Number Ones: #109


  • NEW ORDER True Faith (Factory)
  • Week Ending 22nd August 1987
  • 1 Week At #1


Classic though it undoubtedly is, and as I would (fairly) soon acknowledge myself, on release I was not wholly taken with True Faith. The designated “new track” with which to launch New Order’s first compilation – Substance – it originally struck me as a surprisingly slight tune for the band with Bizarre Love Triangle most recent in their run of (almost all) sublime singles.

Turns out it was a grower. Just a bit of a grower. I don’t keep tabs on play counts or anything like that, but I would hazard a guess that True Faith is among the top 5 or so most-listened to songs in my collection (if we include all versions and mixes). July/August 1987 was also the period when I wasn’t too impressed with Pet Shop Boys’ What Have I Done To Deserve This? at first either, so goodness knows where my head was back then (or my taste!).

Of course, since it appears here, my opinion must have changed enough to have it as my favourite single for at least one week, but one week was all it managed. It’s possible that had I actually bought the single in some form, and realised how brilliant the flip side “1963” was too, then that reign could have been at least a fortnight longer. But alas, I didn’t discover “1963” until I bought the Double CD of Substance in late August, the complete A-side/B-side anthology of all New Order singles between 1980 and 1987 that, despite umpteen updated and theoretically more expansive compilations in the years since, remains arguably the definitive set. It’s certainly the most iconic.

True Faith was a key moment in New Order’s career, and not just because it acted as a bookend on the Substance collection. For some reason, maybe the public sensing genius more quickly than I, the single stormed the Top 20 on its opening week (their first to do so since Confusion in 1983) and continued to climb. Up to #7, then incredibly, into the Top 5. What the heck was going on? Where was the New Order whose Bizarre Love Triangle stiffed at #56 just six months earlier?

Yet a smash it became, and a new chapter in the New Order story had begun. There would be no more floundering in the outer reaches of the Top 40 or Top 75 with cult classics, no more albums that debuted in the lower half of the Top 10 before disappearing within weeks. True Faith established them in a way that not even the mighty Blue Monday had been able to. Partly due to serendipitous timing; the shift in musical climate and culture in general, Acid House’s influence, the coming of Madchester and Britpop within a matter of years. But also due to the band delivering their strongest set of songs with the next studio album in early 1989, and a well-timed 1988 remix of their most famous track.



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