In Life, Joy Division Singer Ian Curtis was only one of thousands of young Britons whose lives were transformed by punk, who found in the music's corrosive simplicity an ideal vehicle for self-expression and instant physical release. But the brooding intensity of Curtis's lyrics and the strange power of his singing became the stuff of legend with his tragic suicide in 1980. And rightly so, up to a point. His death was not, as some myth makers suggested, a real-life metaphor for his music. His recordings with joy Division, however, were remarkable in their vivid, brutal articulation of a generation's pain and frustration. Four of the best are included on Substance — "Transmission." "She's Lost Control." "Atmosphere" and the still-breathtaking "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Alas, this collection's scattershot mix of singles and demos does not quite do JD's legacy justice. Unknown Pleasures and Ceremony are still in print and remain essential to any true appreciation of this seminal band. Ian Curtis did not die for our sins, as a British critic once claimed in a fit of earnest hype. But he did give his all. You owe it to him to recieve it in full.
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