Joy Division certainly is one band with many faces. There is undeniably a provocative flirting with fascist esthetics, starting with the name taken from a book about the SS, according to this book the Joy Division at that time being whores to thank SS members for services rendered; the uniform-like clothings singer Ian Curtis sported; the cold lyrics, expressing a sometimes futuristic feeling; the dancing on stage that reminds of an android out of control – where ever you look, you can find hints to the aesthetics of the 1930s. Not to forget the name the three remaining members of the band chose, after Ian’s suicide. New Order became a million dollar band in the end.
There’s a film on dailymotion telling the story of Joy Division and Manchester, a very impressing documentary. Don’t miss it, the whole 90 minutes are still online, and you can even download it, if you get Download Helper, a Firefox plug-in.
After watching the movie I was kinda wondering how Deborah Curtis would tell this same story, she being the wife of Ian, but never part of the scene. I see she has written a book about her marriage, and I would at least read her side of the story here in this interview or in the book, it’s still available.
I’ve just scanned some parts of the Calypso Now catalogues from the 80′s and I’m astonished by this ‘hit-and-run’ graphic style that just came natural because the tools weren’t really available – some catalogues were even printed in my kitchen on those heavy machines they used to have in schools, where you typed your text on a so-called stencil, and with this you could print up to several hundred A-4 sized copies, until the stencil just ripped itself apart. That was by far the cheapest way to publish a catalogue.
Later, when the label got ‘bigger’, I could afford to have flyers printed, at some time the catalogue came on a poster, from which I scanned a small part here. So, let’s talk about sex!
The “Sex sells” slogan was used as a provocation for the swiss postal service, the catalogues being folded in a transparent enveloppe so you saw the picture and the slogan, but couldn’t tell if the penis would be visible as a whole. Well, the provocation worked marvellously, the catalogues were refused by the post office here, which gave me the opportunity to put a ‘Censored’-sticker on the cock, which anyway wasn’t really visible, as you can see for yourself. Click on the picture to see it full size in a new browser window.
Why this cheap provocation? Well, I was a bit fed up by all those shops flashing naked tits around to sell some product, so I really had to prove my point. As I said, it worked great. It would still work today, bet?
Steven Tetzloff, by the way, the man with the penis, was a guitar player from San Francisco who played in rather shitty New Wave bands (by my humble opinion ), but he made three solo tapes which I still adore; all of them have been released here by Calypso Now and I will upload some of his music soon. He did them really cheap in his bathroom, with nice distorted guitar and a cheasy rhythm box, kind of a Velvet-Underground-play-Suicide sound. Suicide? No, not suicide as an action, I mean Suicide, the band, with Alan Vega.
I liked the music of Steven Tetzloff so much that I also put him on the last compilation tape from Calypso Now, the Starspot Compilation (click here for a full picture of the catalogue and more information about Starspot), and on a promotional single, called Sex Sells, of course. By the way: I must still have some copies of this 7 incher laying around here somewhere, will probably have to dig in the boxes I’ve moved with at least three times in the last 10 years without opening them once more. I’ll keep you posted. Might interest you that the tape and the single also contains a marvelous track from Herr Dr. Michael Angele, now Leiter Kultur at german paper and web community Der Freitag… hehehe – more is here to come!
And…. I’ve uploaded two tracks by Crash Course from Biel-Bienne, then renowned as the fastest (post) punk band in Switzerland (probably falsely), from their deleted single, which came out on a compilation tape of the band on Calypso Now. Singer is the same Herr Dr. Michael Angele
Crash Course: Break Down The Walls, Television
Ajust playback volume to 11 and press the play button!
Calypso Now is the Swiss cassette label active mainly in the 1980s. There were about 200 releases over the years, some produced by the label itself. Most of the releases were produced by the musicians themselves or came from foreign labels, some tape productions, fanzines and records were only distributed by Calypso Now.
Sales were not fantastic – they range from zero to several dozens, as far as I remember. This was not due to the quality of the productions, but cassettes were always an aficionados-only medium. They have several advantages, though:
they can produce a higher output level than vinyl or digital records
they are very cheap to make because there are no costs for a master
they can be recycled – simply record over the existing sound
I set up this blog to present some of the productions, publish some stuff from my archives and links to uploaded music from the label. I’ll be back soon…