Get the Message (song)

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"Get the Message"
The first British 12-inch.
Single by Electronic
from the album Electronic
B-side "Free Will"
Released April 15, 1991 (1991-04-15)
Format 7-inch, 12-inch, CD, cassette
Recorded 1990
Genre Madchester, alternative dance, synthpop
Writer(s) Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr
Producer(s) Bernard Sumner, Johnny Marr
Electronic singles chronology
"Getting Away with It"
"Get the Message"
"Tighten Up"
Remix 12-inch
The second British 12-inch.

"Get the Message" is a song by Electronic, the English band formed by Bernard Sumner of New Order and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.

It was the second single from their 1991 debut album Electronic and was a commercial success around the world. It is a good example of Marr and Sumner's original concept of mixing the fluid synthesizers of New Order with The Smiths' rich guitar sound.


Marr composed the music then Sumner wrote the lyric as engineer Owen Morris played him the song every four bars.[1] Marr was reluctant to layer multiple guitar parts as he was wary of treading ground, but Sumner convinced him otherwise.[2]

During recording, Primal Scream vocalist Denise Johnson added a vocal at the end of the song.[3] She went on to provide additional vocals on a number of songs on Electronic's second album Raise the Pressure five years later.[4][a]


The single was issued in the UK on 7-inch, 12-inch, CD and cassette by Factory Records on 15 April 1991 (and two weeks later as a second 12-inch comprising two additional remixes by DNA), and as a three-format maxi single and standard cassette by Warner Bros. Records in the USA.

Song version Duration
7-inch mix 4:05
Album edit 3:53
Album/12-inch version 5:18
DNA Groove Mix 5:26
DNA Sin Mix 5:23
DNA Groove Mix Edit 3:40
DNA Sin Mix Edit 3:56

"Get the Message" appeared as a remixed 7-inch edit on most of the formats, and in its original, full-length version on the first UK 12-inch. Later pressings of the UK 7-inch and the German CD maxi single featured an edit of the album version, which was also used for the music video. This was because Bernard Sumner objected to the earlier mix, having heard it on a Manchester radio station prior to the release of the single.[5]

The US and German maxi singles compiled all of these versions collectively; the only recordings from this single that remain scarce are edits of the two DNA remixes which were released on promos, namely a British 7-inch and a US CD maxi single.

Like its predecessor "Getting Away with It", "Get the Message" featured a non-album track as its B-side: "Free Will", a mercurial, sample-heavy dance track. This appeared in greatly edited form on the 7-inch releases, and in its original six-minute form on all the others. (The German CD maxi single included both) An edited version is included on the 2013 re-release of the album Electronic.


The first releases were packaged by Johnson/Panas (the moniker of Trevor Johnson), who also designed Electronic's then imminent first album Electronic. Each format bore a unique colour scheme, all versions featuring the artist and single name with a bold number "2" underneath, signifying its place in Electronic's discography.[6] The only format which differed from this theme was the second British 12-inch release, designed by 3a (who also oversaw third single "Feel Every Beat").

Track listings[edit]

Music video[edit]

The single was promoted by a colourful music video in which Marr and Sumner strolled through the Maldive Islands[7] and atop the still-active Taal Volcano — which Marr narrowly missed falling into.[8] It was directed by Gunther Deichmann,[9] whose published photographs had impressed Electronic.[1]

Marr and Sumner in the music video.

At least two versions of this film exist, one with phrases from the song lyrics punctuating the scenic shots (and lower-case letters spelling out 'electronic') and another more simple edit without any words. The former version is available on the Get the Message DVD.

Electronic also promoted the single with appearances on Top of the Pops in April and May 1991, miming to the album edit and the edit of the "DNA Groove Mix" respectively.


Commercial reception to the song was quite positive. It reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart, which became one of their highest positions. It also performed strongly in the United States, where it reached the top of the Modern Rock Tracks chart and #8 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.

Critical reaction to "Get the Message" was generally positive. Writing in the NME, Andrew Collins called the song "draught genius" and concluded that "New Order can now split up",[10] while David Quantick stated that "nothing anyone has ever done has sounded even vaguely like 'Get the Message'" in the same publication a month later.[11] Phil Sutcliffe in Q was less enthusiastic, suggesting it "almost slip[s] from identity into identikit",[12] while Melody Maker described listening to the track as "Like watching a pony chew on a carrot for half an hour".[13]

"Get the Message" is consistently cited as a defining track by Electronic. Allmusic picks it as a highlight of the Electronic album in a 4/5 review,[14] while states that "the excellent 'Get the Message' still holds its own alongside the best of early '90s Mancunian tunes".[15] In 2007 Johnny Marr said it was "...maybe the track I'm most proud of out of my whole career",[16] and in June 2009 reiterated that it is "the best song I've written".[17]


Chart[18][19] Peak
Australian Singles Chart[20] 71
German VIVA Top 100 37
UK Singles Chart 8
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 8
US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales 15

Live versions[edit]

"Get the Message" was first played live in 1990 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, when Electronic supported Depeche Mode on the 4th and 5 August.[21] It was also performed at their first British gig the following January at the Haçienda nightclub in Manchester;[22] the Cities in the Park festival in the same city seven months later; and at each of the three gigs on their short tour of Europe in December.[23]


"Get the Message" was the seventh track on the British version of Electronic and the eighth on most of the international editions.[b] It later became the title track of the band's career-spanning compilation in 2006. The song received some exposure in 2003 when it was used in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.[24] It has also appeared on a handful of various artists compilations.[25] The song was also used in season one episode three (titled Bringing Up Buster) of the American comedy series Arrested Development

Cover versions[edit]

American electronic musician Lusine included a cover of "Get the Message", sung by his wife Sarah McIlwain, on his 2013 album The Waiting Room.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  • a. ^ Raise the Pressure was mainly recorded in 1995.
  • b. ^ Most of the international editions of Electronic included "Getting Away with It" as the fifth track, thus shifting "Get the Message" down one place.


  1. ^ a b Select, November 1997
  2. ^ Electronic's Greatest Hits (VH1, October 2006)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ NME, December 1990
  6. ^ FAC461 Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album (2006)
  7. ^ Select, June 1991
  8. ^ Melody Maker, 13 April 1991
  9. ^
  10. ^ NME, 20 April 1991
  11. ^ NME, 25 May 1991
  12. ^ Q, July 1991
  13. ^ Uncut, April 1999
  14. ^ allmusic
  15. ^, September 2006
  16. ^ Q, September 2007
  17. ^, Talking Shop: Johnny Marr
  18. ^ Chart Stats
  19. ^ archive (links here, here and here respectively)
  20. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  21. ^ Manchester District Music Archive
  22. ^ Melody Maker, 19 January 1991
  23. ^ NME, 21 December 1991
  24. ^
  25. ^ Discogs

External links[edit]