Joy Division Album Reviews

Joy Division were one of several prominent bands who were inspired by the Sex Pistols’ famous 1976 gig in Manchester – members of The Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Smiths, and Simply Red were also in attendance. Joy Division started as a rather generic punk band, but producer Martin Hannett was instrumental in shaping them, drenching them in reverb and bringing out the most chilling aspects of their sound, creating post-punk masterpieces.

Having said that, the band already had a unique sound – Peter Hook’s bass was the dominant instrument, often played in the high registers and creating the melodic interest, while Bernard Sumner’s guitar threw out shards of noise. Stephen Morris’ drums were machine-like and efficient, while Ian Curtis was most arresting of all, with his doom-laden and chilling lyrics and vocals.

The group only made two studio albums before Curtis’ suicide; both are excellent, each with its own distinct flavour. The compilation Substance collects the material from their non-album singles – while it’s less consistent than their studio albums, it collates some of their most essential material.

The group’s appeal has persisted – near where I live, on the other side of the world from Manchester, there’s a famous Ian Curtis wall.

After Curtis’ death, the group promoted Sumner to lead vocalist, bought in Morris’ girlfriend Gillian Gilbert as keyboard player, and re-branded as New Order. There’s certainly a distance between Joy Division pieces like ‘Atmosphere’ and New Order’s 1989 football anthem ‘World In Motion’, even through both group’s share common musical elements.

Ten Favourite Joy Division Songs

Dead Souls
Twenty Four Hours
Atmosphere
She’s Lost Control
The Eternal
Passover
Love Will Tear Us Apart
I Remember Nothing
Transmission
Decades