Don’t Do It

Fine Time < Don’t Do It > All The Way

I’ve been thinking about New Order’s approach to releasing singles, in terms of how they changed from a) offering purpose-written singles that didn’t appear on albums, often with a bespoke B-side that was as good as (if not better than) the A-side, to b) mainly drawing singles from albums, with multiple remixes, and/or dub-versions, and/or album outtakes as the B-side. It is a distinct evolution that reflects changing philosophies, band activity levels, and label priorities. I’ve always appreciated a unique B-side, along with a couple of quality remixes and/or dub versions, but I’m not convinced that offering a dozen remixes of the same track is a value proposition – particularly when they’re spread (and duplicated) across multiple CDs & records, supposed ‘promos’, and digital-only offerings. 4 quality versions will trump 10 ordinary ones any day, which is why Factory seemed to find the right balance of quality vs. quantity with its releases: usually 1 primary + 1 remix record, with little (if any) duplication. In retrospect things got a bit silly during the band’s London period.

In my estimation Fine Time was the first New Order single drawn from an album that included an album outtake as its ‘flip, with Don’t Do It recorded during the Technique sessions but relegated from the LP. To these ears Don’t Do It’s DNA – being a sample-driven instrumental with a darker tone – harks back to Murder and Evil Dust, with a melodic core that reminds me a little of Thieves Like Us.  It’s interesting to note that the band had enough instrumental outtakes from the Technique sessions to populate all of the album’s singles (as well as using The Happy One – another album outtake – on the Substance video), so clearly their Ibiza outing got the creative juices flowing…

I sense a strong Morris/Gilbert input on Don’t Do It, from the harpsichord intro to the many samples, the melodic string-strike motif and synth atmospheres. Hook’s bass and Sumner’s lead guitar are mixed comparatively low and meander almost side by side underneath the track where it feels like a verse vocal should be. Perhaps the track feels slightly unfinished and was destined for more, however the  apparent ‘space’ in Don’t Do It allows the samples to dominate. With the (curiously emphasized) ‘Don’t put your finger on the button‘ line, lots of gunfire, spooky ‘We’re going to get you‘ & ‘It’s going to hound you‘ extracts from the BBC’s television play ‘Play On One – On The River‘ episode, and ending on a back-masked sample from The Exorcist, Don’t Do It is anything but a pleasant walk in the sunshine and (now that I think about it) would make a worthy inclusion on an ‘Eighties Nuclear Threat’ megamix. Note to self…

Don’t Do It is a strong, dramatic instrumental B-side that counters the party on Side A. It’s the polar opposite of Fine Time, and as such the pairing made for a very unconventional and excellent single release.

Rating: xxxio

Most recently available on: Technique (Collector’s Edition)

3 thoughts on “Don’t Do It

  1. Great instrumental. Very dark and foreboding.
    First time i heard it on headphones, I remember being a little surprised and disturbed by the ‘We’re going to get you line’.

    One of the first things myself and a mate did when we got hold of a sampler in about 1990 was sample the backwards bits and reverse them to see what they said.
    There were rumours back then that there was a line from The Exorcist in it, but us not really knowing the film (it was banned here until the late 90s) and it being pre-internet, we didn’t really know what to look out for.

    So, when we finally made out the line (I think we had to clean things up a bit and either slow things down or speed it up), we were rather pleased with ourselves in finding it.
    We didn’t realise until much later that that particular line is one of the more famous ones in the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that Exorcist sample is one of the more diabolical ones…

      I hear you: re Sampling. I have a library of Ensoniq EPS floppy disks full of NO drum loops, snare sounds, bass notes, frogs, etc. Thieving riffs took effort in those days 😉


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