I’m rolling up the next two releases into one post, primarily as the sleeves are connected, but also as the second of the 45s was only available on import from Factory Benelux and is really a companion piece to the first.
It was a bit of a shock to hear each of Thieves Like Us and Lonesome Tonight when they were released in April 1984, a full eight months after Confusion. A shock, but a very pleasant surprise as they were something of a throwback to earlier New Order with much less reliance on the New York club sound that Arthur Baker had brought to them.
It was a 12″ that divided the four New Order fans in the student flat I was living in at the time. Two of us loved it while the other two (no pun intended) felt it was a retrospective move and that the band should be aiming exclusively for the club scene rather than making great synth-pop in what they felt was an increasingly crowded market in which quantity was rapidly overpowering quality.
There were enough of us who loved the single enough to take it to #18 in the UK charts, another outstanding performance for a piece of vinyl that was only released in 12″ format:-
mp3 : New Order – Thieves Like Us
mp3 : New Order – Lonesome Tonight
The A-side is Hooky’s favourite New Order song, which I was surprised to learn as I’d have thought he would have veered towards the rather marvelous b-side which is driven along by one of his best bass lines, almost as if he’s challenging his band mates to play something that is as classy and as cool as the notes he’s hitting.
Couple of things I learned from Hooky’s book about this release. They had started on Thieves Like Us many months earlier in NYC but as it had taken so long to finish Confusion, they never got far with it, but there was enough of what had been put down in NYC in the later version that Arthur Baker gets a writing credit.
There’s a strange noise at the tail end of Lonesome Tonight which is actually Hooky hawking up phlegm into a handkerchief : “Barney….suggested we put it on at the end because the contrast between something so beautiful and something so awful might be interesting. He was absolutely right.”
A few weeks later, Murder began to filter into some shops; it was recognisable as a New Order release from the sleeve as was almost a negative version of that which had housed Thieves Like Us. I paid a lot of money for it, took it home, played it and felt really let down. It sounded like an Adam and the Ants outtake with a bit of Barney’s specialised one-finger guitar solo thrown in. It’s a bit of music that I’ve never really taken to, although many years later I did come to realise that it was an important part of the sounds they were developing and would subsequently lay down on the Low-Life LP. But even now, I still feel it was akin to shoving a demo out to make some money:-
mp3 : New Order – Murder
The two sleeves, as ever in those days, were by Peter Saville. They were based on what I would later learn was Metaphysical art, a unique style of painting developed by the Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico in the 1910s and 20s. The numbers around the side are totally random, which looking back was Saville having a bit of fun given that his sleeves for the various releases in 1983 could be worked out from codes and colours. We were all sure there was something in those numbers and spent a few drunken nights trying to work it all out….time was less precious in those days!
It’s b-side was a version of a familiar number:-
mp3 : New Order – Thieves Like Us (instrumental version)
A little while later, an edited version of this was made available on the 7″ reverse of Shellshock:-
mp3 : New Order – Thieves Like Us (instrumental edit)
Finally, a TOTP appearance for the single in which they played live and Hooky’s bass caused pandemonium in the households up and down the country:-
The single dropped down the charts the following week!