Joy Division

There's already been enough written about Unknown Pleasures and Closer (not to mention the new feature film, Control, or the new documentary) to keep Joy Division fans ecstatically gloomy (or gloomily ecstatic?) for the rest of their lives, but the band has a buried treasure early in their catalogue that's mentioned rarely, if at all. Overlooked by Joy Division fans because it's a punk record, and overlooked by punk fans because it's a Joy Division record, the Warsaw recordings are definitely worthy of a further look.

In May 1978, before they had appeared on record anywhere -- and while they were still known as Warsaw -- the quartet recorded an entire album that was quickly shelved after the band grew unhappy with the results. Six months later, Warsaw had a new name and were signed to Factory Records. Many of the 11 tracks were rerecorded for subsequent release on Unknown Pleasures and elsewhere.

It's debatable what Joy Division disliked about the Warsaw LP -- it's said that synthesizers were added to a few tracks without their permission -- but the record certainly isn't anything to be embarrassed by. Think of it as a live-in-the-studio run through their early repertoire, what they sounded like before producer Martin Hannett arrived, insisting on the cavernous, isolated sound that helped make Unknown Pleasures as a post-punk classic.

Compared to their later work, Ian Curtis is much more galvanizing, sounding driven rather than lost. Bernard Albrecht's guitar is more slashing and riff-heavy, while Peter Hook's bass gets even more rangy and dirty-sounding. Acknowledged or not, and excusing the shoddy sound quality, Warsaw stands next to Never Mind the Bollocks, Damned Damned Damned, Pink Flag, and The Clash as one of the prime punk albums.

Extra bonus: the 1994 release of the Warsaw LP includes the very first JD-related recordings, five tracks from July 1977 with three quarters of the classic lineup (Steve Brotherdale was still on drums). At this point, Warsaw were about as punk as it got, with nasty kiss-offs like "You're No Good for Me" and "The Kill."