’s Bernard Sumner and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr would result in. After all, pop pedigree aside, they appeared to have little in common apart from both being key figures from two of the most important bands of that decade.

The alliance between Marr and Sumner first dated back to 1983 when Bernard was producing Quando Quango and asked Johnny to contribute to two tracks – Love Tempo and Atom Rock. Although mutual admirers of each other’s work, both had reservations about whether they would actually get on. Sumner thought Marr would be “a stuck-up little twat who lived in Altrincham”, while Johnny’s perception of Barney was as a “post-industrial doom merchant who wore jackboots”.

Surprising to both parties, they shared a lot musical influences and that became the basis for a long-term (if often long-distance) friendship. Over the course of the next few years, their paths occasionally crossed as each traversed their own path to musical infamy (they next shared a bill at Manchester’s G-Mex for the Festival of Tenth Summer in 1986), or discovered the latest happenings in each others’ lives as they were relayed via Chinese whispers throughout Manchester’s incestuous clique of artists, roadies and liggers.

“Everyone knows everyone in Manchester”, Sumner said. “Even though it’s a big city, it’s like a village with a small musical community. The Smiths and New Order nearly always used the same road crew.”

By 1988, both Sumner and Marr had found themselves in a state of limbo. Relations within New Order were fractious to say the least, with the band’s creative disagreements turning their recording sessions into a pressure cooker environment threatening to boil over at any minute. Feeling his ideas to introduce a more ‘up’ sound into the next New Order record were too good to waste, Bernard began working on tracks with a view to releasing them as a solo album (an early version of Gangster was one of these ideas), but the solitary nature of spending drawn-out days in New Order’s rehearsal rooms, ostracised from any other signs of life – literally, as the studio backed onto a huge graveyard, proved too much for him.

Electronic revitalised the ‘supergroup’ label with their eponymous debut album
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About Classic Pop

In the new issue of Classic Pop magazine we catch up with Johnny Marr to hear about the former Smiths and Electronic star’s superb new solo album Call The Comet. Tom Bailey tells us why he's returning to pop with a new album after years exploring dub and world music – remarkably it’s the former Thompson Twin frontman’s first solo LP. Also making a much-anticipated comeback is Swing Out Sister – Classic Pop talks to 80s icon Corinne Drewery and other half Andy Connell as they break what is effectively a decade of studio silence with Almost Persuaded. Elsewhere, we tell the story of the legendary Factory Records label and serve up a buyer’s guide to the work of Blondie and Debbie Harry. The ever-industrious Neil Arthur tells us about his new project Near Future and gives us details of a new Blancmange album plus we also catch up with Jaki Graham for the inside story on her diverse new album When A Woman Loves. New albums from Tom Bailey, Erasure, Years & Years and Let’s Eat Grandma get the once-over alongside reissues by David Bowie, The Cure, Public Image Limited and George Michael. We also jostle our way to the front to review live shows including Beck, Echo & The Bunnymen and Blossoms. Enjoy the issue!

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