- * Under what is now a parking lot and upscale condominiums.
In addition to being just a perfect song, it was also a glorious physical artifact. I still remember the first time I saw it: the three die-cut holes, revealing not the usual white paper inner sleeve, but weirdly-textured flat black plastic that looked exactly like the surface of a floppy disk. The two little notches at the bottom. No text at all. And the mysterious color code down the right edge. Perfect. No notes.
I have been "borrowing" from the designs of Peter Saville, Factory Records and The Haçienda for the last couple of decades, but this is where it all started.
It remains the best-selling 12" single of all time, and the production costs on the die cut sleeve were so high that it was being sold at a loss, which is just the most Peter Saville / Tony Wilson thing ever.
Here's a good article in The Guardian with some well-chosen musical selections: Who inspired it and who it inspired - they spliced Donna Summer with Ennio Morricone to make a futurist dance smash.
Might I also recommend:
- Designed by Peter Saville (out of print but borrowable on archive.org)
- FAC 461 Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album (also out of print but borrowable)
- 24 Hour Party People -- as I said in my review of it, "It's such a weird movie. How did this even get made? The licensing alone... I always want to recommend it but it comes with such a long list of footnotes. Like, if you don't already know all about these people, it's probably best to watch this movie with me sitting next to you on the couch, yelling."
- The Haçienda - The Club that Shook Britain -- a more straightforward documentary-telling of this story.
Peter Hook: How Not to Run a Club -- the slow motion apocalypse as seen from the New Order side, instead of the Tony Wilson side. It is hilarious, and this book is judging me. Just staring at me and judging.
- Made in Sheffield: The Birth of Electronic Pop -- Cabaret Voltaire, ABC, Human League, etc.
- Synth Britannia: The Emergence of British Synth Pop -- BBC seems to be trying to memory-hole this documentary, so here's a torrent.
Extremely relevant Previouslies:
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.
"How Not To Run..." and JWZ's blog should probably be required reading for anyone thinking, "I should start a club!" It is fascinating to watch familiar patterns evolve at maker spaces and bars and game shops.
I love that the book ends, paraphrasing "It was a disaster and a failure and nobody should do this. I'm doing it again next week."
It's the same with restaurants and cafes. Have you read Kitchen Confidential? Have you addressed the "things that mean you shouldn't start a restaurant"? No? SO DON'T!
I was looking through https://vol.co/product/fac_461/ and wishing I had a copy, then read
> Meet the author : Matthew Robertson works as a designer in Bath, England, where he is a senior lecturer in graphics and mixed media at Bath Spa University with a particular interest in artist’s books, lettering, and small press publishing.
... which sounds pretty awesome, but I'm assuming is awful in some way that I'm naive of. Dude doesn't look very happy (then again I don't think graphic designers are allowed to look happy).
Bath's quite a nice place (perhaps a bit too nice? It's very touristy), but he's from Australia so he's probably just chilly.
All university lecturers (at least in the UK) tend to be overworked. I actually spent much of February fiddling with software that helps Computer Science professors here figure out how overloaded they are, so they can try to fairly ensure that their loads range from 130-160% of nominal maximum, rather than 100-250% as might happen if there wasn't software helping ensure everybody takes a share.
Also, Matthew sounds like an artist, and conventionally artists who teach are expected to also practice, ie actually make art, typically for money although rarely a lot of money, as well as their full teaching load. Sometimes there's an allowance made in the workload, but it's invariably too little. My sister is an artist and lecturer, and you'd think she was a full timer from how long she spends on it but nope, she's 50% and yet still working weekends and evenings.
love that documentary
IMHO, the recent-ish 20 odd minute remix by soulwax is quite good.
re: 24 Hour Party People, I also can NOT recommend enough the "novelization" by Wilson himself. As a third leg in the observations between the movie and Hooky's book, it's a goddamn hoot and a half.
I did not know about this! Ordered!
It is brilliant. He starts recanting some scene in the movie, and then segues into "...but here's how *I* remember it."
His commentary track on the DVD/BluRay is also quite enjoyable.
> it's probably best to watch this movie with me sitting next to you on the couch, yelling.
Is this a service you provide?
I would pay to attend this event at DNA Lounge:
“Movie Night with Jamie Yelling at The Screen.”
So many movies to run…
I tried to turn Cyberdelia into a movie-heckling night instead of solely a Hackers-heckling night, but nobody got it.
Not so loud, or everyone will want one.
Apologies for hijacking an excellent article about New Order (who I havea always loved) with my appreciation of Tony Wilson (who I didn't love):
I didn't see this in the previouslies, so I hope it's worth sharing:
As someone who grew up in Manchester, 24 Hour Party People may have been the first solid thing I saw that painted Tony Wilson in a truly positive light. I mean that in the sense that I grew up with him as the presenter of the local news who "had ideas above his station" (for example, 'The Other Side Of Midnight - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD67P4r9LB8 - which was a high arts program in a late night timeslot also filled with 'Men and Motors'). My father would snort about how he 'was calling himself Anthony H now, rather than Tony'. It's unfair how that narrative, which he admittedly leaned into, obscured the genuine effect he had at the time. Genuine in both senses of the word - he made a positive difference and did it out of sheer love for his city and its people.
24 Hour Party People is knowingly fictional in some of its details and apocryphal in others - but utterly true nevertheless. Did Factory really lose money on every copy of Blue Monday sold? Pete Saville isn't sure (https://www.radiox.co.uk/artists/new-order/did-new-order-lose-money-on-blue-monday/) but it really doesn't matter. Wilson wasn't 'taking a risk' like every boring founder I meet these days. He didn't care about the money, only that the cover existed.
My nightclub days are long over and while I can say that 'I was there' at the Hacienda, so what? I'm far happier that the spirt of the Hacienda lives on in The DNA Lounge. I just hope you don't get called a twat as much as he did...
"Sadly, the only official music video of the song is from the far inferior 1988 Quincy Jones remix."
It's not the *only* video, strictly speaking. Let's not forget the infamous New Order "Sunkist soda" commercial where they re-recorded the lyrics to sing the praises of Sunkist orange fizzy drink:
(First 36 seconds are Bernard talking about recording it, then the ad plays)
That's hilarious. And how quaint that at the time there was still enough money to be made in selling music, to people who wanted to pay for music, that "don't use my song in a commercial" was something that anyone would even seriously consider. Today that's the endgame.
Also someone pointed out this video, that I had forgotten about. Per Wikipedia, this video does indeed seem to have been made in 1983, but it's unclear who made it or how "official" it was. I've never seen a decent rip of this. It's pretty crappy quality.
Definitely not an official video. It was made in 1984 by Peter Boyd Maclean and Rik Lander who worked as The Duvet Brothers. Their work was mostly shown in art spaces but also distributed on tape for use at political/benefit events. Fascinating interview with Rik Lander at https://sites.dundee.ac.uk/rewind/wp-content/uploads/sites/146/2021/03/DB511.pdf.
Ignore my comment, this is a different video.
Oh, nice, they also did Pump Up the Volume!
They did indeed do that but they didn't do the New Order one you posted. Theirs was a lot more political.
Huh. Do you have a link to theirs? The one above seems to be the one referenced in the Wikipedia article, since it contains a clip of Zaxxon.
That's what really makes me eye-roll over musicians outright selling their publishing catalogues. I get the money aspect, but now that Chuck D sold off Public Enemy's catalogue, I'm counting the minutes before some deodorant or whatever uses "Fight the Powder" in their advertising.
I did not see this in your Previouslies
That's pretty good!
Huh. I thought for sure I had first seen the Orkestra Obsolete version through jwz.org, because this is almost consistently my source of such coolnesses.
That arrangement plays against the video to The Perfect Drug in my head.
I was listening to Blue Monday just the other day, as it came up in this great article about the history (and future) of drum machines.
Although the limited edition 2020 hardback is out of print, the paperback is available (in the UK at least)
The "Transmissions" podcast wasn't bad. The last episode was about Blue Monday. I thought they were going to make more, but it's been a few years.
(Hopefully related..) There's also this episode of "The Tube" from 1983/4 that the video for the next single "Confusion" (fac93) was pulled from.
Another extremely important anniversary: Orgy's cover is turning 25:
Amazingly, they're still making music (although there's only one original member left). Still memorable only for the exquisitely ironic video for their one other song, in which they can't stay standing inside the hydraulic cube:
Flunk's cover is the only one that really matters in my world.
In case you don't know there was a Tony Wilson game show called 'remote control' featuring Frank Sidebottom, Caroline Aherne, Phil Cornwell and John Thomson. A refreshingly odd time for TV.
I never knew there was a British version of this! It originated on MTV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Control_(game_show)
I went to the Haç, only a couple of times in the twilight period between it opening after the raid and it closing for good. It was freezing cold and mostly empty. About as much fun as this comment...