Various Artists: 'Control'
'All the key elements of Joy Division’s sound are represented here'
Let’s not dwell on the fact that two of three brand new instrumentals here contributed by the now estranged members of New Order are entitled, somewhat prophetically, ‘Exit’ and ‘Get Out’. It’s a shame, particularly in light of all the recent attention focused on them for both reasons good (Control) and bad (the death of Tony Wilson), that two of the band’s key members should be at loggerheads, but let’s forget about that for the moment; this, after all, is the soundtrack to a film about Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, and should therefore be judged on how well it tells the story of their first band.
The answer to that question is, well… succinctly. Along with some of Joy Division’s finest recordings (‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, ‘Atmosphere’) and even an impressively doppelgänger-ish – and thus utterly pointless – take on ‘Transmission’ by their screen alter-egos, all the key elements of Joy Division’s sound are represented here: the mechanical non-grooves of Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ and Iggy’s ‘Sister Midnight’; the cold, Eno atmospherics of Bowie’s ‘Warszawa’; the wake-up-call punk of the Buzzcocks and the Pistols (amphetamine-addled live versions of ‘Boredom’ and ‘Problems’ respectively), and those prior-to-punk touchstones of every early-’70s teenager, Roxy Music and the Velvets. There are more obscure inclusions (John Cooper Clarke’s ‘Evidently Chickentown’ rant, Supersister’s ‘She Was Naked’) and an adequate Killers cover of ‘Shadowplay’.
The truth is 90 per cent of the music here originates from albums that, if you don’t own already, you should. This music works brilliantly in the context of the film but, if you’re looking to delve deeper into the mindset of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, there are better ways to spend your money.