Joy Division +- Review

Compilation. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A band of today sucked into a wormhole and spat out at the end of the 1970s.

Mike Diver 2010

Available as either a download (plus video content) or as a limited-edition vinyl box set, collecting 10 seven-inch singles and featuring art from Factory co-founder Peter Saville, +- is the perfect gift for your Joy Division-loving loved one this Christmas. Actually, scratch that – pick this up, and chances are you’ll want to keep it for yourself.

Granted, there’s nothing new here sounds-wise – but so well have several of these singles stood the test of time that their makers feel, more than ever before perhaps, like a band of today sucked into a wormhole and spat out at the end of the 1970s. Atmosphere can’t fail, 30 years after its original release, to set the skin electric and sink the heart a few inches lower – if it was to be the final song heard by the human race before its ransacking of the world’s natural riches reached a fiery climax, few would go down without a heavy smile. Little lines paint wonderful pictures: "Every corner… abandoned too soon." On the flip side, when the band’s wiry guitars stepped up the pace and Ian Curtis’ head began to wobble, the likes of She’s Lost Control and Komakino sound as on-trend in 2010 as they’ve ever been. These New Puritans, responsible for NME’s album of the year, are just one of today’s lauded outfits to have cribbed from Joy Division’s notebooks.

Joy Division were always a singles band first, an album artist second (though a disclaimer of sorts should be added: it’s not like they had the opportunity to add to their catalogue) – Love Will Tear Us Apart and Transmission did not feature on either of their studio LPs, 1979’s Unknown Pleasures and the following year’s Closer. So it makes sense that the greatest satisfaction (for fair-weather followers, at least) can be gleaned from collections such as this, rather than an album proper – and this is why there are so many sets similar in concept to +- already out there, with the last best of emerging just two years ago. But with Saville’s art and sleeve notes from Jon Savage, as well as previously unpublished interviews with band members, this might just be the best of the bunch. It’s a wonderfully packaged document, not that a new one was really needed, of a band that peaked and plummeted before many of those they would ultimately influence were even born.

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