When I was asked by Signore Cistulli if I would consider regularly debasing myself to contribute to NotGraphs, I read between the lines and saw the invisible words “post stuff that appeals to as few readers as possible.” Today, I present something that appeals to a tiny demographic. You, as a NotGraphs reader, are in a small subset of all baseball fans. Discerning, right? Not the normal meathead home run fuck yeah bozos. A smaller subset of you NotGraphs readers are New Order fans. An even smaller subset of you New Order-lovin’ NotGraphs readers are graphic design nerds. This post is for you.
And for the rest of you, here’s some blah blah explaining what’s going on. Peter Saville is a designer. Back in the day, he did, amongst other things, lots of record sleeves for Joy Division and New Order. If we consider those two bands as the same band (they kinda were: Joy Division’s singer killed himself; the band carried on with guitarist Bernard Sumner taking over as singer; drummer Stephen Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert joining to play keyboards) they were pretty much the best band of my lifetime (I was born after the Beatles split up). You can argue about this if you want, Clash fans, but you are wrong.
Anyway, for New Order’s 1983 single Blue Monday and subsequent releases that year–the album Power, Corruption & Lies and the Confusion single–Peter Saville included a colour code on the sleeves. (He also used it on the cover of Section 25’s From the Hip album, which was produced by Bernard Sumner and like New Order’s stuff, was on Factory Records.) Once you worked out the code, you could read what the record sleeves said. Because that’s how shit worked in the 80s. Design was cool. Being a bit obtuse was cool, too. Youngsters: ignore all the day-glo hair and stuff that “80s Night” jive tells you, it was a great decade.
Here are the Blue Monday and Power, Corruption & Lies sleeves:
Saville made a record sleeve look like a massive floppy disc. In 1983. That’s some cool shit. And he chose a gorgeous Henri Fantin-Latour painting for the album sleeve. These are things that should not be sneezed at. Don’t sneeze at them. Get a tissue. Sneeze elsewhere. Saville was doing great work. And in that work, he decided not to put the band name or title of the record on the sleeve. How’s that for awesome?
Here is a guide to what how the code works. (I’ve had this jpg on my hard drive for years. Not sure of the original source, but there’s multiple copies of it on Google Images and New Order fan sites, so I kinda assume it’s something direct from Saville or Factory Records.)
Why am I bothering you with all this, you may be asking. Well, because I gone and done this stuff below. You are very welcome. Very welcome, I say.
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