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Joy Division – Heart and Soul

30 07 2010

Listened: Friday July 16, Monday July 26

Since high school I’ve always loved Love Will Tear Us Apart, but I didn’t dig deeply into Joy Division for many years. I bought a best-of CD at one point, but I didn’t really “get it.”

Then I saw Anton Corbijn’s Control and everything changed. Anton Corbijn is a great rock photographer whose work I have loved for a long time. He’s most famous for pictures of U2 (the cover of Joshua Tree for example) and was close friends with Joy Division and the many people from that scene back in the day. Therefore, the film (his first feature, believe it or not!) is really a labor of love, due to Corbijn’s familiarity with the people and the music. It’s a brilliant film that shot me right into the heart of the time period and the story. The actors playing the band members even learned to play together as a band, which blows my mind a little.

After I saw the film I got Joy Division – the energy of their shows, the bleak beauty of their surroundings, the hotbed of creativity and influence coming from that part of England at the time, the medical struggles, the relationship problems, the wealth of creative output that was snuffed out when Ian Curtis took his life. Control helped me live through all this as if it happened yesterday. The incredibly appropriate use of Atmosphere for the end credits sequence will stay with me for a long, long time.

After I saw the film, I wanted to own as much Joy Division as I could, and this 4 disc box set contains all the officially released albums and b-sides, as well as some unreleased and live stuff. Listening to all 4 discs straight is a bit taxing, but well worth the time. It’s clear how much this short-lived band influenced much of alternative rock to come – until I heard their whole catalog I didn’t realize how much Joy Division influenced early U2.

This was definitely a game changer in my musical landscape and I suspect those kinds of events are becoming farther and farther apart in my life, so it’s always great to realize it’s happened.

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Badly Drawn Boy – Have You Fed the Fish?

30 07 2010

Listened: Friday July 16

Badly Drawn Boy sounds like he’s been plucked out of the 1970s and thrust into the 21st century. He sounds like Nilsson or most of solo John Lennon. He doesn’t write anthems, or even really stories, just mellow grooves. Supposedly one of his heroes is Bruce Springsteen, but I don’t hear his influence at all.

I think I let Have You Fed the Fish go too soon – it’s actually quite good and I should go back to it more often.