If Ian Curtis had lived he would have ended up somewhere between Roger Waters and Morrissey.
New Order would have come out of Joy Division no matter what.
If you go to any given city and go to the local music scene and find the guys in each of the four categories who want to be in a band the most but aren’t yet, the drummer the guitarist the bassist and the vocalist, you will end up with something very much like Joy Division or Booker T. and the MGs. By that I mean you will end up with a tight rhythm section that just wants to play dance music, a laconic guitarist who does nothing but produce hooks on demand, and the personality of the Curtis/Booker T. will dictate the particular shape the band plays. This is because of the particular types of personalities that are drawn to each role in the band. The band will probably only be good if at least one of those four is really good, and it will only be great if they’re all really good. But rock and roll has always been about putting a lot of kids on stage and figuring out which ones are talented later.
Joy Division was a professional band. It was assembled from the four unattached kids in Manchester who wanted it the most. They were never friends, even from the very beginning. They were coworkers.
The notable thing about the punk movement of the late 70s is that it caused a bunch of people to become professional musicians before they learned to play their instruments. That’s why they ape the forms of their own particular genres (Ramones and their girl group mania, the Talking Heads deciding they were Fela Kuti, etc.) but it’s more recognizably punk than what they’re ripping off.
Listen to this song and tell me you can’t see the Blues Brothers walking down the street to it. Listen to the drums and the bass. Joy Division was a dance band. That’s why, when Ian Curtis died, they turned into a dance band.
But watch the video and you get the impression it’s all about some tortured young man being tortured and young. Nope, it’s about British kids trying to play a Stax groove and not quite getting it right but getting somewhere else interesting all the same.
And don’t watch that movie Control, because it is some sonorous bullshit and it didn’t go down like that at all.