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Joy Division

 Happy Happy Joy....oh, fuck it.

 

Introduction

Unknown Pleasures

Closer

Still

The Peel Sessions


The Lineup Card (1977-1980)

Ian Curtis (vocals)

Bernard Albrecht (guitars)

Peter Hook (bass)

Stephen Morris (drums)

If in the book of British Punk Rock the Sex Pistols said 'Fuck You!' and the Clash said 'This is fucked!' and Wire said 'Something here is fucking with me...' and Siouxsie Sioux said 'EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!' and Gary Glitter said 'want some candy, little girl?', Joy Division were the first band of note to say 'I'm fucked.' Which certainly generated a lot of grief for these Mancusian party poopers, believe me! Or don't, but if you pretty much invent 1) goth 2) shoegazer 3) new-wave dance and 4) desperate suicide on the verge of breaking it big, something tells me that you've got a lot to live down in terms of public image. Besides having to swat black-clad pasty-faced simps off your dick whenever you step out of the house. As usual, the public takes a good idea and then perverts it into an unintentionally hilarious subculture with obsessive attention to only the most hokey supernatural claptrap and oddly sexless fetishism. What shouldn't happen, however, is to dump Joy Division in with this mess...they're a punk band by profession, and even though they have about as much in common with the Ramones music-wise as James Taylor, they've taken the independence and lack of regard for convention of good ol' punk rock as their battle cry....they simply care to make their points in a much quieter, more paranoically intense way. There's is a music knit from dark nights of the soul, where the bass rumbles and the guitar provides glimmers of light through the dense trees. It's a slow walk, but it's a deliberate and extremely carefully planned one, built on solid rhythmic hooks and engaging leads by heart-wrenching vocalist extraordinaire Ian Curtis. Oftentimes my breath is taken simply by Joy Division's ability to sneak up on me...not with tasteless scare tactics, but by just furrowing their way under my skin and into a place where I can look at them and say...these people are human, and while they're a tad dour, I identify with their isolation and slipping hold on happiness. Joy Division aren't goths, but they're gothic, they aren't dancers, but they play danceable music, and they're not 'rock' geniuses, but they're geniuses.

Joy Division had an extremely short lifespan, beginning in 1977 in Manchester following a Sex Pistols show and the ten zillionth time Manchester United has won the English football championship. They played slow, rhythmically intense music that sounds like half Bowie/Roxy Music euro-rock, half disco, half dub reggae, half Hawkwind, and three-quarters sexy stripper music. Though everyone always sucks Johnny Lydon's arsewinker for coming up with Metal Box, this music actually came first from the Division, and is a lot less painful to listen to all the way through when done by the originators. Bassist Peter Hook should be, and somehow isn't, considered some sort of god among long-necked four-stringers, which is a crime no number of virgin sacrifices will be able to reconcile. They made one debut album (Warsaw, available as a bootleg/reissue ripoff somewhere where they charge too much money) and canned it because the producer used synthesizers without their permission. Well, boo hoo....these sissies wanted artistic control and shit, like the honest artists that they are.  Can you imagine a band nowadays yanking their own debut record because of a few unwanted synth overdubs? Not bloody likely, I'd say...not with the gillions of dollars they're given to make beer-commercial/hero movie soundtrack rap-metal hit songs, anyway. Anyhow, Joy Division caught a buzz and a howl with their actual debut, Unknown Pleasures, followed it up with some legendary live shows I wasn't alive or British enough to see, made a second album, Closer, that showed growth. They seemed on the verge of stardom with singles in the charts (the British charts....this was 1980, so no doubt pioneering titans of Western Civilization Sister Sledge were too busy clogging up all the top spots on the American Top 40) and a US Tour coming up, but as so often is the case, the thought of going to a place as depressingly superficial and uncool as the United States was too much for seizure-prone lead singer Curtis, who found a way out of his performance contract by cutting off the flow of oxygen to his brain with a piece of rope.

As if all this isn't sunshiny enough already, you know what Joy Division was? It was Nazi code for concentration camp barracks holding female prisoners who were used as free brothels by the fascist scum. Nice!

The remaining members of Joy Division bravely soldiered on with the similarly serious, but yet more flippant 80's yuppie dance-band New Order, and singer Ian Curtis is still dead.

jimtid jamescarrigan@still.com 
Any Short Comments?:	Joy Division grabbed the music book and tore it up into a thousand pieces, Oh you hear a bit of jazz in A-Exibition? bollocks!!!!!!The albums, all of them! are works of art. 20th Centurys` answer to Beethoven,Bach and Verdi........... 
David Hazell
Any Short Comments?:	Ian Curtis did not kill himself because he was about to tour america. he kill himself because of the state of his marrage and also  he  wanted to die young. this was most probably due to the drugs he was taking for his fits.
(Capn's Response: I can dream, dammit!)
Mike
Joy Division was a wondrously great band. But...I like "Metal Box" a lot, too.

CapnMarvel, witness for the prosecution: "Though everyone always sucks Johnny Lydon's arsewinker for coming up with Metal Box, this music actually came first from the Division, and is a lot less painful to listen 
to all the way through when done by the originators."

Ian Curtis, witness for the defense: "We [Joy Division and interviewer] listen to a recording of John Peel's recent Public Image Ltd. session.

"When we played Leeds sci-fi Futurama," begins Ian, "I saw this lot and thought they were great despite the bad press they got. I've got Metal Box and I think it's superb, the only thing is, I have to put various 
amounts of weights on my stylus to stop the thing jumping... I couldn't understand all the bad reviews it got."

I rest my case.

Unknown Pleasures - Qwest 1979

I've actually had to spend a few days psyching myself up to review these albums, I don't want to be too flippant, too silly with these guys, but then on the other hand that's exactly what my heart is telling me to do...Joy Division is the highest of the high in terms of overseriousness, to the point of near-parodic proportions. I mean, the guy killed himself so he wouldn't have to tour America, for God's sake! What could be more overdramatic than that? And though I really really love this album, find it quite moving in places and even more provocative in others. Well, I still haven't decided which approach to take to this brilliant little stack of digitalized metallic-coated resin pancakes. I guess I'll just have to start out and see where it takes me, and just make sure to throw in a few good poop 'n' puke references along the way.

Album reviews, even mine, never give you a proper description of how an album sounds, like before you buy this, how will you know whether this is for you or not? I'll give it a good shot in this paragraph, and either I'll provide you with a useful journalistic account of what listening to a Joy Division album is like, or I'll just bore you to tears with a bunch of wildly inaccurate usages of the English language. I know!!! I'll write it in Russian!

Tak, no vot ete albom ochen medlene, no takzhe ya magoo tanzirovit cne...

That's too much fucking work. I can't remember English well enough, much less Russian, and I lived there for two damn years, ya know? Okay, well, if you think the idea of slow, electric minimalist dance music played on rock instruments with a guy talk-singing like a cross between Iggy Pop, Kraftwerk, and Bowie (probably Ian Curtis's three favorites, you know?) about dreadful end-of-the-rope stuff shot full of phrases like 'Where will it end?' and 'She's lost control...again' and 'I eat my own scabs just because it makes you queasy!', but no love songs, no happy songs, nothing that even hints that life has much to offer other than stale cigarette smoke and the heartbreak when you find yourself alone. Oh, and bunyans. Life gives you bunyans, too. Bassist Peter Hook sets the scene by playing these extremely steady U2-like bass patterns (Joy Division was a huge influence on U2, at least in the early 80's. Except, you know, JD never acted like they farted Chanel No. 5 and I don't think Curtis is much of a good church-goin' Christian.) and the drummer acts like he's Lee 'Scratch' Perry's house skin-boy...but slower. This music is so frigging slow, so intentionally slow, so compulsively slow that I find myself actually changing my brain patterns (there's a nice graph of them right on the album cover! No, on the other side!) to match what the Division is trying to sell me. What makes Unknown Pleasures so heinous is its insidious way of drilling inside your bones, like all good dance music must. It's trance-rock, music for a new d-generation to drink Scotch and eat phenobarbitols to.

Oh, and the guitarist is the singular influence for the Edge, except he always plays it close to the vest. When Albrecht's guitars feint and hunt, it leaves me gasping...when his guitars howl, I'm taken like a virgin at a frat party...and when he's best is when he's not playing hardly at all. I hope you realise what a complement this all is.

What might be off-putting for some unaware innocent who wanders into this album by mistake is how little they rely on the usual rock dictionary, and especially the punk dictionary. Possibly the stunningly grabbing intro to 'New Dawn Fades' doesn't sound so shocking after 20+ years of the Cure and alt-rock to water it down, but listen to how important each part is to the puzzle, and although the basic track never alters from this four-descending chord thing, Ian Curtis's progressive levels of desperation ring harder and harder until the guitar gets a 'solo' that allows us to catch our breath. This is a band that plays in the spaces, who leaves things unfettered for our own brains to fill in. If they played faster they might sound like Wire, and if they played slower they'd go backwards. I usually have no idea what the names of most Joy Division songs are unless I look at the track listing, so if I lack specifics here, please forgive me, for I just went out to the store in a driving rainstorm because my wife needed real butter to bake Katia's 1st birthday cake. At 12 am. Anyway, I really love 'She's Lost Control', probably the most rabble-rousing effort on the album, which is followed by the only half-speed-ahead rocking song in attendance (with a really fantastic guitar finagle, as well), 'Shadow Play', which just happened to be the name of my favorite (and the only) used record shop in Norman, Oklahoma. Now it's a preppie clothing store catering to the rich Tulsan Greek-going white kids not on dope. Sad world. Makes Unknown Pleasures sound pretty good as I rue the day the preps finally crushed all signs of creative life under their neo-fascist heels. Ah, well...I guess that's what this album makes you do. There's some evidence of Krautrock ('Interzone'), some improvements on 'We Will Fall'-Stooges near-catatonia, and even some grinding near-metal ('Day Of The Lords'). One thing you're guaranteed to get form this album is a mood, for as the perfect album cover art indicates, this album is black, yet shot through with little streaks of white, so whenever the message gets too heavy, the next song picks you up and shows you that you're going somewhere, even if its just further down the mortal coil...

Capn's Final Word: Call it a work of art with darkness and space as its medium and listen to it because you have to admit you feel like this sometimes, you just never tell anyone about it.

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VIVISect     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Wow,I didn't know that Ian Curtis killed himself Becouse America was so "uncool" and he diden't want to tour the U.S.I thought thought he killed him self becouse he was tired of living in
a country where everyone acts like they have 10 foot poles logged up their asses.
oh well,....
 

james carrigan     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Hey vivisect, I live but an hour away from where Ian Curtis and his cohorts produced this fine album. The best music has always comes from Britain,that is why all your bands are copying our 70`s style, Interpol,one example.  JD would have blown all you yanks out of your seats. He was frightened of America. He was frightened of life.

 

Mike      Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Why don't you review "Substance?" Yeah, it's a compilation, but it consists solely of tracks not featured on any of the standard Joy Division albums. (Well, there is "She's Lost Control," but the Substance 12" single version is radically different from the Pleasures album version.)

A classic of subtly unfolding dread, "Unknown Pleasures" is like walking out of your brightly lit, sterile, grinding, go-nowhere, absolute dead-end job, into the intense darkness of a very cold night. Make the weather, say, freezing rain mixed with snow. The snow's beginning to collect around your shoes as you get into your small car and start the ignition, just letting it warm up a bit in the pervasive cold. You start contemplating the total, soul-sucking idiocy of your pathetic state of
life. There is nothing to go forward to. Any attempt to change anything would be utterly pointless, because you would inevitably screw it all up, and then your wife, off somewhere else tonight, in another town or in another country (it barely matters), would leave you, take the kid with her, who'd learn to hate you over the years she never had a father, and then you'd be all alone. Friendless. Sure, you've got acquaintances, people who call themselves your friends, but they don't mean anyth!ing, they don't actually care about you. They just talk to you because they're laughing at you inside. You are a puppet. You are worthless. So you drive home, smoke as many cigarettes as you can, drink a ton of
vodka screwdrivers, and cry yourself to sleep in an alcoholic stupor. The lights are out in your dusty old apartment, but in the dark, sprawled on the bouncy, springy mattress, you start seeing the shapes move. They're like shadows, but as they move in a kind of endlessly moving, snakelike dance, you wonder at the purity of their undulating rhythmic beauty as you slowly pass out. The next morning you wake up feeling as if your face had been shoved into a blender, call in sick to that awful job, and contemplate how much weaker but better you feel than you did before. What that blather meant to convey was that listening to this album is a sometimes extremely punishing emotional experience if you're in the
right mood (rejection, romantic breakup, temporary depression, you know the drill), but that after it's over, you'll feel shakier, but far better.

The Martin Hannett production is nothing short of astounding, as it revolutionized the use of echo and delay in modern rock music. Really, Hannett should have been made the fifth member of the band - he practically was anyway. Instead of making the delays noticeable, Hannett filtered the band through a ton of barely imperceptible reverbs and echoes so that they sounded eerily detached, creating the pained and sorrowful music and yet somehow standing above it, observing what was happening and contemplating the goings-on down below. The band had so many qualities that such a beautiful production job only focused the power of the songs. The one questionable attribute of the record is the snare drum sound, which sometimes does sound like the plumber hitting the water pipe in the bathroom.

The band's strengths were numerous. Ian Curtis was an instantly memorable singer with a wavering, pained, but majestic baritone, a fantastic lyricist, and overall, an unforgettable frontman, though the Morrison-esque cult that rose around him after his unfortunate suicide is too exaggeratedly, well, Morrison-esque. There's no denying, though, the unearthly emotional power that radiates through these tracks: when Curtis opens his mouth and hits you with that voice, you know he means absolutely everything that he is saying. You know it's no joke, and it's riveting.

As a guitarist, Bernard Sumner showed an extremely welcome approach to the instrument, valuing unobtrusive, but endlessly fascinating textural subtlety ("Candidate," "Insight," "I Remember Nothing")  over massive, distorted chord bashing. Well, he also does a lot of that too, and quite fantastically on "Day of the Lords," "New Dawn Fades," "She's Lost Control," "Shadowplay," and "Interzone," but the playing throughout is a uniquely listenable and strange mix of semi-Iommi sludge, tape-echoed Krautrock minimalism, icy art-rock formality, and warm, energetic punk chugging. I'm now wishing that I'd gotten an SG instead of a Tele. Damn. He also had a great way with a synthesizer too, and on tracks like "I
Remember Nothing," showed a more standard, but nevertheless extremely intelligent style that seemed to combine Kraftwerky electronics with Velvets-inspired droning.

Peter Hook's upfront, steady, and chillingly dire Rickenbacker bass patterns always hold up the main melodies throughout, always catch the listener's ear first, and always sound unique, even after all these years. Make no mistake, there's no bassist who sounds like Peter Hook on these records; even Hook himself doesn't sound exactly like this anymore. Playing "The Perfect Kiss" throughout the '80's would do that to you, I guess. It's all in the beginning of "Shadowplay" - the unexpected delicacy, followed by the increasing sense of doom, always holding down the same kind of tension and melodic sense at any time. A lot of modern bassists are making a living copying this cat, so do yourself a favor and hear the original at his finest. Though I still don't think he cuts Jah Wobble as the finest bassist in postpunk, I do think he's absolutely the most influential, and that he's clearly an extraordinary talent.

Stephen Morris...again, no one sounds like this. It's getting really redundant by now, but his robotic-yet-organic drumming is really what drives the band. The comparison to dub reggae drumming is accurate, showing the more organic side to him, but that doesn't also account for the robotic quality he has, kind of like Sly Dunbar combined with Kraftwerk's drum machines. More than anything else, at base level Joy Division was about rhythmic interplay. There are very, very few bands with as keenly honed a sense of ensemble as this one. In order to have this, they had to have an incredible drummer - which is exactly what Morris was. Hannett said, at one point, that Morris was the deciding factor in what sold him on the band. The electronic drums in particular are splendid - never, ever sounding corny, always putting the irreplaceably alien touch on classics like "She's Lost Control," and far surpassing Bowie's earlier drum-processing work on "Low" (another big influence on the proceedings, but for my money this album is a lot better than "Low" is).

As songwriters, the band used all of these things to their advantage, and created ten songs that flow like one sustained work in the context of the LP, yet stand up perfectly to inspection when taken out of the album's context. Hell, the spaces between tracks are even part of the overall effect - the song fades into the darkness and the next comes slowly looming out of the stormclouds. Could you imagine this all blended together, no rills at all, like many contemporary records are? (An example: Sonic Youth's second LP, "Bad Moon Rising.") Of course not; this would have diluted the album's emotional heft and punch. This album is also about spacing it's impact: while a sustained chain of music is fine for creating a sustained impact, a lot of times it's more effective to space the songs apart so that when the truly terrifying songs hit, the cumulative effect - the build and catharsis - is overwhelming. And, to conclude, that's what "Unknown Pleasures" is - absolutely overwhelming. I'm divided as to whether this is a better album than "Closer" or not, but both albums are masterpieces, and Joy Division was a rock band for the ages.

 


Closer - Qwest 1980

I wonder how this drummer makes these drums sound so mechanical, so hollow, that I just assume they're digi-skins, even though my brain knows that the only syndrums in 1980 didn't sound anything close to this ('bleep!' and 'doink!' and 'plunk!' was about the extent of the synthesized drum vocabulary in 1980). Unfortunately, I'm not pinned to the wall enough by Closer as I was by Unknown Pleasures, so I have time to ponder such madness instead of just wishing life didn't have to be so frigging awful, you know? The band apparently took everyone's impression of Unknown Pleasures as the most depressing thing they'd ever heard personally, because this one has a lot more cheese-holes in it for the light to penetrate. I mean, they never intended to make people sad, they considered themselves to be radically punky, that's all, just tryin' to change the conventions of Western popular music form, you know? Maybe all but Ian, who probably was as dark and brooding as all that....

Closer is kinda disappointing after the laser-point focus of Unknown Pleasures. First off, they're no longer a punk band with an unhealthy disco fetish, now they're all chin-deep in industrialism, and instead of rocking or grooving, now the rhythms drip and spiral. Very strong Kraftwerk influences, I hear, and a lot less Iggy/Velvet Underground. On the surface it's probably considered 'artier', but I find it less effective...the main impact I get from Closer is slightly agitated boredom. The first tracks especially eschew so much of the rockin' pissed-off depressive bassist on downers that I actually fidget and wonder what the hell is going on here. It begins to pick up with 'Passover', a paeon to Tago Mago, and they get the ultra self-indulgent 'Atrocity Exhibition' out of the way early. Maybe they're just trying to be difficult, but the songs really aren't here so much this time around. I can't shout along in an angst-ridden howl to any of these songs, so what's the fun in this? This is an album made for themselves, and while I feel like maybe they're stretching out into some interesting new territories (the near-jazziness of 'Heart And Soul' is something new in the repetitive, obsessive-dance thing that Joy Division keeps running into the ground), I still go back to reliable ol' beatboxes like 'A Means To An End' and the subconsciously ragin' 'Twenty Four Hours' as my favorite songs on the album. These songs are still well-performed and have just as much, if not more, 'haunting' power than the debut, but precious few of them go anywhere, rather they exist as something to tour around. Hearing the singles that came out at the same time, I wonder why no ringers like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' were included to spice things up a bit. As it is, the rockers save the album...just don't get caught up in the first two endless meaninglesses...it does improve from there. Just take the similarly slothy 'Eternal'....I think it's gorgeous, all six meandering minutes of it. I guess when you're talking minimalism, every damn note counts.

Capn's Final Word:  Losing the white light and white heat for Closer, I wonder where the songs went. Though there's still lots of life, I begin to wonder why they make feeling so low seem so boring.

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Jack Feeny  jackfeeny@yahoo.co.uk     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Firstly, in 1977 Manchester United weren't actually all that successful (bar an FA Cup success). The majority of their league championships have come in the nineties.

Secondly, I find it near-scandalous that you can give Closer such a low rating (especially given you seem to really like the band). Obviously my views on the album are elsewhere but suffice to say I think it one of the very greatest albums ever made. I haven't extensively checked your other reviews but I shudder to think how many clunkers you've awarded a "B" or higher.
 

thatcoolbrotha     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: It's Peter Hook. (Capn: yeah, yeah, I fixed it) Anyway,I enjoy closer way more than Unknown Pleasures because the production and arrangement of the material is way better. Everything on UP sounds like it was recorded by Steve Albini's retarded half brother and the band just sounds so weak on some numbers.

 

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Nope, this is a lot better than UP. I guess when it comes to JD's two studio albums, it's just a matter of personal preference. I actually find UP to be the more monotonous of the two. Sure the last song on UP (can't even remember the damn title) is atmospheric and gloomy sounding, but it's also boring as hell, which is probably why I can't even remember the title. Doesn't hold a candle to 'Twenty Four Hours,' 'The Eternal,' or 'Decades,' tthe three best songs here. UP just sounded like a big bummer, Closer sound like a PROFOUND bummer. More diverse too. I'm not wild about 'Atrocity Exhibition' though, but that's my only complaint.

james carrigan     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: The finest record of all time. A fitting eptaph to genius of a young man, who saw such sights, we can only ponder!.
 

bigmuff     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I loved Joy division and still do. A few things to
clear up however:

a) Ian Curtis did NOT kill himself because he didn't want to tour america! That is the DAFTEST thing i have EVER heard. He was a Grand Mal Epileptic and was taking extremely strong barbituates ( which were what was prescribed in 70's UK) to combat the fits he suffered. These had an adverse effect on many things not least giving him serious depression to contend with. He was also struggling with his marrige and had started to mix the medication with alcohol ( not a good combination) these were the major factors that contributed to his suicide. He was not so flippent or arrogant as to attempt notoriety through suicide!

B) Warsaw( what joy division were Originally Called )did actually produce a debut Vinyl ep called "an ideal beginning" with a Hitler Youth type image drumming on the front.This had 3  songs on it such as "The Kill" it was very raw punk and sounded (production wise) similar to early stranglers (pre Peaches) there were about 500 copies made and i am lucky enough to have one! It was very rough and ready and nowhere near as good as what was to come later.

I liked the general biog on the band but felt i needed to add my 2 cents. I don't wish to appear obnoxious, just thought i could provide a few more facts

(Capn's Response: Ahem. *Joking* Ahem.)

 


Still - Qwest 1981

Half live/half unreleased barrel-scraping set that just misses being essential by not including Joy Division's barrelhouse version of Neil Diamond's 'Kentucky Woman' that was included on the debut Shades Of Joy Division or the six-part concept suite about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly becomes bird food becomes bird poop becomes fertilizer becomes a little tree for the caterpillar to munch on. Do you ever get the idea that notions like 'cuteness' and 'highfalootin' artsy fartsy CRAP' just have no place in modern pop music? Well you will after a few brushes with Joy Division, I tell you what. They can do more with eighth notes than most bands do with 15 different inversions of the labian mode in 16/45ths time, and never deviate from their world plan of being the dreariest kick-ass dance punk band in the known universe. And though I thought Closer was duller than a three-week cruise through the Saskatchewanian lowlands with your elderly Aunt Beth and no intoxicants, I find the posthumous Still a lot more focused again, if maybe a bit lame in terms of the live stuff. I certainly wouldn't want to be without my fractured 'Heart Of Glass'-disco 'Glass' or the opening 'Exercise One'. Curtis puts forth a pretty snazzy Iggy Pop impression when he gets a chance, sort of like David Bowie doing an impression of Ig while on too many Sominexes. Not all the rarities are cream ('Walked In Line' is pretty dumb...is it live, too? If so I'd like to berate the British audience for not knowing how to clap in time at all.) Mostly the failures have no ability to provoke that usual :) ÷ reaction that always gets yanked from me. The Kill' has no effect at all, and that's just what this band ain't about...without that glowering gloom that falls over me like a beer hangover I just don't care to be berated with over-reverbed drums and goopy singing. The line is a very thin one. 'Dead Souls' is fantastic and pretty and British Invasion-ish but 'Something Must Break' only makes me feel a bit perturbed, and those pooky synths aren't helping. Since a lot of the music on here seems like it comes from various and sundry sources and time-periods re: Joy, I really have very little grip on the 'eras' I'm reporting on. Very little of the stuff seems to meander quite like Closer did, leading me to believe most of the first disc is Pleasure-era material. Which is probably while I like it pretty darn well all in all. This first disc is a must for people who liked both of the regular studio albums.

The live stuff? Eh...without the studio precision tick-tock, they're really kind of limited. They fall into being a pretty stiff group of wide-eyed punk worshippers on their cover of 'Sister Ray', which has about 1/5th the coolness of the original. Listen, Bernie, what made the original cool was not that the guitar players did much more than what you do here....it's that when they changed it up, it was a shock. You, sir, are just fucking about with it. And Ian says 'Have a good night' (or is it life?) probably just under 500 times at the end, so beware, you know. 'Ceremony' is poorly recorded (that's one high-fidelity high-hat though), 'Shadow Play' must be from a very early date, probably from right around the time they were in the studio judging by how closely it matches the original, but it rocks. The newer live material is all fairly well recorded, but it also bores the fudge outta me, too. Even 'Transmission' sounds pretty gicky...its like some drunken bar band mashing their way through this classic. If you're into live Joy Division, bring on The Peel Sessions. This stuff is sub-standard at best, and this band has a pretty high standard.

Capn's Final Word: For hardercore fans, sure, but the first half probably rates higher than Closer by itself. Imagine you're buying all that great stuff and getting the live half free.

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The Peel Sessions - Strange Fruit 1990


A very, very ,very well performed 8-song live-in-Peel's-studio best of '79. Though it only goes on for like 30 minutes, you have singular versions of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', 'Exercise One', 'She's Lost Control' and 'Transmission' and even the (to me anyway) less familiar tracks like 'Insight' and 'Colony' are just excellent. You know, some of this stuff is even better sounding than the debut album, but it's really just all the same. If you find this album cheap (not bloody likely) and decide you'd rather forego buying the debut for some reason, I could understand you on that.

This has more or less been completely supplanted by the Complete BBC Recordings and the live disc from the Heart and Soul boxed set, but I happen to have found this one for free download and neither of those...so you're stuck with this review. This album is so good I think I may actually go and buy it, shock of shocks.

Capn's Final Word: Live highlights...my favorite songs done with lots of gas but yet almost nothing different than the studio recordings. But who wouldn't want to hear these songs again, I ask you! YOU!

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Capn's Note: I have failed to locate JD's two live albums (Preston Warehouse '79 and Les Bains Douches '80) and am not rich enough for the boxed set yet, but I do own the double length Substance compilation and it's pretty much an A+ place to start with the band if you don't want to dive in with Unknown Pleasures.


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