Style: Post Punk, Indie, Alternative.
Similar artists: Public Image Ltd, Bauhaus, Throbbing Gistle
Recording year : Rhino, 2008.
Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in England, Joy Division became the first band in the post-punk movement by later emphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the '80s. Though the group's raw initial sides fit the bill for any punk band, Joy Division later incorporated synthesizers (taboo in the low-tech world of '70s punk) and more haunting melodies, emphasized by the isolated, tortured lyrics of its lead vocalist, Ian Curtis. While the British punk movement shocked the world during the late '70s, Joy Division's quiet storm of musical restraint and emotive power proved to be just as important to independent music in the 1980s.
The band was founded in early 1977, soon after the Sex Pistols had made their first appearance in Manchester. Guitarist Bernard Albrecht (b. Bernard Dicken, January 4, 1956) and bassist Peter Hook (b. February 13, 1956) had met while at the show and later formed a band called the Stiff Kittens; after placing an ad through a Manchester record store, they added vocalist Ian Curtis (b. July 15, 1956) and drummer Steve Brotherdale. Renamed Warsaw (from David Bowie's "Warszawa"), the band made its live debut the following May, supporting the Buzzcocks and Penetration at Manchester's Electric Circus. After the recording of several demos, Brotherdale quit the group in August 1977, prompting the hire of Stephen Morris (b. October 28, 1957). A name change to Joy Division in late 1977 -- necessitated by the punk band Warsaw Pakt -- was inspired by Karol Cetinsky's World War II novel The House of Dolls. (In the book, the term "joy division" was used as slang for concentration camp units wherein female inmates were forced to prostitute themselves for the enjoyment of Nazi soldiers.)
Playing frequently in the north country during early 1978, the quartet gained the respect of several influential figures: Rob Gretton, a Manchester club DJ who became the group's manager; Tony Wilson, a TV/print journalist and owner of the Factory Records label; and Derek Branwood, a record executive with RCA Northwest, who recorded sessions in May 1978, for what was planned to be Joy Division's self-titled debut LP. Though several songs bounded with punk energy, the rest of the album showed at an early age the band's later trademarks: Curtis' themes of post-industrial restlessness and emotional despair, Hook's droning bass lines, and the jagged guitar riffs of Albrecht.
The Best of Joy Division is a 14-track, 55-minute grab bag of scattered tracks from the band's discography. It is impossible to call these the best, or even the highlights, when the band recorded no obvious lowlights and (only in a relative sense) a handful of midlights. Not including alternate mixes or demos that have floated out in various forms, Joy Division recorded short of 50 songs, none of which would be completely unjustifiable on a single-disc summary. Beyond the no-brainers "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "She's Lost Control," "Transmission," and "Atmosphere," the program doesn't lean in any one direction, pulling fairly evenly from the two proper albums while offering seven tracks that were compiled originally for Substance. It is kind of strange, however, that the somewhat slight instrumental "Incubation" was chosen over "Atrocity Exhibition" and "A Means to an End," and that there is nothing from An Ideal for Living (the band's first release, a four-track EP), especially when there were 25 minutes of available space on the disc. While this is one of many ways to become acquainted with a body of work that adds up to some of the most tense, precise, and powerful rock music made, the best solution is to get as much as possible at once and submit.
During late 1979, Joy Division's manic live show gained many converts, partly due to rumors of Curtis' ill health. An epilepsy sufferer, he was prone to breakdowns and seizures while on stage -- it soon grew difficult to distinguish the fits from his usual on-stage jerkiness and manic behavior. As the live dates continued and the new decade approached, Curtis grew weaker and more prone to seizures. After a short rest over the Christmas holiday, Joy Division embarked on a European tour during January, though several dates were cancelled because of Curtis. The group began recording its second LP after the tour ended (again with Hannett), and released "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in April. The single was again praised but failed to move beyond the independent charts. After one gig in early May, the members of Joy Division were given two weeks of rest before beginning the group's first U.S. tour. Two days before the scheduled flight, however, Curtis was found dead in his home, the victim of a self-inflicted hanging.
Fields Of Haze... Underground for all.