With the exception of Joy Division's last single, Love Will Tear Us Apart, which faded out gradually into the anguished silence of singer Ian Curtis' suicide, none of the band's songs ever really ended; they either fell apart or collapsed, as if to bring about a proper end to something beyond their grasp. Joy Division couldn't stand still…
If Preston finally provided a live Joy Division experience that was worth the purchase price, Les Bains Douches trumped it and then some. Actually compiled from two differing dates – the title performance itself, in Paris, and a further show in Amsterdam two months later that had been heavily bootlegged – Les Bains Douches, with the benefit of clearer sound than Preston, finally presents the experience of live Joy Division as the explosive event it was. There aren't any noticeable technical problems with the performances either, unlike some of the problems noticed on Preston, and with everything running smoothly the foursome simply and totally let go.
The Heart and Soul set rectified the errors of Still by including some far better live performances on its fourth and final disc, but Joy Division aficionados spoke of even better recordings still never formally released. This complaint was settled with Preston, the first of two archival concert recordings, both of which finally do justice to the band's stage work. It's an important point, since Joy Division were a band able to work on three different levels with equal brilliance – on singles, album, and in concert – and Preston is the first real document able to demonstrate the latter point beyond question. Though the performance was beset with technical woes, as the members audibly mention at points between songs, there was still definite magic in the air.
Joy Division is one of the definitive bands from the rock culture. With their dark poetic inception and a sound marked by a new way of thinking about how music should be created, the Manchester band served as a model for countless artists. Today, just as it marks 35 years of the death of Ian Curtis (the legendary singer and lyricist of the group) The Many Faces Of Joy Division shows the hidden world behind the group, their rare recordings, side projects, their influences and the Manchester scene where the band bloomed. With a wonderful cover art, remastered sound and extensive liner notes, The Many Faces of Joy Division is an album not only for fans but for anyone who wants to understand the influence (and enjoy the music) of a truly transcendent bad, which made beauty out of sadness.
If Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division at their most obsessively, carefully focused, ten songs yet of a piece, Closer was the sprawl, the chaotic explosion that went every direction at once. Who knows what the next path would have been had Ian Curtis not chosen his end? But steer away from the rereading of his every lyric after that date; treat Closer as what everyone else thought it was at first – simply the next album – and Joy Division's power just seems to have grown. Martin Hannett was still producing, but seems to have taken as many chances as the band itself throughout – differing mixes, differing atmospheres, new twists and turns define the entirety of Closer, songs suddenly returned in chopped-up, crumpled form, ending on hiss and random notes.