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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

now raging: joy division's "still"

i've written before about how much i like joy division/new order and how important i think they are to modern rock music...

since that time i've

1) listened some more to joy division's two albums- both acknowledged masterpieces- "uknown pleasures" and "closer".... this has done nothing but confirm and strengthen my conviction that joy division was light years ahead of the rest....their music to these ears sounds like it could be recorded today and it would still sound fresh... what can i say? they had a distinct sound and its still that way today..

2) finally, and after the strong recommendations of friends saw the movie 24 hour party people which is a movie about tony wilson the founder of factory records... i found the first half of the movie interesting.. and some segments of the second half also.. but overall i found it to be a pretty lame hollywoodized version of things.. the best thing about the movie was the whole new order/joy division/ian curtis/martis hannett (Producer)/rob gretton(new order manager) angle.. the story behind the founding of the factory club itself, even the first part of the hacienda... what emerges from the movie and i have little reason to doubt its veracity is a story of a band upon whose back tony wilson built his own empire... albeit with a nice utopian sociliastic bent.. but the reality is that for all the "we will all take the profits equally" etc its clear that tony wilson's salary and the recording sessions of lesser factory bands (i think a certain ratio is mocked to the hilt... i think its acr) and artists and even the happy mondays excursion to the carribbean to record were financed by new order.. my main problem with the film i guess is the way it does not ask the tough questions about what tony wilson was doing with the finances.. rather it seemingly explains it away with a single line about how the hacienda club couldn't make money because they did not sell drugs and the kids taking ecstacy would not consume drinks cause ecstacy and drinking alcohol don't go together.... what about water?.. in any case, eventually the factory empire collapses... of course certain things about factory are nice: the anti corporate bent.. the lack of contracts. the fact the artists control their own masters etc... but in the case of my favorite band new order it really does seem a case of them being paying for the livelihoods of undistinguished peers such as crispy ambulance.... finally, the second half of the movie devolves into the typical rock film with the happy mondays being kings of excess and drugs and naked woman and all that jive which once you've been around the block becomes a bit boring.. the madchester scene is not described effectively. there is only one view of stone roses.. true they were not on factory but they were the bigger band..far bigger than happy mondays.. and even primal scream's screamadelica which was critical for the rave scene gets nary a mention....(peter hook of new order by the way produced the stone roses elephant stone i believe).... anyways, to make a long story short: interesting movie but falls a part a bit in my eyes and ends up being a cliched movie about rock excess as if in a last minute attempt to conform to the formula..

3) i bought the original factory 40 release of joy division's still..a double lp with one lp featuring largely outtakes and unreleased tracks (plus sister ray with the humorous ian curtis line at the end "you should hear us do louie louie" or some such)... but the other lp is the goods for me.. a show by joy division on may 2 recorded at birmingham university or some such... it begins with the only recorded version of joy division performing the soon to be masterpiece by new order "ceremony"..one of my favorite joy division/new order songs.oh there are so many.. the whole concert in my opinion (and i differ with the allmusic guide which argues some of the performances take away from the joy division legacy) kicks it.. the rumbling peter hook bass and angular jagged bernard albrecht nay sumner guitar lines (far more primal on the live recording here of say transmission than on the studio version).. the monochromatic drums (i love the part in the 24 hour party people were they show how martin hannett had morris play the drums on the roof for hours and recorded him that way to get the strange sound which i see posters around dc of bands hoping to ape in 2005 "band seeeks drummer influences joy division/new order"...but back to the story: and above it all ian curtis' about as urgent as they get vocals... the concert was may 2 1980.. may 18 1980 ian curtis was dead.... just about a quarter of a century has gone by but joy division are STILL on top

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