Joy Division had recorded the first of two John Peel sessions at the start of 1979, and the second followed ten months later, towards the end of the year.
It opens with a fantastically raw version of Love Will Tear Us Apart, the non-album single which would see release seven months later, just after Ian Curtis‘s untimely death. It’s definitely an early version of the song, but it’s not hard to hear just how good it is.
Twenty Four Hours comes next, also half a year from its full release on Closer (1980). This is more similar to its final album version, but Colony, also to be seen on the next album, is noticeably more raw and less polished.
Honestly the charm that Joy Division had when they were at their best is somewhat lacking from this second half of the session – this is the darker, more tortured and less accessible sound that they drifted into at times. Finally, The Sound of Music, which was never fully released until the Still compilation two years later, which sees Curtis in more poetic form, and has a glorious rhythm but does seem to be lacking the melody which is necessary to make a strong song.
Unlike the first one, this session finds Joy Division in darker and more introspective territory. It’s still fascinating and entirely listenable, but perhaps not quite as remarkable as its predecessor.
We covered the first session previously. You can read more about Joy Division‘s relationship with John Peel‘s radio show here. This session is available on the CD The Complete BBC Recordings or as the second disc of The Best Of, which you can find here.