This should come as no surprise as a major retrospective compilation release by Joy Division, alongside New Order’s own Substance retrospective compilation, released around the same time. Joy Division came prior to New Order and made a dramatic impact on the music scene, particularly with those who took an interest into British Punk and Post-Punk of the late 1970s. Sadly, Joy Division lost singer Ian Curtis to suicide in 1980, shortly after the release of the second Joy Division album Closer. The group then became New Order, which was much more musically successful. To be fair, Joy Division was as important as New Order in the music scene, although both musical projects had completely different strengths. This is seen as an important snapshot of the tracks that did not make it onto Joy Division albums, so let’s take a look at the music here.
The compilation begins with Warsaw which was the band’s original name. It has a counted intro, some simple bass and drum parts, with a very much aggressive vocal here, more than typical Joy Division. It is a good song, likely influenced by acts such as The Sex Pistols and others of the time. Short, sharp and energetic, it shows the birth of Joy Division as a group, and sounds like a promising start to their career. The guitars here are quite minimal and the singing is very atonal. A decent piece nonetheless, and nice to hear this. It ends with crashing drums.
Next is Leaders Of Men which begins with a reverberated drum beat, some odd guitar and bass guitar riffs, and a sense that something exciting and new (for the time) is here. It’s a more Punk like sort of piece rather than the sound that was characteristic of Joy Division later on. It is quite catchy and different, but perhaps not as good as the entries on their major albums. Still, it shows some good musicianship and promise all the same. It rails against Christianity, which was uncommon at the time, and ends with overdriven guitars sounding good here.
Digital follows, and begins with a catchy bass guitar part, with some decent guitar parts following in its wake. A more typical Joy Division sounding piece, but nothing hugely dark as their later work, this shows a band in their transitional phase here. Still, its minimalism and creative excellence means that this is quite good. Some manic vocals by Ian Curtis keep this one going, with a nicely subtle and melodic guitar solo enters. This is a good song with some good singing here.
Autosuggestion has some random sounds at the beginning that are sampled, before some spare bass notes enter. This is a more typical Joy Division sounding piece that is over six minutes long. Ian Curtis sings in his awesome baritone here, and clanging guitars enter the scene, along with minimal drumming. You can certainly hear elements of later Joy Division here, although this is really simple and quite beautiful, in a way. Lyrics here come in as a stream of consciousness, along with odd sounding guitar parts as well. The melodic sensibility is really good, although it sounds as though Joy Division were still trying to find their sound at this point. It is perhaps a little too minimal for the most part, but is a good listen nonetheless, with some brilliant violining guitar parts to hear. It perhaps looks towards a dystopian future that is very much true of the postmodern world of today. Towards the end, the pace picks up and the piece becomes a more intense listening experience. “Lose some sleep and say you tried,” is repeated, before concluding softly with some impressive digital drum sounds. Neat.
Next song is Transmission which begins with keyboards and prominent bass guitar parts, before this gets underway and sounds a lot more like what Joy Division typically would sound like. It’s still not 100% the sound of Unknown Pleasures, but is nonetheless a good sounding piece of music about life and its experiences. Ian Curtis’s voice sounds very unusual, followed by an equally unusual guitar solo. It is really good music about the music on the radio, and people dancing along to the sounds on the radio. A good song with a catchy feel to it, it has a good climax, before slowing down and finishing. Nice.
Following is She’s Lost Control. This is completely different sounding from the original album version, with some different sounding drumming, more audible bass guitar and no vocal sound effects. It is still very catchy, but sounds a lot lighter, although this is very dark music all the same. It’s sad in retrospect that many artists fail to make music this good today, even on a different sounding song like this. It is still a really good sounding version of the song, and catchy enough to dance to. It sounds stripped back and different, with some unusual guitar sounds on this song. Excellent sounding version, and a must hear for Joy Division fans. There is an extra verse to hear that was cut from the original, as well as some interesting keyboards. Good listen.
Incubation begins with some fast bass guitar playing, some weird guitar sounds and some more pounding drums. This is very Joy Division territory, with the band now finding its sound, rather than searching for it. A short piece at less than three minutes long, there are no lyrics on this one, just a swirl of instrumental sounds and a sense of melodic beauty here. Good work on this one, even for an instrumental. Very catchy and good to hear. The bass guitar here is very, very good. Another gem from the group.
Dead Souls is a good track, with plenty of proto-New Order guitars and pounding drum beats to listen to. Another good piece, this is quite an interesting listening experience, mainly for fans of Rock music. It sounds dark, energetic and dramatic, with some excellent guitar work on this song. Ian Curtis gets singing after a few minutes, and puts his dark and moody persona onto this song. A really interesting sound and sonic listening experience, one can hear the urgency in Ian Curtis’s singing, and shows how wonderfully accomplished he was as a singer. Really decent listening, this sounds wonderfully energetic. It unwinds towards the end, finishing well.
Next is Atmosphere which has some dark bass guitar parts, keyboards and interesting drum rolls. This sounds like super dark territory, and sounds really disturbed vocal wise. Ian Curtis sings about losing someone important in his life. Some icicle sounding keyboard parts then enter, and this piece sounds moving and dramatic. A really quite down sounding tune, this is depressing but in a really Joy Division way, so it’s enjoyable for that dark day that you may have. It’s very bleak and sounds very desolate emotionally. Very close to the bone emotionally, not exactly bright and happy. Very, very good, however.
Following is the very sad Love Will Tear Us Apart which was oddly enough, a single. It has a catchy melody and keyboards here, and this song name was put on Ian Curtis’s gravestone by his wife. It was incidentally, about her and their relationship, making it an even more disturbing listening experience. Some great and melodic Pop melodies are here, and the band’s playing is on top form here. A very memorable and saddening listen, although catchy in its own way. Good song, although very personal and moving.
No Love Lost is a catchphrase these days. It begins with dark and melodic bass guitar parts, before entering into a catchy Rock groove piece with some more traditional guitar parts on this song. It’s surprisingly good, sounding a bit more like Classic Rock meets Joy Division. No singing on this song for the first half of the song, it just sounds like a really excellent and powerful piece that is really good. When Ian Curtis sings, it sounds like an early Joy Division piece. Very much influenced by other groups such as The Velvet Underground, it has a short drum solo that is impressive. Catchy and driving, a good listen.
Failures begins with some volume swells and some guitars that sound like early Punk music. In fact, it sounds like it was inspired by early groups in the Punk scene such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash. A very upbeat and driven Pop/Rock piece, it sounds completely different to other works by Joy Division. It sounds like a furious and energetic rush of sound, which isn’t a bad thing for variety on this compilation. Excellently done and very catchy, it is a short and interesting listen that demands attention. Really cool, it sounds like the head rush you really need. Very good listening, an upbeat and rocking tune. Glorious sounding.
Following is Glass which begins with hi-hats and furious drumming, followed by some discordant guitar sounds and handclaps. Some science fiction keyboard sounds follow, before Ian Curtis sings with his signature baritone voice. It is another driven Rock music piece that sounds very good, and is short enough and interesting to grab one’s attention. The singing here gets rather aggressive, before a combination of different instrumental sections power this along. Another good song to listen to, and very different from most music out there. The outro is excellent.
After that is From Safety To Where which begins with bass guitar riffs, Ian Curtis singing a bit like Elvis Presley and a slow sounding song that quickly changes tempo and becomes a short and bass guitar led Pop/Rock piece. There is very little electric guitar here, and sounds a lot like a piece that could have been added to Unknown Pleasures, but wasn’t. It’s a good listen once again, and sounds very decent. Very short, less than three minutes long.
Novelty begins with some semi-psychedelic wah-wah guitars, and quickly enters into a really excellent guitar based piece, with some more pummeling drums. It is a really cool piece of music, and sounds very focused and inspired. Quite catchy and listenable, this sounds quite inspired. A good listen, although not as dark as Unknown Pleasures or Closer. Still, these songs are a decent mish-mash of Joy Division that sound really exceptional, for the most part. This has a feel of Classic Rock to it, but still sounding like Joy Division as well. The drumming and rhythm is very good as well.
Komakino begins with a 4/4 kick drum beat, reverberated guitars and clanging basslines, before going into a strange piece of music by Joy Division. It does have a very good Joy Division style drum beat. To be fair, this is a very good album of collected Joy Division songs, but is not perfect. Still, this is a very good listen and the drum parts here are energetic and fresh, in particular. This one is a bit more textural than a song itself, but sounds really dynamic. This is a good song to hear if you love drum parts repeated that are excellent.
After that is As You Said which is a short piece that has some excellent combinations of drumming and electronic sounds. Although at the time there was nothing like this, these days it does seem to sound fairly normal. It’s really good though, and just shows how creative and decently inspired these guys were. Good all the same. Nice instrumental.
Next is These Days which begins with some odd keyboard sounds, basic drum beats and some eclectic basslines. Some rather shouty vocals by Ian Curtis are here, and this piece sounds like an okay B-Side here. Clanging guitars are here as well, and this piece is very beat driven. A good song, although maybe not the Joy Division one would expect. Some excellent keyboard parts and drumming in the second half drive this along, before this piece ends with a repeated keyboard melody. Nice.
Love Will Tear Us Apart 2 – Pennine Version is a little different from the original song. It is a good addition as the last song on this album, and is just as good as the original, to be fair. It doesn’t sound that different to the original, to be honest. A good conclusion to a good mish-mash compilation that has some good songs to listen to by Joy Division. A good piece of music, and an underrated Joy Division song.
This is a good compilation by Joy Division that is really only necessary if you are a huge fan of the band. Otherwise, you may wish to ignore this album. It’s not outright bad, it just feels less consistent than the two main albums that the group recorded together in a very short period of time. Some songs are worth hearing on this, others seem out of place. A good listen all the same, but unlikely a great listening experience.
Love Will Tear Us Apart.
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