Tag Archives: Ian Curtis

Song of the Day: “Day of the Lords” – Joy Division

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is always a great album to break out in the fall. Even though much of the music is played with a with a sort of menace, Martin Hannet’s production creates an eerie atmosphere. The use of space and overall feeling of the performance is just as important as the songs. You put on Unknown Pleasures and you can feel the daylight fading early: the last rays of the sun closing down over the horizon.

I always think of Bernard Sumner’s guitar on Unknown Pleasures playing as a sort of slowed down version of James Williamson’s fiery slash, best evident on Raw Power. Raw Power is of course, the sound of the apocalypse reigning down all around with Iggy front and center, reveling in the destruction and hedonism. Unknown Pleasures is the album for the aftermath.

My favorite track on the album has always been “Day of the Lords”. It’s the song that made me fully appreciate the album and believe the hype and mythology surrounding Joy Division. There’s not much structure to the song other than dissonant noise courtesy of Sumner’s controlled feedback. The sludgy feeling of the song only heightens the tension of Ian Curtis’ bloodcurdling cries of “where will end?”

 

Bowie Collaborations: “Sister Midnight”

I bought the Iggy Pop anthology ” A Million in Prizes” a few years back.  I wanted a good introduction to his career, and I only had the Stooges albums at that point.  The only solo song I knew by Iggy was “Lust for Life”, which I loved.  I expected most of the set to be hard rock, and in the vein of either “Lust for Life” or the Stooges.

The last thing I expected to hear on this set was electronic, Kraftwerk-inspired, sounding funk.  Pop sang into a distorted almost, monotone voice, that recalled little of his Stooges’ days. With any given Stooges song, you felt as if the earth might fall beneath you.  Anything could happen. “Sister Midnight” on the other hand, was tied together tightly, and well constructed.  Yet, the song gave Iggy enough room to breathe something that was rare in a Stooges’ song.  (The only major exception is “We Will Fall”,  a slow-burn of a song, but not representative of the band’s output.)

Bowie co-wrote The Idiot (on which “Sister Midnight”appears) with Pop.  The Idiot is generally regarded as one of Pop’s best albums, and would have an enormous influence on punk and post-punk.  The Edge has cited it as major influence in interviews, and Ian Curtis of Joy Division was found dead with The Idiot spinning on his turn-table.

For Bowie, this collaboration was important in many ways.  Having been strung out on coke during the making of his last album, Station to Station, Bowie moved to Berlin with Pop to begin work on The Idiot, and its follow-up Lust for Life, and what would become known for Bowie as the Berlin Trilogy. Taking the helm for The Idiot, allowed Bowie to experiment and find out what sounds he wanted for his own albums.  As Bowie himself says about The Idiot:

Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn’t have the material at the time, and I didn’t feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else’s work, so that album was opportune, creatively.

 

 

 

“Sister Midnight”: