Podcast Review: Transmissions

‘The tale of Joy Division and New Order is being told like never before…’

The ‘definitive’ story of Joy Division is quite the claim. When considering the vast array of books, films and airtime already devoted to Ian Curtis and his band, can anything really claim to be definitive? The answer is, not really…

Based on new and exclusive interviews with all surviving band members plus some wonderful archive stuff from Tony Wilson and others, Transmission begins by treading the familiar ground of Joy Division and their astonishing rise and subsequent tragic fall. This is all coming across as overly critical. While this is nothing we haven’t heard before, it’s still heartening to hear it all again, especially when narrated by Maxine Peake – who does a wonderful job in capturing the energy and enthusiasm of the band’s early days.

Transmission really comes into its own when documenting what happened next however. New Order have perhaps suffered from constant comparisons to their previous incarnation, but now we have a bit of distance from the genesis of New Order, I would argue that the latter were actually considerably more groundbreaking and considerably more influential than Joy Division ever were.

By covering New Order’s heydey, we are treated to reams of material that feels a lot less poured over than the Joy Division stuff. Much of the revelatory content here was new to me, and as it turns out, New Order’s story is just as fascinating as the band that preceded them, and it is wonderful to hear first hand accounts from those directly involved, especially as those accounts often differ wildly reflecting the fact that Hooky and Bernard Sumner are no longer on speaking terms.

Transmission is two things at once. It is a good Joy Division podcast, but it is an essential New Order podcast. If you have even a passing interest in either band, cue this one up next.