This may just be the Joy Division fans’ treat of the decade… The mastering engineer who prepared the excellent ULU gig from Feb 1980 revisits it, and re-masters the entire gig all over again. The results are available in FLAC, for free.
In August 2006 I was approached to assist with the sourcing, clean-up and mastering of various Joy Division gigs for inclusion in the then-upcoming double-CD deluxe edition reissues. The in-between story, between first being drafted into the project and then September 2007’s Warner Brothers/Rhino release of the Unknown Pleasures, Closer and Still Collector’s Editions, is boring and not really worth rehashing.
What is relevant is that six years is a long time ago, with regards to my skill set and general knowledge of audio theory and mastering. I listen to the stuff I turned in to the band and Rhino in late 2006 and essentially cringe. Not because it’s bad, because it’s not, but with where I’ve advanced to today my 2006 work sounds amateur to these ears. And while it’s out there for the world to enjoy (and the two sets I did, for Closer and Still, all got great reviews), I can no longer listen without wishing for a mulligan.
Well, with my blog avenue, I can finally take that mulligan.
I went back to the original raw transfers from Duncan Haysom’s 1980 master cassette tapes, the very tapes on which he recorded the Joy Division gigs that we released. I started from scratch – essentially, if Warners came knocking today and asked me to master these gigs, I did what I’d do for them with the skills, techniques, secret sauces and magic I’ve either advanced or flat-out learned anew since 2006.
They are spectacular. Not to toot my own horn, but these now simply crush what was used on the 2007 releases. Even the most hearing-challenged of listeners can tell the difference, and not just by minutiae. Cymbals ring, drums go THWACK and not “thwop”, guitars slice through the murk.
If there were any justice in this world, Rhino would pull the 2007 sets off the market and reissue with these masterings. One can dream…
So we start, chronologically by performance date, with the set used in association with the Closer Collector’s Edition. Recorded by Duncan, this set from the University of London Union is a stormer. You get the still in-development Closer tracks (which had yet to be recorded by Martin Hannett) mixed in with stridently-performed Unknown Pleasures and other pre-Closer choices. You get “Dead Souls” brilliantly leading off the set, and you get “Digital” taking us out. And thanks to Duncan, it’s magically captured on C45 tape for us to enjoy 32+ years on.
JOY DIVISION, 8 February 1980
University of London Union
Mastered in November 2012 by Analog Loyalist, from Duncan Haysom’s master recording
- Dead Souls
- A Means To An End
- Twenty Four Hours
- These Days
- Love Will Tear Us Apart
– encore break –
- The Eternal