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

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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.