REDUX: The Blue Monday Ripoffs

March 3, 2014

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

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.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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12 Responses to REDUX: The Blue Monday Ripoffs

  1. Gavin says:

    Interesting post!
    I received the original 12″ from a friend around my 15th birthday (March 4,83) and later realised how similar “586” was when I heard the album.I also have the Cure and Divine singles,though it never occurred to me before how similar The Walk is!
    I have a couple of interesting mash-up mixes of BM with more recent tracks mixed in,which I have occasionally played when DJing.

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  2. Stiv says:

    I believe the origins of 586 (re: Video 586) predates the creation of Blue Monday

    I could be wrong though

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Stiv – Welcome to the comments! Do tell? This sounds interesting. I thought “Blue Monday” came out of them testing their new drum machine. I have the book “New Order + Joy Division – Pleasures + Wayward Distractions” by Brian Edge [revised edition] and I should consult that for some long-forgotten detail.

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  3. Shelf says:

    A minor musical feud between New Order and The Cure is documented in Dave Thompson’s book, “True Faith.” The section on 1984 single “Murder” describes that instrumental as “…New Order’s response to The Cure’s recent hijinks on the fringe of their territory.” (i.e. “The Walk”) Fast forward to 1985: “This Time Of Night” nicks the bassline from “A Forest”, while “In Between Days” is derivative of “Dreams Never End.” And the similarity between “Just Like Heaven” (1987) and “All The Way” (1989) is fairly obvious. But despite all that nonsense, there’s no debate that New Order and The Cure have distinctive styles.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Shelf – I always thought that “In Between Days” was the best song New Order never made until Cold Cave appeared nearly 30 years later and nailed it to the wall with their “Cherish The Light Years” album which I actually prefer to most New Order albums.

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      • Tim says:

        The first Monaco album is quite good & I am very enamored of the Electronic catalog.

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      • Shelf says:

        Well Monk, I’m listening to Cold Cave now (having not heard of them prior to your comment), and I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one. Cold Cave are indeed adept at emulating their influences, but can’t rival the original artists who inspired them (and personally, I find New Order’s imperfections to be endearing).

        I see that Cold Cave are going out on the road soon; they’ll be in Durham on June 19 – are you going? I’m now thinking about the Philly show on June 15…

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Shelf – Well only the “Cherish The Light Years” has that New Order sound, as far as I know. I saw Cold Cave on that tour [when I was white hot to see them] as part of Moogfest, and we’ve been taking a lot of trips lately and with a few more to come, so no… no overnight for Cold Cave this time. If they were in town, no problem. I am seeing Soft Moon on the 28th though.

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          • Shelf says:

            After previewing “Cherish The Light Years” on Spotify, I went to the beginning of their recorded output and then skipped around a bit – there’s a lot going on in their sound. Besides the New Order chromosome, there are DNA traces from The Cure, Clan Of Xymox, Psyche, Jesus And Mary Chain, Fad Gadget, The Sisters Of Mercy, Chris & Cosey, Alien Sex Fiend – quite a stew. Thanks for the recommendation, Monk!

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  4. Echorich says:

    Stiv knows of what he speaks here, Primitive 586/Video 586 predates Blue Monday. New Order performed 586 at the opening of the Haçienda in May 82 – or so legend tells, some 10 months prior to Blue Monday coming out. There was even a 1982 video called “A Factory Video” which included Primitive 586 as the “hidden” last track. Curiously, it was release in the US as an NTSC Video!

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  5. Jordan says:

    I believe though not certain that the above is correct. That 586 (video) version came out just before Blue Monday. I think it was released by Touch on a Flexi disc or cassette as an exclusive. Both certainly share the same DNA.

    You can buy the full 20 minute 586 version on the B Music 3 CD compilation. That being said I also bought Blue Monday with the original cut out sleeve upon release. I thought it was the future then and still do.

    Plenty of facts about Blue Monday that Monk could do. Especially the one that the band lost money on each copy sold thanks to Mr Saville. True. But only on the initial run. Or that Kraftwerk we’re listening. Or when they sung it live on TOTP and it went down the charts. Etc.

    I enjoyed the Cure/Walk. Bought the EP. Yes. It sounded sort of similar but distinct enough to be a Cure product.

    I even enjoyed Divine. At the time. In the right place. It was a shock as I was used to seeing him with Waters.

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