Still is one of those records which is like a pack of cigarettes - you'll only ever try it for the first time in your teens, and you won't like it much at first, but there's something about it which will make you persevere. And one day (still in your teens, most likely) you'll stand back and think, 'by George, this is one holy record!'. More to the point, you'll think Joy Division were one holy band, which they were. (I should point out to any happyclappers who may be reading, that this is holy only to the gods of Rock 'N' Roll - Cat Stevens this is NOT). While it is an odd patchwork of out-takes, b-sides and live material, Still gives a better view of what Joy Division were than either of their studio albums (though their singles, notably, which never appeared on albums, were generally far better recorded and available on CD). I bought Still (as a teenager, of course) before I bought the others, so perhaps it conditioned me, but I still like it the most. The first half (originally one LP of a double album) is largely out-takes; some, like 'Exercise One' and 'Walked in Line' are close relatives to the three minute punk rock song to which the band grew up, although the subject matter (when you can decipher it) is always more cerebral than anything the Pistols or the Stranglers ever mustered. The fact that Curtis's vocals are so often buried adds to the band's mystique - there are no lyric sheets, his voice sounds portentous, and the lyrics you can make out are pretty good, so you figure the rest must be worth perservering with. The second half is a live recording of band's last outing, at Birmingham University, before Curtis' sad suicide. The band has a terrific live sound; you realise here how essential Peter Hook's bass was to the Joy Division sound. Hook provides the melody, underpinned by Steve Morris' drums, while Bernard Sumner's guitar really only adds stinging and swirling textures. This wasn't the way the punk bands (or any other rock 'n' roll band for that matter) ever worked. Curtis' vocals live are much stronger and more audible(except in ceremony where the clot on the mixing desk forgot to push up the faders until half way into the song!) than on the albums and the band sounds more cohesive than it ever did in the studio (despite a couple of howler errors - Sumner missing completely a critical chord in 'New Dawn Fades'). Joy Division really made me wonder. How a bunch of school leavers from Macclesfield could come up with music which sounded so different to anything else, and so important, is something I've never quite understood. To cap it off the mystique there's the inscrutabe cover. No band photos, no names, just the product. Naysayers will complain that Joy Division were a humourless and moribund lot, but that misses the point. This is beautiful, haunted music. If you want fun, buy a Spice Girls CD. For a journey into the Heart of Darkness, 'Still' is as good a place as any to buy your ticket.
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Olly Buxton (ElectricRay)
Sep 26, 2009
Dec 22, 2010 09:37 PM UTC
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2007 digitally remastered and expanded two CD edition of the influential Manchester quartet's 1981 posthumous compilation album. Joy Division's influence on modern music is not only based around the band's unique sound, but also their vision, their personalities and their intense and troubled vocalist, Ian Curtis who committed suicide on the eve of their first tour of the U.S. Disc One features the original album containing 20 tracks including live and previously unreleased studio tracks. Disc Two features 14 tracks recorded live at High Wycombe Town Hall in February of 1980. Rhino UK.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.