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On the 7th of March, Salfordian legends, New Order, celebrate the 38th anniversary of their song ‘Blue Monday’, which is argued their most seminal track and the song that birthed what we now call ‘Madchester’.
At the time of release New Order, made up of the remaining Joy Division members, were by no means about to score a smash hit. Formed less than a year after the monolithic gloom of 1980s, ‘Closer’ and the tragic death of frontman Ian Curtis, Salford’s likely-lads seemed doomed to fail.
However, upon its 1983 release, ‘Blue Monday’ became one of, if not the, most important track to come out of the region.
Blending dance and indie effortlessly, it was a mainstay in now-legendary clubs, such as The Hacienda, and seamlessly fits into the acid-house scene that was burgeoning at the time.
Looking back on the track, frontman and singer Bernard Sumner, said in a 2015 interview with the NME: “We wrote it in our horrible rehearsal room in Cheetham Hill, which had a graveyard piled up in the back of it.”
“I don’t really see it as a song. I see it more as a machine designed to make people dance. It comes on in a club and it sounds so powerful, like standing next to a ship’s engine.”
Released by legendary Manchester label Factory Records (headed up by Pendleton’s Tony Willson), the single came packaged in a highly intricate, and expensive, record sleeve.
Costing £1.10p to produce, the single was sold at stores for £1.
This would be no issue if the single had been a flop, as many believed it would be. But the single went on to become the best-selling 12” of all time, resulting in a £50,000 loss for the group.
Sumner was quoted on this, saying: “It sold loads and loads of copies but we didn’t get any awards for it; being on a small independent label, we weren’t members of the relevant societies.
“So when it hit 500,000, Tony [Wilson] made up a special Factory Records award, this big cogwheel that was almost like a hammer and sickle. I’ve still got it, actually. It weighs a ton.”
With the release of Blue Monday some 38 years ago, New Order cemented themselves as heroes of Salford’s music scene.
Still as fresh and relevant today as it was upon release, ‘Blue Monday’ is a triumph of the genre, the band and the City of Salford itself.