on November 16, 2001
Yo, record companies, artists, marketers, take note - THIS is the way to make a box set. In four CDs you get literally EVERYTHING that Joy Division ever recorded - you get both studio albums, first of all, but it doesn't stop there. You also get the posthumous album Still, the outtakes compilation Substance, the bootlegged debut Warsaw, a whole CD of previously unreleased live material, and more.
In short, this contains everything for everyone - mega-completist Joy Division fans, more normal people, EVERYONE. Album tracks, B-sides, rarities, bootlegs, live material, the whole lot. You want the famous "She's Lost Control," "Shadowplay," "Love Will Tear Us Apart" or "Isolation"? Can do. You want the not-famous "Komakino"? "Dead Souls"? "Atmosphere"? Sure. What, you want to hear them perform "Disorder," "Colony" and "Atrocity Exhibition"? No problem. Are you after the rare instrumental "Incubation"? It's got 'em all. (The only thing it's missing are the few bonus tracks from the Warsaw bootleg - but let's be honest here, "Gutz" is not such a huge loss.) And that's not even mentioning the absolutely awesome booklet of photos, lyrics, and essays. The thing is put together with LOVE (as opposed, to say, the Pink Floyd box set, a pure cash-in). Messieurs Sumner, Hook, Morris (and Madame Curtis) - excellent, excellent work. This is a beautiful tribute to the unquestionably best and most absolutely unreservedly wonderful band in the whole wide world, a band insane enough to make songs that had NO chance of climbing the pop charts, to release singles that didn't appear on studio albums, to make the most minimalist and yet most resonant drum and bass hooks ever, to write the most beautiful, sad and achingly poetic lyrics in the history of music, to deliver them with so much force it's scary, and to live and die by them. There are still people to whom Joy Division means the world. It's just that resonant.
And if that doesn't convince you, this set contains two absolutely priceless treasures - EXTREMELY rare, previously unreleased cuts of Ian Curtis' two ultimate compositions, "Ceremony" and "In a Lonely Place." The quality is far from perfect, and one of them isn't even present in its entirety, but these are the ONLY existing studio versions of these songs that have Ian Curtis on vocals. "Ceremony" is pretty great, but it pales in comparison to "In a Lonely Place" - truly the saddest and most heart-wrenching song Ian ever wrote. If "The Eternal" was a vision of his own funeral, "In a Lonely Place" is a message from beyond the grave, an absolutely incredible, painful stunner of a song delivered in a voice that sounds like it's already left the earth. Two minutes and twenty five seconds in, the recording stops abruptly, as does the third disc of the set, leaving only the silence of Ian Curtis' suicide.
on September 23, 2001
Yes, there was definitely too much of a lag between the European release and the US release of this one -- so much so that I myself had to take advantage of the fact that I was living in Spain to get my hands on this one a couple of years ago. Even still, after all this time I'm still somewhat at a loss for words to describe "Heart and Soul," so that's a good sign.
One thing that I can say is that everything about this box set is just beautiful, from the packaging to the lyrics to the songs themselves. The cost may be a bit off-putting right now, but it's probably the most thorough anthology that's likely to come around, so it's well worth it. You get all the tracks from "Unknown Pleasures," "Closer" and "Substance" (though not "Still") -- plus some assorted live and demo versions that had been previously unreleased.
The albums and the compilation are standards, of course. Some of the demos are pretty much hit-or-miss, and I've heard that the sound mixes and even the playing itself at Joy Division concerts were often pretty bad. But even with the diminished sound quality, the live tracks here (particularly the ones from The Factory in Hulme -- roughly the first half of disc 4) have this rollicking, transcendental power that makes current bands like Nickelback, Staind and Fuel, not to mention the pretense behind most of the genre of "emo," seem like adolescent journal entries put to bland rock arrangements in comparison. And there are a few songs toward the end (the live "Autosuggestion" and particularly "Ceremony" and "In a Lonely Place" -- the latter two from the last recording session before Ian Curtis's suicide) where you can really hear how close he was to the final breakdown. Personally, I haven't been able to listen to these few songs since Madrid.
Then there's a booklet containing all the lyrics, listings of releases and recording sessions and even books, a couple of stream-of-consciousness articles on what Joy Division were all about and a more straightforward, strictly journalistic account from "Mojo" (courtesy of good ol' Jon Savage, one of the compilers). The photos are pretty eye-catching, too -- particularly the vidcaps.
Sure, some stuff got left on the cutting-room floor (the typo-ridden liner notes acknowledge this). Sure, you may never hear their version of "Louie Louie." And, sure, the songs and the lyrics and the packaging all whisper that eternal "What if. . . ?" When you're talking about a band like Joy Division (and especially a man like Ian Curtis), there will always necessarily be more questions than answers. At the very least, "Heart and Soul" tips the ratio a bit more in our favor.
on August 29, 2001
Oh, dear, poor America. Has it taken them this long to receive the box set? Oh, the cruelty. Mind you, everyone's probably imported it.
This takes me back. I remember being in Florida surrounded by sun, sea, and pneumatic women, and all I could think about was getting back home to hear 'Unknown Pleasures'. Perverse? Absolutely, but when that velvety dark treacle washes over you....Mmmmmm. For ages I thought he was singing "where will we live?" and "there's no room for the weeds". I thought it was a song about housing problems in Manchester. And "the way to Rome". What was he doing in Rome, about to be thrown to the lions? There's a lyric book now to set you straight, although there are annoying printing errors. You used to get a lot of that from Factory Records, their now defunct label, which once released a New Order live video with wrong track listings. Curtis lyrics stand up on there own as poetry and it's a testament to the guy that I can still quote so much of 'Closer' off the bat while I've forgotten Bowie's, or whatever. He was a genius at the opening line which pulls you into a song. "This is the hour where the mysteries emerge..." There, he's got you. It's not easy just to write about emotions in an abstract way and he was the master. Some lyrics like "the blood of Christ on their skins" are a bit of a cringe but you can put that down to youth. Also I don't think he'd lived enough to claim he'd "Walked through water, run through fire", but what the hell.
The music? Well, the first thing I ever heard of theirs was 'Atmosphere' over the radio and i thought it was awful, mainly because of the dodgy vocals. I still think so, but I'm glad I persevered, with qualifications. 'Unknown Pleasures' borrows a lot from the Velvets. 'Closer' sounds a bit progressive rock (which all musicians end up doing, come what may) with hippy lyrics about journeying to the sun, but let's not carp. It's Genius. The only thing missing is their 'Warsaw' bootleg version of 'No Love Lost', which was classic. This is a fantastic release.
on January 8, 2004
It strikes me how ahead of their time this band was. A mostly guitar band who's production sensibilities forshadowed some of what "electronica" has done over the past twenty years..or a least in the progressive margins. Not so surprising when you know that the surviving members of this band made many great dance classics and were big supporters of dance music life. Whether any of us would have seen Ian Curtis boping around at a rave party in ' 91 if he had lived that long is another perplexing Joy Division question. Certainly none of this sounds like the Junior Vasquez mix of New Order's "Regret" that came out ten years ago now. But you do get Joy Division, and more perspective on history, human organizations and their flaws and human frailty in general than I am sure going to get from my state college education. I just watched a Dead Kennedys live tape that was buried in my collection made the same time as Joy Division was doing their work. Ian Curits in his take on the horrors of humanity and what we seem capable of doing to each other as well as the vast sorrows that this creates...does lack the sarcasm and more straight forward "**** you!" that Jello Biafra had while they both were intellects. Additonally, punk purists may not have had patience for their evolution into studio processing, synthsizers and very early drum machines. Some may find a band's or an artists' evolution very exciting and downright inspiring. This is music for people that make music. Again, that shows how close to the "punk" spirit they really were. They make YOU want to form a band. But..one warning..my box set was not made very well..and the cardboard fell apart. I just have the CD's in a disc folder ...a disappointment considering how packaging and quality were always New Order, Factory and Joy Division mainstays.
on May 26, 2004
First of all, I have reviewed several items and this is only the second time I have granted one with 5 stars (the other being The Wipers box-set) so don't confuse me with the kind of people who give an album five stars if they like the way a singer phrases some of the words on the fifth track. I only give the best 5 stars. This means, obviously, that this is the best. On disc one, you have Disorder, a song which takes the listener straight to Manchester at night time with all the shining lights being viewed from a passing car. I've yet to meet someone who doesn't see those things when they hear that song. Insight, Candidate, Wilderness...it goes on & on. Interzone doesn't sound great on this disc compared to the version on disc three. The highlights, in my opinion, are New Dawn Fades, Day Of The Lords and Excercise One. One is shocked when they hear The Only Mistake or Something Must Break because you wonder how these songs were not included on any of the bands LP's. Disc two contains the most touching music I have ever heard. The Closer material is exceptionnaly astonishing. Sound Of Music is a very good rarity. Isolation is a song that nobody in this world could possibly dislike. Colony = adrenaline. A Means To An End is possibly my favourite JD song. Heart & Soul is one of Curtis' best pieces of poetry. Twenty Four Hours is another frantic slice of brilliance. Then come The Eternal and Decades - no words could describe, no actions determine. Love Will Tear Us Apart + These Days are just...unexplainable. Then comes disc three : absolute enjoyment. Lot's of intriuging stuff. The Drawback is great. These Days and Interzone sound better than ever. Transmission sounds a bit dull and flat but yet doesn't fail to arouse interest. It closes with Ceremony and In A Lonely Place, two songs that you will not care about the bad quality if you listen to the beautiful melodies. Curtis must have been aware of his fates coming, because Ceremony couldn't be more poignant. Disc four is unexplainable. Joy Division were a live band. No doubt about it. Just when Dead Souls sounds as if it's about to break, Curtis comes in and powers it straight ahead. Every song is breathtaking live. The only flaws are towards the end from the later concerts : Peter Hook has gone terribly wrong during Heart & Soul (what is he playing?) and Isolation sounds a bit lifeless although is still very listenable. This is more than just music. It's a whole way of life. There are hundreds of people out there waiting to hear this music and be taken away by it's stunning power and, whether you like it or not, as Curtis did, they will live and die for the unexplainable beauty that he sings about in the last verse of Isolation.
on December 29, 2003
Of all the bands to come out of the punk era and its aftermath, I would view Joy Division as the best and, possibly, the most influential. From the perspective of uniqueness, nobody sounds quite like Ian Curtis, whose voice is characterized by a largely monotone self-expression of his longing and despair, or Peter Hook who, with his haunting and propulsive yet melodic sound, is the best bass player of the past 25 years for my money.
As another reviewer has touched upon, I would approach listening to this music as a cathartic act to be taken in small doses. It cannot be denied that much that lies within these discs is depressing to varying extents. However, there is also a sense of poetic beauty in songs like "Atmosphere," "Heart and Soul," and "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
Unlike their contemporaries, Joy Division also infused a degree of intellectualism and deconstructionism into their music, thanks to Curtis's literary sense and the band's production sensibilities. Deciphering the lyrics on some songs conjures up abstract paintings, emotional trauma, and metaphors of infamous historical events. This box set aptly encapsulates the enigma that is Joy Division, a rock band for the ages.
on September 11, 2003
The premise of HEART AND SOUL is simple: take nearly everything ever recorded by Joy Division, add some alternate versions and live tracks, and put them on 4 CDs.
Granted, this is only possible because Joy Division's career was cut short by the suicide of singer/lyricist Ian Curtis, but that doesn't make HEART AND SOUL any less monumental. This is one of the few box sets that one might even consider purchasing as an introduction to a band. Of course, there are very few people (and I'm one of them) who would be willing to pay for a high priced box set when their only previous exposure is "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and perhaps NIN's cover of "Dead Souls," but I digress.
This box set is essential for any fan of Joy Division, even those who have already purchased all their previous albums (UNKNOWN PLEASURES, CLOSER, SUBSTANCE, and STILL), because of the aforementioned unreleased tracks, as well as the stunning booklet, which includes not only the standard band history and and waxing peotic, but all of Joy Division's lyrics, as well as a complete discography and sessionography, making it an invaluable resource to fans.
In short, if you've heard enough Joy Division songs to know that you like them, then it's worth your money to get HEART AND SOUL and discover that you love them.
on August 25, 2003
I had reviewed this box set before under a different name, but now I must review it again. Four years later, it is still in regular rotation in my CD collection. It is that unbearably good. From Peter Hook's melodic basslines, to Stephen Morris' annoyingly precise human-drum-machine rhythms, to Bernard Sumner's buzzsaw guitar and atmospheric keyboards, to Ian Curtis...there are no words to dsecribe him anymore. Any word in human tongue simply does not do justice to this man. His voice as an instrument of despair and ecstasy, his words as a conduit for his as well as our own primordial self-destructive urges, our base animal inclinations to do harm upon others as well as ourselves. Listening to Joy Division is painful as well as cathartic. Their music was beautiful and ugly at the same time, revelling in humanity, at the same time condemning it. It both loves and hates us, and thus it loves and hates itself. It was music with bad production and technique, but we didn't care. It was good music by a good band, but nobody knew how or why. People looking for reason or rhyme...you will not find it here. All you will find is the complete studio recordings, the last great legacy of a band whose influence still carries on. All of "Unknown Pleasures," "Closer," and "Substance" will be found here, as well as some live tracks, and a couple from "Still." This is about as complete as you can get...it is THE essential collection of Joy Division's music. Buy it, hurt, and enjoy.
on February 19, 2003
I became interested in New Order several years ago (the 80's) and have always liked them very much. I didn't realize that they were actually the surviving members of Joy Division until I started actually reading about them. I loved New Order so much, I naturally had to listen to Joy Division. I started listening and didn't quite get it. I didn't quite get why people would practically swoon and sweat while listening to this music. The booklet that accompanies this disc is ridiculous, to me (IMHO). As I was reading it and listening to the music simultaneously, I couldn't help but giggle and chuckle at this writer. What is it with the cult that surrounds one of the most depressing (depressed) human beings who ever got behind a microphone? Are they all depressed, too? Anyway, I bought this box-set because I do think Joy Division are an important and influential band and, having a somewhat extensive CD library, to me, it's a must have (and lest I forget, there are a lot of superb songs on these 4 CDs). But, after listening to these CD's, I've come to the conclusion that New Order is/was Joy Division liberated. And I personally believe that Bernard Sumner's singing is terrific! I much prefer them and him to Joy Division and Curtis. But, as I said, that's just my humble opinion. LISTEN ON, PEOPLE!
on November 30, 2001
Everything you've ever heard about Joy Division is true. They were a truly incredible band, even as Ian Curtis' vocals quickly dropped from ferocity to unsteady. Make no mistake, by the time Joy Division recorded 'Closer', Curtis had lost his vocal skill, whether to epilepsy or loss of soul. Doesn't matter - 'Closer' is a brilliant unforgettable record. This massive box set is equally wonderful, the only tracks left out are live tracks better unheard. (Their version of 'Sister Ray' is NOT superior to the original. Not at all.)
The quality and content are great - you MUST hear this stuff. The problem I have is with the packaging. I bought the UK version - no different from the version now available in America. The glue was so weak that the CD cases shifted, dropping the actual CDs on the floor. Since every CD holds about 80 minutes, a scuff & nick matters a lot. Great CD-closers like "In a Lonely Place", "These Days" & "From Safety to Where?" were scratched, or at least threatened to. I had to buy this amazing box set twice, so be warned. Buy American! (Will they do it better?, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.....)
(PS: shame on whoever designed the cover art. Ian Curtis looks like a stoned retard. This music isn't half-lid dull, it's nasty sad eye-wide reality...)