Friday, April 10, 2009

Number 401 - Joy Division


Number 401

Joy Division


"Love Will Tear Us Apart"


(1980)

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400 ..Genre: New Wave.. 402
art by khimaereus
Now I have classed Joy Division as "New Wave" and not "Post Punk", the reason being "Post Punk" sounds daft in the new millennium, that would mean anything after 1977 was ALL Post Punk. We all know the next Genre after that was 'New Wave", Actually, thinking about it, I should have called it "Alt Punk" as Joy Division were the Godfathers of that genre. Ack. Never mind. Anyway! ..... [back to] Joy Division were to bleak for my tastes back in 1980, to dour and to absorbed in personal misery but that does not mean i do not enjoy it now ... oh contraire mon capitaine, as misery and despair is such a larger part of my life in 2009, just not so in 1980 when life was full of adventure and the bright lights beckoned. So 29 years later, I fully appreciate what Ian Curtis & the New Order is telling me here. Oh and good on you Rolling Stone for recognising this song in your list ... although God knows how you did.
In the beginning...
If Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division at their most obsessively, carefully focused, ten songs yet of a piece, Closer was the sprawl, the chaotic explosion that went every direction at once. Who knows what the next path would have been had Ian Curtis not chosen his end? But steer away from the rereading of his every lyric after that date; treat Closer as what everyone else thought it was at first -- simply the next album -- and Joy Division's power just seems to have grown. Martin Hannett was still producing, but seems to have taken as many chances as the band itself throughout -- differing mixes, differing atmospheres, new twists and turns define the entirety of Closer, songs suddenly returned in chopped-up, crumpled form, ending on hiss and random notes. Opener "Atrocity Exhibition" was arguably the most fractured thing the band had yet recorded, Bernard Sumner's teeth-grinding guitar and Stephen Morris' Can-on-speed drumming making for one heck of a strange start.
Only way is down, or out
Keyboards also took the fore more so than ever -- the drowned pianos underpinning Curtis' shadowy moan on "The Eternal," the squirrelly lead synth on the energetic but scared-out-of-its-wits "Isolation," and above all else "Decades," the album ender of album enders. A long slow crawl down and out, Curtis' portrait of lost youth inevitably applied to himself soon after, its sepulchral string-synths are practically a requiem. Songs like "Heart and Soul" and especially the jaw-dropping, wrenching "Twenty Four Hours," as perfect a demonstration of the tension/release or soft/loud approach as will ever be heard, simply intensify the experience. Joy Division were at the height of their powers on Closer, equaling and arguably bettering the astonishing Unknown Pleasures, that's how accomplished the four members were. Rock, however defined, rarely seems and sounds so important, so vital, and so impossible to resist or ignore as here. ~ [Ned Raggett, All Music Guide]
Ian Curtis
Gotta light?
Lack of sleep and long hours destabilised Curtis's epilepsy and his seizures became almost uncontrollable. Curtis would often have seizures during shows, which left him feeling ashamed and depressed. While the band was concerned about their singer, audience members on occasion thought his behaviour was part of the show. On 7 April, Curtis attempted suicide by overdosing on phenobarbitone. The next evening, Joy Division was set to play a gig at the Derby Hall in Bury. With Curtis recovering, it was decided that the band would play a combined set with Alan Hempstall of Crispy Ambulance and Simon Topping of A Certain Ratio filling in on vocals for the first few songs. Curtis came onstage to perform for part of the set. When Topping came back out to finish the set for Curtis, some in the audience started throwing bottles at the stage. Gretton leapt into the crowd and a riot ensued. Several April gigs were cancelled due to the continuing ill health of Curtis, but the band filmed a promotional video for the forthcoming "Love Will Tear Us Apart" single that month. The band played what would be their final show at the University of Birmingham's Great Hall on 2 May.
Love will tear us apart
Joy Division were due to begin their first American tour in May 1980. While Curtis had expressed a desire to take time off to a few acquaintances, he feigned excitement about the tour around the band because he did not want to disappoint his band mates or Factory Records. At the time, Curtis's relationship with his wife, Deborah Curtis (the couple married in 1975 as teenagers), was collapsing. Contributing factors were his ill health, her being mostly excluded from his life with the band, and his relationship with a young Belgian woman named Annik Honoré whom he had met on a European tour. The evening before Joy Division were to embark on the American tour, Curtis returned to his home in Macclesfield in order to talk to his estranged wife. He asked her to drop the divorce suit she had filed; later, he told her to leave him alone in the house until he caught his train to Manchester the next morning. Early on the morning of 18 May 1980, Curtis hanged himself in his kitchen; Deborah Curtis discovered his body when she returned around midday. Tony Wilson said in 2005, "I think all of us made the mistake of not thinking his suicide was going to happen.... We all completely underestimated the danger. We didn't take it seriously. That's how stupid we were." ~ [Source: Wikipedia]
What does Rolling Stone think of Joy Division?
Actually, Joy Division didn't make all that much music. The group's earliest work–demo tapes recorded under the name Warsaw and a debut EP, Ideal for Living (some of which will appear in a forthcoming import album)–was a worthy but hardly exceptional example of a band attempting to forge art-rock influences (mostly David Bowie, Brian Eno and Roxy Music) and primitivist archetypes (some Sex Pistols, a little Who) into a frenetic counterpoise. By the time of their first LP, Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division had tempered their style, planishing it down to a doleful, deep-toned sound that often suggested an elaborate version of the Velvet Underground or an orderly Public Image Ltd. In its most pervading moments–in numbers like "Day of the Lords," "Insight" and "New Dawn Fades," with their disoriented melodies and punishing rhythms–it was music that could purvey Curtis' alienated and fatalistic sensibility. But it was also music that could rush and jump and push, and a composition like "Disorder" – or better still, the later single "Transmission," with its driving tempo and roiling guitars – seemed almost spirited enough to dispel the gloom it so doggedly invoked. ~ [Source: Rolling Stone - MIKAL GILMORE 1981]
For David Bowie see Number 455, #465, #495, #634 & [with Queen] #513
For Roxy Music see Number 569
For Sex Pistols see Number 434 & #500
For the Who see Number 429 & #556
For Velvet Underground see Number 953
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '401st Song of all Time' was "Tonight's the Night" by The Shirelles. The Shirelles has not appeared in The Definitive 1000.
Other songs in the countdown in relation to Joy Division #404, #415, #462, #702, #913
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 179 and the Album ranked at 157
This song has a Definitive 1000 rating of 78.4 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z
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