Savoy Records

Love Will Tear Us Apart

PJ Proby


Savoy Reich Records



Love Will Tear Us Apart

  A 45rpm

Love Will Tear Us Apart (studio)

B 45rpm

Love Will Tear Us Apart (live)

Recorded and mixed in the UK at Suite 16, Rochdale / The Pink Studio, Liverpool and at the Oldham Rock Centre, Lancashire

Distributed by Probe Records, Liverpool

Love Will Tear Us Apart (studio & live) available on the Savoy Sessions CD



Record label text:

All rights reserved. The BPI and the Performing Rights Society can go fuck themselves!

Love label
Savoy's second vinyl outing, recorded whilst Proby was living Heathcliffe-like on the moors above Haworth in Bronte's Yorkshire. The Oldham studio where the live side was recorded was mysteriously burnt down afterwards. The studio version, recorded at the Pink Studio, Liverpool (run by Hambi of Hambi and the Dance), was given an airing by John Peel. Creem Magazine's 'Single of the Month'.



"After Tainted Love, the trouser splitting sensation lends his larynx to this Joy Division gem. Souped up, slightly electroc, but undeniably soulful, PJ Proby knows all the right notes and delivers with bravado and style."



"Proby's hysterical rendition of the Mancunian raincoat epic is the complete portrait of sexual paranoia. Good loving gone bad and why did I marry that frozen chicken from outer Didsbury? The Joy Division original is just a draft in comparison, Proby's a full-blown Hitchcock masterpiece."

PAUL TEMPLE, Melody Maker


"One of the sacred songs of the serious 'post-punk' crowd, the folks who keep their faces blank, their clothing black, and their music bleak, is Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, featuring the late Ian Curtis. Now, although I have no use for the gloom generation in general, don't get me wrong—despite (or maybe because of) Curtis's dismal singing (no range, no pitch, very little musicality, period), Love Will Tear Us Apart is a great song.

And as with most great songs, singers who can sing have been attracted by the prospect of putting their own stamp on it. Paul Young was the first to try, and I thought he did a fine job, respectful but not over-reverent. But you should have heard the howls of sacrilege in England (here, too). It was as if Dee Snider had been picked to sing the national anthem to open the National PTA convention.

But if Young's treatment was sacrilegious, then the latest cover (discounting a pale copy of Young's version by one Michael John—there may be others...covers or Michael Johns, come to think of it) must be regarded as Satan's own handiwork. If that was the case, then the old devil picked a diabolically clever agent of destruction: PJ Proby.

Proby is one of my favourite underrated '60s popstars, the kind of larger-than-life talented buffoon we see so seldom today and can always use more of anyway. A Texan rockabilly who reputedly sang demos for Elvis, Proby moved to England in 1964 and stunned its then-triumphant pop world into submission with extravagant claims that he could sing better than all the British invaders put together. Arrogance but not conceit, as Sister Sledge used to sing: he was an amazing vocalist.

During a turbulent four years in the UK, Proby demolished several standard songs beat group-style with Jimmy Page on guitar, split his pants onstage a few times to the horrified fascination of the British press, made an album with Led Zeppelin (minus Plant) as his backing band, alienated everyone who might have entertained the slightest sympathy for him, and recorded Spectoresque ballads, classic swamp pop (Niki Hoeky, his biggest US hit), hysterical R&B revamps, and treacly ballads, with wildly varying success. As did Jerry Lee Lewis, Proby played Iago in the rock version of Othello (it is not recorded who won), and he is brought to life in all his blustery magniloquence in a chapter of Nik Cohn's enduring book Rock From The Beginning.

Proby's speciality was taking a standard, usually a ballad, and simultaneously singing the hell out of it while exaggerating certain phrases and intonations, quite obviously to poke fun and undermine the conventions of pop balladry itself. His finest moment, the West Side Story showcase Somewhere, makes Barbra Streissand's version sound like Barbara Mandrell.

This is the idea, I think, behind his being dredged up from several years' obscurity (a previous 1985 release of Tainted Love was just plain awful) to tackle the Joy Division classic. He turns in a studio version on one side and a live performance on the flip that gives new meaning to the word 'loose', and they are hideously fascinating.

The backing band, for starters, is not exactly Led Zeppelin (although I think they'd like to be) and the arrangement is seriously out of whack, particularly the deafening whalloping of the drummer and the hamfisted synths. And Proby seems to have lost a few chops over the decades—except near the end of the studio version, when he adopts a smooth keening croon for a few lines and provokes a reminiscent chill.

He takes the song pretty seriously at least on the studio side, but can't resist throwing in a typically subversive Probyism, intoning "Why is the bedroom so dadgum cold" in the middle of the song's unrelenting bleakness. A great moment!

The live version is simply bizarre, opening with Proby caught in mid-dialogue apparently accusing the Ronettes of being transsexuals and adding a perfectly gratuitous racial slur. Once he starts singing, there are flickers of the old form, more noticeable on this side thanks to a less obtrusive—but even more ineptly played—vaguely Velvets-styled arrangement. The performance actually starts to sound affecting when Proby brings it to a halt by ad-libbing, "Eat your heart out, Meat Loaf—I play baseball, too!"

I would give you an address to inquire about this amazing disc, but Savoy Records provides little information beyond this notation: "All rights reserved. The BPI (British Phonographic Institute) and the Performing Rights Society can go fuck themselves." Try your local importer, or any retailer with drive, initiative, and raw courage.

Clearly Single of the Month, and I barely have enough room to skim the rest..."

KEN BARNES, Creem Magazine, May 1986

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