Results for Manchester

specials

Joy Division

In 1977 Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris formed the band Joy Division in Manchester, England. Now 30 years later, the music and the legend are as important as ever. Acclaimed video director and rock photographer Anton Corbijn just released his Joy Division feature film, Control. In addition, a number of albums and compilations are being reissued and a documentary is in the works. Jim and Greg took this opportunity to delve into the band's music and story.

So, why all the interest in a British band that lasted only three years and never even toured the States? Jim explains that Joy Division left a lasting musical influence that you can hear in dance-punk fusion bands like Interpol and LCD Soundsystem, as well as mainstream rock acts like The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins and U2. Also, because front man Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, just one month prior to the release of "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the band's most successful single, the idea of Curtis and the band became almost as important as the music itself. The band was adopted by Goth youths and Curtis became romanticized as a tortured genius. Unfortunately while that propelled the band's name, it overshadowed what they were really about according to Jim and Greg.

The mythology surrounding Curtis‘ death isn’t the only thing that misrepresents Joy Division. Greg explains that the band's studio albums only showcase one side of the group's music. Producer Martin Hannett crafted the sound to enhance the band's dark, twisted image. On 1978's Unknown Pleasures and 1980's Closer, the songs were sparse and claustrophobic. But, as you can hear in live tracks like "Transmission," Joy Division was an aggressive, energetic band in concert. Their singles also present a more upbeat, dance-oriented sound. To get a full perspective on Joy Division, Greg recommends checking out the Closer reissue, as well as Substance, a collection of singles.

Go to episode 101

1977 - The Year Punk Broke

This week, Jim and Greg kick off a two-part series about one seminal year in rock history, 1977: The Year Punk Broke. In this episode, they tackle the punk explosion in the U.K. with help from music writer Jon Savage. (Many consider Savage's England's Dreaming to be the definitive book on this period.) So what made punk explode in 1977? Jon chalks it up to a whole lot of rubbish pop music - songs like ABBA's“Fernando”and Elton John's“Don't Go Breaking My Heart”- that were marketed to kids but failed to address concerns about unemployment, consumerism, and of course, parents and other authority figures. More immediately, there was The Ramones playing their first London gig, and inspiring bands from The Buzzcocks to The Sex Pistols to The Damned. The Sex Pistols were the first to make a splash with their controversial single"God Save the Queen," banned across the British media. That Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was still able to chart, Jon says, demonstrated the muscle of a nascent, independent youth media organized around fanzines and record shops like Rough Trade and Beggar's Banquet. For those who think all U.K. punk sounded the same, Jon points out some key differences. While The Sex Pistols“really had a dark heart,”The Clash had the social consciousness of a sixties band. Manchester's The Buzzcocks were into psychedelia. Regardless of any one band's take on the genre however, punk's message was the same. In Jon's words: "Pop music doesn't have to be something that oppresses you. It can actually liberate you."

Jim and Greg close out 1977 Part One by playing two favorite songs from this year. Greg goes out with The Adverts' "One Chord Wonder." Not only did The Adverts have the best names in punk - T.V. Advert, Gaye Advert, Howard Pickup, and Laurie Driver - they epitomized the genre's“no skill required”ethos. Jim goes with the Wire track "Ex-Lion Tamer" from one of his favorite records of all time, Pink Flag. This quartet of art students not only embodied the punk sound in 1977, they were also looking forward to the possibilities of post-punk.

Go to episode 350
news

Music News

First in the news Jim and Greg discuss the controversy over the censorship of political lyrics in a song by Pearl Jam during the AT&T Blue Room webcast of their recent Lollapalooza performance. While Pearl Jam criticized this kind of censorship on their website and posted both versions of the song, it appeared that the audio editing was a fluke. In the days following the festival, though, it was revealed that this was not the first time such censorship had occurred, sparking interest from advocates of Internet neutrality. Both Jim and Greg agree that webcasters have a public responsibility to broadcast what actually happens at events, and concert promoters have a responsibility to tell bands whether or not they're giving up their right to free speech. Both critics are anxious to see how things play out in the weeks leading up to the next big festival, Austin City Limits.

Another news story confirms our suspicion that music fans have better brains. Or at least more active brains. Researchers at Stanford Medical School recently released findings that show that music increases brain receptivity and reception. To find out about the study Jim and Greg speak with the paper's senior author, Dr. Vinod Menon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurosciences at Stanford. Dr. Menon explains that the greatest amount of activity occurred during moments of transition or pauses. While he used the tunes of 18th-century English composer William Boyce, it's interesting to think about how this research applies to rock music. Check out the MRI for yourself here.

In another miracle of science, (most of) the original members of '80s rock group Van Halen announced they are reuniting this fall for a series of concerts. The band's first lead singer, David Lee Roth, will perform with the band for the first time in 22 years. Fans expected this announcement a few months ago, only to be left disappointed by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's trip to rehab. But now the Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone-haters will get their wish… sort of. Founding bassist Michael Anthony has been given the boot, and Eddie's son Wolfgang van Halen will replace him. Not only were the names Anthony and Hagar omitted from the group's press release, but Anthony's image had been airbrushed from a picture of the band's album cover on the website. As quick as history was revised, it was re-revised, though, and Anthony is back in the picture. Only literally of course.

Record label owner, broadcaster, journalist, pop impresario and nightclub founder Anthony Wilson died last week at the age of 57. Wilson is the man who put the Manchester music scene on the map, a scene that included Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. He ran Factory Records in the late 1970s and the Hacienda nightclub in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many listeners will remember Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson in the semi-fictional story of the Hacienda, 24 Hour Party People. But, Jim and Greg choose to remember Wilson through the music he influenced.

Go to episode 90

Music News

Amazon recently announced its move into the publishing world. Authors like Laverne and Shirley's Penny Marshall have inked deals to have their books published and distributed by the online retailer. These kind of deals are similar to the exclusive releases sold by music retailers like Wal-Mart and Starbucks. So it begs the question: Is Amazon the music label next?

Longtime soul musician Syl Johnson's songs have been sampled by countless other artists. And consequently he's turned into a "serial litigator" according to Greg. The latest people to face his legal wrath: Kanye West and Jay-Z. The hip-hop stars used a sample of Johnson's track "Different Strokes" in their song "The Joy" from Watch the Throne. And now Johnson is seeking an injunction, damages and legal fees.

In other music news, Stone Roses fans will be happy to learn that the Manchester band will hit the stage for the first time in 15 years. Greg compares the group to the Oasis of its time, but wonders if they'll still have the chops. After all, The Stone Roses split after a disastrous show at the Reading Festival in 1996.

Go to episode 308