Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ian's Final Songs...

Fresh off of their new album session for the highly anticipated "Closer" in late March 1980, Joy Division were once again back to performing live gigs and rehearsing in the studio. The album itself was comprised of many new songs that fans had already heard and been excited about as they performed them live. It was to be a major release, especially when headed by their new single Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Unfortunately, all of the excitement left no time of respite for Ian. His epilepsy was beginning to get unwound, due to his frantic schedule. Nothing but work; any time not spent gigging was spent in the studio rehearsing. It's interesting for me to know this, especially, given the legendary quality of the final two songs he managed to produce during this period. When and where exactly they were conceived, I have no idea. I wish they were early enough to be considered for recording and release on "Closer", but least we got Decades, though. Another plus was that Ceremony was performed live once and released on "Still"...too bad that version sucks, due to poor mixing, however.

There's a lot of mystery behind the two songs...but thankfully, a lot of that mystery has been cleared up in recent years. Good for me too, being a relatively new (yet extremely devoted) fan. We now know that there are three versions of Ceremony (two of them live versions) and five versions of IALP (with most of them having been released). We also have an early Warsaw gig from 1977, several 1977-1978 rehearsals, and knowledge that Peter Hook has just found some "Closer" session outtakes.

When I first got the Heart and Soul Box Set, I hadn't been too big on Ceremony and IALP. I'd heard them on Youtube and thought they were interesting enough. The fact that they were Ian's last two songs hadn't struck me as thoroughly as it does now, mostly because I wasn't as familiar with the band when I first got the set. The quality of Ceremony was rather bad, as I couldn't make out Ian's vocals, and IALP was just a very ghastly song.

Over time, though, the songs grew on me. So much so that they ended up becoming among my favorite songs of all time.

One thing I never liked about the H&S box set was the rather poor mastering quality. I mean, the instrumental parts of the song were fine, but I didn't like the lack clarity in Ian's vocals. To me, half of Joy Division was Ian and his words. But the sources for the rehearsal-part of the H&S box set are straight from Peter's original master reels himself, so I stuck with what I had, and I remastered all the tracks off of the H&S box set, including Ceremony and IALP. I uploaded them to Youtube a while back (in lossless WAV quality); you can listen to them here:


In a Lonely Place

For Ceremony, given the lack of recording quality in Ian's vocals, New Order literally had to run them through an EQ Machine to try to decode them, and even then they weren't super accurate. I believe they used the rehearsal lyrics for Stephen Morris' demo at the Western Works studios in late 1980, but as for the final studio version, I think that they used the live version (the one on "Still") to ultimately compose the final lyrics. Since a full version of the gig version does not apparently exist (or hasn't been released), I cannot prove that. For the rehearsal version, however, here's what I can hear. Every now and then, when I hear something different, I update the words:

This is why the dead unnerve me
Would you say the same old story
Notice why the wheels are turning
Turn away, turn them towards this time
Listen now, the savior calling
Then again, he will see her
Traveled fast, but now I'm stopping
Think again, change its way this time

Oh, I'll break them all, no mercy shown
Heaven knows, it's got to get better
Watching her, a sinking ship
Times she cried, too frail to wake this time

I'll break them all, no mercy shown
Heaven knows, he's got to be stronger
Avenues, all lined with trees
Picture me, ten years' time watching
Watching forever...
Watching forever...

You understand, letting me know
Now come with me, may it be so
Letting me know, shall it be so...

Thankfully, IALP did not have the same problem. Ian's vocals were apparently much more clearly recorded. For the H&S box set, I don't know what they did, but they did an amazing job getting Ian's words as far into the mix as possible. When I remastered it, I ended up getting the words even clearly. Now, from what I can tell, this is the clearest you'll ever hear Ian sing the song.

Caressing the marble and stone
Love that was special for one
The waste in the fever and heat
How I wish you were here with me now

Body that curls in and hides
Hatches that awful daylight
Worn like a dog 'round your feet
How I wish you were here with me now

(Additional Verse, Cut from the H&S box set)
The hangman looks 'round as he waits
Cord stretches tight, then it breaks
Someday, we will die in your dream
How I wish we were here with you now

Hope ya'll enjoyed. :)


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