Joy Division - Live: Les Bains Douches, December 18th 1979

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The material on this double LP consists of 9 songs from the Paris venue of the title in December 1979 and some selections from two Dutch performances in January 1980. Don't let that prevent you from investing in this, the best single document of Joy Division live. It captures aspects of the band not well represented on the studio recordings, dominated as they are by Martin Hannett's distinctive production techniques. Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook have complained bitterly that Hannett buried their guitars on Unknown Pleasures; here they get full reign and attack the material with relish. The big rock songs (e.g.Transmission, These Days) are rendered immense here, veritable guitar assaults. Then there are those that display the band's subtle grasp of dynamics; Dead Souls, with its abrupt surges and plateaus; New Dawn Fades, with its stately progression, and Shadowplay's abrasive choppiness are astonishing here. Atrocity Exhibition is a different beast to its sparse studio partner, raw and savage, while Autosuggestion is a surprising highlight, a year- old out- take given a fiery new lease of life. Through all this Curtis is the shamanic vocalist of legend, passionate and committed while precise and exacting.