August 1987: New Order Release SUBSTANCE

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

There are a handful of greatest hits/singles compilation albums so well produced and popular that they become an integral part of the artist's catalog: a finely sequenced collection of songs, so burned into the collective psyche that one can't be heard without expecting a certain selection to follow.

Bob Marley's Legend, Madonna's The Immaculate Conception, The Doors' Greatest Hits and Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) are among those top-shelf collections. Also on that shortlist: New Order's Substance.

Originally released on August 17, 1987, Substance collected 11 of New Order's 12 singles to date into one double-album package. The twelfth single, "Murder," was included on the cassette and CD versions of the collection. Early editions of the cassette and CD versions also arrived with the B-sides to all of those singles. The twelfth and last track on the vinyl edition was then-new single, "True Faith." Released in July 1987, the track peaked at #32 on the Hot 100 Christmas Day 1987.

FUN FACT: "True Faith" was the first New Order single to reach the top 40 in America.

Hearing the band's singles laid out revealed a group growing in artistic leaps and bounds in a relatively short period of time. The evolution from the stark, guitar-charged post-punk of "Ceremony" in 1981 to the sleek, stadium-sized dance-rock of "True Faith" just six years later is both subtle and stunning. The results landed Substance on many year-end best-of music lists.

Substance 1987 was a strong seller, and still stands as the group's best-selling full-length in America. It's certified platinum with more than one million copies sold. On the charts, the album made a respectable run, peaking at #36 on the Billboard 200 for the week of January 30, 1988. The #1 album in America that week: Tiffany's self-titled debut.