Two weeks ago, finally, I found the DVD of “Control” the biopic about Ian Curtis, Joy Division’s leader and singer. The film premier was on October 2007,it wasn’t a huge success but it was an addition to Joy Division’s and Ian Curtis history and I was looking forward to watch it since last year when a friend told me about it.
On March 2008 was released a new compilation named “The Best of…” …. … well, guess. (I’m listening to it right now, and it’s a very good compilation actually, it includes recordings of the John Peel Sessions).
And on June 17th, it will go on sale a collectors limited edition – only 500 units – of the Microsoft’s portable music player Zune of Joy Division.
Suddenly, after buying the DVD and watching the movie, I was surrounded by a Joy Division’s fever. And to complete the invasion, last event was last night; Ian Curtis dropped in on my dreams. He crossed me by and I shortly could ask him: what do you think about all this talking and rolling about you and Joy Division’s?, Curtis frowned, kind of doubting, so I rephrased: How do you feel knowing the post punk – pre gothic – underground statement of Joy Division is turning into a pop icon? He looked down at me (he was a tall guy), light a smoke, and in bloody Mancunian he said: “ I don’t give a fuck about it”. Then, he moved on. I woke up ashamed of my silliness, I was very stupid. I realized I must train my skills as interviewer, I just lost THE minute I had to talk with Ian Curtis soul and I asked the most dumb question. Of course he doesn’t give a fuck about this and anyway, he is dead. (… right?…)
Ian Curtis was an underground legend, and he remains a legend of the underground movement. The legacy of Joy Division is the innocence of a soul discomforted with reality, surrendered to sadness because of the frustration of an unstoppable truth. When punk became gothic.
They formed the band right after “the gig that changed the world”, as it’s known in punk history. The band was the Six Pistols, they played in front of an audience of 30-40 people. Seems the Six Pistols blew up the brains of these people, and that was the minute marked as the boom of punk. For mysterious reasons many people among the audience became a major figure on music history, some of those were Joy Division, The Smiths and also Tony Wilson, the founder of Factory Records, among others, as the legend goes on. That’s the point in time when universal forces collided to produce the beginning of post-punk, new wave, gothic and the Manchester movement of independent music, the first “indie” bands. From these time grew up later The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, The Stone Roses, and so on.
The band, originally named Warsaw, formed on 1976, they played their first gig on 1977. On 1978 they changed their name to Joy Division, which is originally the name of the groups of Jewish woman kept on concentration camps as sexual slaves for the Nazis during World War II, as described on the book House of Dolls by Ka-tzetnik. 1978 was the year Joy Division made it; they signed with Factory Records, then their first TV appearance, and almost immediately the recording of their first studio album on June 1978. From there they went fast in the rush of success, touring around England, and Europe. On 1980, with one more studio album already released, they were ready to go to their first tour to United States. One month before leaving, Ian Curtis killed himself. There are many theories to explain why he killed himself; very possible the truth includes the sum of all of them.
Ian Curtis is remembered as the deep calling voice of Joy Division, the poetic alienated writer loved by his followers and the spasmodic freak dancer stored in the memory of the early 80s. His epileptic attacks and his suicide are the discussion corner for those believing the legend is only the result of the tragedy and not the greatness of their music. However, Joy Division’s sound still alive, and a lot during these days.
New Order, the band formed by the surviving members of Joy Division continued their work until now . They stayed as the leading band of Factory Records after Curtis death, they are recognized as the band that joined punk and electronic dance music during the 80s, although their success has always been under the shadow of Joy Division’s conquers.
Joy Division’s music style was a tired punk spirit impersonated by Ian Curtis voice, guided by melodies coming out of Peter Hook’s bass, followed by the stress drums of Steve Morris and the blurry guitar of Bernard Sumner. This tight sound added to the gray subjects on Curtis lyrics created the deep and overwhelmed atmosphere that later became the base for gothic bands like Bauhaus and The Cure.
Joy Division existed for only five years: 1976 – 1980 and they recorded only two studio albums. This was twenty eight years ago, since then, twelve more albums have been released: compilations, early recordings, lost and found recordings, rare recordings and live performances. Three films had been done talking about the legend: 24 Hour Party People, Control and Joy Division. Of course, some books had been written about them and well, lets not forget the gadgets, but luckily, only produced on a limited edition of only 500 units.
This is Joy Division’s land, the gray land of frustration, the post punk, the pre gothic. The second right before punk met dance music to become new wave and then the pop of the 80s. The children of the Six Pistols who produced the ground for the indie rock. And no matter what arguments are there saying their success is the result of Ian Curtis suicide, the fact is Joy Division’s music is still played around the world, in radios, parties, speakers and headphones, and new bands are still playing and recording covers of their songs. Joy Division transcended.