on 16 August 2011
This review is for the customer who wondered if there was any big audio upgrade in the latest (and double) CD of 'Closer'. I am aware that it was quite a while ago, when you added your comment to one of the customer reviews. You may well have bought the thing by now.
I shall leave the emotional impressions and memories to others on this occasion. Your reviews are all valid, but Robespierre's question needs answering.
I HAVE just bought the 2CD 'Closer'(cheaply and second-hand). Until I bought the 'Heart And Soul' box around 2000, I had not owned any Joy Division on CD (I am fifty. I bought the original LPs/singles). The box set was just getting less expensive. I think it was given a cheaper reissue at about this time, so the price on the 1997 version took a dip as well. It was this one I bought.
I have just done a side-by-side comparison between the latest 'Closer' and the box set rendition of the same album. Quite revealing, but not for the right reasons. Though a medium-quality hi-fi (using speakers) I find no detectable differences. On headphones (a decent Sennheiser set) I notice maybe a TINY low end boost, very subtle indeed, as it does not change the general sound. This is of course a good thing. There has been no attempt to turn up the volume on this new version. The levels on meters are nigh-on identical. Most pleasingly, the new mastering has not fallen into that 'compress everything' mentality that has blighted many recent remasters (Rolling Stones label Universal remasters - no thanks - I completed my collection with second-hand 90's Virgin remasters). Do however turn the volume down a bit before playing the live disc (or don't). It is LOUD in that way most modern CDs are. Fair play though. As a cassette recording it has no real dynamic range.
One star off for not realeasing the live disc separately, as with 'Preston' and the great 'Les Bains-Douches' CD.
It would seem that the late 90s/2000 Joy Division remasters were done well enough that no major changes have been made. Do not bother, unless you are after the ULU concert disc. Turn up your bass control a tiny bit, if you wish to replicate the only noticeable difference. You won't notice much. Their records were never very bassy anyway.
on 10 September 2001
When i first listened to this album, i spent days with songs like Atrocity Exhibition and Heart And Soul playing on repeat. The music is so well crafted, the lyrics are unbelievable and ian curtis' delivers the whole thing off in a way that is impossible for you not to feel emotionally charged. The change from their early days is evident and i personally feel that it is a change for the better. Sumner's use of synthesizers is atmospheric and Hook's bass playing gets beyond playing chords. The drumming from Morris is tight and gives each song a greater edge. Hell i love all the albums but this is just pure genius... not just by Curtis but by the whole band
The best album of the 80s by far.
This is probably my favourite album ever made. It's simply beautiful. Recorded shortly before Ian Curtis' suicide in May 1980 - and ironically turning him into an icon to this day - it features the best work Joy Division ever made in this form. New Order, much as they tried, never quite measured up, even twenty-six years later.
Greatly assisted by the genius of Martin Hannett and his breathtaking production, the band are on fine, fatalistic form. Ian Curtis is at his lyrical best, especially on the closer, 'Decades,' but the real star here is Bernard Sumner. Always an underrated guitar player, (check out the messy solos on early Warsaw tune 'Failures') on this album he unleashes screeches, stabs of pure noise and wiry single note lines over the top of Peter Hook's ever-chiming bass. He also does a sterling job sitting at the keyboard, playing the album out with his wistful yet heartbreaking line in 'Decades' closing passage.
This is an extraordinary, exceptional album that's simultaneously depressing due to its circumstance and uplifting due to its beauty. Any New Order fan, or indeed any fan of music, is missing out if they don't purchase this astonishing, chilling example of why Ian Curtis is still missed.
on 1 October 2007
Whereas Unknown Pleasures was intensely, unremittingly deep and heavy, Closer is more glacial, as though a savage black depression had moved on to the acceptance of suicide. It's hard to view this album in any way other than in the light of Ian Curtis' subsequent death, mere weeks after its recording and before its actual release. Like Nirvana Unplugged, there is a sepulchral, elegantly funereal quality that only makes the album even more poignant. Right from the wonderful cover, the album seems like a sad farewell.
Joy Division meanwhile had progressed musically. They might have started out as an edgy punk band "Warsaw", but their two studio albums show great artistry. Closer shows them working with greater dissonance, disjointed rhythms and broadening their music range, all to great effect.
The opener "Atrocity Exhibition" displays all these features in miniature. The drums keep a lopsided rhythm, the bass follows suit, the guitar plays not chords but fractured electric shards, and the lyrics, from JG Ballard, evoke the darker side of humanity's curiosity. "Isolation" in contrast opens with a surging bass riff, over which a cold synthesiser plays a haunting melody. It's a distant cousin of "Transmission" but very much its own song and really shows how Joy Division have moved on from Unknown Pleasures. "A Means To End" meanwhile is based on a descending bass riff, the lyrics and voice so disconsolate - "I put my trust in you". Though the obvious implication is of betrayal, there's no anger, just resignation, which only adds to the impact of the song. "The Eternal" seems the emotional centrepiece of the album, a slow, processional, dirge-like song that never bores the listener because of its stark monochrome simpicity and the emotional directness of the lyrics. "Procession moves on, the shouting is over" - again there's the feeling that all is over, of farewell. It is utterly affecting.
This is music as high art. While the material can be bleak, the truths it speaks are undeniable, and the honesty, passion, seriousness and invention of all four musicians combine to overwhelming effect. If you are a music fan, please invest your time in this album. It will repay you many times over.
on 3 January 2000
Despite their primitive sound, Joy Division were always perfect. They created bleak, austere slices of suffering that reflected a band utterly committed to a post-punk aesthetic of artistic salvation. Closer, their finest forty-five minutes, is simultaneously depressing and uplifting, creating an emotional no-man's land that leaves you feeling empty but enlightened.
The music works by creating simple and nagging melodic lines that dig into your subconscious and remain there like splinters. Each note and drum strike is played with absolute conviction as Ian Curtis half-sings/half-talks over the top with his tales of loneliness and suffering, tempered by a belief in salvation ("If you could just see the beauty/There's things I could never describe").
Some of the band's best songs are here. 'Isolation' manages to sound positive despite its theme of dejection. 'Heart and Soul' is hauntingly beautiful. 'Decades' closes the album perfectly with its glassy keyboard line and solemn vocal delivery. Each song acts as a hymn - a religious exorcism of darkness that leaves nothing but a stark white light in its wake.
It's difficult to find a time to actually 'enjoy' Joy Division, but there's a poetry, purity, beauty and sadness to 'Closer' that is incredibly compelling. Overlook at your peril.
on 29 January 2007
there's no escaping the fact that joy division were serious, very serious. the fact that ian curtis was suffering his own personal problems can be felt through the songs on this album. maybe through his music he was able to express just how he felt to others. this album was released not long after curtis death, and was imbued with all that surrounded his suicide. it's a testament to the remaining members that they were able to carry on as a group after this. anyway the music and lyrics are beautifully crafted, and the production make this album sound like it could have been recorded last week. there's always songs that you'll like better than others, but there aren't any fillers on this album. its just not that sort of album. it all fits together like the pieces of a jigsaw, and wouldn't be the same if it was ever re-issued with bonus tracks. as it turns out it was joy division's finest hour. who knows what might of happened.........
on 5 April 2013
Joy Division's eternal masterpiece. Claustrophobic, very sad, yet hauntingly beautiful with agonisingly self aware lyrics from a young man in his early 20's (much like the lyrics of that other doomed young genius Nick Drake) who knows he is not going to make it:
"Mother I tried please believe me,
I'm doing the best that I can
I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through
I'm ashamed of the person I am"
"This is a crisis, I knew had to come
Destroying the balance I'd kept"
"Can I go on with this train of events?
Disturbing and purging my mind
Back out of my duties when all's said and done
I know that I'll lose every time"
"Cry like a child, though these years make me older
With children my time is so wastefully spent"
"Existence, well, what does it matter
I exist on the best terms I can
The past is now part of my future
The present is well out of hand"
The superb music mirrors Curtis's troubled mind - it is spare and futuristic, sometimes tortured (Atrocity Exhibition), sometimes wistful and sad (on The Eternal) and sometimes seems to be yearning for another world (Decades). It is about as far from rock and roll as you can get.
Ian's girlfriend Annik (part of Ian's troubles no doubt as his affair with her was a major factor in the breakdown of his marriage)was discussing Closer with Tony Wilson before Ian died. Annik thought that Ian meant every word he was saying and that it was in effect a suicide note. Tony Wilson's point of view was that it was "art" and that Ian did not mean what he said. If only Tony had been right. And yet at the same time Ian has left us with one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful and brilliant albums ever which he probably couldn't have achieved if he wasn't on the brink. A paradox. And a terrible beauty indeed.
on 28 October 2004
If we measure the greatness of art in terms of inventiveness, innovation and insight then Joy Division hit the mark. At a time when the north of England was producting bands who actually took rock as a musical form to somewhere new, Joy Division stand out as the most innovative. Their music is paradoxical and mysterious. It is hard-edged and brutal, yet also beautiful and shimmering. Lyrically, there is no denying that the songs on this album are often pretentious. Curtis's voice is also pretty non-musical, but that is part of what actually makes them as a band. Let's hope Manchester musicians look to the likes of this for inspiration and attempt, like Joy Division, to do something genuinely creative, rather than the jaded re-hashing of the past we get from bands like Oasis.
on 11 December 2004
Possibly the darkest album in the history of rock 'n' roll. This album actually changed my life (and will change others); saw things from a different perspective, became increasingly worried about the number of mindless pretenders that leach around the charts EVERYWHERE. This record rises above all pretense; a leash into the world of neo-dark and yes, gothic territory ('24 Hours' is 'blacker than black') to the extent that you will do well to get through this record. The album retains all the bass-laden elements that made 'Unknown Pleasures' such a moving masterwork. However, there are also clear differences. The presence of synthesisers on 'Isolation' and, particularly 'Decades', point to the New Order (dance rhythms + dark underpinnings) continuation of the latter part of the 80s. If you like anything by the Smashing Pumpkins you will find where they got their primary influence from (they covered 'Isolation' and 'Transmission' as part of their work). However, above everything else, 'Closer' is a flawless masterpiece (still yet to be beaten.) Marilyn Manson, eat your heart out !!!
on 13 March 2015
All right, so I shouldn't go buying stuff off the www without my reading spectacles on, 'my bad' as I've heard one or two of the younger set saying, with no regard for grammar, of late, one of these awful Americanisms that have been insidiously nibbling away at our 'so-called' 'mother tongue' these last what? fifty-sixty years or so, but come on. Never have I been so taken aback, nay, shocked, as in 1000 volts of electricity sent through my already enfeebled system.
You see, poor as my eyesight is, and silly as it must seem to those of you fortunate enough to have 20-20 vision, not to mention a greater knowledge of 'modern' 'popular' music than me, I thought this was a Roy Orbison record. You know, one of those greatest hit collections or something. I could make out the title, 'Closer', which seemed perfectly in keeping with the Orb's oeuvre, while the picture was nought but a blur, but where it said Joy I saw Roy, where Division, Orbison. Oh, my son, Cleanth, thought it a great joke, but not so much my friend Frank, for whom it was a belated birthday present, he having been in the hostipal following a prolonged period of trauma following a certain event I don't wish to get into here if you don't mind.
Thus instead of 'Pretty Woman' or something to pick him up, what Frank got was 'Atrocity Exhibition', as he sat there in his lean-to conservatory in sky-blue pyjamas and brown plaid dressing gown. Meine Goth, it was as if someone had chucked fish bits all over the poor feller and then let sea gulls in. Music, and I've heard myself now don't worry, as a sort of penance, that sounds as if it was recorded in a lead-lined cell deep in a Siberian salt mine by a band comprising a seriously-ill alien, a schizophrenic serial-killer, an amphetamine-addled steelworker and a fourth equally disturbing figure. There follow 'songs' with titles such as 'Isolation', not a subject we older folk particular want to discuss, never mind hear some bloke 'singing' about, with lyrics like, 'Existence well what does it matter?' and 'This is a crisis I knew had to come, destroying the balance I kept,' and 'I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through, I'm ashamed of the person I am'! I mean come on! What's wrong with 'Crying' or 'In Dreams' or even that one the lesbian did!? (dk lang - not the psychologist).
This was almost the last straw for my friend Frank and should certainly be avoided unless you're already mad!