33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2000
If there is one band I keep on returning to after all these years-it is this one, Joy Division. You know how you get bored with most of your collection? Not so with Joy Division. It is still an occasion when a Joy Division track plays, it is music which you listen to with all of your mind, it takes you away from the present and you get absorbed into the stunning drum and bass interplay. No one has matched the pulse of this music - it is different, masterfull, evocative and above all it still remains fresh and immediate. Buy this - it is an essential to any collection. Joy Division will be a key reference band for many years to come.
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2004
With the success of New Order's singles compilation Substance in 1987, it was a welcome relief that one for Joy Division was released a year later. Confusingly, both shared the same name. Joys Divisions Substance became the home for the bands long out of print singles which demonstrated that the band could bring the same energy to the more focused "7 or "12 released that they did on an album. Though the earliest tracks like "Warsaw" and "Leaders of Men" were the most punk orientated songs the band ever cut to disc and do stand out as being some what out of place. However, they do show how quickly the band found their sound and quickly got into the groove by producing some memorable sides that by the time they released Digital and Autosuggestion, it was perfectly apparent. All of the songs were brilliantly recorded by their producer, Martin Hannett. The cold clear sounds of CD gives it a very cold feel that only adds to the sound the band were trying to produce. By the time of the final singles, Joy Division were beginning to produce some of the greatest "7's ever recorded. Even though not to everyone's taste, Atmosphere and Dead Souls demand to be heard and then there is their swan song. Love Will Tear Us Apart, the song that the band will always be associated with is a portrait of love and connection endlessly turning in on itself to destruction. The melody is beautiful and this is one of the great lyrics. If anyone says that popular music lyrics and stupid and irrelevant, show them this. A true masterpiece. It is just a shame that they never got to go further due to the death of their lead singer Ian Curtis. Would they have ended up sounding like New Order anyway, we will never know. The CD edition also included the B-sides. This collection is essential and it is unfortunate that they never achieved success in their life time. A must buy for any music fan.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Perfecly complementing their two essential studio albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, this expanded compilation re-issue rounds up their legendary singles, including Transmission/Novelty, Love Will Tear Us Apart/These Days and Atmosphere/She's Lost Control, none of which appeared on the albums and are rightly regarded as among their greatest works.
Substance also contains their first release in full, the EP An Ideal For Living (recorded in December 1977 at the point when they changed their name from Warsaw, but only released privately by the band in a limited edition the following summer); two tracks they recorded for the EP A Factory Sample (their first work with producer Martin Hannett); both sides of a freebie flexi-disc single (Komakino/Incubation); a French B-side (Dead Souls) and two outtakes from the Unknown Pleasures sessions.
This is not a complete round-up but in its more complete CD edition will probably satisfy the less obsessive Joy Division audience.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2002
You don't 'enjoy' Joy Division. You admire and respect them. They're a bit like Orwell's 1984 - artistically accomplished but darker than the night. They are possibly the greatest band lyrically ever - the lyrics stalk and haunt you and are all the more chilling seeing as they were essentially the overture to Ian Curtis's suicide. Every song on here is enough to give you nightmares and make you feel decidedly uncomfortable - a very difficult thing to accomplish. The only really disappointing thing on here is the inferior version of the classic 'She's lost control.' 'Love will tear us apart' is simply perfect - the culmination of Joy Division's potential, and quite possibly the greatest song of the 20st century. Every song has merit, with it's trademark rhythmic drum or guitar riff driving the inevitably suicidal lyrics and exquistite intrumental work. Had Curtis not killed himself, they would have gone on to be stronger and stronger - they were cut short at their prime, but this record showcases the best of their melancholy beauty.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2003
"Substance" is a collection of Joy Division material not included on the now landmark LPs "Unknown Pleasures" & "Closer". It is the album that got me interested in the band, so I would recommend it to anyone for their first purchase. It is amazing to learn that these songs were only available on EPs & singles for eight years, when one could argue it is the groups best work. Standout tracks include "Digital", "Transmission" and "Dead Souls". The album also treats the listener to the hit single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which has made the top 20 3 separate times. The "golden track" on this collection is "Atmosphere". After listening to the rest of the LP and the two original albums, "Atmosphere" stands alone as the only Joy Division song to sound peaceful. Lyrics aside the sweeping keyboards and crooning vocals sound like nothing else the band wrote. Essentail stuff, the album to buy for Joy Division's most accessable songs.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Substance is an interesting compilation that ignores Closer and most of Unknown Pleasures, instead mopping up the EPs and singles released by the band in between, right down to the posthumous Komakino. It makes for a fine listen.
While the band's true genius is essentially absent without Day Of The Lords and the songs from Closer, the music here is still predominantly great. The songs under the earlier, punkier guise as Warsaw are raw, scratchy and thrilling, especially the selt-titled opener which has recently made its way back into New Order's setlists. Also present is a slightly different edit of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart,' the glimmer of hope in a coal-black body of work that is 'Transmission,' and the wondrous 'Atmosphere,' one of the more heartbreaking songs of their canon.
This is a sensibly compiled disc, around 65 minutes of songs which are a good example of the band we know and love. While the recent Heart And Soul box set feels like pillage and overkill, this compilation is more abbreviated and ultimately better off album, a fine companion piece to the band's two studio albums.
on 17 July 2014
Substance was originally released as a 10 track LP in 1988 as a singles/EP/compilation tracks collection and then expanded on CD to include the final 7 tracks as an "appendix". The songs themselves are brilliant, but it's perhaps time Substance was updated or a new compilation took its place. Here's a few reasons why:
"Dead Souls" and the 12" version of "She's Lost Control" - two of JD's greatest songs - run faster and are at a slightly higher pitch than they should. Certain tech-savvy fans have sorted these and other tracks with the same issue ("Colony", "Walked In Line") out and shared them online. This means that there are better quality versions on bootlegs than the official releases, which is a strange situation given how much the JD legacy has been milked over the last few years.
The appendix really ruins the flow for me. It's a big jolt to go from the elegiac desolation of "Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" to the rough-and-ready post-punk of "No Love Lost" and "Failures".
It's incomplete. "At a Later Date and "As You Said" aren't on here. Neither is the b-side version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", which was also inexplicably left off the Heart & Soul box set. Perhaps most importantly, there's is no "Ceremony" or "In a Lonely Place". Granted, they are only rehearsal tracks, but they would, according to Stephen Morris, have formed the next single. I think that a new compilation with the studio sides of 1981 comp Still, Substance, the tracks mentioned above and other more recent finds, such as the untitled instrumental and "Pictures In My Mind", would be really great. However, like the currently fought-over Unknown Pleasures outtakes and the tape of alternate Closer takes Hooky says he has, I won't hold my breath on such a thing being released.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2004
I would describe this compilation as a sampled biography from the beginning to the end of their short but phenominally brilliant existence in musical history. I would suggest obtaining the two albums 'Unknown pleasures' and 'Closer' if you are new to the band first, and then buy this as a compliment to those. This album shows how the band and most notabily Ian Curtis developed from the fast moving and quite heavy early tracks such as 'Warsaw' and 'Failures' to the remarkable masterpiece - like later tracks such as 'Dead Souls', 'Atmosphere' and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' I cannot really put into words how much I like some of the tracks on this album but the fact that I listened to it almost non - stop for a good few weeks after I bought it should give you a clue of how much I adore it.
This compilation of Joy Division's early material is, for me, probably their best recorded effort. As well as containing the 4 tracks on the original Warsaw EP Ideal For Living, it also contains the classic songs Transmission, Atmosphere and Dead Souls. Dead Souls was the first song I ever saw Joy Division perform live at the London YMCA in 1979 (when they were supported by The Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen) and the remarkable sight of Ian Curtis coming across the stage, arms flailing, to that magnificent intro will live with me forever.
Whilst Unknown Pleasures and Closer do, of course, contain some great songs, I was never entirely happy with the production, particularly on the debut album which I feel is too muted. In fact, their sound on my live bootleg tapes from the same period are much more vibrant, albeit Bernie Albrecht/Sumner's guitar playing sometimes required some attention i.e. tuning!
Undoubtedly one of the most influential bands of the last 30 years, much imitated, but not equalled, Joy Division produced more high quality material in less than 4 years than their successor band, New Order, have done in the following 30 years.
Though I bought much of my music back when JD were hot and making their mark, their dour lyrics and disinterested sounding lead singer (Curtis) always seemed to put me off them.
Punk and that 'sort' of music went too far against my musical taste and the conservative way I was brought up. However, a wiser and wider ear and acceptance has brought me to discover the gems that slipped me by. My love of the Manic Street Preachers brought back to the Clash; the great Michael Winterbottom film '24 Hour Party People' that I've viewed four times now, to Joy Division and the Happy Mondays.
Some of the rougher stuff on this Best Of CD still does wash over me but I now love that stolid drumming, the gut-churning bass and the Curtis drone that makes favourites like 'Love Will...', 'Digital', 'Autosuggestion' and 'She's Lost Control' rather likeable. Compared to the over-produced pap that so often goes (and always has) for 'music', this is sparse and moody, superbly interwoven with mischief and intrigue.