Beginner’s guide to Joy Division

With a career tragically cut short by Ian Curtis‘s suicide, Manchester’s Joy Division managed just two studio albums and a handful of singles, but somehow managed to leave an enormous impact on the world.

Key moments

If you’re just a fan of pop music, you might have only heard Love Will Tear Us Apart, so it might come as a surprise to learn that it isn’t actually on either of the albums. There are plenty of other special moments hidden away across all their releases, so dive in!

Where to start

This is actually quite difficult. I don’t want to recommend any of the singles compilations, but a beginner should definitely get Love Will Tear Us Apart on their first foray into Joy Division‘s back catalogue. The Heart and Soul set is great, but hides the albums weirdly in amongst everything else, making it daunting for a first timer.

On balance, go with the 1998 The Best Of Joy Division compilation – even if you buy everything else, the bonus disc will give you a set of Peel Sessions to hang on to.

What to buy

Again, you could do worse than Heart and Soul, but I find I never listen to it because of the way the albums are secreted. Instead, start with Unknown Pleasures (1979), and then grab Closer (1980), before concluding with the early collection Still (1981). I’m not clear whether the remasters are worth tracking down, but the bonus discs sound more appropriate for completists than beginners.

Don’t bother with

Permanent, the 1995 singles compilation, which sacrifices space for originals to a silly new remix of their most famous track.

Hidden treasure

There are lots of hidden demos and live versions that you can look forward to tracking down later, but don’t worry about any of that for now.

For stowaways

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2 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to Joy Division

  1. It’s good to have the remix of Love Will Tear Us Apart on Permanent. Otherwise it would be lost in time. The original is already compiled on Substance.

  2. Pingback: The complete beginner’s guide | Music for stowaways

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