27 February 2010

Dead Souls

One thing I forgot to mention.

When listening back to the AAC file of Dead Souls I noticed some distortion in Bernard's guitar line at those points where he goes up high on the neck (first time at :49). I thought it may have been the conversion process, or that the FLAC file had a mastering flaw. I asked our friend who is doing the mastering and he pointed out that it's always been there.

Sure enough, I went back to my Factory LP copies of Still and Substance, along with all the subsequent CD issues. It would appear that Martin Hannett recorded the guitar a little too hot, and it's part of the master recording. I'd never noticed before.

That's how good these remasters sound. ;)

JD Recycle 4: Licht Und Blindheit

[Link removed 20 November 2012] (60 MB)

Joy Division
Licht Und Blindheit
Sordide Sentimental SS33002
Produced by Martin Hannett
March 1980


01 Atmosphere
02 Dead Souls
03 Ice Age (pitch corrected)
04 Dead Souls (pitch corrected)

1 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD
Substance COCY-9332
2-4 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD
Still COCY-9331

Here are the notes from
Mr. A.L., who is doing the mastering:

And then we have the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Sordide Sentimental limited edition 7".

Which, of course, contained two of the most beautiful Joy Division tracks committed to tape. Any record company not named Factory would never have let Atmosphere - or Dead Souls, for that matter- be released first by a bloke in France in such a bizarre package.

Only being 8 years old at the time this was recorded (in October 1979) and released the following spring, I can't imagine the impact this single had to listeners just getting used to the Transmission 7" or the Peel tracks broadcast in December 1979. Atmosphere is probably the most desolate, inspiring, ugly and beautiful track the band has ever recorded and released. Bernard says this was the best job Martin Hannett ever did with a Joy Division recording and I wholeheartedly agree - it's just one giant spot of awe. And apparently, according to an interview given to Paul Morley for the 2007
Closer reissue liner notes, there's confusion to this day as to whether Martin, or Cargo Studios owner John Brierly, is ultimately responsible for the sound, as both were involved in the production.

Dead Souls was Rob Gretton's favorite JD track and its propulsive musical element, with the bitter, intelligent and forlorn nature of the lyrics, can be seen as a capsule of the band in its entirety. They indeed keep on calling me.

When the 2007 expanded reissues were being put together, it was discovered that Ice Age - recorded at the same October 1979 Cargo Studios session as Atmosphere and Dead Souls, but not released until 1981 on the catch-all
Still - was released from the word go at the incorrect speed. Apparently, when Martin recorded Ian's vocal lines for Atmosphere (and presumably Dead Souls and Ice Age), in order for Ian to sing in a more appropriate range for his voice the musical bed was sped up (what Ian would hear in his headphones, and sing along to). So Ian would sing at this increased pitch and tempo, in a more comfortable range for him. When Atmosphere was mastered for release, it was brought back down to a more appropriate speed and pitch - which is what we have today.

However, when Dead Souls and Ice Age were mastered for release - remember, they were recorded at the same session and presumably mixed down at the sped-up tempo to the same master reel of 1/4" tape as Atmosphere - apparently the "downpitching" applied to Atmosphere, as described above, was not also done so for the other two tracks. Therefore, Dead Souls and Ice Age have always been released at the incorrect, too-fast, speed and pitch. This has been corrected for Dead Souls and Ice Age, to pitch-accurate concert pitch, for this special release. It's amazing how much more power both songs gain just from a speed and pitch adjustment, just compare #2 and #4 here. Ian sounds much less helium-inflected, and the tracks just get back that sonorous "oomph" that previously seemed oddly lacking.

15 February 2010

JD Recycle 3: Transmission

[Link removed 20 November 2012] (43 MB)

Factory Records FAC 13/FAC 13.12
Produced by Martin Hannett
Atrocity Exhibition (Piccadilly Radio Sessions) produced by Stuart James
October 1979/December 1980


01 Transmission
02 Novelty
03 Transmission (Central Sound Rough Mix)
04 Novelty (Central Sound Rough Mix)
05 Atrocity Exhibition (Piccadilly Radio Sessions)

1, 2 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD Substance COCY-9332
3, 4 sourced from a recently-surfaced extremely low generation "rough mix" tape, from an unnamed band associate or member
5 sourced from the private collection of a longtime fan and associate of the band

Here are the notes from
Mr. A.L., who is doing the mastering:

Only a band on Factory would release the lead single AFTER the album.

The first true kickass JD track, Transmission and its sibling Novelty were recorded twice by Martin Hannett. The first attempt is captured on tracks 3 and 4, here in never-before-heard quality. These were recorded in July 1979 at Manchester's Central Sound Studios, and as the title implies, are presented here as "rough mix" versions. As far as we know these are the only versions that ever made it out from the masters. Two other tracks recorded at the same session, Dead Souls and Something Must Break, are on the
Heart And Soul box set - though in lesser fidelity.

Having decided to give the single tracks another go, the band re-recorded Transmission / Novelty with Hannett at old home Strawberry Studios, Stockport in late July/early August 1979. Far better than the Central Sound versions, these tracks - Transmission in particular - showcase the driving, rocky postpunk side of the band far more than the debut LP did (bar Shadowplay).

Track 5 was recorded on 3 June 1979 at Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham for Piccadilly Radio, produced by Stuart James. It is unknown if this session was ever actually broadcast. Four other tracks from this session (These Days / Candidate / The Only Mistake / Chance (Atmosphere)) were released on the
Heart And Soul box set, but this track was held off. Available on noisy bootleg releases, this particular version was sourced from the private collection of a longtime friend of the band, who received it from an unnamed band member in the early 1980s.

Tracks 1 and 2 had just slight EQ and level adjustments only. Tracks 3 and 4, sourced from cassette, underwent slight cleaning and EQ / level adjustments. Track 5, also from cassette, was heavily de-screeched via EQ, and again had level adjustments. Tracks 3 through 5 are easily best ever versions and are far, FAR cleaner sounding than any previous bootleg release.

I don't know for certain why Factory decided to re-release Transmission seven months after Curtis' suicide, but I have a theory. When Rob Gretton stepped in as the band's manager, one of his first tasks was to have
An Ideal For Living repressed in 12" format, which allows for a better signal-to-noise ratio (meaning an overall louder mastering), better dynamics, and better bass. As one of the band's signature tunes, this was a chance to put a better sounding version in the marketplace...and - let's be honest here - it gave Factory a chance to do a little cashing in. New Order wasn't releasing material yet, OMD had jumped ship to Dindisc, and it's not like Section 25, Durutti Column, or A Certain Ratio sold loads of records, yet they were always packaged in extravagant ways. A sort of Joy Division "memorial" 12" single packaged in a new (yet modest) Peter Saville sleeve was a guaranteed seller, and could help Factory recoup some money.

I really love Saville's design for this one - both 7" and 12" formats.

13 February 2010

In the wake of recent MP3 blog deletions by Blogger, I've gone ahead and secured an alternate site. If this blog should disappear for any reason, you can find me at WordPress (which is currently empty).

Make note!

Transmission will be posted in the next couple of days. The audio is done, I just have to finish the artwork.

06 February 2010

JD Recycle 2: A Factory Sample

[Link removed 20 November 2012] (39 MB)

A Factory Sample
Factory Records FAC 2
Produced by Martin Hannett
Digital (Genetic Demo) produced by Martin Rushent
December 1978


1. Digital
2. Glass
3. Digital (Genetic Demo)
4. Autosuggestion
5. From Safety To Where...?

1, 4, 5 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD
Substance COCY-9332
2 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD
Still COCY-9331
3 sourced from from the private collection of a longtime fan and associate of the band

Here are the notes from
Mr. A.L., who is doing the mastering:

Tracks 1 and 2 were the first collaboration between the band and Martin Hannett, recorded in October 1978 shortly after Hannett received delivery of a then-brand-new AMS Digital Delay rack unit. Innovative to the extreme, the sounds captured - and created - by Martin and the band set the pace for the hugely influential series of recordings that would follow. Slight EQ and volume adjustments only. Please note that Glass features the full intro as heard on Still, while the Substance version lopped it off.

Track 3 is a diligent - and FAST - run through for (and produced by) Martin Rushent, part of a series of demos recorded at Eden Studios, London on 4 March 1979 for Genetic Records. Oddly enough the only track from these sessions not to be released on Heart and Soul, I find this take - while pedestrian - as gravitating as the Hannett recording. Slightly cleaned up from a low-generation cassette copy, originally sourced in the early 1980s from an unnamed band member.

I still rate Digital in my top 5, if not greater, recordings by this band - not only for its innovation, but for its extreme advancement in songwriting and delivery from the sessions recorded just 5 months prior for RCA. Band "historian" and collaborator Jon Wozencroft notes in the Grant Gee documentary that the lyrics themselves are "digital" in the rough interpretation of the title's meaning - "day in, day out, day in, day out." A very astute observation which gives pause to the theory that the track was named after Hannett's digital delay unit.

Tracks 4 and 5 - in-studio compositions written at Hannett's behest to fill out the
Unknown Pleasures sessions, so therefore more experimental than their canon to date - are much more dub-oriented and point to yet another interesting direction the band could have taken. I love these tracks, so unlike their album brethren, and while it's understandable why they were bequeathed to Bob Last for the Earcom compilation, I think their inclusion(or at least Autosuggestion) on the debut LP would have made that record even more astounding at first listen. Slight EQ and volume adjustments only.

While Autosuggestion and From Safety To Where...? were recorded seven months after the session that yielded Digital and Glass - then released another six months after that - it makes the most sense to include them here in a nice little bundle of all the band's compilation appearances.

In case anyone is wondering why the Durutti Column, John Dowie, and Cabaret Voltaire tracks aren't included, those songs fall outside the scope of the Recycle project. Most if not all of them were officially released elsewhere, so a little detective work should unearth them.

*EDIT* - there was a typo on the CD label (Rushnet, not Rushent). You can grab the fixed one here