A GUEST SERIES
18 – Blue Monday (’88) – New Order (1988, Factory Records)
Released as a single in April 1988 (Reached Number 3)
“You should listen to this”. This is Martin, and he is talking to a 15 year old me outside our school gates one Wednesday evening as we stand waiting for Dubstar Chris who is ‘in the art room’ (he is actually spraying offensive graffiti about the French teacher Mr Ashton and his liking for cats in the teachers toilets, but I never told you that).
With this Martin hands me a CD. He brings it out of an inside pocket of a green army jacket, and for some reason I feel like a junkie as I shuffled the CD into my rucksack
The CD is called ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ and it is obviously an album by New Order. It will be in about two hours time be the first thing I have ever listened to by New Order.
Martin was always ahead of the crowd. He is still involved in the music world, in fact, he is currently in The Charlamagnes who you should google and then check out and then immediately buy their back catalogue. Anyway, I take the CD and I go home and do my homework and then I slip into something more comfortable and decide to give the CD a listen. Now at the time my music likes were rapidly expanding. I discovered a new band that I loved pretty much every day. If it had guitars, I was ‘in to it’. I fully expected New Order to be my new favourite thing in the entire world.
So there I sat, on my dads sofa with some big comedy headphones plonked on my head and ‘Power Corruption and Lies’ on the stereo. I had for the past six months or so listened to Martin, Dubstar Chris and Richard chirp on about how brilliant New Order were. I’d been told how songs like ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘True Faith’ were amazing, and all I’d done was nod along. So I sat there and I waited, I have to say I was excited and I felt like I existed and that this was something. I waited for that thrill of listening to something incredible to kick in.
I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get into it. I say this now, and I sort of shrink away from it in embarrassment but I much preferred ‘Street Fighting Years’ by Simple Minds which was the second album I had obtained that week (this one found in Woolworths on cassette for £1.99 – which on reflection, seems as over priced as it is overblown right now).
I didn’t listen to New Order again for a long time.
Five years in fact. By now – I am the inspiring music journalist that I was back then and I am sitting in the offices of Sony Records in London because I am picking up some music and interviewing a band called Reef, who have been on a Tv advert and are being tipped for ‘Great Success’. Whilst there I help myself to Sony’s free bar and Crisp Machine (this is true by the way, the promotions floor at Sony UK, used to include a bar full of Becks and Red Stripe and a machine that dispensed crisps) before interviewing Reef. As I was leaving, the promotions manager (Ben see Number 44) gave me a bag. It was full of CDs, mugs, promo toys, gig tickets and general shit. I loved visiting Sony, you never went away empty handed and as long as you said nice things about most of it, they kept giving you stuff.
I forget nearly everything that was in that bag, but I do remember that in there was a CD which contained New Order, it contained ‘Blue Monday ‘88’ and I couldn’t stop listening to it. In fact it was pretty much glued to the stereo for the next month or so, it was like I discovered a new band who had just released their debut single. The light had come on, the light I should have seen back in 1990 when at home in my Dad’s lounge but I was young and I’ll be honest I much preferred U2 back then.
And that is how I fell in love with New Order. I was 20. And New Order had at that point split up and I thought at the time that I had thoroughly missed the boat (which was true, I saw them live at Wembley Arena about ten years later and they were a bit rubbish to be honest), that didn’t stop me filling up the back catalogue as quick as I could though.
I, of course have form for this, I did the same thing with The Stone Roses, declaring that they ‘Were not as good as The Inspiral Carpets’ to my mate Jimmy on the way to the football in 1990. It took me three years and a serious conversation with OPG to realise my mistake – “I can’t sleep with someone who doesn’t like The Stone Roses’ was pretty much was she said one night in the pub, before I was, you know, actually sleeping with her. I re-listened to that debut album quite a lot for the next month or so.
Fools Gold (9.53) – Stone Roses (1989, Silvertone Records Number 22)
But the record for me failing to realise the greatness of a band is reserved for The Fall
Mr Pharmacist – The Fall (1986, Beggars Banquet, Number 75)
Genuinely the first time I heard The Fall I swore loudly at the stereo in disgust, that’s how appalled I was. I was 16. It took me, ahem, 25 years before I realised their brilliance.
When I was writing my first blog WYCRA we did this series called ‘One Song A Day’ and we invited fellow bloggers to stick their iPods on Random and send us a review of the very first song that came on. JC was the first to offer and the song that came on first to his iPod was something by ‘The Fall’. I swore inwardly, and regretted my brilliant idea – but then I listened to what he sent through and again, that little light came on.