Five months after they dropped the bomb with "Blue Monday", New Order released their follow up single "Confusion". In between their second album "Power, Corruption and Lies" had hit the shops. While the sleeves for all three releases follow the same theme (Titles and Band-name are encoded in an obscure colour-code), none of the singles appear on the album.
For the production of "Confusion" the band went to New York to collaborate with Arthur Baker, the hottest producer of the moment.
I actually prefer "Confusion" to "Blue Monday", maybe because I heard the latter far too often. I can still listen to all four mixes of the original 12" back to back without getting bored. I love the clarity of the sound (especially the instrumentals).
The video shows the band performing on stage, posing for photos and later on their way to the legendary Funhouse Club (or is it Danceteria?). I always wonder if this is a subtle hint that the band had not that much to do during the session with Baker, who is seen working in the studio without the band and who was clearly attempting to get some of the fame as the producer for himself.
Intercut we see a young girl working in a Pizzeria and getting ready to go out to the same club.
This harks back to Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, and also works as a future echo for Daft Punks amazing clip for "Revolution 909", which also adds a italo-american touch to it´s story.
While The band is getting frisked to get into the club, Arthur Baker (who looks like a twin-brother of Rick Rubin) hands a Reel-tape with the rough-mix of "Confusion" to resident DJ Jean "Jellybean" Benitez who puts it on immediately. Everybody´s dancing.
New Order: Confusion (1983)
Daft Punk: Revolution 909 (1997)
Only a month later another British band went to Baker for a production job. "I.O.U." by Freeez is actually a far more poppy and polished take on Baker´s sound and it became one of the biggest hits of 1983 and the electro era. While "Looking for the perfect beat" and "Planet Rock" were also massive, it was the crossover appeal of Freeez that made "I.O.U." a true classic.
The video also shows the strategy that was behind Freeez: Originally a five-piece band, they are now presented as a duo. Maybe the airfare for the video-shot was too tight or management decided to chose only the two most Wham-ish looking members?!
However, one can´t help noticing that the breakdancing in the video is handed over to the white kids. The much better and talented black dancers are actually pushed into the background. "I.O.U." ends with the band entering a club, 7" white-label single in hand. They throw the single to the DJ who puts it on immediately. Everydody´s dancing.
Freeez: I.O.U. (1983)
While the New Order video works as a time-capsule offering a mostly accurate look at an existing scene, the Freeez video is already coming across as a cynic exploitation of a marketable fad.
The white kids have taken on black music and culture once more and are now literally throwing it back at them.
Interesting to see that "I.O.U." was done only one or two months after "Confusion".