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