Joy Division - The Best Of

This is a great introduction to Joy Division before tackling the studio albums.

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With only a small back catalogue, Joy Division aren’t quite what you’d consider a ‘best of’ band, especially when said back catalogue is so critically acclaimed. Perhaps trying to prolong the success of the film ‘Control’, this is a consummate ‘best of’ with everything you could wish for to further an interest in the band. The fourteen tracks are taken from the obvious albums, with ‘Unknown Pleasures’ clocking up six numbers. Disc Two is a wonderful compilation of John Peel sessions, Something Else recordings, and an all too short interview conducted by Richard Skinner with Ian Curtis and Stephen Morris. These extras are enough to please hardcore fans that are looking for something more to own outside of the band’s scant collection.

The usual suspects are present, opener ‘Digital’ setting the intense pace for the rest of the compilation, the brooding and instant ‘Transmission’, (with the ever familiar ‘dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio’ chant) and the paranoid ‘She’s Lost Control’. The seminal ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is strategically nestled into the middle of the album, blending seamlessly with the other songs, proving they aren’t a ‘one song band’ as so often the nay sayers try to argue. The release of this best of serves to remind us that over thirty years after their formation, Joy Division are a band you can lose yourself in, within their dark, (ever-so dark) fables of love and madness. The industrial and frantic beats of tracks like ‘Shadowplay’, or the more tender entrancing style of ‘Insight’, reach musical emotionality and enchantment that young pretenders could only dream of. Only a handful of bands can achieve timelessness, but these songs still stand up to repeat plays, capturing the haunting beauty which has never lessened over the years. Ian Curtis’ mindset is one of confusion and complexity, and he is still considered one of the greatest British front men of all time. His performances were introverted and mesmerizing, the palpability of which can be felt in the live tracks featured in this collection. They send shivers down your spine, and just to think what he could have gone on to achieve. Perhaps it doesn’t bear thinking about, especially when in his short lifetime he created such brilliance which is still called upon as influential today.

Although ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ are excellently self-contained albums which have stood the test of time, this is a great introduction to Joy Division before tackling the studio albums. If you are a newcomer, and enjoy the likes of Interpol, or the Editors, then Joy Division will show you where that cerebral contemplativeness started. It is however, also a great way to get back into them with the additional CD of live treasures. Joy Division have an endurance and incomparable style which no other band has yet come near to imitating successfully.

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