Friday, November 02, 2007

Joy Division Mid-Life Crisis Terror

I don't think I've suffered from a mid life crisis - because, really I spend most of my time slumped on the couch playing video games and watching TV, so there's not much to have a crisis about really, it's not like I ever took on any responsibilities - but I have noticed some moments of quite uncomfortable nostalgia recently, generally connected with music. The advent of youtube has been very bad for this.

I get an urge, for instance, to see what Joy Division there is on youtube, and watch Transmission, a single I bought in 1979, and still have, in its picture sleeve. I go on to watch them play a few more tracks from their first album, ending up watching Atmosphere by which time I am fairly gloomy, and wondering where the last 27 years went. Sigh.

What personal memories can I dredge up about Joy Division?

→ The NME wrote a glowing live revue, which I read in 1979, and went to see them, in the YMCA in Tottenham Court Road, London. This was before their first album was released. It was a brilliant gig, being one of the few times I've ever been really impressed by a band live, before hearing their music on record. They were so powerful, even if you'd never heard any of their songs before. Ian Curtis was a very strange figure onstage, with his odd hand movements, like he was having fits.

→ I saw A Certain Ration at the same venue, but I can't remember if it was the same gig as Joy Division, or a different night.

→ When the first Joy Division album came out, a few weeks later, I rushed to buy it. It was on sale cheap in Virgin records, for some reason.

→ At the same time I bought the first Joy Division record, I bought an album by The Swell Maps. I think I played that once, and never listened to it again.

→ I bought my copy of the single Transmission in the original Rough Trade Shop, in Portobello Road. I used to go there a lot.

→ One time John Peel abandoned - or at least threatened to abandon - his voter's choice top fifty songs because everyone kept voting for Atmosphere. And about 1980-81, all the new bands on the John Peel show sounded something like Joy Division.

→ It was a surprise that Love Will Tear Us Apart was quite a big hit at the time, and it felt good that it was successful, but rather sad at the same time, with Ian Curtis having committed suicide not long before.

→ After Ian Curtis died, and the band reformed themselves as New Order, I went to see one of their earliest gigs. I have some notion that it might have been their first gig, but that seems unlikely, somehow. Maybe it was their first gig in London. Anyway, it was good, but it wasn't the same, of course.


  1. You know what. I've noticed a resurgence of interest in Joy Division myself, recently. Not that it's media manipulated or anything....

  2. Re Curtis's odd hand movemnts - he probably WAS having seizures. He had epilepsy and the medication he took to control his seizures triggered his depression...

  3. germaine2:50 am

    you may or may not know about the joy division movie. here's a link to a