Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Touching From a Distance

From MOJO's February issue:

In contrast to their dour press image,
they were friendly and sociable.

-- Jon Savage on Joy Division

He was quite different on the stage doing his jerky dancing and all that. Off-stage he was an ordinary bloke, there was no sense of foreboding and doom, not the weight
of the world on his shoulders, none of that. All the things that have been attributed to him later, he wasn't.
-- Pete Shelley (the Buzzcocks) on Ian Curtis

From the All Music Guide:

[N]one of the band's songs ever really ended; they
either fell apart or collapsed, as if to bring about
a proper end to something beyond their grasp.

-- Thom Jurek on Heart and Soul

Click here for reviews of Control and Joy Division.

And here's my 2001 review of The First Peel Session (1986):

Joy Division recorded their first Peel session in January
1979, the second in November. Their first full-length, Unknown
, would hit the streets between the two—around the same time Manchester's sewage system collapsed (at least the city had something to celebrate in their hometown band's brilliant debut).

The sessions were originally available as separate EPs; this one
includes the initial four tracks, the second the remaining four. Both were rendered somewhat redundant when combined into one release. Then it too was superseded by 1998's Heart and Soul boxed set and 2000's The Complete BBC Recordings. The latter includes all eight tracks, two additional live versions of "Transmission" and "She's Lost Control" recorded for BBC2 in September of the same year, and a short Radio One interview with Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris.

"Exercise One" opens this set with a squeal of feedback and a primal
drumbeat. It ends abruptly, and bears a slight resemblance to the short sharp shocks of early Gang of Four. A high-pitched repeating keyboard pattern distinguishes "Insight," while "She's Lost Control"
is fairly straightforward, just less polished than the studio version.

Throughout, Curtis is as committed to the material as ever, particularly "Transmission" ("Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance..."). One year from his death, the singer sounds like he could go on forever, singing the same lyrics over and over. It's a hypnotic performance.

Endnote: Jon Savage penned the forward to the Deborah Curtis book (posted about here, here, and here). Savage, who lived in Manchester during the late-1970s, is Britain's punk laureate.
Click here for his review of This Is England. Image from eBay.

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