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Great B-Sides: Dead Souls by Joy Division

Joy Division Substance 1977-1980

Despite their short career, Joy Division were one of the best known bands from the post-punk era. The Manchester quartet had previously operated as a punk band named Warsaw, but didn’t find their signature sound until they slowed down their tempo and producer Martin Hannett drenched them in reverb. The reverb bought out all their distinctive features – Peter Hook’s bass as lead instrument, Bernard Albrecht’s jagged wall of guitar noise, and Stephen Morris’ robotic drumming. And most distinctively of all, Ian Curtis’ chilling, tortured baritone.

The group only released two studio albums before Curtis’ passing and their transition into New Order, but some of their best known material never made it to a record. Their signature song is ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with its synthesizer hook, but another notable release was the Licht und Blindheit single, a French only release with ‘Atmosphere’ as the a-side and ‘Dead Souls’ as the b-side.

‘Dead Souls’ is named after the 19th century Russian novel by Nikolai Gogol – based on the title, you’d expect a dark novel, but it’s classified as picaresque and satire. The song on the other hand, is pure intensity, and its one of the group’s most conventionally rocking songs, with crunchy guitars in the chorus, without sacrificing their usual intense eeriness. 

The group’s single material, including ‘Dead Souls’ has been collected on the compilation Substance, which doesn’t hang together as well as their studio records, but which features some of their most essential songs.

New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, a few miles up the road from me, has a famous Ian Curtis wall:

Someone take these dreams away
That point me to another day
A duel of personalities
That stretch all true realities

That keep calling me
They keep calling me
Keep on calling me
They keep calling me

Where figures from the past stand tall
And mocking voices ring the halls
Imperialistic house of prayer
Conquistadors who took their share

That keep calling me
They keep calling me
Keep on calling me
They keep calling me

Calling me, calling me
Calling me, calling me
They keep calling me
Keep on calling me

They keep calling me
They keep calling me

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