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Joy Division

Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in England, Joy Division became the first band in the post-punk movement by lateremphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the'80s. Though the group's raw initial sides fit the bill for any punk band, Joy Division later incorporated synthesizers (taboo inthe low-tech world of '70s punk) and more haunting melodies, emphasized by the isolated, tortured lyrics of its lead vocalist,Ian Curtis. While the British punk movement shocked the world during the late '70s, Joy Division' ...read more

Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in England, Joy Division became the first band in the post-punk movement by lateremphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the'80s. Though the group's raw initial sides fit the bill for any punk band, Joy Division later incorporated synthesizers (taboo inthe low-tech world of '70s punk) and more haunting melodies, emphasized by the isolated, tortured lyrics of its lead vocalist,Ian Curtis. While the British punk movement shocked the world during the late '70s, Joy Division's quiet storm of musicalrestraint and emotive power proved to be just as important to independent music in the 1980s.

The band was founded in early 1977, soon after the Sex Pistols had made their first appearance in Manchester. GuitaristBernard Albrecht (b. Bernard Dicken, January 4, 1956) and bassist Peter Hook (b. February 13, 1956) had met while at theshow and later formed a band called the Stiff Kittens; after placing an ad through a Manchester record store, they addedvocalist Ian Curtis (b. July 15, 1956) and drummer Steve Brotherdale. Renamed Warsaw (from David Bowie's "Warszawa"), theband made its live debut the following May, supporting the Buzzcocks and Penetration at Manchester's Electric Circus. Afterthe recording of several demos, Brotherdale quit the group in August 1977, prompting the hire of Stephen Morris (b. October28, 1957). A name change to Joy Division in late 1977 -- necessitated by the punk band Warsaw Pakt -- was inspired byKarol Cetinsky's World War II novel The House of Dolls. (In the book, the term "joy division" was used as slang forconcentration camp units wherein female inmates were forced to prostitute themselves for the enjoyment of Nazi soldiers..

Playing frequently in the north country during early 1978, the quartet gained the respect of several influential figures: RobGretton, a Manchester club DJ who became the group's manager; Tony Wilson, a TV/print journalist and owner of the FactoryRecords label; and Derek Branwood, a record executive with RCA Northwest, who recorded sessions in May 1978, for whatwas planned to be Joy Division's self-titled debut LP. Though several songs bounded with punk energy, the rest of the albumshowed at an early age the band's later trademarks: Curtis' themes of post-industrial restlessness and emotional despair,Hook's droning bass lines, and the jagged guitar riffs of Albrecht.

The album should have been hailed as a punk classic, but when a studio engineer added synthesizers to several tracks --believing that the punk movement had to move on and embrace new sounds -- Joy Division scrapped the entire LP. (TitledWarsaw for a 1982 bootleg, the album was finally given wide issue ten years later.) The first actual Joy Division release camein June 1978, when the initial mid-1977 demos were released as the EP An Ideal for Living, on the band's own Enigma label.Early in 1979, the buzz surrounding Joy Division increased with a session recorded for John Peel's BBC radio show.

The group began recording with producer Martin Hannett and released Unknown Pleasures on old friend Tony Wilson's Factorylabel in July 1979. The album enjoyed immense critical acclaim and a long stay on the U.K.'s independent charts. Encouragedby the punk buzz, the American Warner Bros. label offered a large distribution contract that fall. The band ignored it but didrecord another radio session for John Peel on November 26th. (Both sessions were later collected on the Peel Sessionsalbum..

During late 1979, Joy Division's manic live show gained many converts, partly due to rumors of Curtis' ill health. An epilepsysufferer, he was prone to breakdowns and seizures while on stage -- it soon grew difficult to distinguish the fits from hisusual on-stage jerkiness and manic behavior. As the live dates continued and the new decade approached, Curtis grewweaker and more prone to seizures. After a short rest over the Christmas holiday, Joy Division embarked on a European tourduring January, though several dates were cancelled because of Curtis. The group began recording its second LP after thetour ended (again with Hannett), and released "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in April. The single was again praised but failed tomove beyond the independent charts. After one gig in early May, the members of Joy Division were given two weeks of restbefore beginning the group's first U.S. tour. Two days before the scheduled flight, however, Curtis was found dead in hishome, the victim of a self-inflicted hanging.

Before Curtis' death, the band had agreed that Joy Division would cease to exist if any member left, for any reason. Ironicallythough, the summer of 1980 proved to be the blooming of the band's commercial status, when a re-release of "Love Will TearUs Apart" rose to number 13 on the British singles chart. In August, the release of Closer finally united critics' positivity withglowing sales, as the album peaked at number six. Before the end of the summer, Unknown Pleasures was charting as well.

By January of the following year, Hook, Morris, and Albrecht (now Bernard Sumner) had formed New Order, with Sumnertaking over vocal duties. Also in 1981, the posthumous release of Still -- including two sides of rare tracks and two of livesongs -- rose to number five on the British charts. As New Order's star began to shine during the '80s, the group had troubleescaping the long shadow of Curtis and Joy Division. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" charted for the third time in 1983, and 1988also proved a big year for the defunct band: the reissued single "Atmosphere" hit number 34 and a double-album compilationentitled Substance reached number seven in the album charts. Seven years later, the 15th anniversary of Curtis' death wasmemorialized with a new JD compilation (Permanent: Joy Division 1995), a tribute album (A Means to an End), and a biographyof his life (Touching From a Distance) written by his widow, Deborah Curtis. In 1999, the Factory label began a program ofconcert-performance reissues -- all overseen by the remainder of the original lineup -- with Preston Warehouse 28 February1980. « hide

Similar Bands: Echo And The Bunnymen, A Certain Ratio, New Order, The Durruti Column, Marquis de sade

LPs
Closer
1980

4.4
1,675 Votes
Unknown Pleasures
1979

4.4
2,087 Votes
EPs
An Ideal for Living
1978

3.6
108 Votes
Live Albums
Les Bains Douches 18 December 1979
2001

4.5
57 Votes
The Complete BBC Recordings
2000

4.4
45 Votes
Preston 28 February 1980
1999

3.9
31 Votes
Heart And Soul
1997

4.6
69 Votes
Compilations
The Best of Joy Division
2008

3.9
68 Votes
Permanent
1995

3.8
70 Votes
Warsaw
1994

3.6
22 Votes
The Peel Sessions
1990

4
55 Votes
Substance
1988

4.3
370 Votes
Still
1981

3.9
140 Votes

Contributors: Arcade, rockandmetaljunkie, Draven65, abumafoo, Matski, Willie, Apocalyptic Raids, Mikesn, Two-Headed Boy, morrissey, Electric City, Med57, tommygun, Ocean of Noise, Ethics, Graveyard, Matski, Meatplow,

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