Review: Cutting to the chase in an attempt to avoid something cliched like 'what an honour it is to write something on a Joy Division album', it's astounding that 'Closer' has now passed the 40 year mark. Perhaps not as immediate and certainly less familiar to many compared with their 'Unknown Pleasures' debut, in many ways this serves the record well. It's an altogether more experimental beast in terms of song structures and ideas, and as such doesn't feel definitive of a moment but instead timeless. That said, this is still very much a case of perhaps the greatest post punk band of all time delivering a masterpiece difficult second LP, with audible hallmarks of act and era. From opener, 'Atrocity Exhibition', through the whispered and suppressed 'Heart & Soul' and onto the beguiling 'Decades', 'Closer' makes it painfully clear that had circumstances been less tragic Joy Division would likely have continued to deliver for many more years than fate allowed.
Review: No mater how many times you hear it, you just cannot resist air drumming and foot stomping to Joy Division's most famous hit. It's a track that resonates through the ages, and when you know the story of lead singer Ian Curtis it always takes on extra sombre resonance. Here it gets a special remaster and is served up with a special Pennie Version which sends the drums into overdrive and mad echo and distortion all make the track that bit more frenzied, intense and essential. The short but sweet, hard hitting post punk banger "These Days" is also included on this heavyweight 12".
Review: Warner has worked on a run of Joy Division reissues this month and after their most famous "Love Will Tear Us Apart" comes "Transmission" which is not far behind. A 2020 Digital Remaster reboots the sounds but retains the grit and urgency of the original, which is a surging post-punk anthem filled with angst but also a sense of vulnerability and melancholy that makes it so much more enduring. "Novelty" on the flip has a broken beat line, gauzy guitar riffs and is underpinned by an excellent insistent baseline that never lets up.
Review: A year on from the untimely demise of arguably the most influential British musician of the last fifty years, and on the eve of what would have been his seventieth birthday, here we have the opportunity to view his whole jaw-dropping career across the course of two slabs of wax. From the cosmic dread of 'Space Oddity' all the way to the reflective melancholy of 'I Can't Give Everything Away', it's a magnificent testimony to a restless muse that never stopped moving into unchartered territory in search of new adventure. These songs will outlive us all.
Review: All of Joy Division's biggest hits have been remastered and reissues by Warner this month. This particular heavyweight wedge of 12" vinyl offers "Atmosphere", which interestingly enough was first put in March 1980 by the Sordide Sentimental label as a France-only single under the title "Licht und Blindheit". Like "Transmission" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart", it is an essential tune with a real moodiness in the production rom Martin Hamnett. Curtis's vocals have a sense of finality to them that was to prove all too real when he committed suicide not long after recording it. 1979's "She's Lost Control" is an other archetypal, angular groove with the jittery drums that made the band so essential.
Review: After Beady Eye split in 2014, Liam Gallagher appeared conflicted about whether he would pursue a solo career, resolving in 2016 that this year's album was set in stone. Fans of previous work will undoubtedly be contented with solo debut 'As You Were', with it channelling the British pop influence, singalong riffs and the classic anthemic writing that Oasis were famed for. As expected from a Gallagher brother, the album is drenched in hubris, but Liam lets his guard down with surprising and rare moments of what seems to be vulnerability. Aside from the cocky rock and roll swagger, it's these moments that give 'As You Were' a little more depth than people were perhaps expecting.
Review: Liam Gallagher is many things to many people, and one thing to everyone - authentic. It seems unthinkable we could question the indie roller's motives, or expect anything other than the "meat and veg rock" he described his own work as during a 2018 interview with The Guardian. "Why Me? Why Not" sees him take that mantra to new heights. As an album it's as accomplished and polished as anything this pied piper of the raw and unpolished has gifted us in the years after *that band*, making for an immediately engaging collection of anthems-in-the-making that will have crowds eating out of the palm of his hand as if they'd never seen his hand before, or tasted any of the food he's been feeding them for years now. And therein lies the reason it remains impossible to criticise this undeniably upfront British songwriter. Enough said.
Arnold Layne (Recorded live At The Barbican Centre, London At The Syd Barrett Tribute Concert) (3:47)
Review: Here's a Record Store Day 2020 special that all Pink Floyd fans will want to take a look at: an etched, single-sided seven-inch single featuring a previously unreleased version of Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era favourite 'Arnold Lane'. It was recorded at The Madcaps Last Laugh concert in 2007, a tribute to band co-founder Syd Barrett. It features three Floyd members - David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - alongside vocalist Jon Carin, whose singing is very similar to that of Barrett, and bassist Andy Bell. It's a fairly faithful rendition all told, and one with added weight given the travails of Barrett after he left Pink Floyd in the late 1960s.
Review: Somehow summoning the chutzpah and spirit to go bigger-better-faster-more on each one of their albums thus far, Muse here dish out another feverish, histrionic and mightily compelling collection of widescreen art-rock stompers. With the help of none other than 'Mutt' Lange in the producer's chair, the Teignmouth three-piece make a record with an epic scope and grandstanding aplomb that could put it in the ring with any of the stadium acts he's worked with in times of yore. With an anti-war theme surrounding ditties that loom large in the imagination, 'Drones' is another bold step for this unlikely trio.
Review: Earl Sweatshirt's Feet of Clay album from late in 2019 was tantalisingly short in length, but not short in quality. The raw, woozy record found him exploring ambiguous wordplay that will keep you entertained trying to unpack it all for many hours. He himself described the 15 minute work as "a collection of observations and feelings recorded during the death throes of a crumbling empire" and it makes for a physical yet abstract record with emotion to spare. From gloomy and introverted r&b styles to more distorted jazz and loop beats, his silky tones always unify each track with great allure.