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Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #1 
Well, here we are in 2015, and there have been movies on JD, and books by Deborah Curtis, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, all talking about the band in detail. It almost seems as if we know what colour underpants Ian was wearing on any given day (an exaggeration there, but you kind of know what I mean). You've got Hooky on Youtube schooling us on how to play LWTUA and Ceremony, and now Stephen teaching someone to play Ceremony on drums.... And yet, in spite of all this detailed deconstruction of the band members, their thoughts, techniques, etc, - when you go back and simply listen to the records or the live tapes, it still feels like NOTHING can come close to demystifying the actual music.
Back in 1981 or 1982, when I first got into JD, there was virtually no real info about the band. I thought of them at first, as if they must have been...I dunno...almost like monks sitting in a temple, writing all this "eternal, spiritual" music, as if they were people existing on some higher plane. Then, gradually, as more and more interviews were done, you realised that they were just ordinary chaps, and it seemed that there was this huge gulf, or disconnection, between the people themselves and their music. (To be fair, of course they were ordinary people, I mean what on earth was I even thinking, imagining them to be anything else than ordinary? It's just daft). And yet...and yet.... thousands of amateur bands struggle and struggle to become "good", and JD were just one more amateur band, and yet they achieved something way beyond what you would expect.
In the sleeve notes to the "Heart & Soul" CD set, Bernard alludes to this, in a way, when he talks of the band having (almost unconsciously) "tapped into" some higher sort of....thing, and about how he wanted music to just "flow out of him" or whatever, and about how they never discussed the music in depth, preferring the attitude of "if something good is happening, don't try and analyse it, don't look at the sun". The first book on JD I bought was Mark Johnson's detailed history "An Ideal For Living", and within it, Paul Morley waxes on and on in his semi-abstract (and somewhat pretentious) prose about the band. But you kind of get what he's trying to convey: This awesome, mysterious thing about JD. He's struggling to "pluck out the heart of their mystery", and so it remains, to this day.
Well, that's all I'm trying to say, I suppose. Joy Division were the first (and actually, they remain the ONLY) band who showed me something ELSE in music, something slightly numinous and un-defineable. It's as if it didn't even come from the band themselves; as if some strange force picked them up and used them as unconscious instruments.
I wonder, is this the same for fans of any other band? Do Queen fans, or Bowie fans (for example) also feel this way about their heroes' music? Or is it really true that JD in particular, just "had" this something? Is it just that JD's music happens to connect to the cosmic soundwaves which move ME in particular? Is it all just in my head, or...
Who knows? What do you think?

Posts: 445
Reply with quote  #2 
I think you are overlooking the part Martin Hannett had in all this. His productions were hugely influential and connected very well with the spirit of the times. Joy division's songs were good, but before Martin they sounded just okay. For instance, if you listen to the RCA album, don't you notice how bland, lifeless and stiff everything sounds? Richard Searling obviously didn't do much more than just make a very basic run-of-the mill recording, without adding anything to help conveying the mood of the music (I'm referring to the sound of the basic instruments, not the extra synthesizer bits).
Listen to the RCA version of Walked in Line, and next to the version on Still. See what I mean? Also, compare the Eden studio version of Digital with the version from the Factory Sample. Or the Peel version of Exercise One with the Still version. In all cases Hannett's version wins by a mile's length.

Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #3 
Yes, TJD, you do have a good point there; I was neglecting to take MH's input into account. On the other hand though, (and this is just my own opinion, everyone's will differ) there are SOME Hannett produced studio versions which are great (my own faves include LWTUA, Dead Souls, SLC (later version), Glass, These Days, 24H, Atrocity to name a few) but there are an equal number of the band's "official" Hannett-produced studio versions which I really don't rate at all (my examples incl Transmission, SLC (LP version), Sound of Music, New Dawn Fades). The difficulty here is, is it just that the band weren't playing that well on that day in the studio, or was it due to Hannett over-producing them? I dunno, but put it this way: I vastly prefer live versions of Disorder, Autosugg, New Dawn, Means to an End, Passover, rather than the studio versions any day. While MH's fully finished version of Something Must Break is miles better than the raw studio version on the Central Sound session, I can also say that I prefer Novelty from that session, to the version on the B-side of Transmission. So it's swings and roundabouts with Hannett, IMO.


At a Later date
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #4 
Yes, in 35 years, the only music I have found that comes close are some Velvet's songs, Dirt by The Stooges and a few others, but no group has done it so consistently across the body of their work. I suspect that the power of these influences is what JD were trying to achieve and ended up surpassing - New Dawn Fades is uncannily similar to Dirt for example and obviously they covered Sister Ray.

And Hannett certainly could be considered the final part of the alchemy, such was his contribution. He didn't just produce, he added things. His biography mentions him listening to Eno's albums and I've since noticed a few things that suggest he was a likely influence on the work he did with JD.

Posts: 344
Reply with quote  #5 
Well I'm feeling the "something else" no matter whether it's studio JD or live. And I feel it with New Order too. To my mind, both bands have somehow been able to reach and sustain that fifth element Jimmy Page talks about.

What always whacks me over the head though is the INTELLIGENCE of Ian Curtis' lyrics. I mean, day-um!! HE GOT IT. And wrote it down!!! Eternal thanks for that :-)

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Atrocity Exhibition
Posts: 854
Reply with quote  #6 
What made a Joy Division fan almost 30 years ago were Hooky's bass and Ian's lyrics. Then their chemistry became the guiding force.
Hooky: “Oh god. When you get to our age, the hangovers are so massive, they last for about a week.”
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