I won’t beat about the bush. This is an abomination of a record.

Sub-Culture was, and remains, one of the highlights on Lowlife. It was inexplicable that Factory and the band went for a second single off the album and even more baffling that they went down the road of such a drastic remix that was so inferior to the original.

It sold poorly, reaching only #63 in the charts on its release in October 1985; there wasn’t even a decent sleeve to enjoy as Peter Saville hated this version so much that he provided a plain black sleeve.

Couple of things I learned from Hooky’s book.

#1 – he also hated the remix : “I thought the off-time bass synth too loud and distracting and there were too, too many edits, and the girly backing vocals, oh God. I thought John Robie (the remixer) was just showing off.” He also confirmed that Saville had refused to do any sleeve and what he therefore came up with was a ‘mourning sleeve’.

#2 – Sub-Culture, along with This Time Of Night, were influenced by the band (all four of them) being occasional visitors to Skin Two, a fetish club in London, not too far from Britannia Row Studios where they were busy putting their new LP together. You don’t have too look too far to spot some sado-masochsim references in the lyrics.

This was the first New Order single that I didn’t buy at the time. I did, some ten years ago, find a 12″ copy in a second-hand store in Toronto going for $2 – obviously a time that was was prior to the real surge in interest in vinyl. The sleeve looks like this:-

Although the b-side of the Canadian single is called Subvulture, it is in fact identical to the UK release which had it as Dubvulture. These are from that piece of vinyl:-

mp3 : New Order – Sub-Culture (12″ remix)
mp3 : New Order – Dubvulture

Here’s the 7″ edit of the a-side as found on the Substance compilation that was later released in 1987:-

mp3 : New Order – Sub-Culture (7″ remix)

Interestingly, there was a more than decent Robie remix made available at the time, but only if you were a reader of UK music paper Record Mirror.

mp3 : New Order – Sub-Culture (Record Mirror exclusive remix)

Pleased that I managed to track this down after all these years. It’s made the posting today somewhat worthwhile. Also makes me understand why the band would continue to work with Robie on later singles.


10 thoughts on “THE NEW ORDER SINGLES (Part 10)

  1. It’s always nice to hear a real fan talk about the failures of their favourite acts. There’s something so satisfying about someone who knows why they love a band tell us why ‘their’ band really screwed up.

    Sometimes more interesting than the ones you love. Sometimes. I’m only really getting into NO now. I’ve had a couple of albums since the 80’s but there’s so much to choose from.

  2. Ok here it goes…I love the John Robie remixes of Sub-Culture. The are a completely separate animal to the album version, which is my favorite track on Low-Life. They are mixes of their time…extremely club-centric and really not something you would expect to hear on the radio. Yes, there is a “kitchen sink” approach to the remix – part of what makes it of it’s time. Barney, at least, returned to the studio to redo the vocals for the remix, but maybe this makes it his remix and not so much a group involvement. It’s likely because my life revolved around nightlife at the time, but there is an energy and anger in the remix that appeals to me.
    As for the Razormaid remixes, they have their own wonderful club appeal. The bass and guitar are much more front and center, as well as the percussive sound of boots squashing a sandwich (hey it’s what I hear). Using Barney’s more forlorn vocals from the album version, they sound less dynamic to me but I enjoy them all the same.
    In the end I don’t believe Sub-Culture was ever meant to be a standard single release.

  3. I’ve listened to it again this afternoon and I don’t mind it. As I said earlier its not a patch on the Lowlife version but it has charm and I like the snapped phasing of the backing vox.

  4. Final point on the remixes. It has always annoyed me how Pete Saville imposed himself on the single and its worth with his refusal to create a cover for the single – and by create, I mean appropriate someone else’s idea or art and have it “PSA”d as I have always called his work. As much as Saville is associated with the band, none of New Order’s work has ever succeeded or failed based on his work. But his legend is enhanced by his association with and control over the print art of New Order.

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