Originally posted on July 8, 2014
About once or twice a month I'll head over to the lower haight to go to one of my favorite record shops in the city, Rooky Ricardo's Records. First I'll start in the front where the new additions are, then head over to the listening tables and eventually work my way through the soul section. The whole shop is golden, but I tend to get stuck in the front the majority of the time because they have a decent amount of new wave and post punk for a store that's meant for you to discover old soul/funk music. This time I walked away with three records and was happy with them all, but one in particular is by a band that is very near and dear to my heart and the hearts of many others, New Order. More specifically Fac. 33, which is the Ceremony/In A Lonely Place 12" single. Yes, these songs were actually Joy Division songs, but this was their first recording post Curtis as New Order, which makes it special in the least dismal way possible.
Below the artist and title is Fac. 33. Factory Records, which started in 1978, designed its own way of organizing each recording by creating a cataloging system and included graphics along with any other type of promotional material. A fair amount of the numbers have some sort of significance within Factory Records, such as Fact. 24 which is a factory quartet featuring 4 artists on 2 records (also 2x12" records), and Fac. 321 which was the video for Fac. 123 "The Perfect Kiss" by New Order. To most people these numbers mean absolutely nothing and are completely irrelevant, but could seriously drive a fan insane guessing why each Factory Record release is what it is. Their uniquely designed system left room for error and a few of the same numbers placed on different works. Maybe this was intentional, who knows?
Even if I was completely unaware of the mark Joy Division or New Order made on the world, I would most likely have picked this record up, walked over to the listening station and found myself rotating further and further into the deep yet hollow sounds of the drum machine. Yes, it can all start with the album art and all of us get to decide whether the music carries the art, the art carries the music, or whether equilibrium has been achieved. And this album achieves it. The Fac. 33 single I now have in my possession was released in January 1981 by Factory Records in a few different versions, some were made on 7" and others on 12". For the 12" releases, they made two different mixes with a few different sleeves. The first version was made on a dark green sleeve and is slightly longer in length than the second version, which is the one I found. The second version was printed on a cream sleeve with a thick light blue stripe down the center and also has Gillian Gilbert on guitar, unlike the first version. Both sleeves display a veritas logo in contrasting colors, could've possibly been taken from a letraset sheet.
The type used for the cover is a nice transition playing off the neoclassical theme of Closer, using Albertus designed by Berthold Wolpe, as the key typeface. However, unlike Fac. 33, the Albertus typefeace was not used for the album Closer, an album that was also designed by Peter Saville. I believe the type for the famous Joy Division album is still somewhat of a mystery, though there is talk of it being hand lettered…which doesn't seem to fit within Saville's repertoire, it also would've been a really large and expensive lettering project. When I tried to find what typeface was used for the album back in 2008, I saw someone had posted saying the typeface was JD Closer (which sounds fake), but it ended up being an already existing typeface called HeliosSSI, which had just been stripped of the license and renamed. But now when someone searches the font today, it credits the original one so it will no longer fool anyone. Between Closer and the versions of this single, Saville carried over some of the neoclassical elements through typography.
The Albertus typeface was intended to be used as a titling face, meaning it was made for large headlines where capitals were intended to be used, opposed to the text faces which were meant to be used for body copy. Saville makes this known by using the typeface large and in all caps. But I know, how does Albertus, which was created in the midst of the 20th century, fill the gap between the neoclassicism of Closer and the futurism of Movement? Well, it might have to do with events between the 1920's and 1950's, for there was a lot was happening within the realm of typography and preservation and whatnot. Stanley Morison, with Monotype (nbd), started to make type families based off Renaissance typefaces that consisted of both roman and italic fonts. Albertus was one of the commissioned works that supplemented the project. With that, the type is starting to make a bit more sense, and will later progress into the geometric sans serif found in Movement.
Although both the typeface and context are familiar, there's a mark on the back that seems a bit of a mystery to me. I haven't been able to find much information on why Saville included this, but I can somewhat understand why he included it on a historical level. The mark below appears to be his version of printers mark, which is basically a trade mark. The intention of a printers mark is to make the book, or in this case record, easily recognizable. Printers marks have been used all throughout history, but became really popular during the middle ages with merchants and craftsman identifying their property and proudly putting their name on the work they so carefully crafted. They added an overall sense of balance and finesse to the final product, especially when set in red, but they were mainly helpful in preventing forgery and adding a sense of authenticity. It appears as though Saville probably added this for some of the reasons above, but mostly to play with the consistent neoclassical theme, and to pay homage to the time period, for printers and craftsman marks were pretty much ubiquitous between the 17th and 19th century.
Crying cuz it's so good.