Listeners are cautioned not to consume any other form of Joy Division homage, lest their primary auditory cortex commence massive hemorrhaging.
First up you’ve got Bedhead’s shambolic cover of “Disorder.” It’s the shy ’90s indie take on the more aggressive and industrial original. Plaintive, melancholy—like a slow-wavering flame—but building to that familiar denouement.
The only person I’ll tolerate covering “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”—and lord, how many bands have tried—is Richard Bruckner, who does something something shiny and twangy with it that I’m still trying to wrap my ears around.
Finally, there’s Low’s ultra-droney, beautifully harmonic version of “Transmission,” from an EP of the same name, which stands with the spookiest stuff they’ve done.
If there are any acceptable Joy Division covers besides these, do let me know, but I believe that’s the lot.
Here’s a very, very bizarre story: Holy Moly reports that a cache of lost Joy Division and New Order master tapes has been found by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, of all people, in the basement of a Manchester bank-turned-restaurant. The tapes were discovered alongside an unspecified amount of guns, gold and jewellery — three of the things one would store in a safety deposit box along with a really rough copy of Unknown Pleasures, I guess. The total value of Oliver’s finding? £1.1 million, which comes to about $1.725 million.
Unfortunately, Oliver has already turned the collection over to the British treasury, probably because "finder’s keepers" isn’t an applicable law to stuff that might have belonged to someone. If they’re ever released, I just know that the tapes will be turned into some precious box set of found sounds that will retail for a billion dollars or something ghastly, God willing.
The broodiest band in Manchester in 1976 received a salute from the Happiest Place on Earth. Somewhere in between looking at juxtaposed images featuring Downton Abbey screencaps and Beyoncé lyrics on Tumblr and musing over the fate of Megaupload, the internet has already spent a lot of time this week talking ’bout a t-shirt on the Disney Store website that pays tribute to the album art from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Which would naturally lead everyone to the conclusion that nobody who works in apparel merchandising at Disney has ever listened to Joy Division.
The online store link, including photos of a smiling dude with a half-emo-swipe donning the infamous shirt, which then went viral through WPRB DJ Maria Sciarrino, Pitchfork, the Twitternets and other channels across the web today. The caption reads: "Inspired by the iconic sleeve of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album, this Waves Mickey Mouse tee incorporates Mickey’s image within the graphic of the pulse of a star. That’s appropriate given few stars have made bigger waves than Mickey!" The shirt sells for $24.95, and for those of you actually considering making the purchase, it’s sold out.
Who knows what out-of-place iconic album t-shirts will follow? The bold, androgynous The Rise and Fall of Mickey Stardust? An angry Donald Duck standing in for the screaming face of Pink Floyd’s The Wall? A take on Kanye West’s The College Dropout with Winnie-the-Pooh as Murakami’s Dropout Bear? Oh, the possibilities.
Over the weekend, Moby mixed it up with fans at L.A.’s Kopeikin Gallery during Culver City’s informal, though increasingly popular Art Walk. The exhibit featured exclusive photos similar to pics from Moby’s new book Destroyed (also the title of his latest album), which were taken at festivals around the world. But those on display were new works yet to be viewed by the public.
“At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’m really happy with the show,” said Moby, who just turned 46 on September 11. “The pictures have a similar theme, but selfishly, I’m much happier with the way these are printed and framed.” It’s a busy week in LA for the musician. On Wednesday and Friday, he will perform alongside former Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook at the Music Box in Hollywood, offering up his take on tracks from the seminal Joy Division work, Closer.
“I toured with New Order ten years ago,” Moby said. “On the last show of the tour, we did ‘New Dawn Fades’ together, and at the end of that, Peter Hook turned to me and said, ‘You know, we haven’t played this since Ian [Curtis] died.’” Moby, who in 1983 played in a Joy Division-inspired post-punk group called AWOL, still has trouble wrapping his trademark bald head around the idea of collaborating with one of his idols. “When I was 15, if you had come to me and said, ‘Someday you will sing a Joy Division song with Joy Division,’ I would have believed you more if you had said at some point we’ll all live on Jupiter.’
The Manhattan-based musician also weighed in on the most recent spat between Hook and New Order singer Bernard Sumner, both of whom he’s friendly with. “They are both lovely people, but I don’t know them well enough to play peacemaker. They’re Mancunians, and they’ve known each other since they were young,” he said.
Regardless, Moby will play with Hook Wednesday in Hollywood (doing a few songs from ‘Closer’), and Friday at the El Rey (doing songs from ‘Unknown Pleasures’). His exhibit at the Kopeikin officially opened September 10th, and runs through October 22nd. Hook plays tonight sans Moby, at the Gramercy Theater in New York.
Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” — a lo-fi classic, staple on indie rock mixtapes, and for all intents and purposes, a reluctant pop song — is a track that everyone from record store obsessives to casual fans will never, ever tire of. It does what a timeless song should do: perfectly captures a specific moment, while conveying a mood, message, and sonic output that stays consistently relevant and universally accessible as it ages. Now it’s being covered for the soundtrack to an Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams movie (The Time Traveler’s Wife) by Canadian indie rock high priests/priestesses, Broken Social Scene.
As reported and posted by Pitchfork, BSS’s cover is a dark, piano-driven moody dirge-esque ballad that does the song’s more mournful tones proper justice (though that synth line from the original song? Could’ve done without it).
Initially debuted in 1979, and first released on a 7″ in April 1980, the song never made it onto a proper Joy Division album until long after lead singer Ian Curtis had killed himself, when Joy Division had morphed into New Order. As noted by Rolling Stone, who named it #179 on their top 500 songs of all time (one spot above “Hey Ya,” seven behind “Dream On”):
Singer Curtis did not live to see this British band’s best single become a hit. He committed suicide in May 1980, two days before a scheduled American tour. “Ian’s influence seemed to be madness and insanity,” said guitarist Sumner.
Who else has taken a shot at the song over the years, though?
Well, The Cure, naturally, who didn’t really do anything too special with it, but turned in sufficient work nonetheless. The Arcade Fire and U2 covered it once when The Arcade Fire joined U2 on stage once in Montreal. An exciting moment, but unfortunately, it comes out sounding more like a late 90s-era U2 song than an Arcade Fire track or the Joy Division original. Or, as the Youtuber who posted the video wrote, “Arcade Fire join U2 on stage in montreal, for a Joy Division cover, Bono tries too hard.” Pretty much, though Win Butler gives Ian Curtis’ baritone a noble shot.
Nouvelle Vague, who have made a career out of giving 80s classics a French New Wave bossa nova twist, give their version the grace, lightness, and peacefulness no Joy Division song ever had. If only it didn’t sound like every other Nouvelle Vague song they’ve ever recorded. Still, wonderful.
As is Swedish singer-songwriter (and supposed heir to Nick Drake’s throne) Jose Gonzalez’s shot at it:
And then there’s what’s generally understood as the worst cover of the song, ever: 80s star Paul Young, who recorded his take three years after the original was released. It’s so goddamn terrible, we’re not going to post it here. Check it out for yourself.
Then again, Paul Young — dickcheese that he turned in for this assignment — might not have the worst one, after all. There’s always New Order, who gave the song they recorded in their former incarnation an awful tribute, something that resembles a hackneyed shell of what used to be (and could generally encapsulate what many a Joy Division fan and/or music critic tends to think about New Order).
Massive cover fail. Finally, to be fair to the memory of Joy Division, the original:
My Old Kentucky Blog has a comprehensive list of LWTUA covers for download that’s worth checking out. Last piece of trivia: about that aforementioned Gary Jules and “Mad World” cover? It originated on the Donnie Darko soundtrack, a movie that might hold the best tribute to the song, period, in which the title character loses his virginity to — what else? — “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Tears For Fears Tickets