Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Blue Monday?

Yesterday was far from being a Blue Monday, unless we're talking about the azure-coloured sky. I went to a wonderful place (the Weaver Hills and their environs), walked, saw countless larks and watched an enormous hare coolly leap a high wall topped with barbed wire.

But buying Hannah Peel's music-box covers of various songs including Blue Monday reminds me of a little hobby of mine: collecting Joy Division and New Order cover versions. So here are a few of my favourite Blue Mondays and a couple of others.

Here's the original:

Here's Hannah Peel's. The EP version is actually better: layered and lovely. But this is pretty good too.

I'll never tire of the Brythoniaid Cor Meibion's version, promoting last year's Festival Number 6. It's just magisterial.

As you probably deduced, I tend towards the melancholic: under the Detroit-influenced beats, much of New Order's work is downbeat and lost - the dichotomy is what makes them work. That said, here's Nouvelle Vague's Blue Monday, which I find insultingly clodhopping. This isn't a band in love with the material. Far too ironic.

Orgy, on the other hand, are heavy but perhaps too respectful:

Kylie Minogue's mashed up Can't Get Blue Monday Out Of My Head is a slice of cheeky genius though:

Also-rans: The Enemy should be ashamed. Chancers. Thankfully not online. I'm not sure how I feel yet about the Jolly Boys' calypso version either. And although I like elements, especially the viola, the Vitamin String Quartet's cover feels a bit like attention-seeking slumming. The Gregorian Chant version is execrable. Way too mannered (and this is from somebody who rejected everything about Catholicism except for the music) and frankly beneath them. The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Country Teasers versions are jolly thrashes, but not distinctive enough to detain us. You've got to do something different for a decent cover. Otherwise, what's the point?

Which is why I have a soft spot for these other New Order covers. First up, Boo Radleys' early shoegaze/thrash attempt at True Faith:

Then there's Frente's achingly beautiful 'Bizarre Love Triangle': the original buries the lyrics deep in the mix. Nouvelle Vague do a passable version too.

Then there's Rheinallt H Rowlands' gorgeous 'Gwawr Newydd yn Cilio', his  cover of Joy Division's 'New Dawn Fades'. I'm a huge fan of RHR. He covered several JD tracks: get them (legally) here, but don't believe a word of the biography.

Gwawr newydd yn cilio

Finally, some more stately misery. Firstly, June Tabor and Oysterband's rendition. I adore Tabor, but I'm not entirely convinced by this one. After that, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra's sparse, echoing version: good with the lights off.

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