Various Artists

Cool as Ice: The Be Music Productions

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One of the forgotten chapters in the story of New Order involves the group members' outside production work during the early '80s. In different combinations -- often including all-important input from A Certain Ratio drummer Donald Johnson -- Gillian Gilbert, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner produced a slew of releases under the name Be Music, most of which were released through Factory. This compilation is built around the more club-oriented productions, many of which have held up remarkably well throughout the years, despite the fact that they've been heard by a crowd far too small in number. Needless to say, none of these songs swelled to success on the level of "Blue Monday," "True Faith," or even "Confusion," but a few have since become underground dance classics -- secret weapons of keen DJs. The tracks with the highest profiles are from Section 25; "Looking from a Hilltop," included here in its eight-minute "Megamix" version, will forever carry a vicious foreboding zing -- an exhilarating cross between (actual) latter-day electro and early industrial dance. A pair of 52nd Street songs -- "Cool as Ice" and "Can't Afford to Let You Go" -- are just as infectious and vital as any of the early Jam & Lewis productions (such as Captain Rapp's "Bad Times"), and they deserved to make the crossover from the clubs to the U.S. airwaves. Paul Haig, Marcel King, Quando Quango, Thick Pigeon, and a small cast of relative unknowns also make appearances. The liner notes carry LTM's standard bounty of information, making the release all the more appealing to New Order/Factory fanatics who are late to the party.

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