Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Recycle 09: The Perfect Kiss


[Link removed 20 November 2012] (82 MB)

The Perfect Kiss
Factory Records FAC 123
Produced New Order
May 1985


1. The Perfect Kiss
2. The Kiss Of Death
3. Perfect Pit
4. The Perfect Kiss (7" Edit)
5. The Kiss Of Death (7" Edit)
6. The Perfect Kiss (Ivan Ivan Edit)
7. The Kiss Of Death (Ivan Ivan Edit)
8. The Perfect Kiss (Live Video Version)

1, 2, and 3 sourced from Rough Trade DE 45 RPM 12" single FAC 123/RTD 022T
4 edited from album version, sourced from London
Low-Life CD 8573 81313-2
5, 6, and 7 edited from elements of 1, 2, and 3
8 sourced from
A Collection DVD

Notes from the restorer:

12" EQ matched to Substance.
4 with considerable bass added to make it fit in better
8 massive high cut and low boost, channels re-synced, phase on highs corrected, extra treble on right channel

This was much more work than I expected. It seems many UK copies have the A-side pressed off-centre, which causes a slight but noticeable wow/pitch fluctuation. I didn't want to gouge out the spindle hole on £50 Note's copy to correct this, so I used my German copy (which I bought new sometime in the early 90s) instead.

The single edits were another matter entirely. As far as we can tell, the first UK single version was simply the album mix coupled with the 5-minute edit of Kiss Of Death on the flip. Since I expect any serious New Order fan already has a copy of
Low-Life, I saw no reason in including that here. Anyway, apparently this was withdrawn and replaced with the much shorter Ivan Ivan edits. Outside of the UK, it seems the version released is what I'm presenting here as the" 7" edit. This is the album version with some very minor edits, and the five-minute Kiss Of Death (titled Perfect Kiss Instrumental on some copies) on the flip. I've heard of another withdrawn UK 7" version that supposedly contains unique elements not found anywhere else... but as I've yet to actually hear this, I'm not sure it exists.

The video of the song simply shows the band playing the song in their studio (filmed by Jonathan Demme). What's interesting is that unlike most videos, they're not lip-syncing to the album; they're actually playing the song live, so we've decided to include that here. The video version posed all sorts of problems for me: one channel slightly delayed, phase problems, really messed-up EQ (with less treble on the right channel)... I've been able to fix most of this, but there's still a bit of a comb-filter effect that I can't fix, and the phase between the two channels shifts around a bit at first. And then there's the fact that it sounds like it's out of tune compared to the album and single versions...

...at first, I assumed that the video version was likely playing at the wrong speed, since pitch often goes out the window when videos are converted from film 24 FPS to 25 FPS PAL TV broadcast, or from PAL to NTSC 29.97 FPS. And it's unlikely that the band would retune all their instruments for one song.

But upon closer examination, it turns out that the video is at concert pitch. The album and single versions play about 20 cents flat.

I considered the possibility that the album and single versions had been unwittingly slowed down. This sort of thing is rare, but it does happen (for example, every single copy of Miles Davis' landmark jazz LP
Kind Of Blue made until the mid-90s has one side playing half a semitone sharp). Then I discovered that the video and album/single versions, though not in tune, are in near-perfect sync. If you pitch up the album (or slow down the video) they're in tune but they don't stay in sync at all. Since the song has sequencers and drum machines driving the tempo, it would seem unlikely that there would be any tempo variations between versions unless the band wanted them. The best guess I can come up with is that after recording the song, they decided the tempo was slightly too fast, and back then, the only way to address that was to slow the tape down, or re-record the entire song. Thing is, the difference isn't really significant... but it sure does sound rather jarring to hear the album and then the video.
Truly an epic New Order track, The Perfect Kiss has everything that made the band famous: dark lyrics, driving synth chords, automated rhythms, and a long duration that builds into an incredible climax. It's also got a touch of daftness with the non-sequitur of sampled frogs in the middle. :) It marked the first time that a New Order single appeared on one of their albums, although the version on Low-Life is much shorter and a slightly different mix. This version starts to fade out just as the track is reaching its emotional peak.

Surprisingly, the full-length version has never appeared on CD. The version on
Substance has about 40 seconds edited out (my favorite part of the song), supposedly done due to timing limits on earlier CDs. This has never been corrected, and the track has never appeared in full anywhere else. So, enjoy it here in its full glory.

This is my favorite song of all time. The full-length version was the first New Order song I ever heard, but it would take another 18 months before things clicked and I started to really get into them. I used to mow lawns after school, and New Order become a constant companion on my Walkman. This song really captured my imagination, and because I hadn't seen the video (and wouldn't until 1989) I'd developed a really elaborate short film in my head that included things like a film noir plot with German dialogue and English subtitles!

The majestic synth jam at the end of the song - particularly starting at the 7:04 mark - still gives me chills 24 years later. When I got to hear it live at Wembley in '06, I nearly cried.

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