Monday, January 18, 2010


Generally I am a studio album kinda listener. Live performances are great if I am in the audience, but on live recordings I keep listening for the studio effects that are not there. But every once in a while I come across a performance that for various reasons becomes the de facto version. In the case of today's post the performance is so hair raising that it has haunted me since discovering it.

In the early eighties I became a fan of New Order. That eventually led me to check out the band's previous incarnation as Joy Division. I bought the two cassette (remember those?) release of Still. The recording is of terrible quality and frankly I listened a few times then put it away. Later I discovered the 45 single Love Will Tear Us Apart - their most famous song - years after the fact and made a note to go back and check out their few studio releases. Well I never did. Then one day I came across a live 1979 performance of She's Lost Control. The video is not well synchronized and is herky-jerky, the sound quality is poor, and yet it is a fascinating and surreal performance. So much so that it refuses to leave my brain after viewing.

Lead singer Ian Curtis was afflicted with epilepsy, and his performance here includes a disturbring St. Vitus dance that only accentuates the lyrics and their description of a girl who suffers from the same malady. At :50 seconds in the main guitar riff rears its massive head. The bass line sometimes follows, sometimes mirrors the riff, all the while the drums keep an ominous unstoppable beat that reminds me of those early industrial revolution machines in David Lynch's The Elephant Man. This performance is both powerful and frightening.

And she turned to me and took me by the hand and said,
I've lost control again.
And how I'll never know just why or understand,
She said I've lost control again.
And she screamed out kicking on her side and said,
I've lost control again.
And seized up on the floor, I thought she'd die.
She said I've lost control.

1 comment:

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

oh this one will haunt me -- i watched it thrice & could hit replay again but thought: first might pause to say thanks to the man who uncovered it for me. So (sincerely) ... thanks man. This blog never, ever ceases to amaze me.