Substance Review

artist: Joy Division date: 07/17/2008 category: compact discs
Joy Division: Substance
Release Date: 1988
Label: Qwest
Genres: Post-Punk
Number Of Tracks: 17
Substance has all the singles that any American has probably heard on any good jukebox.
 Sound: 9.5
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
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reviews (2) 4 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Substance Reviewed by: sattelitecity, on january 07, 2008
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Sound: This album is a compilation of Joy Division's greatest hits, and is not only a prominent album because it profiles their astounding career, but because it contains many of their great songs never released on an album. As it's a profile of their entire career, this album doesn't have one sound, but many. Many songs show the rawness and punk feel of early Joy Division when they were first developing their sound, whereas others demonstrate the band's progression to slower, more haunting and melodic songs. Although they are labelled by most as post-punk, Joy Division's sound on substance is completely unique, and doesn't truly conform to any particular genre. // 10

Lyrics: As always, Ian Curtis' lyrics are hauntingly beatiful. He was an avid writer, and his lyrics on every song show his depth and diversity as a poet. Although the progression of Joy Division's sound can be seen on this album, it arguably also shows how Ian Curtis' themes and lyrics stayed relatively the same throughout their career. This being said, earlier in their career when Joy Division had a rougher sound, Curtis' lyrics were in stark contrast to the band's style of music, while they gradually became more compliant with Joy Division's sound in their later days. Though his skill as a lyricist compensates for this, Ian Curtis' vocal range leaves much to be desired. He mostly sings in a monotonous baritone voice, which takes some getting used to, but can be easily overlooked. // 10

Overall Impression: It is hard to draw comparisons between Substance and their other albums as it demonstrates both the highs and lows (which are still pretty high) of Joy Division. However, being essentially a greatest hits, it can be agreed that it is a magnificent compilation with every song bringing something new and different but always beatiful to the album. This is a must-have for any die-hard fan not wanting to hunt down Joy Division singles. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Substance Reviewed by: Drifting182, on july 17, 2008
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Joy Division were a 4-piece post-punk group led by depressed epileptic Ian Curtis, who would commit suicide in 1980, just days before the release of the band's second LP Closer and the rocketing of the single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" to the top of the charts. Backed by guitarist Bernard Sumner's textural guitar lines, Peter Hook's warm, melodic bass lines and Stephen Morris' robotic drumming, Curtis' songs of lost love and depression greatly influenced later post-punk and goth groups such as the Smiths and the Cure. Following Curtis' death, the band would change their name to New Order and head into synth-pop territory. Substance is a compilation of the band's singles and non-LP output, released in 1988 to complement New Order's singles compliation of the same name. // 9

Lyrics: Things start off with the leading two tracks from the An Ideal for Living EP, when the band was still performing under the name Warsaw. "Warsaw" is a typical punkish number, while "Leaders of Men" is scratchy, Gang of Four-inflected post-punk, held together by a fat riff. "Digital" marks the first use of Ian Curtis' signature baritone. The song itself is held together by a playful bass line that conveys an interesting counterpoint to Curtis' paranoid lyrics. Up next is "Transmission," one of Joy Division's most famous singles for good reason. The instrumental backing on this track is among JD's most simplistic (the main riff consists of just two heavily reverberated chords), but the song is unforgettable. Ian takes a rare optimistic stance in the song, and his call in the chorus to "Dance to the radio" is immortal. "She's Lost Control" makes an appearance here, though it's completely reworked from it's Unknown Pleasures incarnation. The lyrics itself tell Ian's story of an epileptic girl he once knew, though the song surely contains some strong autobiographical references. After the brief instrumental filler of "Incubation," we reach the trio of JD's most well-known singles. "Dead Souls" starts off with a two minute solo before launching into a proto-U2 rocker peppered with paranoid ranting that would never be found in Bono's lyrics. "Atmosphere" is one of the all-time great lost love songs (though not JD's greatest). Ian's coice is almost ridiculously deep here, but his sincere words backed with a lush synth atmosphere and hypnotic drum pattern make this song a classic. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is JD's most famous song. The lyrics are an autobiographical tale of Ian's failing relationship with wife Deborah and his conflict on how to move on. Sadly, Ian never did move on, and commited suicide shortly before this song gained JD commercial success. The second half of the album was added when this compilation was released on CD and contains all of JD's b-sides. The appendix starts off with the second half of An Ideal For Living - "No Love Lost" is a punk rock epic (taking a full 2 minutes to start) and the only track that points to a more intricate future for JD's music. "Failures" is a straight-ahead punk rocker not too far removed from the likes of Johnny Thunders or the Sex Pistols. The next few tracks take a cue from Krautrock with jarring guitar noise and thick bass lines making up the foundation of the songs. The "Love Will Tear Us Apart" b-side and final track "These Days" is probably the strongest b-side in this collection, another Curtis lament for the good old days. // 10

Overall Impression: Though the Heart and Soul box set collects all of these singles in remastered format along with JD's two studio albums and rarities, Substance is probably the safest place to start your JD collection. If you enjoy the tracks here do not hesitate to delve into their other studio efforts. // 9

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