Joy Division


Joy Division - Closer ©1980 Factory
1. Atrocity Exhibition
2. Isolation
3. Passover
4. Colony
5. A Means To An End
6. Heart And Soul
7. Twenty Four Hours
8. The Eternal
9. Decades

Back in the industrial gloom of early 80s Manchester, four awkward young men released Closer. More austere than their first effort (Unknown Pleasures) and certainly far more cheerless, Closer has the power to benumb even the most frenetic punks into a comfortable dejection. It is guitars, vocals, bass and drums - for once, the four together seem to add up to less than the sum of their parts. Something seems missing from it, a cohesion of sound even amateur bands achieve while jamming in the garage.

Joy Division doused the adrenaline of punk but retained its sloppiness. This isn't the most skilfully played music you're likely to encounter, but its ridiculous power will floor you. "Atrocity Exhibition" is atypical: strange hand-drums and screeching noise. "Isolation" is a fast, dancy track with lyrics that go "I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through/I'm ashamed of the person I am." "Heart and Soul" is spectacular bass-heavy iciness, "24 Hours" the vain rush towards a hopeless but spirited end to the record. The last two tracks are definitive Joy Division: "Decades" is what every goth/goth-metal outfit has been trying to build a career out of, and "The Eternal" is even goth-er than that. By the end of it, you will want to lie in the dark and drift away. The lyrics are faultlessly penned, too: Ian Curtis' complex personality oozes out with all its desperate afflictions; the man had madness in his head and the means to express it.

Like say The Velvet Underground in their day and Sonic Youth in theirs, Joy Division were a band that operated just underneath the mainstream surface, like a post-punk-music Godfather who made things happen without really being seen. It is futile to ignore this group - someday you'll find that your favourite band's influence's influence was Joy Division.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 05/2003

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Joy Division - Permanent ©1995 Factory
1. Love Will Tear Us Apart
2. Transmission
3. She's Lost Control
4. Shadow Play
5. Day Of The Lords
6. Isolation
7. Passover
8. Heart And Soul
9. Twenty-Four Hours
10. These Days
11. Novelty
12. Dead Souls
13. The Only Mistake
14. Something Must Break
15. Atmosphere
16. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)

Permanent is a compilation released several years after Ian Curtis passed away, taking Joy Division with him. It was released by Factory as a retrospective, spanning the band's short career, but on a closer look certain aspects appear curious. The choice of tracks here is suspect: "Novelty" and no "New Dawn Fades"? "Passover" without "Decades"? It thus hardly qualifies as a "greatest hits" record. Nor does it have any new tracks, other than a remix of "Love will tear us apart"; this one's well done - a little rawer than the single version - but nothing new in it. So why waste a precious four minutes? Why release this record at all?

The quality of music is, of course, impeccable. Other than a weak second half, it generally shines with Joy division at their miserable best - but these are the catchiest tracks, not the best ones. "The Eternal", "New Dawn Fades" and "Decades" are the most important songs done by the band in shaping future "goth" ventures. All three are missing from the compilation. The order of the tracks is arbitrary and doesn't establish the requisite mood.

If you've never heard Joy Division before, this certainly isn't the first CD to buy. And if you're a fan, you've heard all of it before anyway. Unnecessary. The release was inevitable, though, looking at the number of "compilations" and "rare releases" coming from Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana these days.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 07/2003

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