The biggest selling 12″ of all-time. I’m sure it would have sold many more copies if it actually had the name of the artist, or at least the title of the track on the sleeve. But no, New Order never did the obvious thing.
The sleeve of Blue Monday only has FAC73 on its spine, a catalogue number for the release from Factory Records.
Back in 1983 12 Inch Singles were not that common. Blue Monday single handedly shaped that market for many other artists to explore.
When I first heard Blue Monday I was not that much into music at all. My free time would be spent collecting empty bottles of Corona from neighbours and legging it to the arcade after i’d traded the bottles for 10 pence pieces. The 10p pieces I did not see as money but just a necessary tool to play Asteroids, Scramble, Phoenix, Moon Cresta and the like.
I’d truly say Blue Monday turned me onto music. When I first caught it on Radio 1 I was like “what the hell is that!” – it sounded so different to usual`chart material. I’d never heard of the band and with a bit of investigation you could see and sense that New Order were a band with real depth and groundbreaking qualities. If Adam & the Ants, The Specials and Madness served as a soundtrack to my last years in Junior School, New Order had stormed in to become a key band to soundtrack my Senior School soundtrack.
I’m pretty sure the record charted very low – then came back up the charts. It was one of those records that, very welcomingly, seemed to hang around for ages.
I used to love that when I put the 12 Inch of Blue Monday on it would literally pound the speakers. I’d take the speaker dust covers off just to watch the speaker bounce violently to that drum machine intro.
The drum machine intro is added to by weaving keyboards, it sounds very simple and builds with true urgent grace. Then – it kind of gathers itself – checks – the bounds around with a fantastic rhythm. Next that “ahhhh” key is added. It’s a majestic intro.
Bernard Sumner sings with a vocal that, back in ’83, i’d never heard such a deadpan delivery. I still struggle to think of a better deadpan vocal – is there one?
The deadpan vocal is backed by the beat bouncing around with near lunacy. Peter Hook’s bass seemingly the only conventional instrument. It manages to be the ultimate pop-chink in New Order’s catalogue but totally unique with it.
As Blue Monday fades out you are delighted that the B-Side, The Beach is a more pumped up but almost dub version of Blue Monday. In 1983 the idea of a re-mix / re-working was too quite unique.
After checking out the bands material and also Joy Divisions essential 2 albums an dreamy idea came to mind. Imagine if it had been Ian Curtis delivering that deadpan vocal. I would love to have heard that.
Yes, it’s a dreamy idea, and true that the band may not have slotted so well into shaping electronic music with that extra dynamic – but just for a moment – listen to Blue Monday and try to imagine Curtis’s sombre tones on it.
Blue Monday, for me, is the best 12″ of all-time. Also, i’d say it’s New Orders best ever track, it’s a milestone in many ways and, nearly 30 years on – it still sounds friggin’ fantastic.