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    Joy Division

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    Unknown Pleasures ( 1979 ) more best albums...
    Disorder / Day Of The Lords / Candidate / Insight / New Dawn Fades / She's Lost Control / Shadowplay / Wilderness / Interzone / I Remember Nothing

    The change from Joy Division to New Order following Ian's death should be enough to convince anybody that he was the soul of the group. Sure, he had help! Hooky, Martin Hannett, those drum patterns that so disturbingly mirrored Ian's own Epiletic fits. He'd dance that way, like he was having a fit. Then he'd have an actual fit, but it'd be a good few minutes before anybody realised. Ian had an interest in all things German. Were Joy Division Nazi's? Or was Ian just plugged into something? By all accounts, off-stage, out of the studio - he was quiet, thoughtful. Liked a beer. Seemed normal enough, even if his eyes burned right through you. But, you know. It was the times. Punk had happened but was on the verge of imploding. Britain suffered from poverty and everything seemed bleak - let's look to Germany. Musical influences? Kraftwerk sounded like aliens. Iggy Pop was debauched yet utterly cool. Fans of the Velvet Underground were still some sort of secret society - the group had yet to pass into being 'classic rock', or anything like that. Joy Division combined a number of influences that added to the playing style of the rhythm section and the production skills of Martin Hannett created something unique. Of course, you also had the lyrics, the artwork. Everything combined together. You had the physicality of Ian Curtis on stage. Arms flailing, nobody facing the audience bar Ian - but then, he had his half closed, half raised to the heavens, as if waiting for some kind of miracle to occur.

    Have you ever made a suicide pact with someone? Young love, perhaps? This girl wore an 'Unknown Pleasures' t-shirt. Two people totally together, two people who both wanted to die because they couldn't always be physically together. Poverty, bleakness. All this is cliche, but sometimes it actually happens, and Joy Division aren't the cause of that! The music of Joy Division becomes this wonderful discovery. You end up watching poor quality video's of Joy Division with all the curtains shut even though the sun is shining brightly outside. BECAUSE the sun is shining brightly outside. You cry for three days solid when the girl leaves. You can't be together all of the time. You walk the streets at night with 'Disorder' running through your brain. "feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeeeeling." Raised, a shout, a call, a cry for help. Please let me feel something other than this. And then of course, 'Day Of The Lords' which sounds like the whole world is ending. The thing about Joy Division, 'Disorder' for example is just great, a genuinely great Rock n Roll song. You don't have to have ever made a suicide pact with anybody in order to think it's a wonderfully great song.

    Joy Division were almost perfect right from the start. Almost perfect. They'd recorded a number of songs, far more straightforward punk, and also recorded an album for RCA records that was horribly produced and sapped the power from the group. That was before 'Unknown Pleasures' though. Martin Hannett was the catalyst. He enabled the group to produce the sounds they desired. Echo, haunting soundscapes. 'Candidate' has everything, the quintessential sound of 'Unknown Pleasures'. "there's blood on your fingers.... I worked hard for this..... you treat me like this." A few of the songs here start in almost complete silence. 'Insight' is one of those. But then you have something like 'New Dawn Fades'. Ian was a wonderful writer. A wonderful writer. Many rock lyrics, written out on a piece of paper, look like shit. They may sound great when sung, but they aren't exactly poetry. Ian could really write. These lyrics work as well as literature as they do song lyrics. Now, think about this. You try doing it! You have to be either a poet, or a song lyricist. You can't ever be both - if you try, you'll suck at least one of those disciplines, and yeah, I include both Patti Smith and Bob Dylan in that. I don't include Ian Curtis. There's a thought he'd have gone on to write novels, and given up music. I can believe it. Where was I? It's getting late. Ah, yeah. 'New Dawn Fades'...... I struggle to desribe this song. It's so dark and heavy, it really makes the supposedly dark and 'satantic' Black Sabbath seem like a kids cartoon. You want music to reflect and create the feeling of a horror movie? Joy Division did that, and more. They reflected real life, far more horrific. They also included a bass player who sounded like nobody else and a guitarist who was at least as good, if not better, than any other 'punk' group around.

    'She's Lost Control' is groovy rhythms, strange rhythms, very melodic whilst still retaining the darkness you can either immerse yourself in, take solace from, or simply ignore and enjoy the fantastic music. 'Shadowplay' is pretty much perfect. Just wait for the instrumental section. The guitar is genuinely fantastic guitar, quite unlike a punk guitar, but more punk than anything else. The guitar in Joy Division rarely provided the melody. With 'Unknown Pleasures', with 'Shadowplay' - the bass and drums provide the melody. The bass especially. The guitar is allowed free to provide both 'percussion' - and in this case, wonderful solo's. Full of melody, actually, come to think of it! Rock n Roll! 'Wilderness' is all echoed drums, all bass rhythms and melodies. 'Interzone' is easily the most straightforward song on the entire record. Just a two minute punk styled blast. It has a place, though. The final song sounds like someone falling apart. This is scary, frightening. 'Unknown Pleasures', like 'Closer' which followed, is an album that begs to be listened to attentively, from beginning to end. It's one of the greatest debut albums ever made, and even made a small profit for Factory Records - the groups label. It wasn't by any means a best-seller, but it influenced a lot of groups that followed. This is a classic album, as simple as that. The small fact that 'Interzone' within itself isn't a masterpiece isn't going to sway me, because it fits.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    The title is cool, the cover is awesome, and one or two of the songs are okay: "She's Lost Control", "Interzone". But that's the only things this album has going for it. But hey, they had to start somewhere. If you want to listen to an EXCELLENT Joy Division album, listen to Closer.

    I find the previous response quite amateurish. Here is mine: "She's lost control", has an exceptionally high bass-line simultaneaously played with low chords. I really do not understand how people can give this album negative reviews. There's definitely much more than meets the eye with this album, however simplistic you might think it sounds. Take for example, again, "She's lost control", the last bar towards the end, after the third stanza, the counter guitar melody against the bass line, how they play against each other, very similar to what was done in modern classical music, for instance, Ravel's bolero. I wouldn't say it's all that original, but it does go to show that the band members were thinking twice about what they played, which is more that what most bands can do today. "Day of the lords", well, I personally like it, for it's crescendo effect, increasing tempo, adds more momentum to the intensity of ! the song. And "Disorder", commonly described as poppy, upbeat, accessible. I think the point of the song, from a purely musical standpoint, was that it was supposed to be near-poppy, but not quite. When you listen to the opening bass line, you almost think that the instrument's unintentionally out of tune. The two note structure of the guitar coming in at exactly two bars binds the bass line together. I'm sure some may disagree, but when it comes to music this influential and important, you gotta wear your audiophones for a closer listen. This is why the best music critiques out there rave about this album, it's not for the casual, rock-and-roll, pell-mell listener. Consider this album a masterpiece in low art at worst, a cornerstone of modern popular music (techno, "alternative", etc, etc) at best.

    Chris Allan horbrarian@hotmail.com
    I bought this album after seeing Joy Division at the Leeds Futurama Festival. It's difficult to imagine now what a shock it was to hear this for the first time. There'd been bands touching on the darker side of life, but this was dispair, fear and desperation with no limits. Ian Curtis was staring into the void without caring where it might take him. Even today, this sounds fresh, uncluttered and sharp as a knife. A taste of a time in music when there was a sense that intellectual and emotional ideas could be explored.
    Barrett okeydoke@yahoo.com
    It's an enjoyable record. But what turns me off are those melodramatic fans of "rock" music. It's nothing serious folks. It's the sound of hormones scarping on metal instruments. The records does have some good melodies though. Except for "I Remember Nothing" which is an apt descprition of my experience with that song.

    geoffrey smith gsmith1958@ntlworld.com
    i give unknown pleasures 10 (greatest rock album ever,)closer 9and three quarters, i saw joy division twice and bought unknown pleasures as soon as it was release. some of the reveiws on your web page are ridiculous!they seem to split between unknown pleasures praisers (though still critising some tracks!)and critising closer for being too poppy!!!!!! and closer praisers saying unknown pleasures is not up to much!!!!! these people clearly have only a superficial understanding of the music. unknown pleasures and closer are beyond criticism,in addition you can easily make a third classic joy division album from the best bits of atill and substance, eg.exercise one, sound of music,dead souls,glass,komakino,transmission, love will tear us apart, incubation, autosugesstion, from safety to where, novelty. the only way to make this third album is to complile to a cd yourself and put a good photo of ian curtis on the front so ther you have it, three colosal albums. p.s the reveiw! er who compared franz ferdinand to joy division is a twat

    James jamez1580@hotmail.com
    Simon, your pathetic, 'there are one or 2 OKAY songs here', this album is an underrated masterpiece written by a genius, if you believe this about the album, then i honestly dread to think exactly what you would consider a brilliant album, listen to it again, or jump off a bridge you fucker

    Hans Heintz hansheintz@xs4all.nl
    Stated is that everybody should conclude that Ian Curtis was the 'soul' of the group if you look what New Order had to offer. I beg to differ. Saying that is saying that Joy Division was only about lyrics. Since the Control movie I discussed this here and there and the general conclusion was that Joy Division was one of those instances where everything came together in the right way. Let's not forget to mention Martin Hannett f.e. If you take away one of the elements of a synergy then there's a major collaps too.. But even naming it a major collapse doesn't do justice to the early work of New Order. There was some major talent to create magical music left.

    A great distinctive debut album that has influenced down the years (especially the current spate of new bands) . It still sounds great mainly to the bands highly individual approach to their instruments - not technically great but distinctive players . And of course ian curtis , lyrically like a giant black cloud bearing down , the songs fadeing in from the shadows. "day of the lords" "shadowplay" prime examples . "shes lost control" inventing a new kind of funk, for people with no interest in dancing . What an original talent curtis had . The punk influence is loud and clear in the live album that accompanies this edition and martin hannetts production certainly took the edge from their sound but replaced it with something more enduring .More timeless. I think "closer" is an even better album and thats some achievement . "unknown pleasures" is a special album though - no doubt.

    This is the last band I have ever really cared about. Everything they did was so right. Seemed to fill the gap that had been there before. When John Peel played Disorder - straight away you knew this was something. Something really special. The music - no band sounded like this - had ever sounded like this - went where these guys went. You did'nt understand the lyric's to start with but the feeling - wow.

    And then the singer - Ian Curtis. Well what can you say. I remember when he died - everything just felt less. And the more I find out about him the more I realize how special he was. Like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Charlie Christian, John Coltrane, etc - these people don't do bland - they make difference.

    I then got the next LP New Order. Now that I found depressing! I don't feel like that with JD albums. But I don't listen to them. I'm just writing this as a result of listening to Unknown Pleasures after about 20 years.

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    Closer 10 ( 1980 ) more best albums...
    Atrocity Exhibition / Isolation / Passover / Colony / A Means To An End / Heart And Soul / Twenty Four Hours / The Eternal / Decades

    With the later arrival of New Order, people sometimes forget that Joy Division were already using keyboard textures as early as this. With the sad, tragic demise of the groups frontman Ian Curtis, we'll never now know if Joy Division would have gone on to make a 'blue monday' rock / dance crossover type of breakthrough or whether they'd merely have continued refining their existing sound. Ian was actually the member of the group that brought Kraftwerk to the attention of the others. Bernard in particular saw the possibilites very early on. Given that 'Closer' is a move away from the guitar based 'Unknown Pleasures' to a sound sometimes ignoring guitars completely ( eg, 'isolation' ), chances are Joy Division themselves would indeed have done something 'different' through subsequent releases had they only all stayed alive in order to record and write subsequent releases. 'Atrocity Exhibition' is lyrically dense and intriguing, offers up various treated guitar sounds and for six minutes relies almost entirely on a stop, start 'awkward' drum pattern, bass, and the sound of Ian Curtis vocally. Sure, there is guitar here, but the guitar isn't exactly playing flowing lines of melody and tunefullness. The guitar sounds alien, mixed into the background, sometimes moving closer to the foreground in the purely instrumental passages. It creates an extraordinary sound, actually. 'Atrocity Exhibition' isn't as in your face an album opener as the clattering, startling 'Disorder', but it's a perfect introduction to 'Closer'. A different sound, a different album, a step away, a step forwards - whichever way you want to look at things. 'Isolation' features keyboard lines and bass lines, drums that sound like machines but are actually drums as far as I can tell. No guitar here whatsoever - "i'm ashamed of the person I am" sings Ian, and indeed he was going through a difficult time in his personal life, had become estranged from his wife, become increasingly 'ill'. It never seemed to affect the group as far as studio activities were concerned however. Just gave Ian an extra something to write about. 'Passover' is a piece of brilliance. The opening two songs are both good, decent songs, but not obviously stand-out Joy Division songs. 'Passover' is eerie, scary, very atmospheric. The drum pattern is again a key to the musical build-up of the song, the bass rumbles deeply around the drums, the guitar slashes and is allowed the freedom to do so. The rhythm section has already created such a strong melody and groove, the guitar doesn't have to provide 'the tune', so to speak. The lyrical content is dark and poetic, Ian sings almost matter of factly and the overall effect is quite something.

    'Colony' further winds the album up a notch, and offers the first real guitar oriented song on the record. The rhythm section do 'the usual' Joy Division mix of jerky alien rhythms and the guitar blasts and soars, Ian spits out the words, shouts out the lyrics in other places through the song, a song with power. 'A Means To An End' has an almost 'bouncy' sounding bass line, Ian sounds far off, yet still powerfully strong. Credit is again due to producer Martin Hannett, 'Closer' is beautifully recorded and mixed. When Ian raises his voice to sing "I put my trust in you" - and then the guitars joyfully ( yes, joyfully! ) come in, it's really a wonderful thing. The keyboards return for 'Heart And Soul' and 'Closer' continues to offer variety whilst still retaining a fully cohesive mood. The vocals sound different here, the words are almost whispered, but the voice still dominates the song. It's a funny thing, the sheer sound of Ian Curtis, the lyrical presence and vocal presence even with strong melody and striking keyboard lines remains the one element of the song that really reaches you above all else. And he's singing softly. I don't 'understand' what goes on in 'Heart And Soul' or how the song was written or created. It seems almost super-human, this unfathomable thing. It sounds like a great piece of art, let's just say that. '24 Hours' when it rises from quiet to impossibly dense and loud sections is a thrillingly dark blast, falling again to gentle softer sections throughout. The final two songs here deserve an extra special mention. They single-handedly raise a good album and a strong follow-up album into an all-time classic work. "procession moves on, the shouting is over" sings Ian, and 'The Eternal', so aptly named because it perfectly evokes the feeling of both utter dejection and death. Death is eternal. But, there is beauty here. The piano lines add a touch of beauty, a last gasp of life, or alternately, a ray of hope in admist all the gloom. Much gloom, and also one of the most beautiful sad songs i've ever heard. 'Decades' follows 'The Eternal', another piece that progresses at a funeral's pace, but remains utterly captivating. The keyboard lines, the slow gentle bass lines. Ian Curtis "here are the young men, weight on their shoulders", a series of great lines come at you all through 'Decades'. And those keyboard lines, primitive and yet wonderfully beautiful, and desolately sad. "where have they been" sings Ian, the keyboard continues and suddenly you're likely to burst into tears. This is powerful, emotional music, some of the most emotional music you'll ever hear. 'Closer' isn't an expression of joy and happiness, obviously, but these other emotions have rarely, if ever, been captured better.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This was my first Joy Division album. I think that this is definately one of the best (and most under-rated) albums of the early 1980's, and IMHO, a step up from UNKNOWN PLEASURES. For me, CLOSER is an album about going down a spiral into depression. I'll write about my very favourite tracks: "Isolation": the drums are upbeat and even danceable, with a synth backing, and few guitars. Ian sings the lyrics matter-of-factly which gives the song a unique edge. "Colony": with a cool drum fill pattern, and slashing guitars, this is one of my favourites on the album. Cryptic lyrics like "As he lays asleep she takes him in her arms. Some things I have to do, but I don't mean you harm" makes the song even more effective and chilling. The only thing I don't like about this song is the repitition of the last lines at the end. "Twenty Four Hours": the dynamics in this song are really powerful, and the lyrics are full of despair. "The Eternal": a slow dirge-like song! , with sparse (but effective) piano melodies, a descending bass line, and vocals/lyrics full of mourning. "Decades": catchy, yet dark at the same time. I really like the harpsichord-like keyboard at the begining, and the slow, mellotron-like keyboard in the middle parts. This is definately one of my favourite albums of the early 80's. 9/10

    Brendan switchblade_symphonaire@hotmail.com
    Was 'The Eternal' about death? It's very easy to conclude that, after hearing the lyrics 'Procession moves on the shouting is over/Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone'. However, I did read a Peter Hook quote somewhere, where he said that Ian wrote it about a 'mongoloid child' who lived in his street, and was 'eternal' because his little world, by the fence, by the wall, under the trees, never changed. That he was a 'burden to keep' for his parents. Was Ian coupling these themes, suggesting that the futility of life is the same, whether you're disabled or not? Was it a simple reference to this child, or was he alluding to what was to come for him a few months later?

    Rob poomousse@hotmail.com
    I bought 'Permanent' way back when, barely listened to it..came back a few years later and finally at last listened to Joy Division properly. 'Closer' is an album within which im sure much is to be heard lyrically, yet i must confess at this point I dont have much idea of what the songs are actually about...yet the album sounds so fucking good I'd describe it as 'compelling'...superb stuff. Intense, brooding, depressing...magnificent. He died far too young. A waste.

    Tom tomtoocool2065@yahoo.com
    This album is kind of a let-down. Before having heard this, I had only heard Unknown Pleasures, which is a very dark yet emotional masterpiece. It is apparent that Joy Division had transformed from being a post-punk dark new wave guitar band into now being a new wave synthy pop band. These songs are upbeat and peppy! Listen to those drums and synths! I thought I had downloaded (oops) the wrong album for a few minutes here, is this really THE Joy Division? Curtis' vocals are slightly weak throughout the album, I guess you could say he hits a few wrong notes. However, his lyrics are very very powerful. The first 4 songs are pretty much Talking Heads + Franz Ferdinand, and the album progressively gets better and more Unknown Pleasures-ey. A Means to An End is good in some parts. Heart and Soul is the first great track. T! wenty Four Hours starts out absolutely brilliant and remains brilliant. The Eternal features a different kind of 'keyboard' - what sounds like a grand piano, which is a very nice touch. The Eternal would be the ballad of the album. Decades starts out good but then...some sort of organ/synth/accordion bursts in and ruins it. I thought this was a joke at first. They couldn't have been serious, this thing wailing drowns out everything and almost makes you cringe. The drums get upbeat and the album ends on kind of a stale note. As a whole this album sounds very dated. You can definitely tell that it's early 80's with synths, pop beats that you can practically dance to, reminds you of a time when all electronics were big and grey, Gary Numan ruled all and the cars were boxy. Definitely get Unknown Pleasures first, it will blow you away.

    redtaperecorder redtaperecorder@gmail.com
    i very much take to heart the words of mark twain that say 'whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.' it is for this reason that i've only just now gotten to know joy division after almost a decade and a half of avoiding them like the plague: every friend whom i considered a 'serious' music listener gushed over this band w/ such religiousity that it instantly made them suspect and off-putting. but then about three weeks ago, quite by accident, while at a friends i heard a cover version of 'love will tear us apart' by nouvelle vague. the melody was so sweet, hypnotic and sad. and the lyrics which spoke so tenderly of a beauty that lies hidden deep w/in resignation -- they were so gentle and poetic, so full of love. i needed to hear what the original version sounded like. and so i got hold of 'substance' and was blown away. i played it on repeat for the better part of a week while, at the same time, immer! sing myself into the story and legend of joy division and ian curtis by way of wikipedia texts, fan sites, lyric websites and youtube videos... it was like nothing i'd ever heard or seen before. the following week i gave 'unknown pleasures' the same treatment and grew more mesmerised. now i'm in the week of 'closer' and feel that i can finally form a true opinion about this group... the only thing i can compare my experience to is the first impressions i had when i first read books like 'crime and punishment' by dostoevsky or 'narcissus and goldmund' by hesse. i agree entirely w/ the poster who said that there is something literary about curtis' lyrics. something epic is happening in these timeless stories that ian tells, while at the same time something is happening w/in you as you ingest the details of his dark existential world. a boy barely into his twenties and yet he speaks with the voice, authority and finality of ! an archangel. the words weild some transformative power which! changes you if you are only willing to sit and really listen. the weight of their emotional meaning touches upon something that we all carry w/in us and awakens them. it touches upon that place which reminds us that w/in this life there will also be death. that feeling you get when you get the news that someone you knew, but not too well, has taken their own life. it reminds you of your own mortality and causes you to understand that the motivations, fears and joys that we all possess run so very deep. it's a glimpse into 'what was and will be'... i can never really know if the delay in my listening to this band and their musical contributions has helped or hurt me in understanding what was really going on w/in its music. all i know is that i'm glad that i've been able to enjoy such amazing art, work that ranks high alongside some of the greatest...

    Adam adamh1802_2@msn.com
    Some of the most intense soul weary music ever committed to tape exists here . How can a song called "heart and soul" manage to sound so devoid of both ? In a really amazing way ! It sounds trapped in some kind of musical purgatory . Its an astonishing record a 10/10 , a lot of new bands are starting to be influenced and a new film about ian curtis is on the horizon. Finally the respect Joy division deserved looks finally imminent .

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I can't even express how much I love this album. Every song is absolute gold, but the one that gets me everytime is 'Atrocity Exhibition'. I don't know what it is, but it feels like you're about to walk right into a nightmare, a thought compounded by Ian Curtis' cry of "this is the way, step inside". I read somewhere, somebody said that you can practically hear the door shut behind you when you start listening to this album. That noise has never sounded better.

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    Still 7 ( 1981 )
    Exercise One / Ice Age / The Sound Of Music / Glass / The Only Mistake / Walked In Line / The Kill / Something Must Break / Dead Souls / Sister Ray / Ceremony / Shadow Play / Means To An End / Passover / New Dawn Fades / Transmission / Disorder / Isolation / Decades / Digital

    Marry an appallingly recorded live set to an odds and sods out-takes collection, and you get yourself 'Still'. To be fair, the live set, underneath murk and hiss, reveals Joy Division to be more than powerful live performers, even with the sound doing strange things all through 'Ceremony'. And, it had to be 'Ceremony', didn't it? 'Ceremony' would have been the new Joy Division single, but a final version was never recorded, only a raw primitive studio demo. This live version includes an engineer who remembers to sort out the problem with the vocals only when the song is half over. And then the vocals disappear again. The fact that this is still a wonderful song even with vocals missing speaks volumes about Joy Division. This particular live set was chosen to go onto the record because it was the last concert the group performed before Ian Curtis died. Sentimental reasons, let's say. But that's ok, I can understand that. I can't understand at all the songs chosen for the studio portion of this compilation. Sure, they dig out 'Dead Souls', originally released only as the b-side to 'Atmosphere' as part of a very limited edition, but that's my point. B-Side to 'Atmosphere'? Where the hell is 'Atmosphere'!! OK, so the 1987 compilation 'Substance' rounded up all the studio songs officially released during the bands lifetime that don't appear elsewhere. I still can't get rid of the feeling however that an opportunity was missed with 'Still'. Having said of all of this, I still enjoy listening to this rather shabby excuse of a compilation. How so? Well.... there are a handful of songs or performances here that are simply magnificent.

    'Exercise One' doesn't go much for vocals, but the sounds wailing horribly all through the background are genuinely frightening. 'Ice Age' is stupendous, and could easily have appeared on 'Unknown Pleasures' perhaps in place of 'Interzone'. The vocal is the thing - "I.......yami'm living IN THE ICE AGE!" eyes stretched open wide and filled with tension. 'The Sound Of Music' and 'Glass' are both 'decent', 'The Only Mistake' a must have for fans. The bass line is something to behold. It's a very simple bass-line, it isn't awe-inspiring in a 'he must be a really great bass player technically' kind of way. It happens to be awe-inspiring in it's simplicity, but more so in the sheer atmosphere and sound it creates, the way the entire song hangs on it. Peter Hook is/was a God. 'Walked In Line' and 'The Kill' do little for me, if we are talking Joy Division, which of course we are. Stupid bloody thing to say! Both are pretty simplistic punk songs. On the otherhand, 'Something Must Break' is a minor glory, interesting lyrically to say the least. 'Dead Souls' is FUCKING FANTASTIC, so much so, Nine Inch Nails an industrial metal band, covered it many years later. Joy Division's version remains the definitive version, of course. Oh, but of course! It sounds dirty as hell, scary as hell, and hell is sitting in some therapists office answering a question about what kind of music you listen to. "Joy Division? Why don't you listen to some happy music?" I shook my head, I felt weary, I wanted my body to dissolve on the spot when he asked me that, but there you go. Other things happened as well, but I won't go into them here. The groups live version of The Velvet Underground's 'Sister Ray' is bloody awful, worst thing they ever did. As for the rest of the live performances, 'Transmission' and 'New Dawn Fades' are both GREAT, 'Decades' suitably emotional, and the closing 'Digital' lots of fun. Yes, that's right, fun. 'Still' as an album isn't especially fun, but then, it does have twenty Joy Division tracks on it, so it can't be that bad, can it? And, happily, it isn't that bad, either. Even with the same amount of thought it takes to go for a piss going into the compiling and presentation of said compilation.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Waldram Nottinghamshire
    Still rounded up what wasn't available at the time. So Dead Souls was included because Licht und Blindheit was a limited edition, but Atmosphere had been re-released on the She's Lost Control single. LWTUA and Transmission were still available and I guess that the studio version of Digital isn't on here (but Glass is) because it's on the live set. Also, I never liked Glass until I heard it on the Heart and Soul box set. I still don't think it's a great song, but Hannett added some great production touches that are difficult to hear on Still. I agree that there's something a little shabby about this compilation, but there's some great moments along the way. It's a huge shame about Hannett's live mixing on Ceremony. If it had been the second song in the set rather than the first I guess Ian's vocals would have been sorted in time. Still, nevermind.

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    Substance ( 1987 )
    Warsaw / Leaders Of Men / Digital / Autosuggestion / Transmission / She's Lost Control / Incubation / Dead Souls / Atmosphere / Love Will Tear Us Apart / No Love Lost / Failures / Glass / From Safety To Where / Novelty / Komakino / These Days

    This 1987 release compiled Joy Division singles and rarities. On the rarities front, following the breakup of the group a thriving Joy Division bootleg market tried to fill the gap, but the official release of some of the groups finest ever songs was always going to be welcome. We have the likes of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' here, a big selling posthumous hit for Joy Division following Ian Curtis death. And? We also have four songs recorded prior to the entry of Martin Hannett into the world of Joy Division. Neither 'Warsaw', 'Leaders Of Men', 'No Love Lost' or 'Failures' are essential if compared to the later majesty of the group, but they are hardly half-hearted or anything. All these songs are full of energy and power, if not yet posessing the sheer magical dark atmosphere of the Hannett produced Joy Division recordings. The difference from the second song here to the third, the Hannett produced 'Digital' is night and day. The biggest difference is the actual sound of Ian Curtis voice. He sounds so much deeper, the lyrics are even better, Joy Division were finding themselves. 'Autosuggestion' was originally a b-side, and although contains atmosphere and production effects, good vocals - lacks a little in terms of song structure or melody. Still, one of the groups finest singles and one of the all-time highs of Punk and the post-punk era follows, and that is of course 'Transmission'. Why wasn't this a hit, though? Surely the "dance, dance, dance, dance, dance - ON THE RADIO!" refrain would have made this popular? Lots of cool guitar appears all through 'Transmission', by the way. The weird rhythm of 'Shes Lost Control' arrives on this compilation thanks to the alternate, extended single version the group released. 'She's Lost Control' is a fine song, that has spawned a number of cover versions through the years including a hilariously painful one by Grace Jones. 'Incubation' is a Joy Division instrumental from the 'Unknown Pleasures' era, and far from being essential.

    'Dead Souls' and 'Atmosphere' are both very special songs. That two such great songs could have been thrown away by the group on a limited 1000 copy single beggars belief. 'Dead Souls' is incredibly dark and powerful with heavy thrashing guitars, an angry demented Ian Curtis vocal and a great sound on the last beat of every drum phrase. 'Atmosphere' is like a romantic suicide pact, with an inversion or variation on Phil Spectors famous 'Be My Baby' drum intro appearing throughout, with the keyboards and tender vocals ultimately keeping you together and safe from harm. A fabulous and brilliantly emotional song. Ian Curtis played second guitar all through the breakthrough ( albeit posthumous ) hit, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Apparently, Factory Records boss Anthony H Wilson gave Ian some Frank Sinatra records prior to the recording session as vocal inspiration. You can hear it in there too, the vocal mixed slightly down but with echo added given extra resonance. An absolutely beautiful vocal, by the way. 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' is full of strong bass melodies, keyboard melodies, guitar melodies..... It isn't without reason that this song has been reissued as a single at least twice, and charted each time. The remainder of this compilation following the strong finish to the first half is neccessarily less enjoyable as we progress through Joy Division b-side land. Having said that, both 'Glass' and 'From Safety To Where' are more than good songs, 'Novelty' is a great song easily the match of much of 'Unknown Pleasures' for example. 'Substance' as a whole was a neccessary compilation given that the earlier 'Still' had missed compiling such songs as 'Atmosphere' and 'Novelty'. It could have been done better first time round, but that's being harsh on what we do have here, which is an album containing some of the finest songs recorded by anyone, and some other songs as well, which aren't so fine, but aren't enough to ruin an excellently listenable compilation overall.

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    spartacus weaselsrippedmydrums@yahoo.com
    the first song i ever heard from joy division was Dead Souls...wow! truly an amazing dark tune. that song inspired me to buy an album of them to really check em out. Leaders of Men, Dead Souls, Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Shes Lost Control really stood out amongst the others. its a shame ian decided to not stay with us in the world, so we could hear more stuff by him

    Ian idd1@geneseo.edu
    Substance is the first, and so far only, Joy Division album that I have purchased. As an introduction to the band, it can't be beat. It is a bit more listenable/accessible (not necessarily better) than the two albums the band released while they were still around.

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