Doing a 180: Joy Division, Still / Substance

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Doing a 180: Joy Division, Still / Substance

It seems a bit odd to say this, given how long they’ve been defunct, but it’s true: 2015 has been a big year for Joy Division. On June 27, the band’s classic single “Love Will Tear Us Apart” celebrated its 35th anniversary, a momentous occasion which inspired us to go 180-gram crazy and do vinyl reissues of four of the band’s albums. Last month, you may recall that 1979’s Unknown Pleasures and 1980’s Closer hit the LP bins of your friendly neighborhood record store, and if you pay them a visit now, you’ll be able to find the other two albums we promised you.

Still: Although a compilation album at heart, and an occasionally ragged one at that, this collection is nonetheless generally considered to be a definitive entry in the Joy Division catalog because of the previously-unreleased material that made its debut amongst its four sides. Arguably the most famous inclusion is “Ceremony,” which was performed precisely once in concert by Joy Division but went on to be known better as a New Order single, but there are a number of gems here, including a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray.”

Substance: Truth be told, if you’re going to own only one Joy Division album, Substance is the way to go, mostly just because it’s as close to a definitive look at the band’s short but influential career as you’re likely to find. The original version of the compilation that was released in 1999 was pretty great to begin with, but this expanded 2-LP version is even better. Granted, there are only two additional songs – “As You Said” and the Pennine version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – but it still provides a little bit more to the Joy Division story, plus the 180-gram remasters make the music sound better than ever.