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IAN CURTIS WOULD'VE APPROVED

Posted by Billyjam, July 15, 2009 01:54pm | Post a Comment
Joy Division
I think Ian Curtis, the late, great lead singer of Joy Division, would have approved of this Caribbean steel band cover of Joy Division's classic song "Transmission." It's by Steel Harmony and was part of Jeremy Deller's Procession from a couple of Sunday afternoons ago in Ian Curtis' hometown of Manchester England. Although, judging by the reaction, or lack thereof, by most of the crowd, I would say that this inspired cover went mostly underappreciated. 

To compare this instrumental steel band version with the original version, below is the band performing it live 33 years ago in Salford, Greater Manchester. "Transmission" was played onstage in the film 24 Hour Party People (available on DVD at Amoeba) in a scene where Curtis suffers an epileptic fit. Orginally a single, the studio version of the song can be found at Amoeba on several Joy Division releases, including the JD collections Substance and The Best of Joy Division. There are also several live versions out there, including one on Joy Division: The Peel Sessions, recorded in 1979. Over the years numerous other artists have covered the song, including UK electropop stars Hot Chip, the Minnesota slowcore group Low, and of course, most recently Steel Harmony.

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out this week 5/26...james blackshaw...phoenix...grizzly bear...blank dogs...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 28, 2009 01:45pm | Post a Comment
blank dogs
I imagine that everybody will be so busy talking about Grizzly Bear this week, they will forget about any other albums that have also come out this week. I am still trying to get into the Grizzly Bear, but it just hasn't been working. I don't neccessarily have a problem with them and maybe they will finally grow on me in the next couple of weeks. It just has not happened yet. But I imagine if you are already a Grizzly Bear fan then you will love this new album -- everybody seems to like it. Some lucky fans got to hear the album early and even buy it early on this Monday here at Amoeba, the day before the album officially came out.

But there are some smaller albums that are getting me very excited this week. First up is the new album by Blank Dogs. The album is called Under & Under and is released by In the Red Records. Blank Dogs is actually just one Blank Dog: one dude from Brooklyn. We seem to know way too much about most artists these days, so I find it refreshing when I know absolutely nothing about an artist. It just makes it all about the music, which is what it should be. This guy even goes so far as to wear masks when he is photographed. Blank Dogs have been putting out music for a couple of years but this is my first real introduction to him. I have long been a fan and will always be a fan of blank dogs under and undershoegaze...and shoegaze this is not, but it does sort of fall into the new genre -- "Shitgaze," brilliant term that makes complete sense. He basically is sort of making up his own weird distorted intrepretation of a genre. It makes it super personal and way more interesting than anything else out there. I am also forever in love with the keyboard, so when it is done right, I usually fall in love with the album. Blank Dogs sound not too different than the synth bands you might have grown up with. Elements of Joy Division, The Cure, and Tuxedomoon are easy to find in these songs. He is not really hiding his influences, but imagine a Jay Reatard type playing with those old genres and making his own sound. The album is dark and dreary but also has a hidden energy inside that make the songs have a sort of more fun, pop feel to them. This is probably the music I would have wanted to play if I had ever continued on my career in music and perfected my keyboard playing skills. Lots of good songs on the album, however, the first track is still my favorite. As much as I love Joy Division, sometimes I need a break. This album is the perfect alternative -- giving you the darkness you desire but with a little something else. Maybe if Ian Curtis had found the right medication and managed to survive the 80s and 90s, this is the sort of album he would have ended up making.
james blackshaw
One of my other favorites of the week is the new James Blackshaw. This guy has been around for a while but I have never actually gotten around to listening to him...although it is very possible that I did listen to him before and it just didn't hit me until now. I honestly always thought this guy was some 60 something Irish dude playing old timey folky ballads. I pictured him with a long white beard and maybe in a wheelchair -- not unlike Robert Wyatt. I was amazed to find out he was actually born in 1981, and he is from London...so I was not so far off on his location, just a bit off on my guess of his age. He has been putting out albums since 2004. He made his way to the label Young God for this new album called Glass Bead Game. Like the albums of Grouper and Jose Gonzalez, this album manages to break my heart a little every time I listen to it. At first it just seems like a simple little album of solo guitar and piano, but it managed to get inside me and break me all up inside. It was one of those albums that I put on not really exjames blackshaw glass bead gamepecting to like, but I was intrigued because it was on Young God. I just expected some Glenn Yarbrough style vocals over the music. I have not had a chance to explore his old albums, but I know he has crossed some boundaries and experimented with a couple different genres. I just like what he is doing right now. There is also some great piano work on this album. The Glass Bead Game is actually the last book by author Hermann Hesse, the man who brought us Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. The album features Joolie Wood on violin, clarinet, and flute; and also John Contreras playing the cello, both of whom also play with Current 93. Lavinia Blackwall also contributes some vocals, but most of album is instrumental. The album is nothing short of beautiful. While it manages to break my heart every time I listen to it, it also mangages to heal it every time. The album is sort of a spiritual classical album. It really makes me feel like I am living in a different era.

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out this week 11/11...girl talk...new order...the smiths...pelle carlberg...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 13, 2008 04:20pm | Post a Comment
new order
I was a New Order fan way before I was a Joy Division fan. I know most people would claim the other way around. I am sure you hear some people born in 1985 who claim to have liked Joy Division before they liked New Order, but it is just not possible for some of us. Joy Division was formed in 1976, when I was 2 years old. Ian Curtis committed suicide days after my sixth birthday. We simply didn't cover this event in my Kindergarten class. Joy Division were not on Sesame Street. It really was not until 1987 when I started getting into New Order. The double album Substance came out in 1987. It still remains one of my favorite albums. It was one of the albums that shaped who I am today. It probably was also one of the first albums that I was absolutely obsessed with. I am sure it has a special place in the heart of many. The first album by them I remember actually buying was Technique, which came out in January of 1989. I was in ninth grade and not really ready for the 80s to be over. I actually think I had a dubbed cassette of Technique and Substance before I actually bought any album by them. Within the next couple of years I joy divisionpicked up most of the New Order albums and the two studio albums of Joy Division. I quickly fell in love with Joy Division as well, but for different reasons. I was also a Morrissey fan before being a Smiths fan. It was always exciting to go back and discover a band that was over before I was old enough to actually listen to them while they were happening. I fell in love with New Order-- there was just no avoiding it. They were everything I wanted in a band. They were also really unavoidable during the 80s and 90s. New Order were all over the radio and you would most likely hear them everywhere else you went. You would hear them in the mall or at your friends' house. DJs loved New Order. You would most likely hear them at any school dance, dance club, party, wedding, or bar mitzvah that you went to. They were a band that was easy to fall in love with. Joy Division captured that inner new orderdepression and angst that many of us felt, but New Order captured that more fun and optimistic side that many of us also identified with. Joy Division and New Order were sort of two sides of a coin. They have both remained with me ever since. I still never get tired of hearing "True Faith" or "Blue Monday."

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IAN CURTIS' HEADSTONE STOLEN

Posted by Billyjam, July 2, 2008 04:53pm | Post a Comment

In a creepy crime similar to an incident that happened to the late Mac Dre's resting place three years ago when the slain Vallejo rapper's headstone was stolen, the gravestone of former Joy Division front man Ian Curtis was stolen sometime between yesterday and this morning from the Macclesfield Cemetery in Cheshire, England.

As reported earlier today by the BBC, "Detectives said the stone, which has the inscription "Ian Curtis 18 -5 -80" and the words "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was taken...There is no CCTV in the area and there are no apparent leads as to who is responsible for the theft."

The local authorities went on to speculate that the recent surge in interest in the singer might have led to the unusual theft. Last year's biopic on the singer, Control, and the documentary, Joy Division, which was released earlier this year, have both undoubtedly led to an increase in interest in the talented Curtis, who hung himself in the kitchen of his nearby Macclesfield home back in May 1980 when he was 23. Cheshire police have pleaded with anyone who has information to contact them.

This incident brings to mind both the theft of Jim Morrison's headstone from P’re Lachaise Cemetery in Paris in 1990, and the aforementioned Andre (Mac Dre) Hicks graveside robbery from Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery in 2005.  Despite the fact that a large reward was posted for the recovery of Mac Dre's headstone (and a beat-down promised if the perp was ever caught), the headstone was never recovered. Eventually it was replaced with a new one that was tightly secured.

He's Lost Control Again! The UnControllable Hulk

Posted by Charles Reece, June 21, 2008 12:12pm | Post a Comment

An experimental mishap with gamma radiation transforms Joy Division frontman into uncontrollable Id.

As a young lad in Manchester, Bruce Banner discovered a love for the proto-punk music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.  Although possessing a high aptitude for science, Bruce dreamed of being a rock star. However, he had to pay the bills, so he took a top secret government research job in what back in the days of WWII was called the Super Soldier Project. The Project was an intergovernmental operation existing between the Yanks and Brits. What it produced was a gamma-radiated concoction called, appropriately enough, the super-soldier serum. After testing it out unsuccessfully on a bunch of minority servicemen in the US Army, the science team found one skinny white dude named Steve Rogers who was turned into the Nazi-fighting hero, Captain America (soon to get his own feature film -- directed by John Cassavetes' son, Nick -- which, in turn, will lead into an Avengers movie). Poor old Cap was frozen in ice and thought to be dead, leaving it a mystery what was so special about his cellular structure. But Bruce is unaware of the Project's history, naÏvely believing he is using his degree in molecular biology for finding a cure to epilepsy, not developing a human killing machine.

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