LIVE albums are funny things. In the right hands – efforts by James Brown, The Rolling Stones and, peculiarly, Hall and Oates spring to mind – they have the power to transcend “gig souvenir” status and become as essential as any “real” album.
In others’, though, they can be at best inessential affairs – but when you’ve got a back catalogue as good as New Order’s, you can’t go far wrong.
That said, I could live without Bernard Sumner’s “wooh!”s on the likes of Regret and True Faith, and it would be hard to improve on the studio versions of Bizarre Love Triangle and Blue Monday – although the 10-minute version of Temptation gives the original a good run for its money.
It’s the inclusion of muscular versions of Joy Division classics Transmission, Isolation and – of course – Love Will Tear Us Apart, though, that makes this release a worthwhile one in musical terms as well as charitable ones. Sumner’s voice doesn’t sound nearly as strange singing the late Ian Curtis’ vocals as they might, even to a firm JD fan.
The profits all go to the Isle of Wight Youth Trust, which is good news for the many Merseysiders to whom Bestival 2012 means only one thing: the death of Michael Molloy (whose Rise and Fall is still available to download), Kerry Ogden and Colin Daulby.
All in all, essential for fans – but newcomers would still be better off sticking with 2005’s brilliant Singles (New Order) and Unknown Pleasures and 1988 compilation Substance (Joy Division).