Seminal Single: New Order – Blue Monday

Is there a better embodiment the phrase “form follows function” than with the iconic Peter Saville sleeve for New Order’s 1983 single “Blue Monday?” Apparently, Saville was meeting with the band when he saw them using a floppy disc to retrieve some programming for their Emulator and wondered if that might not be the ideal model for the packaging to the new single. After all, the track was conceived of as simply a way to try out their new Oberheim DMX drum machine.

Factory | US | 12" | 1983 | FACTUS 10

New Order: Blue Monday US 12″

  1. Blue Monday
  2. The Beach

Data is written to the label in "sectors"

The design followed through magnificently on the label itself, which has the relevant data written exactly like data written in sectors on a disk surface. And setting type on an arc like this was no doubt done with Presstype®! You kids won’t know what I’m talking about, but we old timers can have the thrills of a cold sweat just thinking about that!

While the sleeve was striking, it was the musical contents of the record that have reverberated for so long. The juxtaposition of the relentless, hammering drum machine with the deep, melodic bass of Peter Hook fought for rhythmic supremacy over a shimmering bed of glistening synth lines, some of which anticipated, ever so slightly, acid house style to come. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that this single, which was a monster hit in its time, was as seminal a club record as Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” was six years earlier. The endless parade of [inferior] post-modern remixes of this single every several years, will attest to that straightaway.

Strangely enough, there is no seven inch edit of this track! The video for this that occasionally aired on MTV in their pre-cambrian era was of the band playing it live on Top Of The Pops in a edit lasting approximately five of the cut’s seven and a half minute length. Word has it that Poland was the only country that released a 7″ single of “Blue Monday” and the entire track is groove crammed onto the tiny disc. It remained until Quincy Jones hacked together the coarse 1988 remix of the cut until there was actually an edit shorter than the original running time.

This is not a record with a lot of heart. In fact, it’s a single with almost none at all. What it does have, in spades, is a sound coupled with a relentless attitude. It sounds unstoppable. The track’s influence on various genres of club music that followed, from hi-NRG to house, acid house, and techno is immeasurable. With this single, New Order took the mantle of technological club music from their forebears Kraftwerk, and rode that sucker for a good eight to ten years of supremacy.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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17 Responses to Seminal Single: New Order – Blue Monday

  1. Echorich says:

    Blue Monday is a statement of intent (no matter being unintentional) that was truly borne out by a body of work that spans from that point through Technique. Yes, there were stumbles, especially on Brotherhood, but there are also some amazing highlights – including Confusion, Thieves Like Us, Sub-Culture, Perfect Kiss, Bizzare Love Triangle, True Faith, and Fine Time. All through this they never lost sight of their post punk roots. Some of my favorite tracks are Elegia, Sunrise, Age of Consent, Your Silent Face, Every Little Counts, 1963 and Vanishing Point.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Interesting that you seem to lose the love for New Order following “Technique” as well. I think they just lost their momentum and they certainly lost me. I know that when I picked up “Regret,” there seemed to be no reason to buy anything else, so I didn’t. Moreover, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, either. I think what really killed New Order was their football single!! Now that I think about it, that was the nail in their coffin, for me.

      Sidebar: If you like the same era of New Order that I do, you must get Cold Cave’s “Cherish The Light Years!” It’s the best album New Order never followed up “Power, Corruption, And Lies” with! Once you hear “Confetti” you will know exactly where they are going with this! Truth be told, I am enjoying this a lot more than “Low Life,” “Brotherhood,” or “Technique!”

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      • Echorich says:

        I will take the recommendation and get my hands on it right away!
        Yeah Republic has it’s moments, but it truly is New Order by the numbers, no new ground laid or even paved over… Regret is the stand out track. PC&L and Low-Life are the pinnacle for me. I still skip tracks on Brotherhood and even Technique leaves me underwhelmed in parts. Like so many bands I love, 86/87 were make or break years for NO. The Bunnymen stumble (although less in my mind) at this time, The Comsat Angels put out their last essential music for quite some time, The Chameleons as well and Simple Minds lose the plot a bit. I love to blame the rise of U2 on some of this and bands I like, or their labels, all thinking that they had to go the same route or doubting themselves. In the end most of the bands I liked were going on or were 10 yrs old by then and that’s a long time to be making important music, let alone get along with each other.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – I’ve been analyzing exactly why the mid-eighties were so disastrous for so many musicians I loved, and your U2 theory is very intriguing. Certainly, by then they were the elephant in the room of what was left of post-punk. The recent story on The Electricity Club [http://www.electricity-club.co.uk/html/direction.html] touches on many of the disappointing albums of the time, but it doesn’t seek to tie it all together. I’ve had a draft on the subject in my blog dashboard but it requires more thought and a lot of writing. I hate to get bogged down and not post but that one will demand it, unless I can muster up a backlog. Damn! Simple Minds hurt me the most. I think they fell the furthest for the longest. And by doing so almost came within reach of U2 before they laughed and pulled way ahead. I’m not a U2 fan, to put it mildly.

          I recently saw the excellent documentary “This Might Get Loud” with Jack White [I’ve never heard The White Stripes], The Edge [couldn’t escape U2], and Jimmy Page [ditto x 100 for Zep] and enjoyed it in spite of not being a U2 fan in particular. The best scene in the movie was when Jimmy Page is playing his 45 of Link Wray’s mighty “Rumble” and the joy in his face is infectious! He even plays air guitar along with it and you don’t want to slap him. Later in the film, The Edge remarks that until they made that film, he’d never heard Link Wray!!

          That explains volumes. No wonder I never liked U2.

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        • Echorich says:

          Keep working on that topic Monk!! I think there is a great big tie in for the majority of these bands and their trip ups and falls from grace in the mid/late 80’s. I am wholly with you on Simple Minds. While I saw “Don’t You” for the disaster it would be, I also believed they deserved the exposure. But too much fresh air in Upstate NY or something, just permeates Once Upon A Time and it doesn’t flow the way it should. Although I love Robin Clark – she became a friend of mine along with husband Carlos Alomar in the late 80’s as we ran in the same nightlife circles in NYC back then – I’m not convinced by her prominence on OUAT. I honestly recoiled at Street Fighting Years when I first heard it and didn’t revisit it for years. I scratched my head over Belfast Child with my first thought being, “really Jim? Couldn’t you think of something other than going directly to Ireland to out U2 U2?” I have since come back to it with more acceptance. Now the 90’s SM just confuse me. With Neon Lights I think they got their mojo back. I really love Black and White and Graffiti Soul as well.

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          • postpunkmonk says:

            Echorich – I was also okay with the exposure factor on “Don’t You.” At the time I was saying “it’s about time my favorite bands are getting some love in The States!” At the time it made me feel less like a freak, but do you know what? Being a freak is better. In hindsight, if that single had never happened it would have been far better for Simple Minds [if not their bank accounts]. Unlike you, I felt that Robin Clark was one factor on “Once Upon A Time” that I was comfortable with. I liked the way she toured with them as well. It was like she got band membership for that record; and she deserved it, too.

            Over the years my feelings on “Street Fighting Years” has gone from disappointment to vitriolic hatred. “Real Life” was a halfway decent EP in album form with just enough juice to barely maintain my interest. I felt that “Good News From The Next World” was a real renewal of energies. I loved that album. It totally rekindled my fandom. From that point on, I really wanted to see them again, and in 1986 I had suffered through the “Once Upon A Time Tour;” no mean feat! That show left long-standing scars, let me tell you. I really liked “Neapolis” but was disappointed that Forbes was just a hired hand for it; they will never be truly great without his foundational, inspirational bass lines! It’s that simple!

            I liked the different techniques they tried on “Neon Lights.” The album was so-so to me but “Cry” is the payoff in spades for me! That’s my favorite Simple Minds album since “Sparkle In The Rain.” It sounds completely fresh and invigorated by not being packed with frumpy Kerr/Burchill songs; there – I said it! “Black & White” was okay, but the energy dissipated by “side two” to a lethargic smacked-out haze almost as bad as the unspeakable “Our Secrets Are The Same.” I don’t blame Chrysalis for not releasing that. I’m diminished for having heard it, frankly. “Graffiti Soul” was very good; more consistent than “Cry” with some real strong sounds, but it doesn’t quite reach the high-water mark that “Cry” does for me. I still need to get the Kerr album. I suspect that it’s a corker. It’s just what with so many different formats featuring exclusive music, I’m disinclined to buy the damned thing at all! And since I’m Kerr’s target market in a nutshell, that’s bad business!

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        • Echorich says:

          I am going to have to go back to Cry and Good News and reassess. The best way to look again at something that didn’t move you artistically is to hear another opinion and then try again.
          I think that maybe I am being too harsh on Robin Clark – its just that when I see the vid for All The Things She Said, it brings words like throw away, or afterthought to mind and maybe I am blaming her for more than I should.

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          • postpunkmonk says:

            Echorich – Interesting you should say that, because I consider the video for “All The Things She Said” the only great Simple Minds clip. I think Zbigniew Rubczynski’s video mandala technique was completely original and captivating. You may want to take my rantings with a grain of salt. Re: On “Good News,” it’s a rare example of Trouser Press and I seeing absolutely eye-to eye for a change. http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=simple_minds

            The reason why I love “Cry” so much is because it is a “pop” record and definitely not the “rock” record the band have been making for nearly 20 years up to that time. Simple Minds lost a lot for me when they became a rock band. Writing with those Italo-disco producers was the best thing in the world for Jim Kerr, in my opinion. He’s been aiming in the right direction for me, with varying degrees of success, ever since.

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  2. Taffy says:

    I think people are quick to call something seminal, but “Blue Monday” is so wildly important and influential that if isn’t seminal, what the heck is?? I love this song; even decades of overplay haven’t dulled its impact. As for post-Technique New Order, I think there are some good singles lurking about – I especially enjoy “World (The Price of Love)” off Republic and “Krafty” from Waiting for the Sirens Call.
    Agreed that the new Cold Cave make a nice New Order-y noise. You might also wanna check out Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colour album for more New Order devotion (“Lights and Music” is particularly stupendous).

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  3. chas_m says:

    Oh gawd, Presstype!!

    I was just going to suggest Cut Copy as well, but Taffy beat me to it!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chas_m/Taffy – That’s two now for Cut Copy. Do I hear a third?

      In my many Peter Saville books and monographs, his use of Letraset® for setting type on a curve by hand is well documented, by the way.

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  4. Tim says:

    I snagged one of Peter Hook’s books on Amazon last week for a couple of dollars. So far it’s a fun read, better than I had anticipated, less catty than I feared it may have been, some self-deprecation. I suggest it to anyone interested in knowing about the band and their writing.There’s not a TON of info about Blue Monday in there but it is interesting reading about how these songs get put together using the tools of the trade. Hook does a fine job breaking down sequencers and all that for those of us who may appreciate technology but not be gearheads ourselves.

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    • negative1ne says:

      I would never touch anything by peter hook, bookwise, or even bother with his rantings, and lunatic ravings. The definitive book about the 80s sessions is this: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Monday-Diaries-Studio-Order/dp/0859655466

      The Blue Monday Diaries: In the Studio with New Order Paperback – March 15, 2016
      A fixture on the Madchester party scene, he knew New Order from the very beginning of their career. A trusted friend, he was welcomed into the intense fortnight-long studio sessions for Power, Corruption and Lies to document the band’s progress throughout. For the next two decades, his notes remained unpublished – until now.

      Used or new, it’s cheap and easy to get. Highly recommended with a ton of details. some are rather plain, and day to day, but others are very insightful.
      ——–
      my review:

      – this book is for hard core new order fans that want ALL the minor details going on, what they are wearing, what they are eating, what they are listening to , etc

      the book is mostly made of 3 parts (not including the intro, and the extra stuff at the end)..
      =======================
      1 the diary

      exactly what it says it is, there are even pictures of scans of the handwritten notes, and then in painstaking detail, all the internal and external events going on during the recording of the album

      2 the mixing of the album

      since the writer wasn’t around when this was going on, this part was filled up by notes from band members, and other contributors.

      to me this was the most interesting part, with details about the songs

      3 the aftermath

      details about the tour, and information about blue monday, and also stuff that the author was working on musically
      =========================
      honestly there is very little that is new information about the songs, and the album for most people.

      however, there are details that might not have been revealed before.
      =========================
      unless you’re a big fan of the album, and this era, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this as much as people that were around then, or if it’s their favorite.

      i found listening to the album and tracks fit nicely along with reading the descriptions and details.

      later
      -1

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  5. Tim says:

    Curious where the lunatic ravings opinion comes from? I haven’t seen much of anything in this book (about 40 percent done) that I would call a rant or a rave or even sour grapes. I know that the band has had their ups and downs but even consuming a lot of UK music press in the 80’s and 90’s (NME, Select, MM, Q, Uncut, Mojo) I’ve managed to stay pretty insulated from all that.

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    • negative1ne says:

      I too have tried to stay away from the negativity. But checking in on some New Order forums for the last couple of years. You can see all the inane things he posted on twitter, facebook, and social media and the constant stream of crazy interviews, insults, and complaints throughout the time of his split up, and lawsuit against the band (which has been settled). It’s all there for people to see. Which is why even though I haven’t read all of them, the clear tone of them is easy enough to infer. There’s no point in trying to even bother seeing his point of view, when he blatantly admits what it was.

      later
      -1

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  6. negative1ne says:

    Here’s a small sampling: Hooky calls Phil an idiot https://youtu.be/uFxpmjYVDxg?t=262
    “When they took New Order from me…” – Hooky Interview – http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/analysis/it-just-seemed-ridiculous-that-a-group-could-have-that-much-success-and-yet-enjoy-it-so-little-to-be-honest-i-m-glad-to-see-the-back-of-that-says-peter-hook-1-8432874

    “After out of 100 pages on his life in New Order… – …he devoted over 60 of them to calling me a bastard!” – Hooky Interview – http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/498724/peter-hook-interview.htm

    “Even for the rest of f****** New Order, the miserable b******s.” – Peter Hook Brings Hacienda Classical to the Hydro
    Peter Hook Battles On… – Peter Hook interview and mock MC t-shirt – http://www.theargus.co.uk/leisure/music/13949988.Peter_Hook_on_his_battles_with_Bernard_and_revisiting_New_Order_s_1980s_output/

    “I saw them promoting their new LP in a very safe and normal fashion,” he says. “It was quite sad – I was thinking we used to be so revolutionary, and now they’re boring old men.”

    …I really do wish they had actually written them with me. – Irish News interview with Peter Hook – http://www.irishnews.com/arts/2016/01/08/news/let-there-be-light-peter-hook-on-new-odour–374475/

    “If there was some way to find to stop it… It’s like a runaway horse.” – Peter Hook Interview –

    York got to be kidding – Peter Hook Interview with Yorkshire Post – http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/yorkshire-living/arts/music/peter-hook-goes-back-in-musical-time-1-7317620 “When Hook was in New Order, they only played Joy Division songs once.”

    “Bernard’s book, in my opinion, is a bloody tissue of lies.” – Hooky’s hate of Barney nose no bounds? – http://blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality/2014/11/peter_hook_new_order_joy_division.php

    “…me and tw#t-face” – Rare interview with Peter Hook – http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-23519-unknown-pleasures.html

    “…Fraud Order in their new Frankenstein incarnation.” – More Hooky musings. – https://www.macombdaily.com/news/nation-world-news/peter-hook-returns-with-two-more-new-order-albums-to/article_7d5f1921-3e3f-5ac2-bf44-681547721064.html

    That should give you an idea. Sure some of it is sensationalist, but its very consistent
    in tone and demeanor what his thoughts are.

    later
    -1

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  7. Tim says:

    I finished up Hook’s book and found it interesting. I don’t really have a take on the whole who said what about who thing, over the years I’ve sensed that they all have some issues and sometimes play nice together and sometimes don’t. It doesn’t help that they work in an industry that doesn’t really foster growing up, adult behavior, etc. Hook calls himself out on his behavior, hind sight is 20/20, and says a lot more kind things about Barney than critical comments. Glad I read it, not the best music bio I’ve read but sure entertaining.

    I’ve started in on Peter Guarlnick’s “Last Train to Memphis” and am enjoying the hell out of it. My late brother and I were big Elvis fans when we were kids and as an adult I like Nick Cave a lot. I never realized some of the things in Caves songs, even recent albums, that were references to the Elvis bio but I am picking that up in this book. A nice intersection of biography and general music and social history. I’ve had trepidation about buying this for years and finally did and really like it.

    Like

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