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Friday, 2 December 2011

New Order - Blue Monday

'Blue Monday' is a single released in 1983 by British band New Order, and later remixed in 1988 and 1995. The song has been widely remixed and covered since its original release, and became a popular anthem in the dance club scene.

At nearly seven-and-a-half minutes, 'Blue Monday' is one of the longest tracks ever to chart in the UK, and is the biggest-selling 12 inch single of all time. Despite selling well it was not eligible for an official gold disc because Factory Records was not a member of the British Phonographic Industry association. However, the Official UK Chart Company (UK Singles Chart) has estimated its total UK sales at over one million. In the all-time UK best-selling singles chart, published in 2002, 'Blue Monday' came 76th.

'Blue Monday' is often seen as one of the most important crossover tracks of the 1980s pop music scene. Synthpop had been a major force in British popular music for several years, but 'Blue Monday' was arguably the first British dance record to exhibit an obvious influence from the New York club scene, particularly the work of producers like Arthur Baker (who collaborated on New Order's follow-up single 'Confusion').

According to Bernard Sumner, 'Blue Monday' was influenced by four songs: the arrangement came from 'Dirty Talk', by Klein + M.B.O.; the signature bassline with octaves came from Sylvester's disco classic, 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)'; the house beat came from 'Our Love', by Donna Summer; and the long keyboard pad on the intro and outro was sampled from the Kraftwerk song 'Uranium', from the Radio-Activity album.
In an interview for Channel 4's countdown of the biggest selling UK singles, the band claimed to have written the song in response to crowd disappointment at the fact that they never played encores. This song, they say, allowed them to return to the stage, press play on a synthesiser and leave the stage again. An example of this happening appears on New Order's concert video Pumped Full of Drugs.

A popular misconception about 'Blue Monday' holds that the single's die-cut sleeve, created by Factory designer Peter Saville, cost so much to produce that Factory Records actually lost money on each copy sold. It is unlikely that Factory Records could have sustained the losses implied, and the sleeve was soon changed to a similar non-die-cut design that would cost no more than a regular sleeve. It is, however, probably true that New Order saw little profit from the single's success, since an investment in the Haçienda nightclub swallowed much of the money they made from their hit.

Another notable feature of the sleeve is that it does not display either the group name nor song title in plain English anywhere. Instead the legend "FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER" is represented in code by a series of coloured blocks. The key enabling this to be deciphered was printed on the back sleeve of the album, Power, Corruption & Lies. 'Blue Monday' is one of three New Order releases from this time period to employ the colour code. The sleeve's spine simply reads "FAC SEVENTY THREE".

A music video for a shortened version of the original song was created in 1983, featuring military clips with false colour, simple computer-generated graphics such as colour blocks and geometric lines, digitised video of band members at very low resolution and framerate, and a short appearance of the game Zaxxon (reportedly the Apple II port). The colour blocks were created using Peter Saville's colour coded alphabet.

The music video for 'Blue Monday '88' (the Quincy Jones re-recording and mix of the song), shortened by several minutes and featuring added vocal effects, appears on the Substance video collection released as a companion to the album of the same name. It features sketches by photographer William Wegman and his Weimaraner dog named Fay Ray doing balancing acts intercut with hand-drawn animation by Robert Breer. The band members are shown standing around doing various tasks, such as walking a wooden plank over a floor that is painted blue, holding wire-mesh constructed art and milk crates over their faces, being hit by tennis balls, and standing still while they flip through various flip books (tying into the hand-drawn animation sequences).

On the Australian show Rage, a video was shown containing footage taken from their Top of the Pops performance with the studio track dubbed over it. At other times, the aforementioned videos also get airings.

'Blue Monday' has been a hit several times in the UK. In 1983, it charted twice, initially reaching number 12, then re-entering the chart later in the year and climbing to number 9, helped by the fact that neither side of the single (the B-side 'The Beach' was an instrumental re-working of 'Blue Monday') was featured on the UK version of the group's subsequent album, Power, Corruption & Lies.

New Order appeared on the BBC's Top of the Pops, on 31 March 1983, to promote the song. It had long been the show's policy that artists would mime to a backing track, but New Order insisted on performing 'Blue Monday' live. The performance was dogged by technical problems, and was unrepresentative of the recording. In the words of drummer Stephen Morris, "Blue Monday was never the easiest song to perform, anyway, and everything went wrong. The synthesisers went awry. It sounded awful".
In 1985, 'Blue Monday' and 'Thieves Like Us' were officially released in Poland as a 7 inch single in different sleeve by Tonpress under license from Factory Records and sold over 50 000 copies and reached number 5 on end of year single chart.
In 1988, 'Blue Monday' was officially remixed by Quincy Jones and John Potoker under the title 'Blue Monday 88' (with the instrumental flip being titled 'Beach Buggy'). The single reached number 3 in the British charts, number 4 in the Australian charts, and topped the dance charts in the United States. A further official remix/reissue in 1995, with a mix by Hardfloor as the lead track, also made the British Top 20.

Click the link below to download the following:
Original Version
1983 Extended Edit
Version Instrumental
Version Vocal
Extended Hardfloor Mix
1988 7 inch Version
1988 12 inch Mix
1988 Dub Version
1988 Single Mix
The Beach - B-Side
Beach Buggy - 1988 B-Side
Beach Buggy - 12 inch B-Side


1 comment:

  1. I need to know where the "1983 Extended Edit" came from! I thought I knew every mix of this song, but I can't find this one anywhere on Discogs. Is it a bootleg?