The Vinyl Brew: Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

The Vinyl Brew: Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures

Becoming one of the pioneers of the post-punk movement and with a tragic storyline to boot, today we are talking about Joy Division and their debut album Unknown Pleasures.
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 Shiny Day Brewers,


As we sit down this week, we are going to chat about an album that on its release did not even make it into the charts. Although, in hindsight it has been recognised as one of the greatest albums of all time. Becoming one of the pioneers of the post-punk movement and with a tragic storyline to boot we are of course talking about Joy Division and their debut album Unknown Pleasures.

They formed in Salford in 1976 after attending a Sex Pistols concert, initially using the name Warsaw. It wasn’t until the final line-up of the group came together that the band changed their name to Joy Division to stop any confusion with London punk band Warsaw Pakt and took the new name from the 1955 novel “House of Dolls”. In 1978 they released their first EP, An Ideal for Living, which helped grab the attention of Tony Wilson who was just setting up Factory Records. In fact, Joy Division would contribute 2 tracks to the record labels first release after buying their way out of a deal they had made with RCA and signing on to Factory Records.

In 1979 the band would record Unknown Pleasures, their debut album, at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios under the watchful eye of producer Martin Hannett. Hannett would incorporate several unusual production techniques and sound effects on the album’s recording. Along with digital delays, tape echoes and bounce the album contains the sound of smashing bottles, someone eating crisps and the sound of a toilet. What Hannett brought to the Unknown Pleasures was a gloomier, darker and more spacious feel to the band’s sound at a time when live was a much more energetic and aggressive sound. It was a change not all band members thought worked but in retrospect have come to accept it was exactly what the band needed. With easily one of the most iconic album covers of all time, an image produced by Peter Saville, Unknown Pleasures had everything right going for it.

Unknown Pleasures is another one of those albums that looking back on now it’s hard to understand why it wasn’t instantly a commercial success. Having recharted in more recent times with anniversary editions it continues to reach new audiences and still resonates with a massive audience. After the recording of their second album and on the eve of their first North American tour lead singer Ian Curtis would commit suicide. Having been dealing with epilepsy, depression and a failing marriage this bright young star would blink out of existence at the start of what clearly would have been a beautiful musical journey. The band would release their second album ‘Closer’ after the death of their band mate and would eventually go on to reform under the name of New Order.

The Final Word

As I write this, the change in weather has come along to match the mood of the album and I’m finishing the first cup of tea I’ve had in the last few weeks. Remember to head over to Twitter, @Vinyl8Records, to let us know what your favourite track off the album is. So, what should play us out? Well I’m going to go with “Shadowplay” today…

“In the shadowplay, acting out your own death, knowing no more
As the assassins all grouped in four lines, dancing on the floor
And with cold steel, odor on their bodies mad a move to connect
But I could only stare in disbelief as the crowds all left”

Till our next Brew,

Next Week's Brew

Next Sunday's brew is Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous. Why not add this gem to your collection so we can listen together next week!

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