Special 14

Joy Division 1

The Singles

Though their best known records were released in 1979 and 1980, the first Joy Division EP on Enigma, An Ideal for Living, was released in June of 1978. The EP is also known as Warsaw, a name the band originally considered before becoming Joy Division. The songs are much closer to early punk than the subsequent records, more energetic and buzzing.

The second Joy Division release was on Factory, the label all of all the other recordings. Their two tracks were one side of four on A Factory Sample that also included The Durutti Column, John Dowie and Cabaret Voltaire. Digital is certainly one of their more ‘merry’ recordings, with bass and guitar parts that seem to have influenced Black Flag’s TV Party. Glass is danceable and also upbeat.

Prior to releasing the Transmission 45, the group placed two tracks, Auto-Suggestion and From Safety to Where…? on a 12-inch release on the Fast Product label. Time wise, they did not fit the show, thus I did not include them. Transmission was released in seven-inch format, November 1979, with Novelty on the reverse. Their initial album had been released in June, and while the band members had differing opinions about its production and sound, everyone seemed satisfied with Transmission and it solidified their growing reputation. While the lyrics convey a passive desperation, the ending, featuring Ian Curtis shouting/chanting, 'Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio' is deeply infectious.

Certainly Love Will Tear Us Apart and the suicide of Curtis coming in May, a month after that 45 was released brought the band a kind of indelible celebrity and fame. With the equally strong flip side, These Days, this release did turn out to be the band’s apotheosis. Released at the same time was a flexi disc and four months later in August the final 45. Atmosphere was the A side in the UK, while the fierce, She’s Lost Control moved from the B side to the A side in the US. It is a record that vividly conveys a frantic state, not one at boil, but at simmer: frightening in a cold, cold way.

I’ve chose to end this show with the version of Love Will Tear Us Apart that is on the B side of the 45 along with These Days. It is, as it develops, significantly different, and a fitting way to conclude.

A really moving aspect about listening to some of the powerful, gloomy, icy Joy Division now, as opposed to when it was released, is that it seems even more appropriate to 2013 than it did to Thatcher’s cold and gloomy UK in 1979 and 1980. The emotional insights and abjectness, of course, especially in Love Will Tear Us Apart, remain as harsh as they ever were.

Set 1

  1. Warsaw
  2. Leaders of Men
  3. No Love Lost
  4. Failures
  5. Digital
  6. Glass
    Joy Division

Set 2

  1. Transmission
  2. Novelty
  3. Love Will Tear Us Apart
  4. These Days
  5. Komakino
  6. Incubation
  7. Atmosphere
  8. She’s Lost Control
  9. Love Will Tear Us Apart (7' 33 RPM version)
    Joy Division


Posted on May 6, 2013 .