It’s actually a misleading title as Peter Hook has been involved in many a brilliant bit of dance/pop/indie/electonica music over the years as part of New Order. I’m just thinking that this is easily his best as a solo artist…
This reached the giddy heights of #11 in the UK singles chart in February 1997 which is higher than all but eight singles from his better known and long-standing combo (and its six if you discount remix versions of Blue Monday and True Faith that took those tracks into the Top 10 for a second occasion)
I was really intrigued when I first heard What Do You Want From Me? I was convinced it was fresh stuff from New Order. At this point in history, the band were on a very lengthy sabbatical – it had been four years since they had released any new songs, and Bernard Sumner had been quite public that he was enjoying life far more as a member of Electronic alongside Johnny Marr.
My initial reaction that this was a clever way of making a comeback – a duet featuring Hooky and Barney – but of course it turned out to be a side-project band featuring Hooky and David Potts who had previously been with him in Revenge.
Listening back now, I think Monaco was Hooky’s warning shot that he wasn’t prepared to sit around all his life waiting for his main source of income to reform and start recording again. He deliberately went out of his way to release something that sounded more like a New Order record than anything else he had ever done in his other side-projects, and it was even more so than anything from Electronic or The Other Two. No-one can deny that David Potts sang like Barney, and there’s just no mistaking that distinctive bass that had been the driving force behind so many great songs over the previous near two-decades.
And when you delve into the history of Monaco, its clear to see that Hooky was giving it his all with this band. There was a lengthy UK tour as support act to The Charlatans in May 1997, an appearance at T in The Park in July 1997, followed by a short US tour that included gigs at venues at prestigious as The Filmore in San Francisco.
Until I did some research for this post, I had assumed Monaco had come and gone after 1997.
But it turns out that a follow-up LP was recorded in 1999 that was rejected by the record label. It was later given a very low-key release on an indie label, with the band appearing at a number of festivals that year, followed by a handful of gigs in 2000. It seems there was then a huge row between Hooky and David Potts (it is alleged the latter wanted to begin to move away from the New Order influences on the Monaco sound), and the band split up. Within a matter of months, New Order, with ex-Marion guitarist Phil Cunningham now on board, were back in the studio….
And here’s the other two tracks that can be found on the CD single that sits on one of the shelves in Villain Towers:-