"True Faith" is a song by New Order, produced by Stephen Hague. It was the first New Order single since their debut Ceremony to be issued in the UK as two separate 12" singles. The second 12" single features two remixes of "True Faith" by Shep Pettibone. Both versions of the 12" (and also the edited 7") include the song "1963". "True Faith" is one of New Order's most popular songs.
The single peaked at no. 4 in the United Kingdom on its original release in 1987. "True Faith" became New Order's first single to chart in the Hot 100 and would also go on to be a top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at no. 32.
A "True Faith" remix 12" single and CD single were released in 1994, and another "True Faith" remix 12" single and CD single were released in 2001. The 1994 remix charted in the UK at no. 9.
New Order wrote and recorded "True Faith" and "1963" during a 10-day studio session with producer Stephen Hague. The two songs were written as new material for New Order's first singles compilation album, Substance 1987. After the two songs were recorded, the band's US management decided that "True Faith" was the stronger track and would be released as the new single, with "1963" as the B-side ("1963" was remixed and issued as a single in its own right in 1994).
"That wasn't really a happy period in New Order's life," recalled Peter Hook. "Let's just say it was a bit of a battle for me to get on there at all, apart from in the sense of helping write the song. Musically, we were moving more towards straight dance and I was keen on keeping the New Order I'd known and loved. I eventually managed to get my bass on the original version. But, of course, the first thing any remixers do is take off my bass and put their own on. I sometimes feel like attaching a note saying, How about keeping the bass?"
"True Faith" was never used as a track on a regular album, though it did appear on most of New Order's "best of" collections (Substance 1987, The Best of New Order, Retro, International, Singles and Total). The first public performance of the song took place at the 1987 Glastonbury Festival; this version appears on the group's BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert album.
The original 7" version of the song did not appear on any album until 2011's "Total from Joy Division to New Order".
The release of "True Faith" was accompanied by a surreal music video directed and choreographed by Philippe Decouflé and produced by Michael H. Shamberg. In it, bizarrely costumed dancers leap about, fight and slap each other in time to the music; while a girl in dark green makeup emerges from an upside-down boxer's speed bag and signs the lyrics. The video has often been voted amongst the best music videos of its year. Sky Television's channel The Amp, for instance, has it rated as the best video of 1987, and it won the BPI award for Best Promotional Video in 1988. The video was inspired by Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer's Triadische Ballet.
The overall tonality, themes and various elements from the video re-occurred in Decouflé's scenography and choreography for the inauguration ceremonies of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
As is the case for many New Order songs of this period, the words in the title do not appear anywhere in the lyrics.
The original lyrics included a verse that read "Now that we've grown up together/They're all taking drugs with me". Hague convinced Sumner to change the latter line to "They're afraid of what they see" because he was worried that otherwise it would not get played on the radio. When performing the song live, the band have usually used the original line.
During a live performance in 1993 in Reading, Sumner replaced the first lines of the second verse with the lyrics "When I was a very small boy, Michael Jackson played with me. Now that we've grown up together, he's playing with my willy." as a topical reference to the allegations of sexual abuse against the singer.
"True Faith" was recorded at Advision Studio One, with production by New Order and Stephen Hague and was engineered by David Jacobs. According to Hague, the studio featured "...a first generation SSL board and big old Urei Time Align monitors. "True Faith" was created using a wide range of electronic musical equipment. According to an interview in 'Sound On Sound' by Richard Buskin, Hague notes that New Order provided a Yamaha QX 1, an Octave Voyetra 8 polyphonic synthesizer, a Yamaha DX 5 and an Akai S900 sampler, while he provided an E-mu Emulator II and an E-mu SP12.