The story of Joy Division is, of course, a particularly fascinating one, which is why it’s been told in two very good films already. The second came out in 2007, was directed by music video genius Anton Corbijn, and was entitled Control.
One of my personal claims to fame is that I accidentally went to the premiere of the film in Manchester, which was a real privilege. In particular, meeting Corbijn (in his gold trainers) and seeing what turned out to be quite an exceptional film.
The soundtrack is something of a journey too. The three little new tracks from New Order, at the time on yet another of their regular hiatuses, open, close, and form the centrepiece of the album. The rest of the album is often a dark and experimental exploration of the kinds of music that influenced – or in some cases was influenced by – the sound of Joy Division.
The first full track is The Velvet Underground‘s What Goes On from their debut album in 1969. The Killers‘ cover of Shadowplay follows, with a very strong Joy Division flavour, and is followed by The Buzzcocks with a lively and slightly chaotic live version of Boredom from 1977.
Even at their weakest, every track on the album is an interesting listen, and you can definitely hear how Joy Division may have been influenced by them. Dutch prog rock band Supersister‘s She Was Naked and Iggy Pop‘s Sister Midnight are both good examples of the sort of unusual experimental recording and songwriting which clearly helped make them the band they were.
In many ways the whole album is just a compilation of the more interesting music from the 1970s. Sex Pistols crop up with a live version of Problems. Roxy Music are on there with the pleasant Hammond Organ rumblings of 2HB. David Bowie turns up a couple of times, with Drive-in Saturday from 1973’s Aladdin Sane and Warszawa from Low (1977).
The inevitable high point of the album apart from the competent live cast recording of Transmission is an exclusive edit of Kraftwerk‘s essential 1974 hit Autobahn, as well as a few reminders of why exactly Joy Division were so special in the first place.
In summary, then, Music from the Motion Picture Control, to give its full name, is a perfect companion to an exceptionally good “motion picture”, and comes highly recommended if you haven’t heard it yet.