Reviews & Recommendations
When we're changing our ways, taking different roads
Then love,

love will tear us apart again.
-- Joy Division
Joy Division
(Ian Curtis - vocals, Bernard Sumner - Guitars,
Peter Hook - Bass, Stephen Morris - Drums)
1977- 1980
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"The emotionaI impact of their music was shattering and irreversible, their records an icy collision of romance and alienation. Between 1977 and 1980, they recorded the two most affecting and influential albums of their generation - and on May 18, 1980 the lifetime of both the band and their lead singer Ian Curtis was tragically cut short by suicide, an appalling end to one of Britain's greatest groups.

In the aftermath of punk, Joy Division invented a glacial new sound which dramatically connected with a country lurching towards an unforgiving era of Thatcherism. A band capable of touching the outer reaches of human emotion, they were driven by the wired and spinning music created by Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris and the starkly personal, often depressive, lyrics of their troubled vocalist, Ian Curtis.

Even today, their music and darkly powerful sentiments echo through the work of contemporary groups such as The Verve, Radiohead, Spiritualized and Primal Scream."
James Oldham, NME

Recommended biography books from:

Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division
by Deborah Curtis

"Ian Curtis was, after Dylan, the most talented, visionary poet ever to grace the skimpy depths of pop. His writing bore the distilled intensity of the greatest poets, best exemplified on Joy Division's posthumous masterpiece Closer, a peerless, terrifying, airless work which in its final two songs suddenly transforms into a beautiful, war-torn smile of relief, a wonderful, liberating acceptance of death.

Deborah Curtis tells her story - and her husband's - with terrifific passion and urgency but with a heatbreaking, neverending determination to understand who he was and what led him to take his own life. This book is a must for all Joy Division fans and anyone interested in the scaffolding behind the dazzle of genius and celebrity - not to suggest that Curtis wasn't the former, because he most certainly was."
-- Ed Whitmore, via

 Joy Division Discography - Album / CD Reviews

**** 1979: Unknown Pleasuresaudio

"... ['Unknown Pleasures'] remains the band's most fully realized work. In contrast to their messages of decay and acceptance (and bemused, bewildered acceptance, not despair, was central to Joy Division's ethos), 'Unknown Pleasures' is fired with the energy and excitement of the band set free in the studio for the first time. (...)
The tendency has been to separate Curtis from his fellow musicians, marking him as mastermind of Joy Division's depressive strategy. Wrong. The focus is on Curtis – his lyrics and vocals are the immediately memorable part of Joy Division's sound – but 'Unknown Pleasures' blends music, theme and expression for the first time. Even without lyrics, the chilling, despondent music leaves no doubt what Joy Division was on about."
Trouser Press. No 71. March 1982

*** *1980: Closer audio
"Closer is practically an innovation per song: that compelling bass, up-front drums, chainsaw guitars, fractious synthesisers, watery atmospherics – not did they preclude the swamp of new wave miserabilism but just about every goth-rock record ever made and the more chilly of the new romantics. Emerging in 1978 Joy Division made the fledgling Factory Records. Their initial manic density on Unknown Pleasures gave way to more maudlin and melodic works as Ian Curtis' psychological breakdown intensified – bemused crowds saw him suffer epilectic fits and blackouts on stage fuelling their intrigue even further. Closer and the compilation Still were released posthumously as was their Love Will Tear Us Apart single, which took them into the charts and proved the 'proper' singing ability of Curtis. Their work became synonymous with teenage bedroom torpor and inspired a nation to some truly bollocks 'poetry' about death, life's futility and religion which seems in retrospect some of the best fun adolescence had to offer. The rest of Joy Division started again."
-- RCD magazine, Vol. 1. No 10. 1993
There's a taste in my mouth
as desperation takes hold.
Yeah, something so good
just can't function no more
and love, love will tear us apart again.

*** 1981: Still (live)audio
"Still collects outtakes and rarities along with a live set recorded on May 2, 1980, just over two weeks prior to Ian Curtis' death. In addition to the atmospheric "Glass" and the haunting funeral march "Dead Souls," the studio sides include four leftover tracks from the sessions for Unknown Pleasures, while the concert set includes performances of seminal tracks such as "Transmission," "Isolation" and "A Means to an End." Although neither as cogent nor as indispensible as the band's two studio records or the Substance compilation, Still is nonetheless a valuable chronicle of Joy Division's remarkable evolution, a growth charted by the inclusion of an early live cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" to the only recorded version of the hypnotic "Ceremony," the ultimate Ian Curtis composition which later resurfaced as the first single from New Order. "
-- Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide

**** 1988: Substanceaudio
"What is amazing about this collection of singles and b-sides is not that it is great, but that it is as good as the band's two official albums. (...) So it's remarkable that the band's non-album work comes together to form such a solid, cohesive album. You can hear the band move from its ragged, nihilistic punk roots (an early 4-song EP is included here in its entirety, highlighted by the driving "Warsaw" and the catchy but disturbing "No Love Lost") to the almost-ready-for-radio brooding pop exemplified by the afore-mentioned "Love" and "Atmosphere." Along the way we get all sorts of choice nuggets, essential for any fan of the band. So while you should still begin your Joy Division experience with the monumental Unknown Pleasures, Substance is an integral part of the Joy Division body of work. -- Only after picking up those two albums and Closer will you want to move on towards the live/studio collection Still, a harsher listen."
Pop Kulcher, via
***¾ 1995: Permanentaudio
"Unfortunately, it is little more than a compilation of previously released tracks. The only new track is the Permanent Mix of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (done by Don Gehman), which isn't too far removed from the Substance version of this classic. Some tracks on Permanent are also on the first Joy Division "greatest hits" and rarities album, Substance. Yet unlike Substance, it contains no rare tracks. (...)
Although the best way to sample Joy Division's great lyrical talent is by listening to the four essential JD albums, Unknown Pleasures, Closer, Still, and Substance, newcomers will find Permanent a good place to start, even if Substance is a much better one. "
-- Lee Graham Bridges

1998: Heart and Soul - 4 CD box set
The ultimate Joy Division collection, a complete career retrospective containing every song JD recorded, including Warsaw demos, single releases, rarities, and a full CD of live material.

Recommended Links:

Joy Division: Shadow Play

Heart and Soul - Joy Division

Joy Division Central
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New Order | Sex Pistols | The Sisters of Mercy | Iggy Pop | Velvet Underground | Psychedelic Furs | The Smiths | Ikon

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