Top 100 singles of all time: 85 – Joy Division – Transmission

My main introduction to Joy Division came via my fanzine co-editor Claire, who had a fondness for music from the late 70s. Another favourite was The Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen In Love, which was on the same compilation tape that she used to play in her car. 

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(The Buzzcocks look ridiculously young in that clip. I met Steve Diggle a few times – he was going out with a girl I vaguely knew when I thought 38 years old was practically necrophilia.)

I also remember Joy Division from Sounds of the 70s, a retrospective music show that I’d watch with my parents, which also heavily featured Magazine and The Undertones. The late 70s was to me just on the cusp of my consciousness – I was aware of the tail end of disco and even remember Pink Floyd being number one, but all the punk/post-punk side of things sailed over my infant head. It was much more suited to discovery in my teens, when I could fit the songs into the appropriate personal context of you’re-ruining-my-life-*SLAM*. I viewed learning about popular music history and culture as being vital to my future development, and memorised band names and song titles like the most ardent swot studies the periodic table.

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Joy Division did other great songs. Dead Souls, so ably covered by NIN, and Love Will Tear Us Apart being obvious examples. Transmission just sticks with me more, and I still view it as their best. It was released in November 1979 and failed to chart in the UK (though did get to number four in the indie charts), but it reached number two in New Zealand in 1981.

It’s the dance-dance-dance-to-the-radio bit that has me spinning around the room, eyes closed, enraptured.

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