By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
This week's Joy Division/New Order tribute show is hardly unprecedented. Scads of national and international artists have rehashed bits of both groups' bodies of work over the years -- with varying degrees of success.
Something About Joy Division (1990)
An odd assortment of unknown Italian outfits did it first, and possibly best, with a nice assortment of somber ballads and energetic guitar outbursts. Hard to find but worth the effort.
A Means to an End (1995)
A modern, major-label, Americanized version of the above, with names like Girls Against Boys, GodheadSilo, and Face to Face. Highlights include Kendra Smith's harrowing "Heart and Soul," Billy Corgan's electronic update of "Isolation," and Stanton-Miranda's cheery "Love Will Tear Us Apart," starring Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo on guitar.
Nine Inch Nails
"Dead Souls," The Crow Soundtrack (1995)
Remember when Nine Inch Nails could do no wrong? This version was often mistaken for a Trent Reznor original by young-'n'-dumb industrial-rock fans.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart," No Parlez (1983)
It's well known to Joy Division fans that producer Martin Hannett and Factory Records boss Tony Wilson primed Curtis' performance on his best-known work by making the singer listen to Ol' Blue Eyes' 40 Great Songs. But in trying too hard to twist "Love Will Tear Us Apart" into a refined, romantic, slow-paced torch song, Young spoils it.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" 12-inch single (1988); later reissued on Various Failures 1988-1992
Two versions of this cover exist, and if you can locate the original red-vinyl release, you have a true collector's item. Jarboe's soft, delicate version is available on a recent Swans compilation. Michael Gira's self-described "regrettable" version, however, is very difficult to locate -- on purpose. "It's a great song," he told me a few years ago. "I just don't think I did a good job singing it."
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" (2000); available as an MP3 on thecure.com
Cure singer Robert Smith said he was scared he wouldn't be able to do it justice. His fears were warranted. To rinse the taste of "Love" out of your ears, try the band's two blatant New Order rip-offs: "The Walk," which stole brazenly from "Blue Monday," and later "In Between Days," which borrowed extensively from any number of nimble Hook bass lines.
"She's Lost Control" (1981)
With Sly and Robbie's robotic reggae riddims reducing the song to its skeletal frame, Jones' bored, almost catatonic spoken-word rendition seems to unveil a tale of drug addiction as well as psychic unraveling: "And she screamed out kicking on her side and said, "I've lost control again....'"
"Blue Monday" (1998)
Maybe the most well-known cover song here. Orgy identifies the song's mean streak, adding a vicious, electronic edge that toughens up the tune considerably.
Oyster Band/Poi Dog Pondering
"Love Vigilantes" (1989-1990)
Both versions hone in on the folksiness and lyrical directness of the tune, one of New Order's most atypical, yet now defining, songs.
"Bizarre Love Triangle" (1993)
A testament to the Australian group's formidable arrangement skills, Frente!'s "Bizarre Love Triangle" takes the strobe-lit, dance-floor workout and adapts it to gentle acoustic guitar and soft female voice.
Pastoral and gray at the same time, Galaxie 500 softens and elongates the original, creating a very moving and soothing homage.
John Denver sued New Order over this song, claiming its chord sequence was ripped off from his "Leaving on a Jet Plane" -- and won. Austin's Silver Scooter turns in an energetic, picture-perfect indie version.
Fans of Joy Division and New Order would do well to investigate a few of the other groups coming up in Manchester at the same time, primarily the Fall and the Buzzcocks. A handful of bands on Factory Records' roster circa 1980 to 1985 operated in JD/NO's shadow, sharing several sonic similarities. Of these the Durutti Column bends the punk aesthetic with a prodigious classical streak; A Certain Ratio adds a dose of horn-y, white-boy funk; Crispy Ambulance was so similar to Joy Division that singer Ian Hempsall often filled in when Curtis fell ill; and Section 25, a Blackpool group, basically limped along next to Joy Division and then New Order like a club-footed stepbrother. After the dark, PIL-like Always Now and the more psychedelic The Key of Dreams, Section 25 hit its stride with the Bernard Sumnerproduced From the Hipin 1983. Full of the wonder of the new electronic gadgetry of the day, songs like "Looking From a Hilltop" and "Inspiration" throb and shimmer, certain to please followers of New Order's very similar Power, Corruption & Lies album.
The Durutti Column
The Return of the Durutti Column (1979) Domo Arigato (1985)
The Guitar and Other Machines (1988)A Certain Ratio
The Graveyard and the Ballroom (1979) The Old & The New (1985)
The Plateau Phase (1982)
Always Now (1981)
From the Hip (1984)
Love & Hate (In the English Countryside) (1988)