Wednesday, August 22, 2012
THE GENIUS OF MARTIN HANNETT
There's loads of books about Joy Division. Almost all of all make reference to the band's relationship with producer Martin Hannett and almost all of these remind the reader that the band weren't always happy with the sound of the records that came out of the studio.
In concert the band played very loud and with a huge degree of aggression. More often than not the songs were played to a different beat to what had been laid down on vinyl. Hooky and Barney in particular are very vocal in their criticism of what happened to the Joy Division songs in the studio arguing that the albums are more representative of the producer than the performers.
And yet.....I find myself sometimes thinking that if hadn't been for Hannett and his work in the studio then the Joy Division story might have turned out completely differently. If the early record had been as raw, rocky and rough as the band appear to have wanted would any of us really have listened? After all, the band would probably have been every bit as undistinctive sounding as many other post-punk/new wave bands that emerged in the closing years of the 70s. Yes, we might have thought the singer had a great booming voice that was worth listening to again and again....but the music might have been just too monotone and ordinary.
I offer the following as evidence:-
mp3 : Joy Division - Transmission (Peel Session)
Same cracking bass opening albeit a bit slower. But the drums are awfully wimpy and the guitars just too sparse. Would be OK if it was a song by Wire. Nice and minimal and choppy. But where's the raw power? And where's the conviction and emotion in Ian's voice?
This was produced by Bob Sargeant who would go onto a fair bit of fame and fortune in the years that followed, particularly for his work with The Beat and Haircut 100 (he would also work with Friends Again on their debut LP).
You can't deny that it lacks something that Hannett captured perfectly:-
mp3 : Joy Division - Transmission