Have you ever wondered what your favorite rock song would sound like if done by a string quartet? I’m not talking about Muzak here, I’m talking about a string quartet dedicated to keeping the essence and soul of the song while performing it with nothing but classical stringed instruments.
The String Quartet Tribute to New Order and Joy Division is the only one of this series I have so far, but I may be purchasing more. On this particular disc the music of the post-punk geniuses is performed by Eric Gorfain and The Section. But even if you’re not a fan of Joy Division or New Order, you may be interested in pursuing this series. Why? Because other editions pay tribute to such diverse artists as: REM, Led Zeppelin, Weezer, Tori Amos, and Fleetwood Mac, among many, MANY others.
Admittedly, there’s just enough of an ethereal and classical ambience to much of the music by Joy Division and New Order to make the transition toward performing their songs by a string quartet perhaps not quite as jarring as hearing, say, Jimi Hendrix, which is another of the many, MANY artists deemed worthy of a String Quartet Tribute album. (In case you aren’t familiar with the story, New Order was formed by three of the members of Joy Division following the suicide of the band’s lead singer Ian Curtis.
Some of this history is included in the movie 24 Hour Party People and more will no doubt be included in the upcoming biopic about Curtis tentatively titled Control, due for release in 2007.) Certainly this is the case with such Joy Division songs as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “New Dawn Fades.”
The most surprising thing about the String Quartet Tribute to New Order and Joy Division, however, may be the choice for the most outstanding track. While the aforementioned “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is most definitely given a spectacular retooling-it’s plaintive, heartbreaking lyrics would be right at home in this string version, but you should be aware that these are all instrumentals-the real standout of the album is New Order’s “True Faith.” This is a song that even most non-fans of New Order are probably familiar with, having been perhaps their biggest stateside hit. In addition, the video of “True Faith” still very often ranks highly among various countdowns of greatest videos of all time despite being almost twenty years old.
As good as the New Order version is, I would say that this string quartet version outranks their 12-inch single remix. I’ve never been terribly impressed with the remix versions of this song because, unlike most other New Order remixes to that point, “True Faith” just sort of seemed to stumble into a groove and stay there, never adding the variety and differentiations that marked their previous remixes. The String Quartet Tribute version takes this song to the heights that the New Order remix missed.
In addition to “True Faith” there are some other terrific covers such as “Regret” and “Love Vigilantes.” Alas, I must admit that my all time favorite song-not just favorite New Order song, but my favorite song ever-“Blue Monday” just never seems to really gel as a string quartet offering. It’s still good and very listenable, understand, it’s just not up to the same level as “True Faith.”
Listening to the music of your favorite band done in a completely different and unique way can be either completely off-putting or it can be a transcendent experience. Check out the String Quarter Tribute web site and see if you can find your favorites there, and then take a chance.