Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division




Album Review - Rolling Stone Magazine - 28th May 1981

Hear samples of the album HERE

I got into Joy Division in a big way quite late on. I’d been aware of them for a long time but didn’t really know much by them and hadn’t taken time to really listen to them.

I first saw them on a Granada Tv compilation film featuring all the main punk bands who had played in the north, 1976 through to 1979. These included, amongst others, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks, The Jam, Elvis Costello and Joy Division.

The show included 3 Joy Division songs, Shadowplay, She’s Lost Control and Transmission all of which are included further down this blog. It was the first time that I had seen members of New Order in their previous band so gave all of my attention to them and not the man, centre stage doing the funny dance!

I had videoed the programme so watched it over and over again, switching my attention from Bernard Sumner’s guitar to the performance of Ian Curtis. The performances were so intense, so powerful and so exciting.


In 1988 I bought Substance – This is was my first Joy Division record, a ‘best of’ which was so accessible and immediate. Each song familiar on first listening. Songs such as Warsaw with it’s 3,5,0,1,2,5, Go! count in. The great thing about this ‘best of’ was that all the songs were pretty easy to play on my guitar. I spent hours playing along to the CD copying Barney’s guitar note for note. In fact I still play Leaders Of Men on my acoustic, Joy Division meets Fairport Convention!!


Now I finally arrive at Unknown Pleasures. Although I love Closer, this album is still fresh, still riveting. The build and layers of the music is simple and effective. It’s the kind of music that I would want to play if I was in a band. It’s inspiring and not at all miserable!

Ian Cutis liked this album, Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner did not! They were not happy with Martin Hannett’s production, taking away the biting guitars and the punk attitude. Listening to the Warsaw album (Demo’s and RCA sessions) I think Hannett got it right. Punk was on it’s way out, something new was just about to arrive…..


Recommended Reading 

Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" (33 1/3) by Chris Ott

Touching From A Distance by Deborah Curtis

House Of Dolls by Ka-Tzetnik

Recommended Film


Joy Division - Directed by Grant Gee

Joy Division – Shadowplay

Joy Division – She’s Lost Control

Joy Division – Transmission (although not on Unknown Pleasure I just had to add it!)

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