If I say yes am I going to receive a parcel of excrement through my letterbox?
The cover of their first record - the "ideal for living" EP set their stall out - it depicted a Hitler Youth Drummer. The name of the band - Joy Division is taken directly from the sex-slaves in the nazi concentration camps. This was very much against the spirit of the times
The Anti Nazi League was active at the timeand I think people had realised that Swastica-bearing bands like Siouxie and the Banshees and Sid Vicious were "just doing something to provoke". "Post punk" was seen as being above provoking for its own sake - and trying to say something meaningful - lots of Joy Division's material connected on lots of different levels - but the Nazi image detracted from that and (at the time, for me) negated much of it - the pseudo heavy metal stance struck me as uninformed and retro as well. These were very much enlightened and exciting times in music and Joy Division were, in my view, at the time, culpable of the very heinous crime of not living up to the standards that other bands were aspiring to and forging ahead with.
Of course Unknown Pleasures is a great record, the band were great live, I saw them a few times, and their influence is undeniable - they were an extraordinarily original band. All I'm saying is that they employed dodgy imagery and style early in their brief career. But I suppose we all do that.
It's interesting to hear things from this point of view. I guess any flirtation with WW2 imagery and in particular Nazi iconography is a pretty difficult thing to defend, no doubt the JD members would regret some of it now.
I'm not sure about the heavy metal side of things, I have never seen them in that way. Do you mean the gothic typeface used on their early artwork (and even Bernard's choice of guitar, chosen because it used a gothic typeface for its logo)? The Check Inn poster is probably one of the first JD related designs that stepped away from this and into something a lot more stylish don't you think? Any idea who designed it?
Related to this you mentioned that you have the Check Inn poster with Bidet Boys written all over it, any chance of putting an image up?
I'm not sure that JD or Tony Wilson ever acknowledged or regretted the nazi imagery of JD. I'm sure Tony would have been smart enough to say it was "situationist" - and we'd have all gone ...."um... ok then."
Well, the Heavy Metal criticism is a bit rich coming from me as I like an awful lot of it - but nothing post-75 or 76 - I thought it had had its day and we had moved on - and a lot of it, the dirtier the better. I just found that JD at the time pounded and plodded away in a clumsy way with much old-fashioned posturing - listen to their tracks on Short Circuit and compare them to Unknown Pleasures - like a totally different band. That's due to Martin Hannett raising their game against their wishes, from what I've read - they hated what he'd done to their sound.
I saw all the bands at the Electric Circus on the last weekend - some of them for the first time (including Magazine's triumphant entrance) - JD didn't stand out as being very original. At their best JD were (gulp) delicate and angular and insightful and original. Pounding out sub-punk riffs with nazi imagery disappointed me. Do you think Mark E Smith would have (or still would) allow one of his bass players to wear their instrument round their knees and gurn?.
Regarding the Poster - no, I don't know who designed it - but it's a great poster, yes - very stylish - the whole style of Factory/Russell club was starting to come together - so my expectations were further dashed on the night. I "wrecked" mine by writing the Bidet Boys in large letters in tippex at the top (as if we were topping the bill! - ha ha). I guess I have it somewhere. No promises about digging it out and uploading it.
i have had conversations with Tosh Ryan (Rabid Recs) about the early JD period. I've probably written this story elsewhere on the site but this seems a good place to write it again!
Tosh/Rabid were asked to distribute the first JD ep and Tosh immediately refused because of this Nazi imagery - not just of the sleeve but I think also because of the band's fashion too, which was in that Hitler Youth stylee. Tosh said he didn't want anything to do with it but I think Rabid may still have helped in the promotion of the single - probably under Lawrence Beedle's direction. Tosh was very interested in punk and had huge respect for Buzzcocks - he loved it and thought it was pretty mad. but he just didn't see it in Warsaw/JD which is interesting as I think he has an intuitive understanding of the scene (am i getting too deep here?). Anyway - he ended up throwing a few boxes of that first ep in the canal... and he still doesn't regret it even tho they're now worth about £1000 each!
I wonder how many of the other Mcr bands at the time were uncomfortable with the imagery?
<I wonder how many of the other Mcr bands at the time were uncomfortable with the imagery>I don't think too many, if any, were, no one even noticed them at first, put it this way, around this time a band like V2 would have had more attention, If I recall there were rumblings amongst some punters, but nothing came of it, and besides, they played the factory an awful lot - that wasn't the place for any right wing antics, staged or otherwise.
COMMENT ADDED 17th April 2009
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