Happy Birthday: Bernard Sumner

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Post-punk
Punk Rock
Joy Division
New Order
Bernard Sumner
Joy Division
New Order
Bernard Sumner
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Happy Birthday: Bernard Sumner

Birthday boy Bernard Sumner has fronted a few different bands in his time, most notably Joy Division and New Order, but also Electronic and Bad Lieutenant. Beyond those outfits, though, Sumner’s distinctive voice has also been heard in several other songs over the years, and we’ve pulled together a six-pack of tracks that spotlights some of the higher-profile gigs he’s taken on.

1. A Certain Ratio, “Good Together” (1989): Peers of Joy Division, A Certain Ratio formed in Manchester in 1977, signed to Factory Records in 1979, and released their debut album, THE GRAVEYARD AND THE BALLROOM, on cassette (!) in 1980. It was almost a decade after that, however, before fellow Mancunian Sumner turned up on one of their tunes.

2. 808 State, “Spanish Heart” (1991): By the time 808 State recorded their 1991 album ex:el, their profile was such that they were in the enviable position of having artists come to them and volunteer their services. “We’re very shy about working with vocalists and it’s not something that we’re best at,” Darren Massey told Bigshot magazine in ’91. “If it wasn’t for the fact that Bernard…approached us, we probably would never have gotten around to approaching [him].”

3. Banderas, “This Is Your Life” (1991): A duo consisting of Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert, who’d been a member of the Communards’ touring band, Banderas was fortunate enough to have their lone album produced by Stephen Hague. Given that this was right around the time that Hague was producing New Order, you can imagine it wasn’t terribly hard to get Sumner into the mix.

4. Sub Sub, “This Time I’m Not Wrong” (1997): By the time Sub Sub released this single, they were effectively no longer in existence, but it all worked out well for these former Hacienda regulars: they evolved into the Doves and found success in their new incarnation.

5. Chemical Brothers, “Out of Control” (1999): Another group fond of utilizing guest vocalists for their tracks, the Brothers found room not only for Sumner but also Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev), Noel Gallagher (Oasis), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star).

6. Jake Evans, “This Is Life” (2015): One of Sumner’s more recent guest spots, this track comes courtesy of his fellow Bad Lieutenant frontman…and if you don’t know Bad Lieutenant, they’re the group that’s been keeping Sumner busy when he’s not working with New Order. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their vocalist, they have a tendency to sound a little bit like New Order.)