A fascinating and exciting musical artifact has recently been uncovered. Approximately two weeks ago, master tapes and studio outtakes surfaced featuring artists from the late 70s and 80s: Joy Division and New Order.
The boxes of tapes discovered contained a fascinating note: they had been saved from being thrown away completely, making them an even more valuable commodity of the music world. The woman responsible for their rescue has her roots in British post-punk, her name is Julia Adamson. Her musical credentials include sound engineering at Strawberry Studios, a length of time as a record executive and a brief member of the Fall. Her connection to this particular collection stems from her time as a P.A. to Martin Hannett, producer for Joy Division and New Order. His impressive list of clients also include Psychedelic Furs, Magazine, Buzzcocks, OMD, and the Durutti Column, to name a few. It was from his collection that Adamson rescued the lost tapes.
Allegedly, according to her Facebook page, Adamson attempted to give the tapes to whom she feels is the rightful owner, bass player Peter Hook. Hook was co-founder and bass player of Joy Division, which later reformed and renamed itself to New Order, following the death of singer Ian Curtis circa 1980.
There is some speculation to this act, as Hook has maintained there was no offer given to him to take the tapes and add them to his own musical collection. Hook states to Pitchfork, “There is no way on earth that I, renowned collector of all things Joy Division and New Order, would have not been interested.” Once the acquisition of the tapes had been brought to his attention, however, Hook has been reported to be grateful and quite interested in buying the tapes from Adamson. His excitement stems from the fact that he once thought the tapes to be completely gone, following the bankruptcy and end of Factory Records in 1992.
Excerpts from Hook’s lengthy conversation with Pitchfork show the passion for his music and the excitement that has resulted from the discovery of this box full of his past.
Hook had this to say regarding his initial reaction to the tapes having been found,
On those boxes, it’s mostly my handwriting. I was in the studio, and I used to fill in the boxes for Martin. It’s odd, like finding an old diary tucked away at the back of a cupboard. I got some tapes recently that had Bernard’s handwriting on them. It’s always a strange thing. Whilst your relationship may sour over the years, it is a bit like finding an old love letter. It always takes you back in a nice way, I must admit. Your memory is designed to remember the good bits and not the bad bits, isn’t it? It was like that with Lost Sirens. I’m still taking legal action against the others… but when I heard Lost Sirens it was actually wonderful. You remember, you did create some wonderful stuff together. It does give you hope.
His elation is magnified by the lack of an abundance of recordings and outtakes from the band,
There are so little outtakes from the Joy Divison era. We didn’t have much money. You couldn’t be very generous in recording, so we were very thrifty in how we recorded. Everything was very, very well looked after financially because we just couldn’t afford it.
Producer Martin Hannett was not to be deterred by money, however. Hook’s reverence for his former producer is easily heard,
Martin had a quarter-inch reel-to-reel machine at home. Every time he did a mix, he would have a copy made in the studio, and he would take it home and listen to it on a proper machine. Whereas, the band only got cassettes. That collection of [Martin’s] tapes was paid for by Factory, so in actuality, it is owned by the band…
Martin was not very flexible. If you were doing a mix, and it started going a way he did not like, he would not listen to your version. He would only listen to his version of the mix. A lot of Martin’s tapes are different than the ones that turned up on the record, which were compromises between us and Martin. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’m really looking forward to it as much as anybody else…
Martin was a very unusual character. He loved Joy Division when we began because we didn’t know what we were doing. Then hated us at the end of Joy Division, because all we did was suggest things… We definitely had a problem with Movement in particular in that Martin’s tastes seemed to have changed. When we started using the synthesized drum sound, Martin didn’t like it. We kept trying to push all the drums up to make it dancier, which is probably a symptom of becoming New Order, and he kept bringing it down and making it more atmospheric, the way the Joy Division stuff was.
Since the recordings, according to Hook’s previous statements are technically owned by the band, English law requires the tapes be returned to the band by Adamson. Hook had this to say,
As far as groups are concerned, [the music] is their property. If I found some Nine Inch Nails tapes or Stone Roses tapes, and you contacted the Stone Roses, they’d all go, “they’re ours!” There’s a culture of finder’s keepers, so invariably, over the years, I’ve bought many items of memorabilia back from various people. But English law is very explicit about ownership. The band owned the copyright and the music, and under English law it’s illegal to give away people’s music without their consent. So, if Julia did want to give them away, she needs our permission. It’s the same as illegal file-sharing on the internet.
I must admit that we’re absolutely delighted that these tapes have been rescued. If you lose your dog, you have your heart broken, and someone phones you up and goes, “I’ve got your dog” and you go “oh, fantastic, I’m so happy, I’ll come down to collect him,” and they go “no I want ten dollars.” Unfortunately, it comes down to that, usually.
The following outlines Hook’s plans for the tapes, assuming negotiations with Adamson goes well,
The problem at the moment is that [I’m] at loggerheads with New Order– I’m contesting their right to the trademark– so everything to do with Joy Division is stopped whilst that is sorted out. I’ve been trying to get Martin Hannett’s outtakes… We did actually amass a big pile of tapes of Martin Hannett’s, and these are the next part of Martin’s collection… There are so many bootlegged Joy Division-Martin Hannett tapes, a lot of really bad bootlegs on the internet. What I’d like to do is the definitive [collection].
The tapes should, therefore, have no trouble finding their way back into the possession of those who rightfully deserve them, the band members from Joy Division and New Order. Perhaps fans will soon see a definitive collection of the band’s work, including the gems recovered in the box.