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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Power,
Part of the legend of Joy Division rested on their live performances. After Ian Curtis' death the release of a fairly average gig, their last, on the second disc of Still meant that it was unclear whether the legend was mere myth. In the meantime, bootlegs proliferated and fans spoke in hushed tones of the talismanic performances of Curtis. Since the Heart & Soul box- set included a disc of audience recordings, a flood of releases has followed, though some, like this, are difficult to obtain now.
Don't let that prevent you from investing in this, the best single document of Joy Division live. It captures aspects of the band not well represented on the studio recordings, dominated as they are by Martin Hannett's distinctive production techniques. Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook have complained bitterly that Hannett buried their guitars on Unknown Pleasures; here they get full reign and attack the material with relish. The big rock songs (e.g., Transmission, These Days) are rendered immense here, veritable guitar assaults. Then there are those that display the band's subtle grasp of dynamics; Dead Souls, with its abrupt surges and plateaus; New Dawn Fades, with its stately progression, and Shadowplay's abrasive choppiness are astonishing here. Atrocity Exhibition is a different beast to its sparse studio partner, raw and savage, while Autosuggestion is a surprising highlight, a year- old out- take given a fiery new lease of life. Through all this Curtis is the shamanic vocalist of legend, passionate and committed while precise and exacting.
The material on this CD consists of 9 songs from the Paris venue of the title in December 1979 and some selections from two Dutch performances in January 1980. It's not all perfect: their more nuanced material was harder to get right live, and adding anything to the, often definitive, studio versions was tricky. Atmosphere is impressive for being performed at all, but tells us nothing we didn't already know. Other synthesiser led songs, like Love Will Tear Us Apart, are similarly merely decent. Insight is marred by a pingy synthesiser effect and Disorder is, as it often was live, taken too fast. There are other great performances from the Dutch gigs omitted, especially a brutal version of Colony from Eindhoven previously used on the Here Are The Young Men video and the semi- legal Let The Movie Begin, and greater care could have been taken in track selection.
My suggestion is to program this selection, in this order, to experience the full thrust of Joy Division live;
Dead Souls / Twenty Four Hours / Day Of The Lords / Shadowplay / Autosuggestion / Atrocity Exhibition / These Days / Transmission / New Dawn Fades
Released as the second (vinyl) disc of Still in 1981 (with a natural break between sides between Autosuggestion and Atrocity Exhibition) this would have reaffirmed the Joy Division legend, an almost unbearably intense and powerful assault on some of the greatest songs of their era that captures, thrillingly, the band a mile away from their, often restrained, studio sound. Heard today it retains that raw power, and reminds us of a time, post- punk, when rock music seemed to be about more than sales, image and fame, when rock music seemed to, in a single word, matter.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah...,
This review is from: Les Bains Douches (Audio CD)
Probably the best live document of the last truly great British rock band of the last 25 years. Just listen to the way they thunder through Love Will Tear Us Apart and Shadowplay, or create the ghostly and fearsome atmosphere that is Day Of The Lords.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Formidable,
An excellent example of the band playing live. The music is brash, jagged and pungent as fresh paint. Luckily, the crowd are fairly muted (I do find it off-putting when live albums are packed full of whooping and prolonged clapping) Les Bains Douches is very much a no-nonsense set. Highlights are 'A Means to an End' which bolts out of the stable and 'New Dawn Fades' which is godly in power and effect.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the greatest live album ever??,
I got this album on its release in 2001. Simply cherish it. The sound of one of the most cool and inovative bands at their peak. Glorious artwork too. I may part with my other copy now I have seen the good prices they go for now..... :o) Enjoy
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars post punk noise = bliss,
Joy Division were a band known for sounding somewhat bleak, and this live album captures that with astounding intensity. It's not easy listening or even enjoyable, per se, but something about the music grabs you by the throat and forces its way in to your affections. In terms of sound quality it isn't exactly perfect - at one point the band are, to quote one of Curtis's several bizarrely weighty stage utterances, "playing everything through the bass amp" - but that just adds to the atmosphere.
The band sound harsh and rough, as live albums from this period often do (Bauhaus's 'Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape' is an apt companion CD), but their playing is still very much together. The extended intro to 'The Eternal' perhaps prefigures later New Order instrumentals, with the use of electronics fitting rather than overbearing, as it is throughout the set (except for 'Transmission', which is rather spoiled by huge quantities of radio noise). 'Shadowplay' is vicious and agressive, which works perfectly, as does 'She's Lost Control'. These two tracks alone would make this CD worth buying, but this document of a band and an era works as a fantastic whole and strongly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Industrial,
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This review is from: Les Bains Douches [VINYL] (Vinyl)
A document of a band at their prime. Not the most talented band in the world but a band that created music that they themselves were happy to create, and who disregarded what anyone else thought. And that's sadly lacking with bands now.
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