The official Joy Division Heart and Soul box was a deceptive beast, reinforcing the group's reputation as multi-layered doom'n'gloom purveyors of post-punk angst, but all but overlooking the equally powerful, similarly oppressive, but fiercely guitar based roar that was the band's genesis. As Warsaw, the quartet recorded several well-bootlegged demos during the summer of 1977; six months later, with RCA showing considerable interest, the band recorded the 11-track demo which opens this set. "It sounds very young," bassist Peter Hook mused two decades later. "The demos sound very, very young, someone trying to find their feet, not very confident in what they're doing." Three tracks from this session appear on Heart and Soul, in better, but not necessarily more effective quality. The next four songs date from a Piccadilly Radio session a little over a year on. The Joy Division sound is now in full swing, and four of the five cuts do appear on the boxed set. The absent "Atrocity Exhibition," however, all but makes up for the duplication. The same can be said for "Transmission" and "Novelty," the fruits of a July 1979 session which also produced two more songs for Heart and Soul. Mopping up loose ends which the official release only talks about, this first release in the Punk Vault series is certainly worth investigating. None of the cuts are particularly hard to find elsewhere (as owners of the Warsaw and Atmosphere boots will testify), but as a single-disc summary of perhaps the most important band of 1979-1980, Digital Glass will be hard to beat.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson