Still arguably the high-point of British independent music, Blue Monday will be turning forty next month. New Order have always been upfront about the music that helped inspired the track. The droning choir of male voices lifted from Kraftwerk’s Uranium (itself a sample); the beat of Klein and MBO’s Dirty Talk and Giorgio Moroder’s drum programming on Donna Summer’s Our Love, the bassline from Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Peter Hook’s twist on a riff he’d just heard on Ennio Morricone’s For a Few Dollars More score while watching that film in the Brittania Row studio.

They’ve always denied borrowing from Manchester-based Gerry and the Holograms’ eponymous single of the same name, though. Released in 1979 on independent label Absurd, New Order are guaranteed to have heard this albeit I’m happy enough to believe they don’t reckon that it had any influence on Blue Monday, although maybe it did just a little – subconsciously.

During an interview with Bill Grainger on Radio Clyde, Divine, the outrageous star of cult midnight movie Pink Flamingos, admitted that his single Love Reaction was ‘a complete rip-off of Blue Monday.’

He went on to talk about his first experience of hearing the New Order song, explaining that listening to the radio one day while in England: ‘It came on and I thought for sure it was Love Reaction.’ His reaction? He got ready to sing along and was confused when instead Barney Sumner asked: ‘How does it feel / To treat me like you do?’ Divine initially jumped to the conclusion that somebody had ripped Love Reaction off. But soon learned that the truth of the matter.

Or so he said, but it’s difficult to believe Divine hadn’t heard Blue Monday already in a club or been told that the song supposedly ‘written’ and produced by Bobby O was a virtual clone of the New Order track.

Far from HD quality, here is Divine performing the song live.

Despite some lawyers exchanging letters, Love Reaction is still credited as being written and produced by Bobby Orlando.

New Order themselves even covered it on occasion live, or maybe I should say that they incorporated it into Blue Monday. I saw them in the Bournemouth Stateside the night after the Brixton show below and the awkward buggers didn’t even play Blue Monday let alone incorporate Love Reaction into it. A show that failed to deliver the goods with a bunch of tech problems, weak vocals and bad attitude. And due to working shifts, I missed both the support bands.

Let’s jump over to the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. With the Cold War still raging, this was obviously not a time of great artistic freedom in the Communist world. Back in the USSR, western rock music was effectively banned for its ‘capitalist and imperialist messages’ and many wanted to keep it that way.

In 1985, Komsomol, a kind of youth division of the Communist Party, compiled a list of ‘Artists Whose Repertoires Contain Ideologically Harmful Compositions’ pointing out each act’s ‘sins’. ‘We recommend using these findings to more strongly control what happens in discoteks,’ they proclaimed.

10CC were castigated for neofascism, as were Sparks. 10CC, why? Sparks? I’m guessing it was something to do with Ron Mael’s trademark Hitler moustache. The Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones and Stranglers were accused of being punk and in the case of the three British groups, violent too. The Village People also encouraged violence apparently. I thought they wanted a thing at the YMCA, not a rammy.

Nazareth combined violence with religious mysticism and sadism. Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were guilty of religious obscuritanism, whatever that is. Donna Summer made the list on account of ‘eroticism’. I imagine a group of fanatical teens keen to boost their Communist credentials, made the list up as they went along, throwing in suggestions at the drop of a ushanka-hat, with fact checking playing no part in the proceedings.

As for bands operating in the Soviet Union, a small minority were sanctioned by the state and prepared to let some group of ageing comrades dictate what they could and couldn’t say and play. I’m guessing these acts were all utterly awful.

There was an underground but the underground acts were denied the opportunity to officially exist. Many were hassled by the secret police, some were sent to labour camps, some others ‘disappeared’.

‘I had problems with the KGB,’ Vladimir Siniy revealed to Psychedelic Baby magazine in 2021. ‘I was harshly interrogated four times. That’s not for the weak. I thought they’d put me in jail. At the urgent request of a KGB colonel I knew, I joined the army.’

Siniy co-founded a band Brothers In Mind in Chelyabinsk. Chelyabinsk? you may ask yourself. Yes, a city in west-central Russia, close to the Ural Mountains and created in the wake of WWII solely to act as the centre of the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons programme. For decades, including the 1980s, it wasn’t even displayed on maps, and its population’s identities were not shown on any census. A truly secret city.

Nowadays, it appears to have rebranded itself as Ozersk but the name-change hasn’t changed the fact that it is still said to be the most contaminated spots in the world.

Brothers In Mind recorded in their bedrooms, using only two tape recorders to primitively sample instrumental passages from records by the likes of Talking Heads, Grace Jones and The B52s, before adding their own vocal takes on their creations.

Like many other under-the-radar bands, their music was recorded onto cassette tapes and these were distributed across the country.

See if you can possibly spot the source material for this one. From 1985, this is Vova Blue and the Brothers of the Mind and Molchat! (Be Quiet!):