Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs


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Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order

bizarreWe’ve already had a smattering of New Order on the site (see in the shape of both sides of the True Faith single), but nothing for a while, so when this little ditty popped up recently it seemed worth giving it a try. And what do you know, it works!

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Bizarre Love Triangle is New Order at their prime. The full length 12″ version is – in my books – just a perfect record, something that was amplified when I saw Peter Hook’s The Light perform it recently as part of a stunning concert where they performed both the Low-Life and Brotherhood albums in their entirety. Even cut down to the standard single version it is an amazing piece of music. And to prove it’s not just the recording that is strong, but there is a quality song at the heart of it, an acoustic version by Frente! (apparently a moderate hit in the US in the 1990s) gave a new perspective on the song.

A quick YouTube search reveals quite a few ukulele-based covers of the song. So it does work. You can either do it as a gentle finger-picked version (a la the Frente! cover) or give it a bit of wellie and go for the feel of the original (although be warned – try it too fast and you’ll run out of breath quite quickly!). It’s a simple, repeated chord sequence all the way through, and whilst the Fmaj7 may not be totally in line with the original I personally think it gives the song some additional colour. Enjoy!

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True Faith – New Order

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It seems I’ve been doing this little blog for just over a year now. The very first song I posted was a slightly obscure New Order b-side (1963) and I promised at the time that I’d publish the slightly better known a-side at some point as well. So, it’s been a little while coming, but here it is.

True Faith is probably New Order at their pop-iest, and certainly was something of a commercial peak for the band. Produced by Stephen Hague, at the time on a roll with the early success of Pet Shop Boys, the song is a further move towards dance-oriented songs. From the opening clatter of electronic drums the recording is a full on, wall-of-sound type production, which contrasts with the slightly fragile vocals of Bernard Sumner. But if anything the song is best remembered for the surreal video that accompanied it.

The songsheet is quite straightforward. The key is getting a good steady strumming pattern behind it. I prefer something which mirrors the rhythm of the original, which is a little difficult to describe (something like ddddu-ud-dudu) but is best worked out playing along to the origianl (the song sheet is in the same key). Enjoy!

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Get The Message – Electronic

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Electronic was a short-lived collaboration between New Order’s Bernard Sumner and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. The supergroup status was augmented on their first album (from which this song is taken) by the appearance of Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant who sang on a couple of songs. Whilst I think it would be fair to say that, in general, the whole was less than the sum of the parts (and the weight of expectation around this at the time was *huge*), it’s also clear that there emerged from the collaboration some real gems. Debut single Getting Away With It (which also included Tennant) was certainly one, and this, the lead single from their debut album, is another.

Definitely coming closer to the New Order end of the spectrum than The Smiths end, the music for Get The Message was actually written by Marr. But for me this song is definitely more than its parts – that rich, strummed guitar, the pulsating bass-line, the clean synth lines topped off with a great vocal from Sumner who, whilst definitely limited in terms of vocal skills, gives the song just what it needs.

So a ukulele version?! Well, to be honest I can’t find any trace of this, or anything else by Electronic ever making its way to the ukulele. No suprise there. So all the more reason to include it here. I guess it was the strumming pattern that drew me to it, and certainly what I enjoy most when playing it. The song sheet is reasonably faithful to the original, which means that there are some quite lengthly instrumental sections, so feel free to abridge those if you feel so inclined. Enjoy!

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1963 – New Order

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So here’s my first post!

In 1987 New Order released the single “True Faith“. It was a huge hit, memorable in many ways including the very striking cover image. But turn the record over (yes, remember those big slabs of 12” vinyl) and you’ll find an equally wonderful song hidden away.  That’s not an unusual facet of New Order’s 1980s material (“Lonesome Tonight“, the b-side of “Thieves Like Us” is another great example), but 1963 has always remained a favourite of mine.

So when I was pulling together the chords for True Faith (that will be a later post) I was reminded of that, and then came across this wonderful ukulele cover on YouTube (original New Order version is here).

What the song is about is anybody’s guess, although Wikipedia quotes the band’s lyricist Bernard Sumner as saying that it was;

“a tongue-in-cheek account of the song’s lyrics that relate it to the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Sumner theorises that Kennedy arranged for Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot his wife so that “J.F. could do one with M. Monroe”. Monroe commits suicide when Oswald hits the wrong target (in reality, Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, over a year before the assassination took place) and Oswald is later shot by his boss for “doing such a bad job and causing his hit-man business to go bust”

and producer Stephen Hague describing it as

“the only song about domestic violence that you can dance to”

Chords for this were hard to come by, but with the help of a number of sources, and this video in particular, I managed to pull together something which seemed to work. Click on the icon below. Enjoy!

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