Wednesday, April 22, 2009

homage: New Order - Western Works 9/80

Today was going to feature my favorite live Joy Division tracks. But, as you should be expecting by now if you're a loyal PoIT reader, we're detouring yet again.


Because picking my favorite live JD tracks is proving harder than I thought. That and it takes a lot of time that I've not had lately. So instead, I've got a better treat for the loyalists.

As you know (or should know), Joy Division ceased as a living, breathing entity when singer Ian Curtis removed himself from existence early in the morning on May 18, 1980 - the day before the band was to fly to New York to start their first US tour. Having long had an internal pact to cease trading under the Joy Division name if any member was to leave the band (probably not expecting the harsh finality of Ian's leaving, but there you go), the band found themselves in another "having to change the name again" situation.

So after an appropriately short mourning period, the survivors regrouped and punched the big red RESET button. Finding themselves bereft of Ian-less material, they wrote a few new songs, tightened up a couple new "unrecorded" Joy Division tracks that had just been written in the weeks prior to Ian's death as "bridge" tracks, and played a few mostly-unannounced gigs in July/September 1980, prior to flying to the US for a very brief East Coast tour and recording session in late September.

As Joy Division, they were close with Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire, having shared several gigs and compilation records with the Cabs. At some point, JD was going to work with the Cabs in the Cabs' own Western Works Studio in Sheffield, but this opportunity had not yet come to pass at the time of Ian's death.

Suddenly with no lead singer and a wide-open new beginning, the survivors (now known as New Order) took the Cabs up on their offer and decamped to Western Works on 7 September 1980, just two days after their third gig post-Ian. Safely away from the spotlight, and with no Martin Hannett to impose his will on the session, the band laid down several tracks with the Cabs' Chris Watson engineering.

(Due to a date mixup dating back to the early 1980s, this session had long been thought to have taken place in early July 1980. It was only with the release of Joy Division/New Order manager Rob Gretton's notebooks in 2008 that we learn this happened on 7 September 1980, and not July as previously thought. Which makes sense in a way, these are a lot of tracks to write from scratch in the few short weeks between Ian's death and early July.)

These tracks show the band's emotions - both musical and lyrical - laid out to bare themselves to the world. Hesitant yet brave, restrained yet oddly forward-looking, New Order find themselves seeking the path at this very early stage - a path that would not be truly explored publicly for at least another 12 months - that would lead them out of the Joy Divsion shadow into completely new realms of songcraft.

This material has been circulating amongst New Order fans since the early 1980s but never before heard by the general public in this release-ready quality.

Kind souls, who wish to remain anonymous rescued this material from a 1/4" reel of tape that was up for auction on eBay, advertised as something else, and it was only in the reel transfer that it was discovered what this reel actually contained. It's been theorized that if this is not the master reel itself from the studio mixdown sessions, it's at the very least a direct, professional copy of it. The band could release this today, as-is. So I am honored to present it here.

First we have two different mixes - but the same base recording - of "Dreams Never End". The first version is the common version that had already circulated - albeit in much poorer quality - amongst the fans. The second version, however, is a heretofore-unknown alternate mix featuring much louder guitars than the original take - but besides that, it's identical to the first take. Both takes slower than the version eventually recorded for the debut LP in 1981, this track even moreso sounds like bassist (and singer on this track) Peter Hook's own little memorial to Ian. "A long farewell to your love and soul" indeed.

Then we have the musically very JD-like "Homage", with Bernard Sumner on hesitant vocals, laying bare his emotions for all to see. It's blatantly obvious why this track didn't survive past September 1980 - all you have to do is listen to the very bare, emotional lyrics. Notably, you can understand them for the first time ever:

This smile the unborn child reaction's taken, forsaken
These scenes pervaded me in a way that
People seldom see

This is the only time that I thought I had
Seen the signs and I wait, I'll never know

In this room
The blind pass through
In this room
I think of you
In this room

In this room

Darkness will vanish soon
I awake, always in this room
All days will fall and rise
Helplessly, I watch these figures cry

This sense of needless rejection
Always the sense of reason
Carelessly lead me astray

In this room
The blind pass through
In this room
I think of you
In this room
Father, please don't forsake me now
In this room
Father, please don't forsake me now
In this room

People always ask for dreams
Revelation in a dream

A life that is so scared

This is the only time that I
Thought I had seen the signs
Well, I did... I'll never know

In this room
I think of you
In this room
I think of you
In this room
Father, please don't forsake me now
In this room
Father, please don't forsake me now
In this room
Father, please don't forsake me now

The next track is drummer Steve Morris' turn on lead vocals with a very interesting take on "Ceremony", one of the last two Joy Division tracks written just prior to Ian's death. Famously having no written lyrics they could use (if Ian wrote them down, they weren't available to the survivors at the time), New Order had to run the Joy Division rehearsal recording of this track (which you can hear in the previous post on the blog) through an equalizer to attempt to pick out Ian's lyrics. Considering that even with modern audio software it's nearly impossible to extract Ian's vocals, or at least make them clearer, it's impressive what they were able to pull out of it. Steve sings lead on the verses, with Hooky taking over a chorus as well. Interestingly enough, when the time came three weeks later to record this track "officially" in New Jersey's Eastern Artists Recording Studio with producer Martin Hannett, the lyrics Bernard Sumner sang started off markedly different - which makes one wonder if they were rewritten by New Order.

Steve continues on with the lead vocals on "Truth" which, even at this early stage, is remarkably similar to what they'd end up doing with the track when recording it for their debut LP in 1981 (except with Bernard on vocals). I particularly like this version though, it's much more poignant, fragile and spacious - as it should be - than the released variant.

And then we have the biggest revelation of the reel: A heretofore-unknown new New Order track, or rather, a collaboration with the Cabs and New Order, featuring none other than NO manager Rob Gretton on lead vocals! This has been confirmed by a New Order member directly to your humble blogger, and furthermore, this same member revealed that it was entitled "Are You Ready Are You Ready Are You Ready For This?" and was just one of two collaborations they recorded with the Cabs, with the other (still unknown) sounding much more New Order-ry than this track. What is special about "Are You Ready" though is that, Rob's vocals aside, musically it shows the band taking great liberties with the established Joy Division sound - and the early New Order sound - and is very much so a signpost to the musical path the band would further explore starting with fall 1981's "Everything's Gone Green".

I feel this material is too important to release as MP3 so please enjoy it lossless as FLAC (two RAR files as usual).

01 Dreams Never End (mix 1, quieter guitars)
02 Dreams Never End (mix 2, louder guitars)
03 Homage
04 Ceremony
05 Truth
06 Are You Ready Are You Ready Are You Ready For This?

Files here (2012 version; see for details.

edit: 8 May 2009 followup


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

this is the way, step inside: Joy Division part I

Not a lot to say about this legendary band Joy Division. Simply one of the greatest bands of all time, what these self-described oiks from Manchester/Salford/Macclesfield were able to do within the framework of their time (1977-1980) is nothing less than astounding.

Chicago Tribune
chief music writer Greg Kot once referred to their two studio records UNKNOWN PLEASURES (1979, Factory FACT 10) and CLOSER (1980, Factory FACT 25), in an email to your humble blogger, as "postpunk's holy-grail albums". Obviously I concur.

I suppose this post would be more apropos closer to the 28th anniversary of Ian Curtis' death, but as it were, we find ourselves just days short of the 28th anniversary of the band's second-to-last-ever gig, at Derby's Ajanta Cinema 19 April 1980.

While this band has been duly anthologized via the four-disc HEART AND SOUL box set, a proper - in your humble blogger's opinion - one or two CD "Best Of" has yet to be compiled. One man's best is another man's scrap heap, or something. There have been two separate "best of"-type compilations released, 1995's PERMANENT (odd song choices, and really terrible mastering), and 2008's THE BEST OF JOY DIVISION (again, song choice is a bit wacky).

So allow me to present The PoIT's DIGITAL: Joy Division 1977-1980, in two parts.

Part 1 - this week - is my version of a best-of, featuring tracks pulled from their various studio sessions. I was intending this to be a single disc's worth of tracks, but as usual I wasn't able to restrain myself. So it'll take two. And even beyond these 34 tracks, honestly, is there such thing as a duff Joy Division track? I'll leave that conversation to the peanut gallery to discuss.

Part 2 - next week - will feature my favorite live Joy Division tracks, from a variety of live gigs.


01 Exercise One
02 Disorder
03 Insight
04 Digital
05 Atrocity Exhibition (Closer version)
06 Colony
07 Autosuggestion
08 Candidate (Piccadilly version)
09 New Dawn Fades
10 Heart And Soul
11 Dead Souls ("Sordide Sentimental" version)
12 Incubation
13 Komakino
14 Transmission (rejected single version)
15 Chance (Atmosphere)
16 Love Will Tear Us Apart (A-side version)
17 I Remember Nothing

4 / Cargo Studios, Rochdale 10/78 (Factory Sample FAC2)
3 / BBC Studios, Maida Vale, London 1/79 (John Peel session 1)
1, 2, 7, 9, 17 / Strawberry Studios, Stockport 4/79 (Unknown Pleasures sessions / FACT 10)
8, 15 / Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham 6/79 (Piccadilly Radio session)
14 / Central Sound Studios, Manchester 7/79 ("Transmission" session 1, unreleased)
11 / Cargo Studios, Rochdale 10/79 ("Sordide Sentimental" sessions)
16 / Strawberry Studios, Stockport 3/80 ("Love Will Tear Us Apart" sessions / FAC 23)
5, 6, 10, 12, 13 / Brittania Row Studios, Islington, London 3/80 (Closer sessions / FACT 25)


01 The Sound Of Music
02 Isolation
03 Transmission (single version)
04 These Days (Piccadilly version)
05 Shadowplay
06 The Kill
07 Dead Souls (original attempt)
08 From Safety To Where...?
09 She's Lost Control (12" version)
10 Twenty Four Hours
11 The Eternal
12 Decades
13 Ceremony (rehearsal version)
14 Atrocity Exhibition (Piccadilly version)
15 Atmosphere
16 Love Will Tear Us Apart (B-side version)
17 As You Said

5, 6, 8 / Strawberry Studios, Stockport 4/79 (Unknown Pleasures sessions / FACT 10)
4, 14 / Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham 6/79 (Piccadilly Radio session)
7 / Central Sound Studios, Manchester 7/79 ("Transmission" session 1)
3 / Strawberry Studios, Stockport 7/79 (final "Transmission" session, FAC 13)
15 / Cargo Studios, Rochdale 10/79
("Sordide Sentimental" sessions)
1, 16 / Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham 1/80 ("Love Will Tear Us Apart" session 1)
09 / Strawberry Studios, Stockport 1/80 - 3/80 (FACTUS 2)
2, 10, 11, 12, 17 / Brittania Row Studios, Islington, London 3/80
(Closer sessions / FACT 25)
13 / Rehearsal rooms, Manchester 5/80 (Peter Hook cassette)

as usual , multiple RAR files, you need to grab them all to extract the set....

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

do you want new wave or do you want the truth?

Corndogs, they were.

High on the American postpunk/indierock pedestal sit San Pedro, California's MINUTEMEN, legendary for singer/guitarist D. Boon's girth as well as his goofiness. Thunderstick (bass) master Mike Watt continues to ply his spiel throughout the land, and surfer-turned-legendary-drummer George Hurley does what he does.

I can't even begin to blog about what this band meant to me as a teenager in the 1980s, it was amazing that this band - an SST artist at that - could sound so, well, un-SST'ish and cool. Put anything from WHAT MAKES A MAN START FIRES? next to 3-WAY TIE (FOR LAST) and you say "this is the same band?" - and it was. They were truly on the brink of something special when tragedy struck the band in December 1985, when Boon was killed in a car crash.

There are two things you need to know about this band.

1) They were fucking corndogs.

2) They laid the groundwork for the indie/punk DIY movement. "Start your own band, write your own book, paint your own picture" are words to live by indeed. They jammed econo, and they lived by what they said. Ethical to the core. The records were the flyers for the gigs. Their band could be your life.

I'm done spieling. Just listen. My favorite Minutemen selections, in no particular order, all a-jumbled (just like the band).

These are the tracks, I'll at least note what releases I pulled them from. So in the DIY spirit, here are my favorite tracks for you to use to assemble your own Minutemen compilation.

And if you haven't seen the spectacular "rockumentary" full-length feature on the band We Jam Econo you best hie yourself to or your favorite bricks/mortar retailer and purchase the DVD post-haste. I cannot recommend it more highly.

- - - - -


Joe McCarthy's Ghost
Paranoid Chant


The Punch Line
Song For El Salvador
History Lesson


If Reagan Played Disco
Futurism Restated


Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs
Fake Contest
The Anchor
Sell Or Be Sold
Split Red
Life As A Rehearsal
This Road


I Felt Like A Gringo
Little Man With A Gun In His Hand

"take that, huskers!"

D.'s Car Jam / Anxious Mo-Fo
Viet Nam
#1 Hit Song
Two Beads At The End
Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Truth?
Shit From An Old Notebook
Nature Without Man
Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
Take 5, D.
My Heart And The Real World
History Lesson Part II
The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts
This Ain't No Picnic
Untitled Song For Latin America
Jesus And Tequila

"I got it! We'll have them write hit songs!"

The Cheerleaders
King Of The Hill
Take Our Test

3-WAY TIE (FOR LAST) (1985)

Price Of Paradise
The Big Stick
Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
The Red And The Black
Spoken Word Piece
Ack Ack Ack
Hittin' The Bong


No One (remix)
Ack Ack Ack
This Ain't No Picnic


Little Man With A Gun In His Hand (from Double Nickels vinyl, cut from CD issue)
I Felt Like A Gringo (alternate studio version)

Three RAR files, as usual, you gotta grab 'em all...

Part I
Part II
Part III


This Ain't No Picnic (1984)
Hard to believe this was once played on MTV! Best video ever.

Corona (live)
D. Boon's mad hopping slays me every time. Fantastic.

The Anchor (live)
Taken from We Jam Econo - I can watch/listen over and over and over.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

the good part II: WILCO More Like The Moon

I referred yesterday to Wilco's MORE LIKE THE MOON EP, which was (and still is) freely downloadable from the band's website - as 192kbps MP3's. As far as I know, the only non-lossy source for these 6 tracks was a bonus "tour edition" CD that was included in some copies of the Australian CD release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. It has also been referred to, by the band and others, as the Australian EP and the Bridge EP.

I have that disc, and here are the six EP tracks, lossless for your pleasure. You can download each of the three different covers (for the three different titles for the EP - Australian, Bridge or More Like The Moon) the band has up on the website.

Since they're freely available on the band's website, there should be no issue putting lossless versions here for you.

So onward....

01 Camera
02 Handshake Drugs
03 Woodgrain
04 A Magazine Called Sunset
05 Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
06 More Like The Moon

Part I
Part II
(need to grab both files to extract, RAR files as usual)

These are losslessly compressed using the FLAC format - conversion software (for WAV/AIFF/mp3 etc) can be found at (grab the FLAC frontend). Alternatively, you can just download mp3s from the band directly, but why not get it lossless from your humble blogger instead?

Tracks 1 and 4 are identical to tracks 6 and 32, respectively, in the YHF SuperDeluxe package in the preceding post - except they're glitch-free for starters. Oddly the "Camera" track on the EP has the same tape spinup sound as found on the Engineer Reference leak. Conspiracy theorists may say that when the band went to compile this EP, they pulled a copy of the Engineer Reference material to choose from (amongst other sources), and a copy of said material escaped the band's grasp at this point (hence 2 of these tracks appearing in identical form on the subsequently-leaked Engineer Reference material).

Nobody has determined, to the best of your humble blogger's knowledge, the provenance of the rest of the tracks. Were they leftovers from the YHF sessions? Were they recorded after Jay Bennett's firing, and therefore the first recorded output of the new 4-piece Wilco? The band stated in interviews post-YHF that they spent time in the studio working on a project they referred to as "Decibels Per Minute" (dBpm) but we don't know what happened to all that material - some of it may be some of these EP tracks, some might be material that was later included as a companion CD to a book the band put out, some might have been left by the wayside. Who knows.

But most consider this EP material as part-and-parcel of the YHF era, hence me blogging it now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

the good part: WILCO Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, etc.

Last week we featured the "Classic" Wilco, the band that still maintained (sometimes) tenuous ties to its lineage. This week we veer with the band into the more adventurous, undefined territory that dovetails nicely with the story of the band as well.

We left off at Wilco's SUMMERTEETH album, a lush, dense record that left the band at the "What now?" point that all bands seem to reach at some point in their careers. Given the chance to write a fresh batch of songs to match with more Woody Guthrie lyrics, the band then contributed a number of songs to the second MERMAID AVENUE record, one of which ("Someday Some Morning Sometime") was a key signpost to the path the band would take. Leaving the denseness of SUMMERTEETH behind, the sometimes-ghostly, ethereal "Someday Some Morning Sometime" was the first hint towards a more atmospheric, moody path the band would often revisit, refine and expand in the 2000s.

Then everything went berserk.

Short version:

Band starts writing songs for their next record, and starts recording them in their own loft studio space with their own Jay Bennett (guitars/keyboards/songwriting) engineering the sessions.

Band agrees to be filmed during the recording sessions, for a future feature-length film on the band and the making of this record.

Band then fires their original drummer Ken Coomer, replacing him with (admittedly superior) Glenn Kotche. This happened the very same day filmmaker Sam Jones showed up with all his gear to start making the film.

Band finishes the record (after a long, drawn-out mixing process pitting multi-talented Jay Bennett against Tweedy's choice to mix, avante-gardeist Jim O'Rourke, in which what was initially sounding like SUMMERTEETH Part II became much more intimate, experimental and unique), turns it in to their label Reprise (an arm of Warner Bros Records), and promptly gets dropped from the label. This conversation - where Reprise drops the band, and tells manager Tony Margherita so - is caught by Sam Jones' cameras. Initially the band was to pay $50,000 to get the rights to the new record back for themselves, but eventually Reprise lets them go for free.

Before signing a new deal, band fires the aforementioned Bennett - losing a key songwriter, guitarist, and superb keyboardist. They're now down to a four-piece: Jeff Tweedy (songwriter/guitars/vocals), John Stirratt (bass), Leroy Bach (keyboards/guitars) and Glenn Kotche (drums/percussion).

Band then signs to another Warner Bros imprint Nonesuch, essentially getting Warners to pay twice for the new record - which eventually sees release in April 2002 entitled YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT.

This post was initially to feature your humble blogger's favorite Wilco tracks from the immediate post-SUMMERTEETH era through today - but after writing the above, I've decided to go a bit more out there.

We will be recompiling the said YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT record, but from the various demo/engineering sample versions that leaked out shortly after the record's release. I'm excited to do this post, because this record (as it was released) is easily my favorite Jeff Tweedy-related record, by a country mile.

Taken from two unique demo/engineering leaks, and the final record versions as well, this is a fascinating listen - especially if you compare the "befores" to the "afters". The befores often feature the track as it sounded with former drummer Ken Coomer, while the afters feature Glenn Kotche. Furthermore, if you sequence the record including the tracks that ultimately were dropped from the final running order, you really do have what could have been SUMMERTEETH Part II - which, obviously, Jeff Tweedy had no interest in making.

In fact, I'll make it easy. I'll compile 'em all here - including the versions on the record as it was finally released.

So on with it, links down there somewhere....


"Demo" - taken from the 21-track leaked demo CD, supposedly from tracks recorded before drummer Ken Coomer was fired and replaced by Glenn Kotche. The drumming, to me, is much more Ken-ish than Glenn-ish, which is hard to explain beyond that the drums are less, say, nuanced than Glenn's drumming.

"Engineer Reference" - taken from an unknown-lineage leaked CD that supposedly was used as a mixing reference during the final mixdown sessions with Jim O'Rourke. It is unknown who the drummer was on these tracks, I suspect it's Glenn but I have nothing to back that up - though the drums do sound more Glenn-ish than Ken-ish, and they sound far closer to the final mix versions than the earlier demo versions. Please note that these are taken as-is, and that the Engineer Reference disc did feature some glitches as initially leaked (and no better source has turned up). I present these tracks warts-and-all, including the tape spinup sounds you hear at the beginning of some of the Engineer Reference tracks.

- - - - - -

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
01 Demo
02 Engineer Reference
03 Final album track

04 Demo, take 1
05 Demo, take 2
06 Engineer Reference
07 Final album track

Radio Cure
08 Engineer Reference - vocal, entitled "Corduroy Cutoff Girl"
09 Final album track

War On War
10 Engineer Reference
11 Final album track

Jesus, etc.
12 Final album track
(no known demo version has leaked)

Ashes of American Flags
13 Demo
14 Engineer Reference (Glenn drums?)
15 Final album track (Jay Bennett drums - it's been confirmed Jay's rough-mix drums were used on the final album track)

Heavy Metal Drummer
16 Demo
17 Engineer Reference
18 Final album track

I'm The Man Who Loves You
19 Demo
20 Engineer Reference
21 Final album track

Pot Kettle Black
22 Engineer Reference
23 Final album track

Poor Places
24 Demo
25 Engineer Reference
26 Final album track

27 Demo
28 Engineer Reference
29 Final album track

* * * * Bonus "unreleased" (see note below) * * * *

A Magazine Called Sunset
30 Demo, take 1
31 Demo, take 2
32 Engineer Reference

Not For The Season
33 Demo, take 1
34 Demo, take 2

Shakin' Sugar
35 Demo, take 1
36 Demo, take 2
37 Engineer Reference

Nothing Up My Sleeve
38 Demo
39 Engineer Reference

Venus Stop The Train
40 Demo

Cars Can't Escape
41 Demo
42 Engineer Reference
43 Roadcase official download version

Won't Let You Down
44 Demo
45 Engineer Reference

The Good Part
46 Engineer Reference
47 B-side to "War On War" released track

Corduroy Cutoff Girl
48 Demo - instrumental, take 1
49 Demo - instrumental, take 2

Let Me Come Home
50 Demo - instrumental
51 Engineer Reference - vocal

Split into 5 RAR files, as usual, you must download all of them....

Part I

Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

- - - - - -

Tracks 6 and 32 saw official release on the More Like The Moon EP (extra CD with some versions of YHF, also freely downloadable from the band's website)

Track 51 was released on the benefit CD Amos House Collection Vol. 3

"Not For The Season" was remade as a Loose Fur track (Tweedy/O'Rourke/Kotche) and retitled "Laminated Cat", with a much sparser sound

"Shakin' Sugar" and "Venus Stop The Train" were re-recorded and released by Jay Bennett on his debut solo release The Palace at 4 AM

- - - - - -

Jim O'Rourke's final mixes - as heard on the final album track songs - are clearly more defined, less sprawling, and, frankly, better than the original demo versions or the Engineer Reference variants. Just compare the three versions of "Poor Places" - the upbeat, honky-tonk Demo variant is miles away from the final album track - and it's much better for Jim O'Rourke's involvement.

Next posting will address the rest of Wilco's career to date. Enjoy!