Monday, 18 February 2013
Desert Island Discs 49 - Closer by Joy Division
49 Closer by Joy Division 1980
Is it possible to listen to this as just a piece of music? , or does the knowledge that this was recorded just before and released just after Ian Curtis's suicide mean that facts and the legend that have grown up around joy Division cast too big a shadow?
I was 13 when this came out and so too young to really get it at release. Instead Joy division were what New order used to be and the band that had made the catchy Love will Tear us Apart, as a result the sense of myth and wonder around the band had passed me by.
It was only at poly 7 years after its release that I got to hear the lp, at which point I knew it more as a poster that seemingly covered 100 halls or residence walls than an lp.
At poly we had to do a couple of work placements and at my first I got to know a girl who had graduated a couple of years previously and started in the same dept at the same time. So not only was she 4 years older (she owned her own flat which was luckily just round the corner from the house I shared ) in , gorgeous looking but even better drank whisky like a fish and liked doing compilation tapes. For one summer I was in heaven.
The first tape she did had a mixture on one side and Closer on the other. Maybe my view was slightly coloured by how I first heard it but from then on I was hooked.
The focus of Joy division is always Ian Curtis and the lp saw his vocals so much more confident and soulful than the band's debut , he doesn't sound like someone on the cusp not of self destruction (despite the despair in some of the lyrics) but of greatness.
However just as important for me is the rhythm section. Peter Hook's bass stands out but the sound I loved about the lp was Stephen Morris's precision, flourish free , drilled and relentless drumming. It manages to dominate but not overshadow at the same time. Take that away and the thing would have fallen apart.
Finally having known him as an individually styled singer Bernard Sumner's guitar playing with it crashes jagged edges and spikes is a revelation
Listen to these two and then think about the rush of copy cats we have had in the last few years. None of them could touch the haunting beauty of Heart and Soul or the bottled tension and frustration of 24 hours
Heart and Soul - Joy Division
24 Hours - Joy Division
I'll end with a point that Garry MulHolland makes in the excellent Fear of Music
But the most painful thing about Closer .... It's the negation of something we all want to believe. because the writing and singing of Ian Curtis are as accomplished and deeply soulful as art gets. Yet it made no difference to him . It wasn't catharsis or therapy.
You can buy Closer here