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Still double LP review

Magazine: Melody Maker (UK)

Publication date: Saturday 17 October 1981

Reviewer: Neil Rowland


 

A BIG THANK YOU

STILL - a commemorative double LP - shows the humility of Joy Division beneath the ice-sculpted productions of the past
Including the last Joy Division performance (at Birmingham University on
May 2, 1980), a version of the Velvet Underground's Sister ray, the French release Dead souls [= Licht und Blindheit], and the A Factory Sample tracks Glass and Digital [the Digital version on Still is the live version performed at Birmingham, not the one mentionned in the article], it adds to the most powerful angst in pop history by displaying the vulnerability, the fragility of Joy Division as a chemical accident unsure of what it was unleashing, what it was touching on, or where it would lead
Joy Division were not depressing or morbid - just a fully developed, highly articulated consciousness expressing itself though the most powerful of art forms - pop music. It's the human condition: life is too painful to live, but death is too horrible to end it
One likes a lot of music. But one can only give oneself completely to one music. A kind of soul. The soul of Donny Hathaway, of Otis Redding, grew from the ghetto, but to Joy Division the soul was their ghetto. They asked for answers from the impossible question, they obsessively sought justification for that for which they bore no responsibility, they tried to understand the incomprehensible
Still, including the deep-set, sullen The final mistake [= The only mistake], is as strong, proud a temple of sadness as Closer. Obviously fragmented, but that's acceptable. The music is as perfect as eternity, but as dangerous to Ian Curtis as if a fireworks display was going off on top of his head
It didn't ever worry me, not even the words of
New dawn fades. I had the opinion that it helped Ian Curtis, but when Closer arrived posthumously the words "I've got to get some therapy, this dreaming takes too long" [from the song Twenty four hours] struck me as making Curtis' words indicative of fantasy. Was he flirting with it as well as feeling it? A kind of shadow-play
Ian Curtis died for no-one except himself. Maybe not even for himself. I make no assumptions from his suicide and refuse to draw from the intense insecurity and loneliness of Joy Division's music to explain it. I want to avoid helping to make Curtis one of those hideous symbols - like Jim Morrison. It would be great if we could keep him as a human being
I think the real tragedy in Joy Division's music and of
Ian's death of the unending sorrows we have to suffer, the inexplicable agonies and betrayals, is that there is no-one to blame
"... This is the crisis I knew had to come, destroying the balance I'd kept. Doubting, unsettling, and turning around - wondering what will come next. Is this the road that you want me to live? I was foolish to ask for so much. Without the protection and infancy's guard it all falls apart at first touch. Watching the rear as it comes to a close, brutally taking its time. People who change for no reason at all it's happening all of the time. Can I go on with this train of events disturbing and purging my mind. In account of my duties, when all's said and done, I know that I'll lose every time..." (
Passover)
They didn't change us as people, they understood us as people. They meant more than T-shirts, badges, and the hideousness of after-death commercial success. Our regard for Joy Division should be less demonstrative. It may seem inadequate but I think it's best just to say thank you