The Transmission of a Legend

Southern Steve: ‘Legend’ Mp3

Love Will Tear Us Apart might be Joy Division’s best known song, but Transmission probably should be. It’s a better representation of the band’s musical and lyrical power.

Transmission…Radio, Live Transmission…Dance to the Radio…Listen to the Silence…Touching From A Distance…The Language of Sound…

All of those lyrical fragments have been used as the names of bootlegs, books, Myspace sites, magazines, 80s music nights, cover bands, and all hark back to the power of this one song.

The 1979 single version is fine enough but the earlier, slower version on the RCA demo is even better in my view; the band almost stand back from the song and allow that slow, arrogant two-note bass line and the rumbling drums to do their work.

Joy Division – Transmission MP3 (RCA Demo Version).

There is an excellent drum break at the end of this track, with Steven Morris  left to slow down the tempo on his own after the rest of the band have stopped playing.  It’s a gift to the would-be sampler, containing that hallmark “Joy Division move” as my mate Fraser recently described it: a single tom hit just after the 3rd beat snare, giving the whole thing that lurching, robotic feel. It’s the sound of the classic Joy Division flawed machine.

In my own tune, Legend, I’ve backed up those drums with a midi track including some syn-tom sounds a bit like the ones on Closer, another two note bassline, and some guitar and bass chords with valve distortion and delay, to replicate the sound of the band live, on an album like Live at Eindhoven.

I like the sound, but even as I was doing this song, it occurred to me what a forlorn process it all was, and the lyrics that came to me ended up being about the emptiness of replicating a long-gone original…

It’s Just a Legend

An Empty Legend

A Cold and Empty Legend

You Heard a Dream

And Tried to Make it Real

Anyway, I’ll be back later with some more maunderings,

GSS, feeling alright but a little bogged down,  Aug 2009.

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3 thoughts on “The Transmission of a Legend

  1. First, that is a great version of Transmissions. I agree that it is one of the (if not the) best Joy Division songs. I hadn’t heard that version before, but what strikes me the most of is the vocal delivery (combined with the rawness of the vocal recording). The demo has a markedly different timbre than the studio release, evoking quite a different set of emotions. I am so glad I got to hear this.

    Second, ‘Legend’ is a great song. Is this a recent one? Your stuff continues to impress me more and more (I’ve told you that my two girls recognize most of your songs and know most of the words to at least half a dozen). Move to Geneva and let’s start a band. That is, if you need a crappy bassist who flails around on stage like a fish out of water.

  2. Yes it is a recent song. This year, anyway. I’m glad you like it.

    BTW, I already have a bassist who flails around on stage. So, thanks, but I think I’ll stick to being a solo artist.

  3. The live version of ‘These Days’ also has something to be said for it.

    But Transmission was always fun to play in bands.

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