After making songs such as Temptation, Everything's Gone Green, and Video 586, New Order thought it was about time to make a full album full of the synthpop and alternative dance they invented. While recording said album they thought of some titles for their album, like "How Does It Feel?" (referencing to Blue Monday) and "Piss Off You Shitheads" (referencing to Your Silent Face). Bernard Sumner then remembered a conceptual art exhibition in Germany he attended to in 1981 when artist Gerard Richter spray painted "Power, Corruption and Lies", on the outside of the Kunsthalle building. Everyone agreed that this title was okay, and now had to find a cover for the album.
To go with the title, Peter Saville, a cover designer, figured he needed the portrait of a dark and renaissance-styled prince, but this was only because he was watching The Borgias at the time. He failed to find the perfect one. While going to the National Gallery in London with his girlfriend, he found a postcard featuring the painting "A Basket of Roses" by Henri Fantin-Latour. His girlfriend (name unknown) joked that he should use this as his cover.
However, the owner of the copyrights for the painting, National Gallery, refused to let Factory Records have it. Tony Wilson, head of Factory Records, went to the gallery director and had a memorable talk with him. The gallery director made an exception and allowed Factory Records the picture. Peter Saville then put his code on the top corner and the front cover was done.
Peter Saville imprinted a circle
of his code onto the back. You can learn how to use the circle by clicking this link.
Reviews and Legacy
The album has been placed on Rolling Stones 100 greatest albums of the 1980's at 94# considered "a landmark album of danceable post-punk music." (the genre "alternative dance" was not coined yet). A bonus track was made on 2008 for Record Day
Allmusic has given the album 4 and a half stars with this review:
A great leap forward from their funereal debut album, New Order's place as the most exciting dance-rock hybrid in music (and it didn't even include the massive "Blue Monday" single, released earlier that year). Confident and invigorating where Movement had sounded disconsolate and lost, the record simply pops with energy from the beginning "Age of Consent," an alternative pop song with only a smattering of synthesizers overlaying an assured Bernard Sumner, who took his best vocal turn yet. Unlike the hordes of synth pop acts then active, New Order experimented heavily with their synthesizers and sequencers. What's more, while most synth pop acts kept an eye on the charts when writing and recording, if New Order were looking anywhere (aside from within), it was the clubs -- "The Village" and "586" had most of the technological firepower of the mighty "Blue Monday." But whenever the electronics threatened to take over, Peter Hook's grubby basslines, Bernard Sumner's plaintive vocals, and Stephen Morris' point-perfect drum fills reintroduced the human element. Granted, they still had the will for moodiness; the second track was "We All Stand," over five minutes of dubbed-out melancholia. Aside from all the bright dance music and production on display, Power, Corruption & Lies also portrayed New Order's growing penchant for beauty: "Your Silent Face" is a sublime piece of electronic balladry.
Robert Christagu gave it a B+: The second or third Joy Division II album has occasioned disputation among the faithful. Some claim that it cynically recycles their riffs, while others think it raises that old new music to transcendent summits. Me, I find it relatively gentle and melodic in its ambient postindustrial polyrhythms, their nicest record ever. I also think it sounds pretty much like the others.
Note: In some versions, Blue Monday is at the end of Side One and in the US version, The Beach is put at the end of Side Two.
- Blue Monday
- The Beach
- Thieves Like Us
- Lonesome Tonight
- Theives Like Us Instrumental
- Confusion Instrumental
Bernard Sumner - vocals, guitar, melodica, synthesizing, programing
Peter Hook - bass, electronic percussion
Stephen Morris - drums, synthesizing and programing
Gillian Gilbert - guitars, main synthesizers and programming
Michael Johnson - enginnering
Barry Sage - assistant
Mark Boyne - assistant