Today would have marked the 57th birthday of Ian Curtis, who was born on July 15, 1956. Though the Joy Division front man tragically took his own life 33 years ago, it's telling of the legacy he left behind that even now we hear bands hopelessly indebted to his unique craft and that we still look back on his music after all this time.
In honor of Curtis and the inestimable impact he's had on modern music -- despite only releasing two full-length records in his lifetime -- I decided to look at some of the best cover versions of his songs over the years. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; even better if it doesn't suck, so these performances have quite a bit going for them.
5. Bauhaus, "Transmission" It's unfortunate that better-quality versions of this stunning cover of "Transmission" by Bauhaus on their 2006 tour don't exist, save this one, which cuts off before the end. Still, the one seen above is sublime because it captures Peter Murphy's manic Ian Curtis-esque dancing throughout their performance of the Joy Division classic.
4. John Frusciante, "New Dawn Fades" A staple of ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante's live sets, "New Dawn Fades" is a song that Froosh rocks with his signature intensity even when playing it on his acoustic. There's a mournful beauty to the track that he really brings out in this performance from 2001 that grabs me.
3. Nachtmystium, "The Eternal" Artsy black-metal weirdos from Illinois, Nachtmystium, covering Joy Division shouldn't come as a huge surprise, but it still caught me off-guard when I first heard about it. I also shouldn't have been surprised to hear that they took it on with the appropriate seriousness, covering it with a stark faithfulness yet deftly imbuing it with their own sound as well.
2. Jawbox, "Something Must Break" The early post-hardcore band Jawbox bridged the gap between emo and post-punk with this cover from 1991 of "Something Must Break." The influence Joy Division would exert on the future of emo and post-hardcore is incalculable, and this is an excellent tribute to that fact.
1. Nine Inch Nails, "Dead Souls" If anyone could capture the essence of a Joy Division song, it's Trent Reznor. "Dead Souls" not only ended up being a hit for NIN, but honestly, it stepped it up from the original and added a unique new flavor that was much appreciated in my book.
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