Joy Division
Substance


5.0
classic

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
May 30th, 2007 | 30 replies | 16,343 views


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Substance is a perfect snapshot of the many directions of Joy Division, as well as a record of damn good songs.

Compilations can be pretty stupid. While most 'best of' type records aim to give a good snapshot of the band or artist in question, the majority of them turn out to be misrepresenting, not cohesive and generally worthless, not to mention the constant complaints from fans of the band/artist about missing tracks, length, track order, etc. In their careers, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris have certainly released their share of compilations. Most fans of New Order, however, will tell you that Substance is the only New Order compilation worth owning. Thankfully, the same is true for Joy Division; Substance, in all of its 17 tracks, provides the perfect snapshot of the all-too-short career of the post-punk legends.

There are arguably two ideal ways to properly understand Substance. Substance is a singles compilation of songs spanning the three-year recording career of Joy Division, so firstly, the compilation needs to be seen as a separate entity to the band's two full length records; not quite a 'best of' compilation, but not at all another album. This makes sense because while Substance contains very few tracks from either of the band's two near-perfect albums, it does contain some of their very best work. Secondly, Substance can be seen as a companion piece to the much bigger New Order compilation of the same name. While the Joy Division Substance is not in chronological order, it is fitting that the record closes with a song recorded in the band's last year of existence and the New Order Substance opens with "Ceremony", a very early New Order track that was actually, at one point, a Joy Division song (there are two Joy Division recordings of the song). The two records can either be seen as two separate snapshots of the careers of both bands, or as an exhaustive journey through the evolution of the musicians involved in both bands.

Although the songs don't appear in chronological order (at best, the order is a very rough chronological one), the evolution that occurs between the aggressive punk of opener "Warsaw" to the aptly titled "Atmosphere" takes the listener on a journey of the remarkably fast progression of the constantly changing band over its short career. Perhaps what's most interesting about each song is the way that in almost every instance, the band retain their core sound of Peter Hook's dominant bass guitar, Bernard Sumner's spiky electric guitar, Stephen Morris' human metronome drumming and Curtis' bleak vocal delivery. Although there are varying changes both stylistically and texturally, these elements are rarely absent.

Although an entirely different experience from either Joy Division album, Substance is a perfectly ordered compilation with nothing but amazing singles filling up its 60+ minute running time. As an introduction to the band's career, Substance works well, though perhaps not as well either of the band's full length albums. As it is, however, Substance is a perfect addition to the collection of the (casual or otherwise) Joy Division fan and completely essential to anyone with any interest in the musical journey of the band or any of its members.

Pros
Very well ordered
Great mix of different points in their career
Nothing but amazing songs

Cons
None

Recommended Tracks
Warsaw
Atmosphere
Love Will Tear Us Apart

Final Rating: 5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AlienEater
May 30th 2007


716 Comments


Joy Division are so good


Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2007


15737 Comments


Yes, finally, I've been waiting for this review. Glad that you did it Bread. A great band indeed, and there are good songs on this compilation.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Jom
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2007


2675 Comments


Great job, br3ady.

MeowMeow
May 30th 2007


662 Comments


I still haven't gotten around to listening to Joy Division yet. I think I might start with this.

astrel
May 30th 2007


2614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Everybody should be forced to listen to this. Who could possibly hate Transmission and Atmosphere?

The Jungler
May 30th 2007


4827 Comments


I saw this at the store and contemplated picking it up, but I then decided against it. I really need Closer.
Great review as always.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
May 31st 2007


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think the progression of buying should go;

Unknown Pleasures > Closer > Substance

So basically chronologically. Those three are the essential Joy Division releases, imo.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2007


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This gets rid of a lot of the bad JD songs and makes them likable for a whole record. I do like it quite a bit.

DeadToPain
May 31st 2007


694 Comments


everyone needs "she's lost control" followed by "incubation". you just can't go wrong. i love this album and unknown pleasures. closer bores me a bit sometimes.

MeowMeow
June 1st 2007


662 Comments


Listened to this a couple times. It's aight. It might grow on me, but some parts just bore the living hell out of me. "Dead Souls" and "She's Lost Control" are ace, though.

Two-Headed Boy
July 1st 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damnit, when did you review this? :upset:

Anyway, this is a'ight. I'd rather listen to either UP or Closer, though. Probably because I grew up with those two and I'm biased as hell.

Nuvo
November 23rd 2008


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I watched control for the fist time and then i knew i had to get the best of

HUMGUY009
December 12th 2008


35 Comments


I thought the song "Something Must Break" was on this album, which is my favorte song by Joy Division.

MassiveAttack
September 11th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Isn't this supposed to be by New Order; nevermind!

Roach
September 11th 2009


2148 Comments



Isn't this supposed to be by New Order; nevermind!


Nope.

MassiveAttack
September 11th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just noticed they released Substance 1987 to differentiate their other album with Joy Division called Substance. Got confused!

charlesfishowitz
September 11th 2009


1794 Comments


i do not get this joke

MassiveAttack
September 11th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not being sarcastic or anything:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_%28New_Order_album%29

read the first paragraph up top, its good for you.

charlesfishowitz
September 11th 2009


1794 Comments


worst inside joke ever

MassiveAttack
September 11th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lame.



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