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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Joy Division - Still

Released : 8 October 1981
Recorded : 1978–1980
Genre : Post-punk
Length : 79:13
Label : Factory
Producer : Martin Hannett

Ian Curtis' death prompted a flood of bootlegs and similar "tributes," likely motivated more by profit than anything else. Seeking to trump this problem -- though arguably coming from much the same standpoint -- Factory issued Still in 1981, a haphazard if still useful collection of odds, ends, and more. Considering that the band's many singles weren't properly compiled until much later on Substance, Still makes only partial sense -- the studio cuts were mostly outtakes, while the live songs had their own problems. Of the studio takes, only two tracks had seen formal release beforehand -- the mesmerizing post-punk meets R&B groove of "Glass" and the searing "Dead Souls," certainly both worthy of even more listens. Beyond that, things were more hit and miss, with strong instrumental performances given to slightly indifferent songs and vice versa. The anthemic "Something Must Break" is one of the best, while the nervous "Ice Age" is an agreeable enough thrash and "The Only Mistake" a melodramatic but still effective effort. Other numbers like "The Sound of Music" and the heavily compressed pound of "Walked in Line" sound more like sketches on the way to becoming truly great songs. A live ringer concludes the studio half, a fair enough take on the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" (at under half the length) which concludes with Curtis' wry joke, "You should hear our version of 'Louie, Louie'!" The remainder of Still is a rather morbid gift for fans -- a middling recording of the final Joy Division show, mere days before Curtis' death. A fierce, invigorating rip through "Ceremony," formally recorded later as New Order's first single, suffers from Curtis' vocal going missing at the start, while the remainder of the show finds the singer either too detached or too harsh, the other musicians doing an OK but not great job themselves. The takes on "New Dawn Fades" and "Decades" in particular tarnish rather than enhance Joy Division's memory.

Tracks

1. Exercise One
2. Ice Age
3. The Sound Of Music
4. Glass
5. The Only Mistake
6. Walked In Line
7. The Kill
8. Something Must Break
9. Dead Souls
10.Sister Ray
11.Ceremony
12.Shadow Play
13.Means To An End
14.Passover
15.New Dawn Fades
16.Transmission
17.Disorder
18.Isolation
19.Decades
20.Digital


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