Rock ‘n Roll Soldiers: An Unknown Anthem From the Original New Order
Holy shit. When I heard this song, my eyes opened wide and I gripped my desk till the red came into my fingernails. This is a song you hear and as a songwriter you say, “I’m ripping that off. I don’t care.” The shrill scream of the vocals hits you in the ear like a screeching fucking missile. It was an instant declaration of war on the listener and anyone else who thought that true, cocky rock and roll had already taken its final gasp.
What an insanely powerful song from the legend: Ron Asheton. He did us all a huge favor and kept going after the Stooges essentially dissipated. He formed The New Order. Idol worship is unhealthy. Ron worship is not. If you hear this and don’t become a soldier in Ron’s New Order then good, ’cause you don’t have tasty licks and foot stomps beating in your veins. Just regular old, boring blood. You do not have what it takes to win the war against the jive (a war that they claim to be at the forefront of in the chorus). You are not ready to wield the six-string mace and walk through miles of barbed wire.
The lyrics to this song are hard and gruff, comparing the rock and roll landscape to an ongoing war zone with New Order in the trenches against the ever developing poserdom of the 70’s. Patti Labelle, Elton John and the like. In the words of David Vincent, formerly of the Amboy Dukes, you can hear Ron’s anger coming through. Between getting fucked over countless times in the early seventies with the Stooges and dealing with Iggy Pop’s antics, you can tell he’s making a statement with this song: he’s still doing the damn thing. Rocking is all that matters to him and he’s gonna get his pure aggression out by any means necessary. Someone’s got to do it. He has to trudge forward.
How are you gonna have Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson (MC5) and Ron in the same immaculate triumphant incarnation? The most unknown and yet, the most legit super group of pure rock ‘n roll. Something like that could have only lasted for little over a year (early 1975-late 1976), because it was to good to be true. After recording one singles album, The New Order, which was produced by space-rocker Neil Merryweather, the core of the group, Thompson and Asheton, formed the New Race which had members of Radio Birdmen and The Hitmen. They recorded one live record and called it quits.
Furthering their legend status in my head, is a small inscription on the back of their 1987 reissue of the original tracks, Declaration of War. The inscription read: “This album is dedicated to the CULT.” Some say this is a nod to Blue Oyster Cult, one of the darker bands in the history of heavy metal. And while I think this would be badass, I’d like to believe this is a dedication to the mysterious and deviant subcultures that have scared and confused “the norms” for ages.
To me, Ron Asheton was surely a leader in one of the biggest, the cult of rock and roll.