+- Box set
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Audio CD, Box set, 19 Dec 2011
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This is a unique Joy Division retrospective boxset consisting of 10 CD singles in a clamshell box. All tracks have been newly re-mastered from original tapes by Stephen Morris and Frank Arkwright (Metropolis Studios). Compiled by renowned journalist and author Jon Savage, the boxset includes the singles ‘Transmission’, ‘She’s Lost Control’ and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart’. As a co-founder of the legendary independent label Factory Records, Peter Saville leant his eyes to the project suggesting the concept for the sleeves. Each cover is based upon its original and - as a snapshot of a band and a time - serves to remind the owner of the unique position Joy Division hold in British musical history.
B. Leaders Of Men
A: No Love Lost
B: From Safety To Where
B: Dead Souls
B2: As You Said
A: Love Will Tear Us Apart
B: These Days
A: She's Lost Control (12” Version)
B: Love Will Tear Us Apart 2 (Pennine Version)
B: Heart And Soul
Available as either a download (plus video content) or as a limited-edition vinyl box set, collecting 10 seven-inch singles and featuring art from Factory co-founder Peter Saville, +- is the perfect gift for your Joy Division-loving loved one this Christmas. Actually, scratch that – pick this up, and chances are you’ll want to keep it for yourself.
Granted, there’s nothing new here sounds-wise – but so well have several of these singles stood the test of time that their makers feel, more than ever before perhaps, like a band of today sucked into a wormhole and spat out at the end of the 1970s. Atmosphere can’t fail, 30 years after its original release, to set the skin electric and sink the heart a few inches lower – if it was to be the final song heard by the human race before its ransacking of the world’s natural riches reached a fiery climax, few would go down without a heavy smile. Little lines paint wonderful pictures: "Every corner… abandoned too soon." On the flip side, when the band’s wiry guitars stepped up the pace and Ian Curtis’ head began to wobble, the likes of She’s Lost Control and Komakino sound as on-trend in 2010 as they’ve ever been. These New Puritans, responsible for NME’s album of the year, are just one of today’s lauded outfits to have cribbed from Joy Division’s notebooks.
Joy Division were always a singles band first, an album artist second (though a disclaimer of sorts should be added: it’s not like they had the opportunity to add to their catalogue) – Love Will Tear Us Apart and Transmission did not feature on either of their studio LPs, 1979’s Unknown Pleasures and the following year’s Closer. So it makes sense that the greatest satisfaction (for fair-weather followers, at least) can be gleaned from collections such as this, rather than an album proper – and this is why there are so many sets similar in concept to +- already out there, with the last best of emerging just two years ago. But with Saville’s art and sleeve notes from Jon Savage, as well as previously unpublished interviews with band members, this might just be the best of the bunch. It’s a wonderfully packaged document, not that a new one was really needed, of a band that peaked and plummeted before many of those they would ultimately influence were even born.
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Top customer reviews
Fast forward to December 2011 and we have "+-" which is basically "Substance 1977-1980 Deluxe" retitled and spread across 10 CDs. The sound quality of the remastering is indeed very good and certainly brighter than even the 2007 reissues. After well-documented Joy Division and New Order remaster screw ups in the past they've thankfully done well here. The extra tracks here not on the original Factory compilation include "As You Said", "Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine Version)", "Heart and Soul" and "Isolation" which believe it or not, cleverly mops up what the original 1988 release missed out.
Five stars for the music but I have deducted one star because I think restricting 2/3 songs per CD was misguided and while that particular concept may have suited the 7" vinyl version well it's a complete waste of CD's 80 minute capacity. Indeed, the first thing I did was rip all the tracks individually as lossless files then re-burn them to a blank CD; all 21 tracks clocked in at just over 76 minutes in total. Also, if you are as fond of the original "Substance 1977-1980" compilation as I am then you can re-burn the tracks in a different order to produce your own remastered version of the original Factory release.
I can understand some people's irritation that the Joy Division barrel has been mercilessly scraped bare but this release was justified to make up for the lack of a "Substance 1977-1980" remaster from the earlier reissue campaign. Plus the price of £20-25 is far more reasonable than the price of the "+-" 7" vinyl version which was excessive and designed to extract the maximum amount of cash from collectors.
Buy it, compile it to a blank CD, store the original away for safe keeping and then listen LOUD.
Rhino has split 21 songs over 10 CDs in an effort to copy the original vinyl singles. On CD, this is just silly. All the songs could have easily fit on 1 x 80 minute CD and replaced the ancient Substance 1977-1980 singles collection entirely. Substance collected many of the same tracks, but the order of songs is all over the place with all A-Sides grouped together, followed by all the B-Sides on the second half. Substance was also released in 1988, so a remaster is more than overdue.
Rhino could improved this collection if they had dropped the two standard album tracks they added to make up the mock 'lost 10th single' (Isolation, Heart And Soul). In their place they could have added the original tracks 'Ceremony' and 'In A Lonely Place', both of which were released on the limited Record Store Day single on a vinyl pressing in 2011. That would have been a release to celebrate!
As it stands, this release is just another cynical cash grab. If you don't mind switching CDs every few minutes, or you have a 10 disc stacker - enjoy. For everyone else, skip this release until they do it right. Rhino never stop repackaging Joy Division's limited discography, so there's hope that they'll make a better version in the near future.
How come the bootleggers always seem to do such a great job (see A Factory Sample booty) & the majors invariably let you down? Of course, the artwork on the 7" sleeves is probably ironic arty fartyness - but what do I know eh?
As for the music, it's obviously 5 stars - but what fan doesn't have these tracks several times over by now?
This collection comes with a code to enable purchasers to download MP3 versions of all the songs from Rhino and I'm pleased to report that the Bit Rate is 320kps so the sound quality is acceptable as far as MP3s are concerned.
The artwork is the let down of this collection.What appear to be photocopies of the original sleeve artwork is not really acceptable in this day and age in a product costing in excess of £50.I'd have rather seen new artwork by a modern sleeve designer capable of interpreting the essence of the originals.I wasn't surprised that the downloadable versions don't have any artwork at all!
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