I came to Joy Divison in a roundabout way. When ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was released, in fact when any of Joy Division’s stuff was being released, I was totally unaware that it/they existed. In my defence I was a bit young (about 10) and too young to be a post-punk. I was more into Adam and the Ants, Madness and The Specials, and I spent 99p of my £1 pocket money every Saturday morning in John Menzies on whatever had taken my fancy from Thursday night’s Top Of The Pops. I remember running, sprinting up the road with my 7″ of ‘Stand and Deliver’ and playing it to death for the next week.
I didn’t know about Joy Division until 1985 and I discovered the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen et al for myself. I never had a cooler big brother or sister or cousin or uncle. I didn’t know anyone that was cool. At school everyone was into Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo and all that crap. The big album round about Christmas 1983 was Paul Young’s ‘No Parlez’. You can get it these days in any charity shop that still sells vinyl. That and Michael Bolton’s back catalogue. Paul Young had hair like a bog brush, wore suits that looked like they were made out of blue tinfoil and he had thought he sung like Otis Redding when I now know he sounded more like Noel Redding than any black man I’ve ever heard sing. I taped ‘No Parlez’ from someone, and that’s where I first heard ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. I thought Paul Young wrote it. It sounded like one of his songs. Slow. Dead slow. Took ages to finish. Was full of keyboards and wanky fretless bass. It wasn’t very good. Fast forward a couple of years. In 1985 I was an album-buying geek. I read sleevenotes. I knew who produced albums, where they were recorded, who wrote what. I was at my pal’s one night and we were going through his old albums and laughing (Lionel Richie ‘All Night Long’, Go West ‘Live’!!!) and I found his copy of ‘No Parlez’. Reading the sleevenotes was when I found out that that ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was a Joy Division song. I went out and found the 7″ in a second-hand stall. It sounded fantastic and I played it to death. Even more than ‘Stand and Deliver’. I bought everything I could find that said ‘Joy Divison’ on it. Then I found out that Joy Division had become New Order. I was off and running again. Spending money I didn’t have on singles and albums I had to have. You just don’t get that rush from downloading.
Here’s some rare Joy Divison for you:
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ February ’79 Peel Session
‘Transmission‘ Martin Rushent demo, Eden Studios London
‘Chance‘ (early demo of ‘Atmosphere’) Pennine Sound Studios Oldham
and here’s a couple of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ cover versions:
French disco outfit Nouvelle Vague‘s jazzy, almost bossa nova, female-sung version with added wave effects. Squarepusher‘s faithful version from their ‘Do You Know Squarepusher?’ (answer: Radiohead certainly do. The wee thieves) that sounds like it’s sung by David Gedge of the Wedding Present.