Reviewed: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Peel Session version)

Love Will Tear Us Apart remains arguably the most well known song Joy Division ever recorded. It’s immediately distinctive too, with its soaring synth line. However, whilst I do love the single version I’ve always preferred this Peel version slightly more. It’s from the second (and final) session the group did for John Peel’s radio show, recorded at the BBC Studios in London on November 26th 1979. It was one of three songs they performed, the others being 24 Hours, Colony and Sound Of Music. Both this session (and the first) are available on a number of CDs, most notably The Best Of Joy Division and the Heart and Soul box-set. The John Peel session is also significant because it was the first recording of the song! It was re-recorded twice but many fans do seem to prefer this original Peel sessions version, myself included. I personally prefer it because there’s a frantic tone to this recording that the more polished single version lacks. I absolutely love that chiming, climatic guitar that comes in about halfway through. This version sounds raw and definitely like a predecessor to the single version. What’s striking about it though is that considering this is the first recorded version, the song actually sounds really complete. The single version and this original recording aren’t drastically different really – it’s obvious they’re the same song. Strip away those more polished elements that the rerecorded versions brought in though and it’s a significant change indeed. The Peel version definitely sounds less of a pop song. It’s more typically Joy Division. I’ve always felt that the single version sounded a bit unconventional for Joy Division. This Peel version would have fitted in on Closer I think, unlike the single version. For me – it’s the definitive version of a classic song.

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On this day in 2007…..

Today, August 10th marks the six year anniversary of the death of Tony Wilson, The legendary founder and manager of The Hacienda nightclub and the co-founder of Factory Records. Both extremely legendary themselves. So culturally significant in fact that he would be dubbed Mr Manchester. Besides, any label that can say they have Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays all on their roster is a fine one. Even then, that’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding Factory Records acts. I’d have to say Tony Wilson’s life has made an indelible impact on my music taste. I investigating Factory Records two years ago and you could say I’ve become rather enamored, to say the least. I’ve become a huge fan of Factory Records and then consequently Manchester music in general. Not only that but I’ve got this very big dream that one day I’ll hopefully have an impact on Northern Ireland even a tenth of the size that he had on Manchester. Such a goal will almost certainly never happen, but hey I can dream. And what also won’t happen is my love for Factory Records music dying off either. RIP.

Why I Don’t Like Hipsters.

So, earlier I was doing the rounds on Tumblr, and I stumbled across this in The Clash tag. An obviously fake gig poster with 757 notes. In unison, hipsters disguising as fans of these bands were exclaiming how it’s an amazing lineup, how they wish they were there etc. There’s just one problem:

It’s. Not. Fucking. Real.

I mean, firstly, a gig with that line-up is surely going to enter the history books. It’s an epic hypothetical lineup. Five of the best/most influential artists of the 70s/80s. The problem? Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself in 1980. The Smiths formed in 1982. Sex Pistols broke up in 1978…. see the problem? There was never a point in history were these groups were all together at once. Any actual fan of Joy Division or Sex Pistols is bound to recognize that. Apart from – of course- the hipsters.

It represents something that worries me quite a lot. I’m very concerned about this growing problem of music being turned into a fashion label. What I mean is the growing trend of people wearing artist t-shirts and not listening to them, or just pretending to listen to the artist full stop. It’s fake and frankly stupid. It’s a total joke. I just don’t understand how the hell people that do that are actually happy. Trust me – I’ve been there. I was badly bullied at school and because I was left with such little self esteem I tried to win the respect of my peers by pretending to like artists in the charts at the time more than what I did. I did quite like the artists but I pretended to love them. Did it work? Like hell it did. It just made me feel worse. I still didn’t win them over and I was lying to myself, which is the worst person you can lie to really. After about a month I realized how ridiculous my new behavioral pattern was and quickly abandoned it. I’m a lot happier now that I’ve embraced my interests, however unorthodox they are, I assure you.

I also feel that the problem creates issues for real fans. I mean Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures cover imagery is one of the most frequently worn music shirt designs I’d say. It’s incredibly common. What’s not that common though are people that wear the shirt because they love the album. It’s become so rife now that a lot of fans simply presume that if you’re young and wear the shirt you probably don’t listen to them. I’ve adopted a similar mentality myself, and I’m 19. The other problem? There’s people like me -19 and I have a Joy Division shirt. I don’t have the Unknown Pleasures design – mine is of the band themselves. The reason I have it is that I’m a fan. You know, the old fashioned way of doing things. I wear that shirt because I’m a fan. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s the way it should be.

I guess the hipster mentality is something I am never going to understand. I’ve got a compulsive learning urge when I love something. If I love a band I want to read as much as I can about them. It doesn’t come from wanting to be a music journalist. I’ve always had this tendency. I don’t see how you could love something and yet not have an interest to read up on it. I mean I’m not saying you have to be encyclopedic about a band to call yourself a fan, but at least show some knowledge of the basics. And, in the case of Joy Division I’d argue it’s frankly an insult – Ian Curtis was a deeply troubled young man. The despair and pain he felt was obviously channeled in Joy Divisions music to a degree. Yet even after his death it’s being bastardized and I’d bet these people give no second thought that – essentially – what they’re doing is using a dead man to make themselves look cool. Now, isn’t that pretty sick? Think about that.

Joy Division collectio

Evening all (well, early morning really). I’m working on getting this post done tonight because it’s been on my to-do list and I’ll be in town tomorrow record buying. I’m basically spacing my posts out.

Anyway – this as you can tell is my Joy Division collection. I’ve been a fan for two years and they weren’t an easy band to get into. Initially I only listened to them because they were the band which New Order stemmed from. At first their style of music totally wasn’t for me. Although after watching a live performance I got them. Then, I was a fan. Of course the band’s story was also highly interesting – one of the great music tragedies really. Hence why you see all the books there. I have both studio albums, Heart & Soul, Substance, the double disc edition of The Best of Joy Division, Still, Control and Joy Division documentary DVDs, two magazines and four books. The book count would hopefully be five if I can find a copy of An Ideal for Living that’s in good condition.

As you can tell my collection is somewhat beyond what a mere casual fan would have. I’m a big fan of Joy Division and really most of these releases I’d only recommend to big fans. Heart & Soul for instance. Really, the most essential Joy Division items for me are the two studio albums, Substance, the Joy Division documentary DVD and if you want a good biography on Ian Curtis my choice is Torn Apart. Peter Hook’s book does come recommended though as does the Kevin Cummin’s photography book. I guess with a band like Joy Division it’s easy to want everything because they are addictive and there’s definitely a mystique to them. It just makes the various CDs, books, DVDs, etc seem more alluring I think

I’m also missing stuff. Although really, there’s nothing that I can’t wait for for. Warsaw is the main priority and I would love Les Bains Douches, although that’s becoming increasingly hard to find. Bootleg wise I’m not overly interested – a lot of officially released live recordings are bad sound quality because of the way they were recorded. The bootlegs would be even worse (although the Paradiso one was a gem). I’ll take it slow though, there’s so much Joy Division out there you really need to be careful with them!

Collecting: Posters arrived!


Regular readers to the blog may recall I mentioned recently that a relative had purchased two posters of The Clash and Joy Division for me as a surprise gift. Well, they’re here! I absolutely love them – they’re both two of my favourite images of each band. They’re also my first posters of each band. I’d been looking all over for some posters in Belfast. As you could guess, no luck. I’ll be sure to get them up as soon as possible – I have to fix the posters on the two walls I designate as poster walls in my room. The Joy Division poster is really big and will probably have to go on the one that’s not above my bed, but The Clash one should fit above my bed. It’s great timing too – I’m taking a picture of my Joy Division collection tonight so I can blog about it in the coming days. It’s not the only items I’m expecting either. A few days ago I ordered The 101ers Elgin Avenue Breakdown, David Bowie’s Outside and the recently released special edition of Electronic’s self titled debut. I’ll post them on my blog when they get here!

Joy Division – No Love Lost (Original version)

This is one of my favorite Joy Division songs, although it’s definitely not one of their more known songs. Two versions of No Love Lost exist – the original version and then a rerecorded one. The original version is the more commonly known version and was recorded in December 1977. It was recorded specifically (in the group’s second recording session) for their first release – the An Ideal For Living EP. It was also subsequently released on the Substance compilation and the Heart and Soul boxset. In May 1978 the song was rerecorded for inclusion on their proposed debut album (which was shelved). This was then released with various other early recordings on Warsaw. Out of the two versions – I prefer the original by far. As it was first recorded in 1977 it does have all the hallmarks of a punk song. As such its not quite as atmospheric as much of the material on the group’s two studio albums. Although the introduction of the track does show a band evolving away from mere punk style music, I think. If I’m being honest I find it more atmospheric than the second version – which sounds a little bit too polished for me. The second version also contains lyrics not found in the original but it omits the highlight of the track. What makes No Love Lost (and what gives the original version its atmospheric edge over the second for me) is the spoken part. The spoken parts of the song have been lifted from the book The House of Dolls: the same book that introduced the band to the term Joy Division. It’s certainly a unique element in a Joy Division track and I do love Ian’s voice as he recites it. Initially I thought this was pretty much forgotten unless you are a fan of the group although LCD Sound-system and The Horrors have both covered the track. In any case No Love Lost is a great and underrated Joy Division track!

Finished Reading Unknown Pleasures

So last night I finished reading this book at long last. It’s the first Joy Divison book that was actually written by a member of the band itself. I was really looking forward to this because I’ve previously read Peter Hook’s The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club book and I loved it. This book didn’t disappoint either. It’s written in a very down to earth, conversational style which I absolutely loved. The pictures contained were also lovely too. I will write a proper review soon but I shan’t write much more here now just in case I spoil it for anyone. All I will say is that for a Joy Division fan I very much recommend it.

Joy Division – Transmission (Live Something Else)

I remember watching this for the first time like it was yesterday. It was two years ago in actuality, and I had been trying to get into Joy Division. It just wasn’t working though. I had listened to Atrocity Exhibition and just didn’t get it. Or them. Tried Digital and Isolation: More of the same. I was on the verge of giving up, but after reading about Ian Curtis’ dynamic stage presence I decided to watch them live. I clicked on a random clip which was of a song called Transmission. It floored me, and that was it. Hooked. They quickly became one of my absolute favourite bands and now both their studio albums rank in my most favourite of all time. This is one of the precious few tv performances they did, they also did She’s Lost Control on Something Else too. Both performances are electric and I think are superior to the studio versions. Ian Curtis’ vocals just sound even more impassioned here, and it’s one of the best examples of his excellent showmanship. All four members of the band are firing on all cylinders here though and they just play with such a sense of urgency. Simply incredible.

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

Unknown Pleasures is the first album released by seminal post-punk group Joy Division. Sadly it was to be the only album Joy Division would release during frontman Ian Curtis’ lifetime, as sophomore album Closer would be released in the wake of his suicide in 1980 as a posthumous album. Unknown Pleasures is regarded as one of the best British albums of all time and with very good reason, I’d put this in the top ten albums I have ever heard by anyone. It’s a musical opus really.

Unknown Pleasures though had utterly no impact on the charts when it was initially released, which did surprise me I have to admit given it’s classic status as an album now. Amazingly, the highest position Unknown Pleasures obtained on the UK Albums Chart was a very lowly #71, and even then this was in 1980 following the release of Closer. Despite it’s lack of chart success this has always been a critically acclaimed album though.

Of course, whilst the band are all excellent here you can’t fail to ignore someone else key to making this album work as well as it does: the late Martin Hannet. Martin Hannet produced the record in such a way that gives it a transcendental nature. Simply put, the album has a timeless quality that ensures it still sounds as strong as it did when initially released. They did this by recording each instrument separately on tracks which gives it that cavernous and consequently eerie atmosphere. Whilst in the studio, their aim was to simply not recreate the feel of Joy Divisions live shows and by doing so I think that’s how they’ve made Unknown Pleasures an album with real longevity. As much as I love Joy Division’s live sound, there is an ambient and spacious feel to the album that really makes the listener resonate with Ian’s voice. Honestly, the only production mishap for me was burying the guitar deep in the mix in She’s Lost Control. I actually prefer the live version on Something Goes because the studio version of She’s Lost Control just sounds a little bit too watered down for my liking. That minor criticism aside though, this honestly is one of the best production jobs on an album I’ve ever heard.

Consequently the production on the album leads me onto another reason why I love this album so much. It has an amazing atmosphere that really envelopes the listener into the soundscape of the record. Honestly, I think only those albums of the highest musical caliber can entice you in in such a way. It’s eerie and unsettling in places, and its not just down to hindsight in knowing the sad fate for the band. I tried to listen to Shadowplay a number of years ago and even without knowing anything about the band it still gave me chills. It’s a listening experience really unlike any other I have heard. From the opening chords of Disorder to the final seconds of I Remember Nothing you really do feel like you are someplace else with the album. Even the first lyrics sung on the album “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand” make you feel like you are going on a journey. The album is sequenced in such a way too, on the LP version side A is called Outside, and contains the first five tracks from Disorder to New Dawn Fades. Subsequently Side B is called Inside and contains the following five tracks, from She’s Lost Control to I Remember Nothing. It’s appropriate in a way I think, as the second half of the album is even more of a soundscape than the first, particularly the final three tracks. It’s maybe the single most cohesive album I have ever heard. Every track has its place on the album and every track brings something to the record. There’s honestly not a track here I class as filler at all.

All in all I think this is one of the most consistently brilliant albums I have ever heard. Some of the more commonly known tracks include She’s Lost Control and Shadowplay but honestly, those would be two tracks on the album that I find myself playing less frequently. Songs like Candidate are among some of the best that Joy Division would record in their sadly all too brief career, and Unknown Pleasures has one of the greatest pair of opening and closing tracks (Disorder and I Remember Nothing) that you’ll ever hear. I will concede that the album has a cathartic tone that may be off-putting, but if you persevere you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful production work – and music in general-  you will ever hear on record. A mesmerizing album that only gets better the more you listen to it. I’ll go so far to say that not only is it one of the best albums ever, it may just be the best debut album I’ve ever heard. By any artist.

Joy Division – Live At The Paradiso (Bootleg)

I’m sure those of you who know in depth about the many bootlegs of Joy Division concerts will know about this. I just thought I’d post the link to it for others who may not be aware of it as it really as a treasure! This isn’t a review of the bootleg, I’m just promoting it really. This is from their gig at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, which took place on January 11th, 1980. It’s the complete show This is by far and away the best quality Joy Division bootleg I’ve ever heard, so much better than the sound quality at the Preston set. I’d even go so far as to say it’s probably got the best sound quality of any bootleg I’ve heard from any artist, period! A real treat to hear, given Ian would sadly pass away in a matter of months. Highly recommended if you have an interest in Joy Division!