New Order, circa 1989

Rhino Records has set an Aug. 25 release date for its 2CD re-reissues of New Order’s first five albums following last year’s release of mislabeled, poorly mastered editions that apparently included some tracks ripped straight from vinyl — complete with skips, crackles and pops.

The expanded reissues of Movement (1981), Power Corruption and Lies (1983), Low-Life (1985), Brotherhood (1986) and Technique (1989) initially were released in the UK in September and, despite immediate outcry from fans, still were issued in the U.S. in November.

Fans on the NewOrderOnline.com forums claim to have confirmed more than 300 errors across the five reissues, focusing mainly on the bonus discs and including scratches and digital glitches, volume changes, errors in the sleeve notes, misidentified tracks and overall sound quality more akin to “bootleg MP3s.”

Bassist Peter Hook responded last fall, posting on his MySpace blog that the band and its record label no longer had some of the master tapes for the bonus material:

“I have said before how difficult it is compiling this stuff, the masters Steve (Morris, New Order’s drummer) and I listened to, were all basically from people’s collections, so it was then left to someone in the library department to compile, as much as possible from original masters. This is where it seems to have gone wrong…”

New Order and its labels eventually apologized, characterizing the issue as “some minor audio problems on the bonus discs,” and reminding fans that while they would attempt to correct those problems, “due to the age and condition of some of the original source tapes, the sound quality may vary.”

Fans were encouraged to contact Rhino for details on how to exchange their botched discs for the new issues once they were made available. Initially, buyers were told the new editions would be ready in late April/early May, then that date shifted to June and, finally, to Aug. 25.

Buyers who e-mailed drrhino@rhino.com recently say they’ve received the following reply:

Thank you for your email and your patience. The replacement New Order discs are scheduled to become available on 8/25/09. Also at that time, the 5 albums will be re-released to retail outlets, with upgraded audio.

If you would like to receive corrected replacement discs, please reply to this email with your name, shipping address, a list of the discs that you need replaced and a digital photo of your discs. We will send out your replacements as soon as possible.

Thank you again for your patience and understanding in this matter.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Dr. Rhino

The new editions are available for pre-order. It remains to be seen, of course, whether fans will be satisfied with whatever changes Rhino has made to the mastering and source material. Given the up-front warnings, it seems unlikely all of the problems can be fixed.

Video: Peter Hook discusses the New Order reissues

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