Posts Tagged ‘Unknown Pleasures’

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

The cover to Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures is both immediately familiar and entirely mysterious — much like the music within. The only album from the band to be released during frontman Ian Curtis’ lifetime, he undeniably drives their debut, whether with an aggressive isolation or a hand reaching out hopefully. But that’s not to say this is a one-man show. The rest of Joy Division do their fair share of heavy lifting, producing cavernous, eerie sets to surround his tortured mental explorations. A touchstone for post-punk, new wave, electronic music, and indie as a whole, Unknown Pleasures feels like listening to the deep breaths and mumbled self-analysis of an astronaut as he drifts out into space.

There’s a reason 1979’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ is the altar at which so many worship. This is the calling card of the gesamtkunstwerk that is/was Joy Division, those four spindly young dudes studiously engaged in pushing the post-punk envelope further than it had gone before. 

‘Unknown Pleasures’ is known for being gloomy or even depressing. While you can definitely make the case for this, the words that more readily spring to mind are “elegance” or “grandeur”. The rhythms here are propulsive but never excessive; guitars and bass wind tightly around the song structures; the vocals are too dynamic to venture into true melancholy as they do with an Elliott Smith or Grouper. 

You have to remember that Joy Division were forged in punk. Famously, the band’s members were among the crowd at the The Sex Pistols’ Lesser Free Trade Hall gig – Morrissey, Mark E Smith, Factory Records’ head honcho Tony Wilson and Buzzcocks were also there. Joy Division’s scratchy punk energy, best captured on the ‘Ideal For Living’ EP, was tempered by Martin Hannett’s experimental recording and production techniques to create something completely distinctive-sounding for this debut LP. From the indie-disco pump and thrust of opener ‘Disorder’ to the stentorian ‘Day Of The Lords’, the energetic ‘She’s Lost Control’ to the faded elegance of closer ‘I Remember Nothing’ – if ‘Unknown Pleasures’ isn’t iconic, then nothing is.

Warner Music will issue a limited edition 40th anniversary version coloured vinyl edition of Joy Division‘s debut studio album “Unknown Pleasures” next month.

The album will be pressed on ‘ruby red’ 180g vinyl and will come packaged in alternative artwork – a white sleeve that resembles the original Peter Saville design concept.

In June 1979, Joy Division released the bleak masterpiece that is ‘Unknown Pleasures’, a record so majestic it changed the face of music. There can’t be many people left in the civilised world who haven’t, at one time or another, sat down and discussed the influence of ‘Unknown Pleasures’ over the last few decades. But reeling off a list of indebted bands that’s longer than time itself is now only one facet of why Joy Division’s first album is so significant.

The story of how Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Ian Curtis teamed up with their peerlessly innovative producer Martin Hannett to make the album is so fascinating that it has provided for more books that most people will read in their lives. That’s to say nothing of the numerous documentaries which have provided a nice little earner on the talking head circuit for anyone who spent more than two weeks in Manchester during the late 1970s. Let’s not forget the two major motion pictures — 24 Hour Party People and Control — that also depicted the album’s recording and which were widely celebrated for it.

This August will see Joy Division’s legendary bass player Peter Hook join forces with The Metropolitan Orchestra to bring his brand new project Joy Division Orchestrated to Australia. The shows will see classic tracks from the seminal UK post-punk outfit performed in a new light with a full orchestral arrangement. This is the first time that an original member of the group has taken part in such a project.

Ahead of the tour, we’ve decided to look back at the group’s 1979 seminal album Unknown Pleasures and the key players outside of the band – Hook, frontman Ian Curtis, drummer Stephen Morris, and guitarist Bernard Sumner – who helped shape the classic release.

Peter Saville – graphic designer

Even if you’re not familiar with the album itself, chances are you’ve seen its cover across someone’s t-shirt in Fitzroy, Newtown or anywhere else across the globe. Saville’s work goes much further than just Joy Division, and subsequently New Order, having gone on to produce artwork for the likes of Peter Gabriel (1986’s So), Martha & The Muffins (1980’s Metro Music), Wham! (1986’s Music From The Edge Of Heaven), Roxy Music (1980’s Flesh & Blood). He was a founding member of Factory Records, the label that would release Joy Division’s work. Last year, he redesigned Burberry’s logo and just this week, he walked the catwalk for Ferragamo.

Martin Hannett – producer

Hannett first met Hook, Curtis and Sumner between 1976 and 1977, when they first appeared as Warsaw and he was booking shows around Manchester; he added Warsaw to his roster soon after. In 1978, Hannett would first work with the group to produce their tracks Digital and Glass. Hannett would ultimately go on to record both Unknown Pleasures and their final work, Closer. He was tasked with producing U2’s debut album, Boy, but passed up the opportunity following the death of Curtis. Hannett work continues to influence long after his own death in 1991, at age 42, helping shape tracks from artists like Happy Mondays, Buzzcocks, Stone Roses and more in their formative years.

Rob Gretton – manager

Gretton met the group soon after they began booking shows with Hannett; it was during 1977 that they crossed paths at Rafters where Gretton was the venue’s resident DJ. He’d recently began managing local acts and the newly renamed Joy Division soon joined this roster. Gretton scored rights for the group’sIdeal For Living back from RCA Records early on and was fundamental in the transition from Joy Division to New Order. Following the dissolution of Factory Records in the ‘90s, he started his own Rob’s Records.

Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus – Factory Records co-founders

Perhaps at the centre of the Joy Division world is the iconic, and infamous, Factory Records; the label that launched them. Founded in 1978, the label would go on to helm the Madchester music scene, in part through its influence with nightclub The Haçienda, which was co-owned by the members of New Order. Wilson would pass away in 2007, following a long career as a journalist in addition to his many music industry roles. Erasmus has kept a pretty low profile since the closure of Factory Records.

This new coloured vinyl edition of Unknown Pleasures will be released on 14th June 2019.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Rhino has re-issued four iconic Joy Division albums on heavyweight 180-gram vinyl. Each design replicates the original in painstaking detail, including the gatefold covers used for Still and Substance. The music heard on the albums was remastered in 2007 when Rhino introduced expanded versions of the albums.

Joy Division recorded two albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, before singer Ian Curtis tragically took his own life in 1980. But what the Manchester quartet lacked in longevity, it more than made up for in quality. The band’s only two studio albums were groundbreaking and helped shape the sound and mood of the alternative music that followed in the band’s wake.

The compilations Still and Substance fill in the missing pieces of the band’s history with non-album singles (“Transmission” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart”), unreleased studio tracks (“Something Must Break” and “Ice Age”), and choice live recordings (“Disorder” and the only performance of “Ceremony.”)