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No idea why I bought this is 1993. I was not a fan, I didn’t know this music at all. About six years later I discovered it, and I found it again in my collection. Substance is from 1988, long after the band’s demise. Though technically a compilation, Substance contains some new material.

The sad story of Ian Curtis is well documented and later put in the film Control.A film I cannot recommend for a nice romantic evening on the couch, but that does show the bleakness of the music scene at the start of the eighties in England.

Curtis suffered from regular epileptic seizures, also on stage, a manic depression and a failing marriage. The success of the debut album didn’t put a stop to that, and on the 18th of May 1980 Ian Curtis hanged himself in his kitchen. He was found by his wife.

In that perspective, the lyrics that Curtis wrote can be viewed in a different light. They are concerned with coldness, pressure, darkness, crisis, failure, collapse, loss of control. This is not cheerful music, but it is indicative of the singer’s feelings, and also of that time.

Joy Division’s influence is huge. This is punk music that does not deal with anger, but with expression of an array of different feelings. I gave birth to post-punk, which led to new wave and eventually alternative music of the later 80s.

Nice inner sleeve that I don’t have with my version.

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  1. Aleanrahel

    Fun fact: Joy Division’s successor New Order released an album called Substance 1987, a double which contained all singles in their 12″ versions, including the b-sides. This album is regarded as the companion of that release.