I know it’s Thursday, but every day could do with a rendition of New Order’s “Blue Monday” at some point.
As if the electro-pop classic wasn’t epic and brooding enough, here it is performed by the 60-piece Brythoniad Male Voice Choir, commissioned for the UK’s Festival Number 6.
To celebrate New Order headlining the first year of the UK’s newest festival, the Brythoniad Male Voice Choir were commissioned by Festival No.6 to record their own unique version of Blue Monday.
The 60 members of the Brythoniad Male Voice Choir, formed in 1964 in Blaenau Ffestiniog, recorded their interpretation of the seminal track in the studio, then filmed the video on location at the stunning Portmeirion, location for Festival No.6 .
Surely the most unique setting for a festival the UK has ever seen?
There is more information on Festival Number 6, headlined by New Order, Primal Scream and Spiritualized and taking place in Portmerion, Wales on the 14th, 15th and 16th of September, on the festival’s website.
You may remember a few months ago I posted about Joyce D’Vision, the world’s first drag queen tribute band to Joy Division (of which I am a member) and our adventures on UK primetime TV with the comedian Harry Hill.
Well, we have finally managed to wrangle Joyce herself into the studio to record some vocals, and the first fruits of this labor are cover versions of “She’s Lost Control” and “Isolation.” Both are iconic, classic tracks, that have been covered before (by Siobhán Fahey, Grace Jones and Wino & Conny Ochs, as featured in yesterday’s Roadburn post) but I like to think we have put our own unique spin on them.
While some people find the idea of Joyce D’Vision highly offensive, to me it’s as Northern English as Eccles cakes and Boddington’s bitter. People in Manchester have a sly, sometimes wicked sense of humor, and they are not above taking the complete mickey out of themselves and the stultifying, retro-based “Madchester” culture industry that seems to have a stranglehold on this town (check the blog Fuc251 for proof.) Unfortunately Joy Division are very much a part of this frozen-in-amber, Manchester music-heritage industry, which goes against the iconoclasm inherent in the band, and is ironic as they were sorely under-appreciated in this town when they did exist.
And that’s where we come in. It’s all in the best possible taste, darling, with hints of Vic & Bob, The League of Gentlemen, Kenny Everett and Frank Sidebottom (a legendary Manc comic who famously covered “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on a Casio). We’re not doing this because we hate Joy Division, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Joy Division have helped us get through as much teen angst as the next wrist cutter, but the band’s hallowed status doesn’t mean they are above a bit of fun poking. Every religion needs its satirists. Because let’s face it, if what we’re doing is somehow ruining your teen dreams or memories of a JD goth paradise, then those dreams and memories were not very solid in the first place.
I am well aware of Ian Curtis’ mental health problems (duh!) and I’m 100% convinced he had that same sly, piss-taking, Manc sense of humor as everyone else who grew up within the city’s grey-and-redbrick confines. I think he would have had a giggle or two at a bearded drag queen singing his songs.
Joyce D’Vision with Harry Hill on the set of TV Burp
But more to the actual point, I wonder what Peter Hook thinks?
If you’re not aware, original JD/New Order bassist Hook has formed a new band with jobbing Manchester musicians called The Light, whose purpose is to cover the work of Joy Division. He’s the only original member, and now the band are embarking on a tour playing “Unknown Pleasures” in full.
Originally Hooky himself was on vocal duties, but after he shamefully forgot the words at an infamous Manchester show a couple of years ago, he has brought in Rowetta (ex-Happy Mondays and Britain’s Got Talent) to sing instead. Not to mention some of his celebrity-fan pals when they have the chance - The Light have performed JD tracks with Billy Corgan, Moby and Perry Farrell on vocals, among others. They sing from a lyrics book open at the front of the stage.
So is what we are doing with Joyce D’Vision really any worse than what Peter Hook is doing with The Light? In a sense, both are karaoke, but only one has an actual on-stage lyrics sheet. And it’s not the band with the drag queens. Which of the two acts, Joyce D’Vision or The Light, are going to do more to shatter your teen-goth memories of Joy Division?
I don’t doubt that The Light has got something to do with New Order reforming recently without Hook and his iconic bass sound, a massive “fuck you” statement in his general direction. A lot of people in Manchester are happy they did this, but there’s also many people wondering if New Order can properly function without Hook on bass. I’m not sure, but either way, I do wonder now what Barney and Steve (original JD members, remember) and Gillian (a HUGE drag inspiration for our band) make of Joyce D’Vision?
Time will tell. For now, here are our first two tracks:
Before they recorded their classic 1983 album Power Corruption And Lies, New Order made an extended trip to New York and absorbed some of the city’s sound into their own world-weary music. Latin salsa, 12” remix culture and the beats they heard in nightclubs like Danceteria and the Roxy were obvious inspirations for the music they would soon come to make.
But at the time this was videotaped, New Order were still largely Joy Division minus Ian Curtis, a post punk band, not the electronic dance quartet they would soon become. This is a fascinating document of the group during perhaps the least documented era of their long career. As I would personally chose Movement over anything else in their catalog, this was a real treat to watch.
Recorded live at The Ukranian National Home in New York’s East Village on November 18 1981. Low lights, the musicians saying nearly nothing to the audience, a concert held in a hot sweaty dance hall—there’s an extremely underground quality to this show,
The Tube was an early-to-mid 80s British “yoof” TV program covering music and fashion, hosted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates. This special report comes from sometime around 1983 (the date is unspecified but we know that Klaus Nomi has already died) when Holland and guest presenter Leslie Ash take a trip around New York’s most happening night spots. That includes the Paradise Garage, Danceteria, The Roxy and even a brief, passing glimpse of CBGBs.
If you can ignore the cheesy presenting style (“Wow! Clubs in New York stay open until FOUR o’clock!”, “I hear this club has a “happening” sound system.” etc) there are some great interviews here, as well as some priceless footage inside the clubs mentioned. So we get the likes of Arthur Baker talking about producing New Order, Nona Hendryx and Quando Quango performing live, Afrika Bambaataa on the turntables at The Roxy, The Peech Boys backstage at the Paradise Garage, and Ruth Polsky and Rudolph of Danceteria talking about their good friend, the recently deceased Klaus Nomi:
Taken from the upcoming New Order/Joy Division greatest hits album “Total,” this rocky track has been played on Irish radio and since found its way onto the web. This brings up two questions in my mind - how can this be described as a “leak” if it has been played (presumably officially) on the radio? And why the hell do these two different bands need a combined “best of”?
Don’t test the Jolly Boys: l-r Derrick “Johnny” Henry, Albert Minott, Joseph “Powder” Bennett
Bernard & boys, they’ve got yr techno right here. Gravelly-voiced Jamaican singer Albert Minott and his majority-septuagenarian group the Jolly Boys have eaten rock ‘n’ roll and new wave for lunch.
For over 55 years, the Jolly Boys have played a style of music called mento, which—much like Trinidadian calypso—dates back to the late-19th century, before ska, reggae and dancehall became Jamaica’s predominant styles. As with most things Jamaican, mento is simultaneously soulful, sweet and rugged.
Minott and his crew—including original members Joseph “Powder” Bennett on maracas, Derrick “Johnny” Henry on marumba box, Allan Swymmer on percussion, and Egbert Watson on banjo—have just released an album of covers called Great Expectations, produced by Jon Baker and Dale Virgo.
Tracks include versions of Iggy Pop’s “Passengers” and “Nightclubbing”, the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” and the Rolling Stones’ “You Can Always Get What You Want.”
After the jump: the Boys’ take on Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”…
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