CHARGED PARTICLES…..HERE’S JONNY!!!!!! (1)

A NEW GUEST SERIES FROM JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

CHARGED PARTICLES

I don’t have a music blog of my own but I gather I have something in common with JC and the regular contributors that do: Like you lot I was always the guy people asked to make mix tapes (and, later, playlists) for parties, trips, birthdays, etc.

One of the categories that people liked very much was called Charged Particles. These consisted of songs with one word titles ending with ION. That was the only thing they had in common. Turns out there are tons of them; I’ve got nearly 200 in my iTunes library and they always seem to combine interestingly. I mentioned doing something with the list when I met JC in Manchester and he said, ‘Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?’

My thinking was that he could plug in a charged particle post when he was away or busy or couldn’t be bothered that day to put up a new one. The posts would be short and sweet and let the music do the talking. JC liked the idea okay and correctly guessed the songs I had in mine for the first one.

And here it is. Remember the only guideline is a single word ending in ion. Can it end in ‘ionS’? No, so no ‘Complications’ by Killing Joke. Does it count if you cram a bunch of words together like ‘StationtoStation’? Nope. How about if the word is preceded or followed by a phrase in parentheses? No, not that either. (Unless I feel like it.) Hyphens? Sure, why not.

Right, here we go: Today’s charged particles are by Manchester’s best or second best band, depending on your preference, in honor of the town where I got to meet the Vinyl Villain, at last:

Joy Division: Transmission
Joy Division: Auto-suggestion
Joy Division: Isolation
Joy Division: Incubation

JTFL

FORGIVE THE SELF-INDULGENCE TODAY

I found a copy of a posting from 2007 that even today, nearly ten years on, I’m quite proud of. The old blog was less than a year old and having just found my feet and gaining the confidence to post every day, I then found myself in Toronto for a five-month spell that prevented me blogging every day ( mainly a combination of pressure of work and not having access to the thousands of mp3 files I had lovingly created); but the time in Canada brought other great opportunities my way that more than made up for it.  Such as being among the first to see a stunning movie that I reviewed at the time.  From 9 September 2007….

This past week and a bit saw Mrs Villain join me for a short stay in Toronto. It was her first ever visit to the city, and we did loads of touristy things including going along to something that was part at the recently opened Toronto International Film Festival 2007.

We were lucky enough to get two tickets for Control. We had hoped to get to the first showing at 9.45pm on a Friday evening, but the tickets were impossible to obtain. But we had the consolation of getting to the second and final showing, albeit at the ungodly hour of 9am on a Saturday morning.

First surprise was that we were far from alone. The cinema was almost full to capacity with maybe the best part of 1,000 folk inside. Second surprise that it was not an audience entirely made up of music fans – just behind us we heard one exchange along the lines of “Was this guy Curtis some sort of cult figure?”. The third surprise was a brief personal appearance by Anton Corbijn, who expressed his delight that so many people would come along so early in the morning to watch a black and white feature by a first-time film director.

The effort of getting out of bed at such an ungodly hour on a weekend was more than worth it. Control is an exceptional piece of work. I’ve long been a fan of Corbijn’s photographs and videos, so I had a fair idea that it would look good. What I wasn’t prepared for was the level of performances from just about everyone in the film.

The part of Ian Curtis is played by the relatively little-known Sam Riley, and he does an unbelievable job. The more famous Samanatha Morton is outstanding as Deborah Curtis, especially in the second half of the movie as she begins to come to terms with how her husband is treating her.

The other young actors who play the members of the band – James Anthony Pearson (Bernard Sumner), Harry Treadaway (Steven Morris) and Joe Anderson (Peter Hook) are just about perfect, and not just because the roles called on them to play live. Bernard in particular comes across perfectly as the wide-eyed little-boy not quite believing that he’s making it as a musician.

While the overall mood of the film is, as you would expect sombre, the script is packed with some fantastic one-liners, some of which are delivered by Hooky, but most of whom belong to Rob Gretton who is played by another relatively unknown actor, Toby Kebbel.

If I have one gripe, it was that I wasn’t initially convinced by Craig Parkinson as Tony Wilson – most probably because I found myself comparing it to the way that Steve Coogan portrayed him in 24 Hour Party People – but I did find myself loosening up a bit as the movie progressed and appreciating his performance.

And there will be some people – there always are – who will be apoplectic with rage that the film has not stuck 100% to the facts. For example, Tony Wilson introducing them on So It Goes on Granada TV. In real life, Joy Division performed Shadowplay, but the film has them playing Transmission.

There’s also a number of occasions when the need to have the movie go along at a decent pace means some things appear just a bit too melodramatic – for instance, the inspiration for the lyrics behind She’s Lost Control.

I understand that Control will be coming out in the UK early in October. I also expect that not everyone will greet it with universal approval. For instance, Kevin Cummins, another photographer who worked with the band has said “The film lacks humour. It would appear that Corbijn has bought into the mythology surrounding the band…the crypto-fascist young men in their grey overcoats from the grim north of England. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

I think that’s a bit harsh, but then again it is a fact that in just under two hours, there’s no evidence of the light-hearted side of Ian Curtis (such as the well-documented high-jinks the band got up to when they undertook a tour as support to Buzzcocks).

There will be others who just don’t get it. There’s one scathing review kicking around on the web from the Reuters Hollywood Correspondent who saw the movie at Cannes back in May. He didn’t like Control because it doesn’t live up to the 1960s black and white movies set in Northern England that often starred Albert Finney or Tom Courtenay (and which were so beloved by Morrissey).

It’s a dreadful and lazy comparison to make- the films of the 60s were based on fictional novels whereas Control is of course based on real-life events – the only thing they have in common is that they are black and white films.

It is my view that Control falls into the category of ‘must-see’, especially if you are a fan of Anton Corbijn, Joy Division, Ian Curtis or indeed Samantha Morton.

Incidentally, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was in floods of tears at the end of the movie – as was Mrs V. Yes, we both knew how it was all going to end, but that didn’t stop the intensity of the performances from the two lead roles having a huge effect on us. We weren’t the only ones sobbing and sniffing away in Toronto. So take along your hankies….

song : Joy Division – Passover

2017 update

By now, I’m guessing all of you with any interest in the band or film-making will have seen Control.  I think my initial review, written and published the following morning after its second screeing at the 2007 festival has stood up well.

JC

AS OPENING TRACKS ON DEBUT LPs GO……

Joy-Division-Unknown-Pleasures-328894

……this is hard to beat.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.

It’s getting faster, moving faster now, its getting out of hand
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, its a no mans land
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow.

What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again
I’m watching you, I’m watching her, I’ll take no pity from you friends
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know.

I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.

mp3 : Joy Division – Disorder

That is all.

NINE YEARS AGO

1081403094_32ed30417c

I was living and working in Toronto. Jacques the Kipper sent me a text in case I didn’t get the news. I posted this on the blog.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN

I was saddened by the news of the death of Tony Wilson.

I’ve no doubt you’ll find some heartfelt tributes on loads of blogs, as well as a few less than kind remarks as there are many who thought the man was a twat. And let’s face it, he sometimes thought he was as well.

I’m not from Manchester, and perhaps not best placed to offer an opinion. But I’ll contend that Tony Wilson did as much as anyone in the latter part of the 20th Century to raise the profile of the city he’s most associated with. He helped transform it into a city where those of us who didn’t live there were jealous of those lucky enough to do so.

I only met him once. He came to Glasgow for a book reading of 24 Hour Party People, and it turned into a fabulous couple of hours. He was regally entertaining, with more than a hint of self-parody about his persona. Along with Bill Drummond, he was the one guy in the music industry that I would love to have been able to go down the pub with.

The world is a slightly poorer place without him being around. I hope the city gives him a great send-off.

song : Care – Sad Day For England

song : Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine Version)

2016 Addendum….

The city did give him a great send-off and they’ve never forgotten him.  Here’s one of the most extraordinary and memorable things I’ve ever had the privilege of watching and listening to.

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (6)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 10 JUNE 2008

(and again on 1 November 2013)

r-11541-1233423319

Joy Division, as a band, caused me huge problems. There I was, 16 years of age raving about them in the 5th Year Common Room when somebody threw an article from a music paper that declared the band and their followers to be Nazi/Fascists. How could this be so?

At that age, I wasn’t clever enough to argue my case….I just took it on the chin, and stopped admitting that I love the band. The records were hidden away in the style that other teenagers would hide porno mags – out of sight and only brought out when it was safe to do so. They were certainly never around when any mates came by.

Then one day, Ian Curtis hanged himself. The music papers were full of it. At school, it was suddenly OK to talk about the band again – they were now a chart success thanks to the posthumous release of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Everyone rushed out and bought that single and then the LP Closer.

‘No wonder he killed himself if that’s the sort of music he was writing’ was the common consensus of the playground cognoscenti.

At the time I kind of believed it myself as nobody at that time, even within the confines of the group, really understood just how tortured he was trying to juggle his life, wife, child, mistress, illness and his music. I had the albums – and they were really dark and sometimes difficult to listen to. They were certainly no good for putting on at parties and hoping to ‘get off’ with a female classmate.

But everyone I knew adored LWTUA….it was something you could dance to. It was pop…it passed over quickly when you just absorbed its catchy chorus.

Was I the only one who realised that it was about pain and misery? The sort of pain and misery that hit you when, after spending what seemed like hours (but was probably only 10 minutes) trying to connect with the girl of your dreams at a party, only to later see her that evening ‘get off’ with someone else and then the news spread on Monday that she and the boy were ‘an item.’

Why didn’t I make a move?? Why didn’t I try to talk to her a bit about Joy Division and the other great records that no-one knew about – songs which were just so unlike anything else in yours or anybody’s record collection. Why hadn’t I made myself seem interesting???

LWTUA has always been a song to remind me of ‘what might have been’….

If I hadn’t been so quick to bow to peer pressure and ‘disown’ the band in public, would I have become the cool kid in class? Probably not…

If Ian Curtis had known how big this song was going to be, would he have taken his own life?? Sadly, I think he would have….

If this song hadn’t made so much money, what would have happened to Tony Wilson and Factory Records??? They probably wouldn’t have been solvent in 1982…

If Ian Curtis hadn’t written LWTUA, would some other tortured soul have come along a few years later and said the same thing??? Now that is a question of conjecture…..but I actually think someone would have. Who??? I have no idea….but someone, somewhere in time would have….David Gedge?

And yet….despite all of this, I still don’t think LWTUA is the best single that Barney, Hooky, Ian and Stephen (not forgetting Martin) released on an unsuspecting public. That honour belongs to this bit of plastic:-

mp3 : Joy Division – Transmission
mp3 : Joy Division – Novelty

Hooky’s basslines grab you in, Stephen’s drumming sets a beat that makes you want to jump out of your seat while Barney’s guitar work reminds you of the punk ethos when anyone could pick up an instrument and play.

But it’s THAT voice that sets this track apart. It’s the sound of someone reaching deep inside his own soul and then straining it through every nerve in his body before hitting the listener hard in the chest with its power and authority. And just as you think he can hit you no more he screams…

‘And We Can Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance’.

I did. As did many others.

Things were never the same ever again.

READ IT IN BOOKS : TONY WILSON

index

(A RE-POST FROM OCTOBER 2009)

For more years than I care to remember, I always said that my ideal night out would be to sit down in a pub alongside Bill Drummond and Tony Wilson and just enjoy the conversation that would inevitably flow. Yes, it was all a pipe dream, and indeed it was something that, if it had been allowed to happen, would in all likelihood have been a bit of a disaster given the psychological make-up of my two heroes. I’m not sure if they would in fact have got on or whether the first barbed comment from one of them would have had the other storm off in a huff (possibly after a punch or two had been thrown).

But I just have a feeling that these two geniuses, who I think were among the most urbane, witty, talented, opinionated and intelligent people on the planet, would have just kept up a non-stop discussion in an entertaining and enlightening way on just about any subject under the sun or moon. And to have been in their collective company would have been a privilege as well as enormous fun.

But of course the premature death of Tony Wilson back in 2007 put paid to that ever happening, but even now, two years on from that very sad day, I’m still fascinated by the life and times of both men. And while Bill can continue to amuse and delight me with books like 17, it’s now down to others to keep Tony’s flame burning brightly.

The latest bit of work to do just that is You’re Entitled To An Opinion, which has been penned by David Nolan, a music journalist whose past works include Confused, a terrifically enlightening and enjoyable bio of Bernard Sumner which revealed in a far from sordid way, lots of things about the singer that helped fans get a better insight on what it was that drove him on. That particular book was an excellent example of a rock biography, clearly written by someone who was an admirer but who wasn’t afraid of offering a critical comment when the music or other aspects of the subject’s life deserved it.

I’m delighted to say that David Nolan has done an equally superb job with his look at Tony Wilson, and You’re Entitled To An Opinion is a tremendous read with all sorts of facts and information that were new to me, particularly the early chapters on his upbringing, and the later chapters that deal with the last few months of Tony’s life as he battled a particularly violent form of cancer.

What we get isn’t just a re-hash of Tony Wilson, the music mogul who arguably did as much as anyone else to raise the profile of Manchester over the last quarter of the 20th Century and help with its regeneration as a modern, vibrant city far removed from the greyness and grime that was the legacy of its industrial past. There’s loads in this book about Anthony Wilson (or sometimes Anthony H Wilson) the journalist/reporter who many of his contemporaries reckon could have been a giant in that field if he hadn’t been so distracted by his love of music and the lifestyle of musicians. There’s also substantial details about his family/private life which prove to essential in helping readers understand some of Tony’s behaviour over the years, and in particular his ‘devil may care’ approach to business.

But of course the centrepiece of the book is The Factory Years, from the founding of a club, to the forming of a label, to the forming of THE club, to it all crashing down around their ears and the subsequent small re-launches in the 21st century.

The author has spoken to dozens of people who knew or worked with Tony Wilson, and not all them are always complimentary. But this doesn’t mean David Nolan has given us a book with all sorts of spite directed at the man who himself accepted most seemed to know him as ‘Wanker Wilson’. I lost count of the times where a narrative would end with something along the lines of ‘But that was just typical of Tony’ which should give you all an idea that this was a man it was near impossible to hate. But there are one or two life-long enemies out there who do get their say….as with all good bios, the reader is then free to make up their own mind.

Some of the anecdotes are less than serious – such as the time Tony was dispatched to Liverpool to cover a story and how his worst fears of his car getting stolen were eventually realised in a way that was both funny and imaginative on the part of the thieves. Others are moving, including Tony’s battle for the right sort of medical treatment for his illness. Others debunk some of the myths and/or legends that have grown up around Tony Wilson, without belittling his many achievements for instance – the facts surrounding the Sir Keith Joseph/Mad Monk interview are laid out and while not as outrageous as the scenario painted in the film/book 24 Hour Party People, it still shows Tony at his mischievous but self-destructing best.

You’re Entitled To An Opinion is a book that will be appreciated and enjoyed by anyone who has ever had any interest in any facet of Factory Records, Granada TV or indeed the city of Manchester itself.

And here’s the last song ever played at the Hacienda (not that anyone knew it at the time):-

mp3 : Sneaker Pimps – Post Modern Sleaze

And this post wouldn’t be complete without these bands….

mp3 : Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine Version)
mp3 : New Order – Confusion (Rough Mix)

Both taken from 12″ singles that have followed me wherever I’ve lived over the past near 30 years…..

MY ALL TIME TOP TEN SINGLES : TRANSMISSION by JOY DIVISION

R-11541-1233423319

Joy Division, as a band, caused me huge problems. There I was, 16 years of age raving about them in the 5th Year Common Room when somebody threw an article from a music paper that declared the band and their followers to be Nazi/Fascists. How could this be so?

At that age, I wasn’t clever enough to argue my case….I just took it on the chin, and stopped admitting that I love the band. The records were hidden away in the style that other teenagers would hide porno mags – out of sight and only brought out when it was safe to do so. They were certainly never around when any mates came by.

Then one day, Ian Curtis hanged himself. The music papers were full of it. At school, it was suddenly OK to talk about the band again – they were now a chart success thanks to the posthumous release of Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Everyone rushed out and bought that single and then the LP Closer.

‘No wonder he killed himself if that’s the sort of music he was writing’ was the common consensus of the playground cognoscenti.

At the time I kind of believed it myself as nobody at that time, even within the confines of the group, really understood just how tortured he was trying to juggle his life, wife, child, mistress, illness and his music. I had the albums – and they were really dark and sometimes difficult to listen to. They were certainly no good for putting on at parties and hoping to ‘get off’ with a female classmate.

But everyone I knew adored LWTUA….it was something you could dance to. It was pop…it passed over quickly when you just absorbed its catchy chorus.

Was I the only one who realised that it was about pain and misery? The sort of pain and misery that hit you when, after spending what seemed like hours (but was probably only 10 minutes) trying to connect with the girl of your dreams at a party, only to later see her that evening ‘get off’ with someone else and then the news spread on Monday that she and the boy were ‘an item.’

Why didn’t I make a move?? Why didn’t I try to talk to her a bit about Joy Division and the other great records that no-one knew about – songs which were just so unlike anything else in yours or anybody’s record collection. Why hadn’t I made myself seem interesting???

LWTUA has always been a song to remind me of ‘what might have been’….

If I hadn’t been so quick to bow to peer pressure and ‘disown’ the band in public, would I have become the cool kid in class? Probably not…

If Ian Curtis had known how big this song was going to be, would he have taken his own life?? Sadly, I think he would have….

If this song hadn’t made so much money, what would have happened to Tony Wilson and Factory Records??? They probably wouldn’t have been solvent in 1982…

If Ian Curtis hadn’t written LWTUA, would some other tortured soul have come along a few years later and said the same thing??? Now that is a question of conjecture…..but I actually think someone would have. Who??? I have no idea….but someone, somewhere in time would have….David Gedge?

And yet….despite all of this, I still don’t think LWTUA is the best single that Barney, Hooky, Ian and Stephen (not forgetting Martin) released on an unsuspecting public. That honour belongs to this bit of plastic:-

mp3 : Joy Division – Transmission
mp3 : Joy Division – Novelty

Hooky’s basslines grab you in, Stephen’s drumming sets a beat that makes you want to jump out of your seat while Barney’s guitar work reminds you of the punk ethos when anyone could pick up an instrument and play.

But it’s THAT voice that sets this track apart. It’s the sound of someone reaching deep inside his own soul and then straining it through every nerve in his body before hitting the listener hard in the chest with its power and authority. And just as you think he can hit you no more he screams…

‘And We Can Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance’.

I did. As did many others.

Things were never the same ever again.