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Joy Division

Updated on July 5, 2011

Joy Division Biography

With the possible exception of the Velvet Underground, no band has had a greater impact on the shape of music in the post-modern era than the Manchester, UK quartet known as Joy Division.

It is not simply that Joy Division fashioned an ambient, heavy-laden and emotionally charged sound since echoed by scores of other bands. It's not that the group itself has spawned an offshootNew Order that continues to push the outside of the alternative envelope. It's not even that founder and lead singer Ian Curtis, who took his life fifteen years ago this May, endures as one of rock's most enigmatic and tragic figures. It is, rather, that the music of Joy Division was so consistently ahead of its time that even today it sounds like nothing so much as a glimpse into the future.

It's a contention amply borne out on Permanent: Joy Division 1995, an aptly titled retrospective album released domestically on Qwest Records. Charting the group's brief but brilliant three-year rise, Permanent more than lives up to its billing with sixteen classic Joy Division tracks, including several rare and unreleased treasures. Also included is the group's breakthrough 1980 single "Love Will Tear Us Apart," both in its original version and in a remix done especially for the album by John Mellencamp/R.E.M./Hootie & The Blowfish producer Don Gehman. Together, these tracks comprise a fitting tribute to a band whose creative contribution is indeed permanent.

Formed by Ian Curtis in 1977, Joy Division's initial line-up included Bernard Sumner (aka Bernard Albrecht) on guitar, Peter Hook on bass and drummer Steven Morris. Spawned in the grimy industrial metropolis of Manchester, the group made their stage debut in May of that year at the city's Electric Circus, at the bottom of a bill with two early punk pioneers, The Buzzcocks and Penetration. Two months later, the group recorded a four-song demo, titled An Ideal For Living, and released it in June of 1978 on their own Enigma Records label. The EP, along with additional live performances, brought them to the attention of journalist Tony Wilson, who had just formed the Manchester-based indie label Factory Records. The group subsequently appeared on a Factory compilation with two original tracks, "Digital" and "Glass."

In June of 1979, Joy Division released their Factory Records debut album Unknown Pleasures, with recording funded by Wilson's life savings. In October of that year, two singles, "Atmosphere" and "Transmission," were released to widespread underground acclaim, subsequently increasing demand for the group's live performances, which, in turn, put additional pressure on Curtis' always-frail health.

April of 1980 saw the release of the above-mentioned "Love Will Tear Us Apart," a single that unquestionably poised Joy Division for mainstream success. (The song has subsequently been covered by everyone from Paul Young to P.J. Proby.) The band completed a second album with producer Martin Hannett and plans were laid for a U.S. tour.

It was in the early morning hours of May 18th, four days before the group was to fly to America, that Ian Curtis hanged himself in an upstairs bedroom of his childhood home. Two month later, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" had reached the Top 20 on UK charts while Joy Division's second album, Closer, reached the Top 10.

That, it seemed, was that. Curtis' suicide, brought on by illness and depression, cut short the career of one of the most promising bands of England's punk and post-punk eras. Sumner, Hook and Morris would go on to form New Order, a group that would continue Joy Division's experimental mandate. Yet the power and presence of the original Joy Division was forever lost with the death of its creative mainstay, Ian Curtis.

But not quite. In the years that followed, additional Joy Division material was discovered and released, serving to underscore their originality and extend their influence even further. In 1981, Still, a double album of live and studio material was assembled, followed a year later by the video collection Here Are The Young Men. Such was the importance of Joy Division to the modern music scene that in 1988, a full eight years after Curtis' untimely exit, a comprehensive Joy Division release, Substance, saw the light of day.

It is from this rich legacy of original material that the music of Permanent: Joy Division 1995 has been collected. Key tracks include both the singles "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Transmission," along with their rare B-sides, "These Days" and "Novelty," respectively. A third single, 1980's limited edition "Atmosphere" and its B-side "The Only Mistake" are also included. From Unknown Pleasures come the tracks "She's Lost Control," "Shadow Plays" and "Day Of the Lords"; while Closer yields "Isolation," "Passover," "Heart And Soul" and "Twenty Four Hours." Two more vintage Joy Division tracks, "Dead Souls" and "Something Must Break," round out the Permanent selections.

The release of Permanent: Joy Division 1995 comes at a time of remarkable resurgence in interest for both Joy Division and Ian Curtis. The book Touching From A Distance, a harrowing look at the life of Ian Curtis written by his widow Deborah Curtis, has just been published in the UK. A new tribute album, Means To An End, is also set for release on Virgin Records, featuring tracks by such acclaimed artists as Moby, Codeine, Face To Face, members of Smashing Pumpkins, members of Red Hot Chili Peppers and others.

Small wonder that, with the recent UK release of Permanent, Melody Maker took the occasion to call Joy Division, "the most influential British band of their time." It's an influence that continues with the American release of this remarkable retrospective.

JOY DIVISION-Transmission Video

Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis

About Ian Curtis

Ian Kevin Curtis (15 July 1956 - 18 May 1980) was the songwriter, lyricist and singer of the English post-punk band Joy Division. Joy Division released its critically-acclaimed debut album Unknown Pleasures in 1979, and recorded their follow-up Closer in 1980. Suffering from epilepsy, a failing marriage, and bouts of depression, Curtis committed suicide in May 1980, on the eve of Joy Division's first North American tour.

In 1995, Curtis's widow Deborah published Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, a biography of the singer. His life and death have been dramatised in the films 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Control (2007).

In 1976, Curtis met two young musicians, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook, at a Sex Pistols gig, who told him they were trying to form a band; he immediately put himself forward as a vocalist and lyricist. The three of them recruited and sacked a number of drummers before settling on Stephen Morris as their final member. Initially, the band was called Warsaw before changing its name to Joy Division in 1978, due to conflicts with the name of another band, Warsaw Pakt. The name "Joy Division" stemmed from the sexual slavery wing of a Nazi concentration camp in the 1955 novel The House of Dolls.

After starting Factory Records with Alan Erasmus, Tony Wilson signed the band to his label.

While performing for Joy Division, Curtis became known for his quiet and awkward demeanour, as well as a unique dancing style reminiscent of the epileptic seizures he experienced, sometimes even on stage.[4] There were several incidents where he collapsed and had to be helped off stage.[5] In an interview for Northern Lights cassette magazine in November 1979 Ian Curtis made his only public comment on his dancing and performance. He explained the motivation as: "Instead of just singing about something you could show it as well, put it over in the way that it is, if you were totally involved in what you were doing".

Curtis's writing was filled with imagery of emotional isolation, death, alienation, and urban decay. He once commented in an interview that he wrote about "the different ways different people can cope with certain problems, how they might or might not adapt." He sang in a bass-baritone voice, in contrast to his speaking voice, which fell in the tenor range. Earlier in their career, Curtis would sing in a loud snarling voice similar to shouting; it is best displayed on the band's debut EP, An Ideal for Living (1978). Joy Division had its sparse recording style developed by producer Martin Hannett, with some of their most innovative work being created in Strawberry Studios in Stockport (owned by Manchester act 10cc) and Cargo Recording Studios Rochdale in 1979, a studio which was developed from John Peel investing money into the music business in Rochdale.

Although predominantly a vocalist, Curtis also played guitar on a handful of tracks (usually when Sumner was playing synthesizer; "Incubation" was a rare case where both played guitar). At first Curtis played Sumner's Shergold Masquerader, but in September 1979 he acquired his own guitar, a Vox Phantom Special VI (often described incorrectly as a Teardrop or ordinary Phantom model) which had many built-in effects used both live and in studio. After Curtis' death, Sumner inherited the guitar, and it was used in several early New Order songs, such as "Everything's Gone Green". Curtis also played keyboard on some live versions of "She's Lost Control", and the melodica on "In A Lonely Place", a song that was written and rehearsed for the cancelled American tour, and later salvaged as a New Order B-side. Many regard "In A Lonely Place" to be the last song Ian Curtis ever recorded with Joy Division.

Joy Division DVD - all about Joy Division DVDs

Joy Division (The Miriam Collection)
Joy Division (The Miriam Collection)

While Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People took on impresario Tony Wilson and Anton Corbijn's Control concentrated on singer Ian Curtis, Grant Gee's Joy Division opts for non-fiction over biopic. Together, the three films create a multi-dimensional portrait of Manchester in the post-punk era. Curtis's minimalist quartet arose simultaneously as a product of and a reaction to their industrial environment. As Factory Records co-founder Wilson states, "I don't see this as the story of a pop group, I see this as the story of a city that once upon a time was shiny and bold and revolutionary." (Wilson succumbed to cancer shortly afterwards.) Written by Jon Savage (England's Dreaming), the narrative follows the oral history form. Aside from the surviving members of the band, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris (Curtis committed suicide in 1980), other speakers include designer Peter Saville, Curtis's girlfriend Annik Honoré, and musician Genesis P. Orridge (Throbbing Gristle). Only Curtis's wife, Deborah, chose not to appear on camera, so Gee (Radiohead: Meeting People Is Easy) uses text from her biography, Touching from a Distance. Loaded with rare audio and visual material, like Joy Division's aborted RCA sessions and manager Rob Gretton's notes, Gee presents the definitive documentary of a timeless band. Unlike Corbijn's stately feature, his stylish tribute ends on a more optimistic note: with the birth of New Order in the 1980s and the re-birth of Manchester in the 2000s. Extra features include 75 minutes of bonus interviews and a BBC performance of "Transmission."

Control (The Miriam Collection)
Control (The Miriam Collection)

In his elegiac debut, Anton Corbijn combines the music film with the social drama to stunning success. Based on Deborah Curtis's clear-eyed biography, Touching from a Distance, Control recounts the wrenching tale of a working-class lad about to hit the highest highs only to be waylaid by the lowest lows. Born and raised in Macclesfield, a suburban community outside Manchester, Ian Curtis (newcomer Sam Riley in a remarkable performance) dreams of fronting a band. Just out of high school in the mid-1970s, he finds three like minds with whom he forms post-punk quartet Warsaw--better known as Joy Division (Riley and castmates ably recreate their somber sound). All the while, he falls in love, marries, and fathers a child with Deborah (Samantha Morton, turning a thankless role into a triumph). While Curtis should be enjoying parenthood and newfound fame, he's plagued by seizures. A diagnosis of epilepsy leads to powerful medications with unpredictable side effects. Then, while on tour, he falls in love with another woman. His solution to these problems is a matter of public record, but Corbijn concentrates on Curtis's life rather than his death. Just as Control establishes a link between such disparate black and white works as fellow photographer Bruce Weber's Let's Get Lost and kitchen-sink classics like The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, the Dutch-born, UK-based director presents his subject not as some iconic T-shirt image, but as a deeply flawed--if massively talented--human being.

Joy Division - Under Review
Joy Division - Under Review

This 70-minute documentary covers the entire career of Joy Division, one of Manchester and Post-Punks most respected bands. It charts the entire short lifespan of the group, from their origins in their days as Warsaw to the more well known incarnation of.

Joy Division-"Here Are The Young Men/Substance"Double DVD Rare
Joy Division-"Here Are The Young Men/Substance"Double DVD Rare

Excellent Collection Of the Only Existing Footage of this Seminal Manchester Post-Punk Outfit. Has A Full Live Conert and Incredible TV Spot Footage. Rare Promo Double Disc Edition.


Joy Division : The story - Part I - Origins (The Stiff Kittens & Warsaw) :

About Joy Division and Ian Curtis
About Joy Division and Ian Curtis

In 1976, the punk movement erupted to wake up pop music from its apathy. The leading band was the Sex Pistols, whose famous anthems, like "Anarchy in the UK" or "God save the Queen", were the symbols of this "no future" generation. Most punk musicians could not play, but they did not see this as an obstacle to reach their goal : get on stage, and yell their rage at the world! Many of them were influenced by famous cult bands of the late 60's and early 70's : The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Stooges, Iggy Pop, The Doors, etc.

During the Anarchy in the UK tour, the Pistols played in Manchester on June 4 and July 20. In the audience were four young guys living around Manchester : school mates Peter Hook, Bernard Albrecht and Terry Mason plus Ian Curtis - who only attended the July gig. Right away, Peter, Bernard and Terry decided to start up a band, with Peter on bass, Bernard on guitar and Terry on drums, but they still needed a singer. They placed an ad in the Virgin record shop in Manchester and Ian answered it and became the singer of the band, called at the time the Stiff Kittens. He would also write the lyrics.

They rehearsed a lot during a few months, and wrote their first songs, in direct inheritance of punk. In May of 1977 the band's name was changed to Warsaw (linked to Bowie's "Warszawa") and Terry was replaced on drums by Tony Tabac, though Terry remained close to the band. Just a month later, Tony left and Steve Brotherdale was hired as new drummer. It was at the same time that Paul Morley of the NME and DJ Rob Gretton discovered the band and perceived its huge potential. Warsaw recorded a demo tape including five songs in the Pennine Sound Studios in July, but Steve quit a few days later. Finally Stephen Morris joined the band. In October, they played at the Electric Circus, which was due to close down, along with The Fall and The Buzzcocks. Some songs were recorded by Virgin as a testimony of the mancunian punk scene.

In December, they recorded four songs, which were to appear later as "An Ideal For Living". In January of 1978 the band changed its name to Joy Division to avoid any confusion with another group. They rehearsed intensely and wrote new songs. On April 14, they played along with 16 bands in a contest : Tony Wilson, who worked for Granada TV, and Rob Gretton were greatly impressed by their performance.

Joy Division
Joy Division

Joy Division - Factory

Part II - Birth of the legend

Joy Division came back in studio to record eleven songs with the RCA label. For the first time they did not sound just as another punk band. But they were not pleased with some musical changes made by the producer, and by the conditions of the agreement with RCA. On May 21, Bernard had the group to hire Rob as manager. On June 8, Tony opened a club in Manchester, called The Factory I - named after Warhol's Factory or simply after a sign seen in the neighbourhood by Alan Erasmus, a theatre actor, friend of Tony. Peter Saville, a young local artist conceived a poster for the event, and Joy Division appeared as full of promise to many reviewers.

They rehearsed during all summer which had the immediate effect to mature their music. With Rob Gretton's help, they managed to avoid the release of the RCA record (later known as the bootleg "Warsaw"). After many rehearsals and gigs they had considerably improved, and critics as well as audiences were more and more impressed. On September 20, they were invited on Granada TV for what would be a live appearance, and decided to play "Shadowplay", one of their recent songs. Another concert took place at the Factory where free copies of "An Ideal for Living" were given to journalists. It was on that occasion that Martin Hannett and Joy Division were linked for the first time.

At the end of 1978, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus started up a record company called "Factory Records", which will happen to be the most celebrated and creative indie label of its time. Peter Saville was chosen to be the designer of the label, and Martin Hannett its producer. In October, Hannett produced two Joy Division songs, which appeared in a compilation named "A Factory Sample". During the following months, Rob Gretton organized concerts in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Canterbury, Bristol, York and London, and the band was starting to create a real follow-up. They had to face one serious problem though, as Ian was now having epilepsy fits.

On 1979 January 31, they recorded four songs for John Peel, the famous DJ on BBC Radio 1. This Peel session was broadcasted two weeks later, then followed by another gig in London, and a recording session of a few songs for a WEA label, and then again by some more gigs, along with The Cure. Joy Division shows had some special characteristics : they chose the songs they would play just before the concert, and they played with few light because of Ian's epilepsy.

Joy Division Poster

Part III - Unknown Pleasures :

Joy Division
Joy Division

Rob Gretton and Tony Wilson agreed to produce the band's first LP. Joy Division rehearsed almost day and night during April, and wrote some fifteen new songs. Martin Hannet and the group worked on "Unknown Pleasures" most intensely. The ten tracks are remarkable, due to the music and the lyrics of course, but also to the aura Hannett managed to bring. The atmosphere and the sound of the songs are oppressing, dark and claustrophobic, but at the same time powerful, touching and vivid.

Then they were back again on the road in the UK, playing along with Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and other groups, and recorded some titles for a local radio, Piccadilly Radio. Joy Division's impact and fame were growing quickly, even if they almost systematically refused interviews - believing that their music perfectly spoke for them. They had no marketing promotion : just concerts, concerts and concerts, mainly in the Manchester area. In July of 1979, "Unknown Pleasures" was released, in its black cover, with just a black and white graphic on it. Peter Saville's design included no pictures of the band and no names either. The album enjoyed immense critical acclaim - named best album since the Doors' LA. Woman - and it was to stay long in the UK indie charts. Funnily though, they were still amateurs, having day jobs as well!

The drums sounded like gun shots, except when Steven delivered furious rolls, the bass was omnipresent, sometimes threatening, sometimes softer, but always used in a totally different way from its usual purpose in pop bands, having a most important part in the songs architecture and melody. The guitar often played along with the bass, in a kind of counter-point; its sound changing, distorted or clear, more or less aggressive, blurred or brilliant and surgically accurate. Ian's lyrics and singing brought the music even to a higher level : you could feel that Joy Division were not cheating, but revealing themselves. The anger or the fear you heard in his voice were merely the bare truth.

"I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,

Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?

..." (Disorder)

"I guess you were right, when we talked in the heat,

There's no room for the weak, no room for the weak.

..." (Day of the Lords)

"Corrupted from memory,

No longer the power,

It's creeping up slowly,

That last fatal hour.

Oh, I don't know what made me,

What gave me the right,

To mess with your values,

And change wrong to right.

..." (Candidate)

"Guess your dreams always end.

They don't rise up just descend,

But I don't care anymore,

I've lost the will to want more,

I'm not afraid not at all,

I watch them all as they fall,

But I remember when we were young.

..." (Insight)

"A change of speed, a change of style.

A change of scene, with no regrets,

A chance to watch, admire the distance,

Still occupied, though you forget.

Different colours, different shades,

Over each mistakes were made.

I took the blame.

Directionless so plain to see,

A loaded gun won't set you free.

So you say.

We'll share a drink and step outside,

An angry voice and one who cried,

'We'll give you everything and more,

The strain's too much, can't take much more.'

I've walked on water, run through fire,

Can't seem to feel it anymore.

It was me, waiting for me,

Hoping for something more,

Me, seeing me this time,

Hoping for something else." (New Dawn Fades)

"Confusion in her eyes that says it all.

She's lost control.

And she's clinging to the nearest passer by,

She's lost control.


And she turned around and took me by the hand

And said I've lost control again.

And how I'll never know just why or understand

She said I've lost control again.

And she screamed out kicking on her side

And said I've lost control again.

And seized up on the floor, I thought she'd die.

..." (She's Lost Control)

"I did everything, everything I wanted to,

I let them use you for their own ends,

..." (Shadowplay).

"What did you see there?

I saw all knowledge destroyed.

I travelled far and wide through many different times.


What did you see there?

The blood of Christ on their skins,

I travelled far and wide through many different times.

I travelled far and wide and unknown martyrs died,

What did you see there?

I saw the one sided trials,

What did you see there?

I saw the tears as they cried,

..." (Wilderness)

"Down the dark streets, the houses looked the same,

Getting darker now, faces look the same,

And I walked round and round.


Had to think again,

Trying to find a clue, trying to find a way to get out!

..." (Interzone)

"Get weak all the time, may just pass the time,

Me in my own world, and you there beside,

The gaps are enormous, we stare from each side,

We were strangers for way too long.

Violent, more violent, his hand cracks the chair,

Moves on reaction, then slumps in despair,

Trapped in a cage and surrendered to soon,

Me in my own world, the one that you knew,

For way too long.

..." (I Remember Nothing)

Upon this remarkable basis, Hannett's touch, including use of synthesizers and noises, plus an extraordinary work on the instruments sound (with engineer Chris Nagle) created a unique atmosphere of tension and chaos.

At the end of July, Paul Slattery photographed Joy Division in Stockport, and the band gave an interview to the NME. At the same time, they worked with Martin Hannett on two songs for a single. In August they toured again, mainly in London, with Echo And The Bunnymen and Orchestral Manoeuvres, and in Liverpool. Ian, Peter, Steve and Bernard could now quit their day jobs and dedicate themselves to Joy Division.

Their performance was highly praised at the Leeds Futurama One festival - where they played along other groups like Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio, Public Image Limited, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark ... - and in London at the Nashville Club. Invited by the BBC, they played two songs for the TV show "Something Else".

Another concert at The Factory I, and they were touring the UK as support band of The Buzzcocks : Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Bangor, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Oxford, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Bristol, London, among others. Each night, the audience was stunned and moved by Joy Division's music and the intensity of their performance on stage. In Liverpool, the audience left just after Joy Division gig, as if they knew nothing could be as powerful as what they had witnessed. That included many people who had never heard of the band. In Bristol, the audience was literally drained after their appearance. Various reviewers, from the NME, Melody Maker or Sounds, shared exactly the same feeling. Of course, The Buzzcocks were rather jealous about Joy Division's success... In between the tour dates, they played around Manchester, and for the first time out of the UK, in Brussels.

The band was then contacted by Warner Brothers Records' vice-chairman, who offered them one million dollar to have them on his label. Rob Gretton and the group declined the offer.

On November 26, Joy Division recorded a second John Peel session with Tony Wilson, which was broadcasted a few weeks later on Radio One.


Part IV


Rob Gretton scheduled a European tour for Joy Division in December of 1979 and January of 1980. Eleven gigs in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The first concert took place in Paris, at Les Bains-Douches : Bernard Lenoir, who could be thought of as the french John Peel, broadcasted the band live on the french radio; this was followed by a mancunian gig on New Year's eve, and the Paradiso show in Amsterdam, where Joy Division, having not been able to find a support band, played twice in a row!

The next gigs took place in The Hague, Nijmegen, Antwerp, Cologne - in an ancient church, Rotterdam, Brussels, Eindhoven, Groningen and Berlin. Back in the UK the band worked on new songs - including "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - and played five dates, supported by A Certain Ratio : London, High Wycombe, Preston, London again and Bristol. During the Preston gig, they experienced many technical problems, and Ian talked to the audience for a while, to have them waiting!

In March of 1980, they entered the Britannia Row Studios to record their second LP with Martin Hannett. Meanwhile they had recorded "Atmosphere" and "Dead Souls", wich appeared on the single "Licht Und Blindheit", in a french limited edition of 1578 copies. In this LP, "Closer", they tracked down further and deeper their inner thoughts and feelings. Once again, Martin Hannett's incredible work and talent offered Joy Division's brilliant music the perfect jewel-case.

After the recording, in April, the group was on the road again : in London, at the Moonlight Club, and at the Rainbow Theatre, where the lights, too strong, caused Ian a terrible epilepsy fit at the end of the gig. But the band had to play a second gig the same night, again at the Moonlight Club. After a furious start, Ian collapsed, unable to move or to sing anymore.

The band achieved a cult status, as all concerts were close to provoke internal and external chaos and riot : "Unlike The Fall, who make me want to go out and kick a cat, Joy Division convince me that I could spit in the face of God." (Neil Norman, NME).

Joy Division had to prepare their first US tour with The Buzzcocks, and eight gigs were organized for that purpose : as Ian's health was deteriorating, they finally played only five ot them in Malvern, Bury - where Ian quickly failed to sing, Manchester, Derby and Birmingham on May 2.

"Closer" was to be released shortly - Factory had in the meantime published a free flexi single with new songs, Joy Division were to tour the US - the tour had been booked by the late Ruth Polsky, who was to book New Order and many other British new-wave acts in the early 80s - and had been offered once again a one million dollar agreement, plus total artistic freedom, by Warner Brothers Records.

But Ian could not cope anymore : his health and sentimental problems were more than he could take. On May 17, he went back to his house in Macclesfield, watched Stroszek, a movie by Werner Herzog, the story of a singer, a loser, who finally kills himself, listened to Iggy Pop "The Idiot" album and on the morning of May 18 hang himself in the kitchen. He was cremated in Macclesfield cemetery on May 23.

John Peel announced Ian's death on Radio One on May 19, and payed his tribute to the band and the man with "Atmosphere", which very few knew at the time in the UK. Peter, Steve, Bernard, Martin, Rob, Tony and the others were simply devastated by Ian's suicide. "Closer" and the single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" were finally released at the end of June of 1980. The covers, which had been chosen months before, were as usual designed by Peter Saville : they included two B&W photos by Bernard Pierre Wolff, an amazingly gifted french photographer, taken in the Genoa cemetery, Il Staglieno : a dead Christ with mourners for "Closer", and a weeping angel for "LWTUA".

"LWTUA" included two versions of the song, because neither Joy Division nor Martin Hannett could decide which one they liked best. The song was number 5 in the Indies chart. A video of the song was broadcasted at the same time. In the beauty and strength of "Closer" converged the intense work of the band, the inner world of Ian just before it collapsed, and the visions and magic of Martin.

Strangely enough, a couple of books have been written on "Unknown Pleasures" but none on "Closer". Maybe because "Closer" goes where no other "pop" band ever ventured?

"Asylums with doors open wide,

Where people had paid to see inside,

For entertainment they watch his body twist,

Behind his eyes he says, 'I still exist.'

This is the way, step inside.

In arenas he kills for a prize,

Wins a minute to add to his life.

But the sickness is drowned by cries for more,

Pray to God, make it quick, watch him fall.

This is the way, step inside.

You'll see the horrors of a faraway place,

Meet the architects of law face to face.

See mass murder on a scale you've never seen,

And all the ones who try hard to succeed.

This is the way, step inside.

And I picked on the whims of a thousand or more,

Still pursuing the path that's been buried for years,

All the dead wood from jungles and cities on fire,

Can't replace or relate, can't release or repair,

Take my hand and I'll show you what was and will be." (Atrocity Exhibition)

"Mother I tried please believe me,

I'm doing the best that I can.

I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through,

I'm ashamed of the person I am.

..." (Isolation)

"This is a crisis I knew had to come,

Destroying the balance I'd kept.

Doubting, unsettling and turning around,

Wondering what will come next.

Is this the role that you wanted to live?

I was foolish to ask for so much.

Without the protection and infancy's guard,

It all falls apart at first touch.

..." (Passover)

"A cry for help, a hint of anaesthesia,

The sound from broken homes,

We used to always meet here.

As he lays asleep, she takes him in her arms,

Some things I have to do, but I don't mean you harm.

A worried parent's glance, a kiss, a last goodbye,

Hands him the bag she packed, the tears she tries to hide,

A cruel wind that bows down to our lunacy,

And leaves him standing cold here in this colony.

I can't see why all these confrontations,

I can't see why all these dislocations,

No family life, this makes me feel uneasy,

Stood alone here in this colony.

..." (Colony)

"We fought for good, stood side by side,

Our friendship never died.

On stranger waves, the lows and highs,

Our vision touched the sky,

..." (A Means to an End)


A struggle between right and wrong.

You take my place in the showdown,

I'll observe with a pitiful eye,

I'd humbly ask for forgiveness,

A request well beyond you and I.


An abyss that laughs at creation,

A circus complete with all fools,

Foundations that lasted the ages,

Then ripped apart at their roots.

Beyond all this good is the terror,

The grip of a mercenary hand,

When savagery turns all good reason,

There's no turning back, no last stand.


Existence well what does it matter?

I exist on the best terms I can.

The past is now part of my future,

The present is well out of hand.

..." (Heart and Soul)

"So this is permanence, love's shattered pride.

What once was innocence, turned on its side.

A cloud hangs over me, marks every move,

Deep in the memory, of what once was love.

Oh how I realised how I wanted time,

Put into perspective, tried so hard to find,

Just for one moment, thought I'd found my way.

Destiny unfolded, I watched it slip away.

Excessive flashpoints, beyond all reach,

Solitary demands for all I'd like to keep.

Let's take a ride out, see what we can find,

A valueless collection of hopes and past desires.


Now that I've realised how it's all gone wrong,

Gotta find some therapy, this treatment takes too long.

Deep in the heart of where sympathy held sway,

Gotta find my destiny, before it gets too late." (Twenty-four Hours)

"Procession moves on, the shouting is over,

Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone.

Talking aloud as they sit round their tables,

Scattering flowers washed down by the rain.

Stood by the gate at the foot of the garden,

Watching them pass like clouds in the sky,

Try to cry out in the heat of the moment,

Possessed by a fury that burns from inside.

Cry like a child, though these years make me older,

With children my time is so wastefully spent,

A burden to keep, though their inner communion,

Accept like a curse an unlucky deal.

Played by the gate at the foot of the garden,

My view stretches out from the fence to the wall,

No words could explain, no actions determine,

Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall." (The Eternal)

"Here are the young men, the weight on their shoulders,

Here are the young men, well where have they been?

We knocked on the doors of Hell's darker chamber,

Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Watched from the wings as the scenes were replaying,

We saw ourselves now as we never had seen.

Portrayal of the trauma and degeneration,

The sorrows we suffered and never were free.

Where have they been?

Where have they been?

Weary inside, now our heart's lost forever,

Can't replace the fear, or the thrill of the chase,

Each ritual showed up the door for our wanderings,

Open then shut, then slammed in our face.

Where have they been?

Where have they been?" (Decades)

The songs seemed to come - more than ever - from a foreign world, with Ian's lyrics filled with doubts, restlesness and fears, Peter's droning bass, Bernard's jagged guitar riffs and Steve's hypnotizing drums, all of that once again refined by Martin's contribution (synthesizers, sound-work, etc., with the assistance of John Caffery and Michael Johnson).

"Closer" peaked at number 6 in the British charts, and critics were unanimous in praising it. "LWTUA" rose to number 13 in the singles chart and Joy Division raided the NME annual prize-list. Though their music did not sound as anything else, it was labelled as new-wave, cold-wave or gothic, but whatever its name, it influenced many new-wave groups.

Part V - New Order :

The band had agreed that if any member left, for any reason, Joy Division would cease to exist. Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Albrecht (now Sumner) formed New Order, soon joined by Gillian Gilbert on keyboards, Bernard becoming the singer. But from their gloomy debut album, "Movement" - still produced by Martin Hannett and still influenced by Joy Division - to their weird dance music songs, that is another story, which includes the biggest single ever sold in the world : "Blue Monday".

For more than a decade and a half, New Order almost never played Joy Division's songs - except the last two ones which were not recorded in the studio by Joy Division ("Ceremony" and "In A Lonely Place"). Since their return in the late 90s, they usually play a couple of Joy Division's songs at every concert.

In 1980 and 1981, Factory released the single "Atmosphere" and the album "Still", with rare tracks and the songs from the Birmingham gig of May of 1980, which rose to number 5 on the British charts. In 1982, Ikon released a video of Joy Division filmed in various gigs "Here are the young men", and in 1986 and 1987, the "Peel Sessions" were published. Factory released a CD called "Substance" in 1988, with Joy Division's singles and some previously unreleased songs, as well as another "Substance", for New Order that one. A video for "Atmosphere" was shot by Anton Corbijn, who had taken photographs of the band on several occasions.

In 1995, fifteen years after Ian had died, a new compilation "Permanent" was released, and in 1998 the 4-CDs box "Heart And Soul" was commercialized, followed in 1999 by the Preston concert, "Preston 28 February 1980". The Peel sessions were rereleased in the "The Complete BBC Recordings" CD in 2000, and the Paris gig "Les Bains Douches 18 December 1979" was issued in 2001. In the next couple of years several other records were released including the "Refractured BoxOne" and many semi-official records, mostly live recordings, but also "Martin Hannett's Personal Mixes". In 2007 "Unknown Pleasures", "Closer", "LWTUA" & "Still" were re-released with bonuses as double CDs but also as vinyls.

Many books have been written on Joy Division, New Order and Ian Curtis in different countries, including Ian's biography by his widow, Deborah, and another particularly interesting biography by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade, Tony Wilson's ex-wife.

The movie "24 Hour Party People" directed by Michael Winterbottom, one of England's greatest film maker, depicts the history of Factory, from the punk era to its bankruptcy with superb acting. In 2007, "Control," a biopic on Ian Curtis, directed by Anton Corbijn won several prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.

"Joy Division - A Documentary" by Grant Gee was also released in 2007 and is an excellent complement to the movies. Last but not least, 2007 was also the year of the release of the long awaited book of Kevin Cummins' photos of Joy Division, "Juvenes".

As Joy Division had finally built a strong follow-up and achieved a cult-band status, many bootlegs have been listed, from the various band's gigs, in these days where music was created and played by men - not DJs or machines. And men who were not willing to compromise for fame nor money.

Reader Feedback

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    • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image


      6 years ago

      Unique band, they influenced a whole scene. And Ian was a poet.

    • filmic profile image


      7 years ago

      my favourite all time band and you've done them great justice with this lens. great layout and great content. thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic lens!

    • Valdacious profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens thanks!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is indeed astonishing...welcome to squidoo gan :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice info..


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