Monday, October 22, 2007

Warsaw: No Love Lost

I was thoroughly annoyed with the Joy Division compilation Substance. Not because it overlooked one of my favourites, the perennially ignored Atrocity Exhibition, but because it included a patently inferior version of No Love Lost.

For my money, the best Joy Division album was the canned Warsaw. According to Wikipedia, it was scrapped because the band was "disappointed with the post-production" work. Well, bully. Maybe because it sounded more rock than punk? Too slick? In any case, it is a very solid album, for rock of any type. The anger of punk fused onto some great guitar music.

The track No Love Lost was recorded on at least two occasions. December 1977, later surfaced on Ideal For Living, and, later, the dreadful compilation above. May 1978 was the Warsaw album, finally released in 1994. (To my ears, there was a third recording of this track, also inferior, but I could be wrong.)

Why was the album named Warsaw? I understood it was eponymous - Warsaw was Joy Division's earlier name. But they changed their name in 1977, well before the recording. I guess it was named for the eponymous song, Warsaw.

The tone of the album was more anger than despair, uncharacteristic for Joy Division's work. No Love Lost was the peak of the album: a very long intro that reached a crescendo of guitar fury before the vocals even started, subsequently the two interplaying to great effect.

The version that matters doesn't include the words "no love lost". It's the one whose near-spoken bridge begins "two way mirror in the hall/they like to watch everything you do". Ah yes, good old punk paranoia on a hard rock riff.

I just had to mention this track. No Love Lost is right up there in the pantheon of Great Overlooked Music.

Why did this come up in the first place? My wife was invited to a premiere of the film Control, a biopic of Ian Curtis. I reckoned she wouldn't like the subject matter (and she's no particular fan of rock, punk or new wave), but she came back and said the film was actually very good. So there you go.

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