The ‘Blue Monday’ Ripoffs

new order - blue monday UK12AIt was almost 31 years prior to the day when  the seminal New Order single “Blue Monday” was initially released. The 12″ sporting a floppy disc inspired sleeve was issued by Factory on March 3, 1983 and once it hit the street it was utterly ubiquitous! Everyone wanted a copy and you heard it playing all over the place; even in the sleepy Central Florida backwater where I lived at the time. It had the deliberate, relentlessly inhuman, drum machine sound that was completely futuristic for that period. Arty club music would never be the same again as New Order embraced a vision of electric dance music that was arguably as Post-Kraftwerk as the Art Of Noise would be just a few months later in the year. Of course it would have repercussions in the marketplace. Today, we’ll look at three of the more obvious releases that traveled in its wake.

Fiction Records | UK | 12" | 1983 | ficsx 18

Fiction Records | UK | 12″ | 1983 | ficsx 18

The Cure: The Walk UK EP [1983]

  1. The Upstairs Room
  2. The Dream
  3. The Walk
  4. Lament

The Cure were only remotely connected to New Order by being a moderately successful, angst-ridden New Wave band ca. 1983, but they were just coming into their second wind as pop stars making the shift from cult act to really shifting some units. Their commercial line in the sand seems to have been the “Let’s Go To Bed” single from the prior year.  In America, where “Bed” gave them a profile for the first time, the follow up was this single, sold as a 6-track EP. The A-side was “The Walk,” a track that reached the street on July 5, 1983 and sounded for all the world like a re-write of “Blue Monday.”

The synth bass locked in unison with a very similar, relentless drum machine pattern marked this single as being as close to “Blue Monday” as possible while still retaining an identity of its own as a Cure song. To its benefit, I have to admit that I prefer the singing and lyrics of Robert Smith on this track to “Blue Monday.”  Smith wins me over vocally whereas Bernard Sumner is absolutely not the reason why anyone wanted to hear “Blue Monday.” Sorry, Barney. The nimble rhythm guitar here is also a pleasure that makes this track distinct from its progenitor.

divine - love reactionUK12A

Divine: Love Reaction UK 12″ [1983]

  1. Love Reaction
  2. Love Reaction [instrumental]

The development of Waters Superstar Divine into a disco star was not an event that I ever would have predicted. But as sure as it happened, his initial brace of singles made with hi-NRG maven Bobby Orlando were enough to get him a club following where his notoriety was all of the publicity that his fans needed to give him a second career as a recording artist. “Love Reaction” was an astonishing lift of the “Blue Monday” sound via what sounded like a slightly pitch-shifted sampling of the New Order record with Divine providing the rudimentary vocals and a cursory synth lead line providing a bolted-on melody to lend it its only differentiation from “Blue Monday.”

I like the cheap hi-NRG Bobby Orlando sound on the face of it, but this record is not where I’d go to hear it first. It’s just too derivative, and more to the point, Orlando was not capable of taking the inspiration from “Blue Monday” and then doing something with it. This barely sounds like a song, and let’s be frank. If Divine were not on the sleeve, no one in their right mind would want to hear this.

Factory | UK | LP | 1983 | FACT75

Factory | UK | LP | 1983 | FACT75

New Order: Power, Corruption + Lies UK LP [1983]

  1. Age Of Consent
  2. We All Stand
  3. The Village
  4. 5 8 6
  5. Your Silent Face
  6. Ultraviolence
  7. Ecstasy
  8. Leave Me Alone

Finally, in a move no one really expected, New Order themselves provided a “Blue Monday” soundalike on the album that quickly followed “Blue Monday” in the marketplace, but in a typical New Order move, did not contain any of their singles at the time, which were all non-LP. That didn’t stop them from all but cloning “Blue Monday” to provide the blueprint for a track called “5 8 6” on the “Power, Corruption + Lies” album. One has to ask why they bothered, unless that felt they couldn’t get away with a seven track album, and bristled at the thought of including “Blue Monday” on an album. “5 8 6” is not much of a track. It is the cut that drags down the otherwise sterling “Power, Corruption + Lies” album from being a complete career best.

At the end of the day, The Cure win at this particular gambit. They made a weird New Order wannabe record that is sort of the odd one out in their discography, but at least it’s recognizable as a Cure song even in its “Blue Monday” drag. Speaking of drag, Divine would be rightly fêted for a brace of singles as produced by Stock, Aitken, Waterman that immediately followed “Love Reaction” in his discography. They are realms superior to this derivative and inconsequential track that does neither Divine nor Bobby “O” any favors. Finally, the decision of New Order to plagiarize themselves was one of those head-scratching moments that clearer thinking might have helpfully prevented.

– 30 –

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5 Responses to The ‘Blue Monday’ Ripoffs

  1. Steve Shafer says:

    Back in the day, I bought The Cure’s “The Walk” 12″ thinking it was “Blue Monday” because Sumner sang on the radio about walking down to a beach and I had no idea of “Blue Monday’s” actual title!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Steve Shafer – That is an amazing story! I’ll bet once you played it, it got even more confusing. Here was a record that you thought was “Blue Monday,” and it almost sounded like it, too – but it wasn’t. And therein lies the rub.

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  2. Echorich says:

    You have to take into account that the world in which Robert Smith travelled musically with Easy Cure and The Cure intersected with Joy Division and New Order an awful lot. Smith was definitely taken by the Manchester school of Punk. Lots of the early Easy Cure and Cure songs have a debt to pay to The Buzzcocks, maybe even Magazine as a stretch, but Easy Cure and the earliest version of The Cure opened for played on the same bill with Joy Division I believe a half dozen times. I always thought Smith was following the JD/NO sound once Three Imaginary Boys came out. By the time The Walk came out the homage was at its height.
    The Walk is a brilliant track. As much as it owes EVERTHING to Blue Monday, it is still a different animal. Smith’s lyrical vision is dream sequenced where Sumner’s lyrics are actually more existential (which would have actually been The Cure circa Killing An Arab to just twist things into another knot.) It’s more melodic to my ears where Blue Monday is a pure disco rave – a great, pure disco rave.
    Now as for 586, I’ve never considered it an attempt to recapture Blue Monday, but to break down elements of the electronics it celebrated and create more of a pop song. In essence it could be seen as New Order trying to achieve what I hear in The Walk. What you have to hear is Prime 586/Video 586 which actually predates Blue Monday and is actually supposed to be the blueprint for Blue Monday and and was played at the opening of The Hacienda. I think a lot of Power, Corruption and Lies is based on the drum pattern found in Prime 586 and Blue Monday…certainly they are there in Ultraviolence and Ecstacy. The version of 586 on PCaL does leave my head scratching a bit since it breaks down the blueprint track drastically.
    PCaL is my second favorite NO album – Low-Life is my favorite and is probably one of my Top 10 albums if I was ever forced (or forced myself) to go down that path.

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  3. stellaVista says:

    Did you only list rip-off tracks that were released in 1983?
    In 1985 Dutch band “Clan of Xymox” came up with Stranger, their own rip-off which to me sounds like a mash-up of Blue Monday AND The Walk. Especially the instrumental parts on the 12″ mix sound more like a remix than an original recording. The drum pattern, the choir-sample, the break-down/explosion, it´s all there.
    Then, when the vocals come in after a long intro, it´s like Robert Smith speak-talks some og his Camus-inspired phrases. The only thing that Stranger adds is an abundance of orchestra-hits which ironically got the goths dancing to this like mad.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      stellaVista – Welcome to the comments! Thanks for pointing that one out since I had not heard that Clan of Xymox track. I’ve been around a long time, but I’m not infallible… that would be the Post-Punk Pope. I just sampled “Stranger [remix]” and yeah, you pegged that one right on the mark! Right down to the Camus title.

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