Albums You Must Own Number 3 – Closer by Joy Division
When Ian Curtis killed himself hours before post punk group Joy Division were to embark on their first US tour I felt like my own life had ground to a halt. However, they left behind them two amazing albums ‘Unknown Pleasures” and ‘Closer’. Of the two ‘Closer’ nudges ahead for me and is one of my own top ten albums of all time.
‘Closer’ was released on 18 July after the untimely death of Ian in May of that year. It is Joy Division‘s masterpiece and who knows what would have happened to the band if they had gone onto tour the US and release more music from their creative leader Ian. When Ian died so nearly too did Factory Records as this was one of their cornerstone bands and they had yet to sign The Happy Mondays (who incidentally did end up causing the demise of this iconic label). As it was the band survived and formed New Order with Bernard Sumner Joy Division‘s keyboard player on lead vocals and the band went on to bigger things.
Bernard still refuses to listen to ‘Closer’ as it affected him so much at the time.
The album is claustrophobic in its dark melodic tones dragging the listener into a very dark place – likely the recesses of Ian‘s own mind. The single from the album ‘Love will tear us apart’ was their most successful single and only after its release did people realise that it was reflecting Ians quickly disintegrating marriage due to an affair that he had.
There are many other great tracks in the album. ‘Isolation’, ‘Passover’ and ‘Colony’ to name a few. It is not an album to be taken lightly but one that you will want to listen to again and again. The unique sound that the band created and the distinctive quality of Ian’s voice have never been replicated and whilst the band went on after Ian the music did not.
Over the years since the album was released Joy Division have become a “cool” band and this is a good thing as new listeners get to hear this classic yet ultimately tragic music. When I see a black tie-shirt with the cover of either ‘Unknown Pleasures’ or ‘Closer’ it always makes me smile. The enjoyment continues.
Review by Doug Duffin