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Unknown Pleasures

4.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Oct. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: LONDON RECORDS
  • ASIN: B000042O1H
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,893 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Disorder
  2. Day Of The Lords
  3. Candidate
  4. Insight
  5. New Dawn Fades
  6. She's Lost Control
  7. Shadowplay
  8. Wilderness
  9. Interzone
  10. I Remember Nothing

Product Description

BBC Review

The duochrome Peter Saville cover of this first Joy Division album speaks volumes. Its white on black lines reflect a pulse of power, a surge of bass, and raw angst. If the cover doesn't draw you in, the music will.

Following the first kick of drums and bass come the vocals!'I've been waiting for a guy to come and take me by the hand'. This young band was the 'guy' to take post punk music by the hand and lead it to 80s electronica. Joy Division were unlike anything that came before them and anything that has ever come after them.

The album is at times aggressive: 'And All God's angels beware. And all you judges beware, sons of chance take good care. For all the people out there, I'm not afraid anymore' Ian Curtis intones on 'Insight' lapsing, at times, into despondency. Unknown Pleasures is always brooding and always intense.

Joy Division were 4 boys from 1970s Salford. They took their name from the literary prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp and they took their inspiration from the familiar atmosphere of rundown post-industrial estates. Deep heaving baritones come out of a man so small he'd be blown away by the gust of his own voice. Together Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris created something approaching pure energy. On 'Shadowplay' the guitars launch into a dimension reminiscent of the sonic dimensions that Bowie and Eno dwelt in, in the late 70s. The band's sound is echo-y, cavernous, but thanks to Factory Records producer, Martin Hannett, never empty. By adding sound effects such as breaking glass, deep breaths, and footsteps he brings the music out of the mental torture of the lead singer and into the real world. It's these details that keep you with it and make it feel more measured than their manic live performances. For this he was initially resented by the band.

The classic, 'She's Lost Control' builds intensity as threatening growling is replaced with manic crescendo. It's simple, it's terse. 'Day Of The Lords' feels like it should accompany an Edgar Allen Poe tale as pulsing drums and howling guitars penetrate the air towards an unknown conclusion.

Unknown Pleasure borders on nihilism, but is pregnant with expectation. And like Bowie's Low - once heard its never forgotten. It's like going to the doctor and having your ears syringed. This is a sound that's ready to explode. And it still feels personal. --Susie Goldring

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's quite simple: if you want to listen to Joy Division's finest hour, then look no further than this, their first album.

Like many fantastic albums, this is not 'immediate', nor is it particularly accessible or masses friendly, nor should it be. Most life-affirming albums grow on people. I estimate that most people will have to listen to this album roughly five times before they start to appreciate all of it's many details, subtleties and nuances, lovingly arranged like some aural landscape.

It's starts off with 'Disorder', in which Ian Curtis declares that he has been waiting for a guide to come and take him by the hand, setting the lost and helpless tone of the entire album. Disorder is a fast and emotionally charged song, climaxing beautifully with Ian Curtis hollering "I've got the spirit, don't lose the feeling", thus encapsulating the fears and attitudes of so many other intelligent young songwriters, bubbling with emotion.

'Day Of The Lords' is an almost perfect example of foreboding and fear, perfectly encapsulated in both it's lyrics and musical sound. It is rife with atmosphere, vibrant and alive, yet painfully unhappy. The desperation with which Curtis demandingly shouts: "Where will it end?" is almost tangible. This is probably the most powerful song on the album.

'Candidate' continues on in similarly bleak fashion, nonchalantly describing the "blood on your fingers", whilst the hazy, threatening music compliments the lyrics perfectly. It is difficult to describe exactly how effectively Joy Division have used sound to create atmosphere on this album, and it is probably even more difficult to achieve.
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Format: Audio CD
Apologies for the cheesy compilation style title of this review but he fact is that when it comes to Joy Division's debut "Unknown Pleasures" it is difficult to contest. There are those who would make a strong case for the Smiths classic "The Queen is Dead", the Stone Roses eponymous debut, possibly Oasis finest moment "Definitely Maybe", and the joyous anarchy​ of Happy Mondays "Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches". Any other number of albums by the Fall or New Order could also stake a claim. The titles show that the city of Manchester has been peerless in churning out of the greatest UK bands on a conveyor belt as productive as the one in Wales that produces outside half's. But time after time it is Joy Division's dark masterpiece that is pulled out of the CD rack and which haunts everything which follows.

Accepting some basic facts about the album makes "Unknown Pleasures" great before the vinyl is placed on the turntable. It was released on 14 June 1979, through Factory Records and produced by the troubled "hippie" genius of Martin Hannett. Factory boss Tony Wilson, the posh situationist, invested the whole of his savings account into the first run of 10,000 and championed the band like an intellectual football supporter. He was later affectionately played for laughs by Steve Coogan in "24 Hour Party People", yet no one can detract from Wilson's achievement at Factory. Then there is the startling pulsed image of the Peter Saville still selling today as famous emblem on T shirts bought by many who may not be aware of the source. Finally let's not forget those haunting black and white photo's from the era by Dutch photographer Anton Corbjin who later made his big film debut with "Control" the biopic of the band.
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Format: Audio CD
For some reason it's taken me 15 years of knowing about Unknown Pleasures to actually get round to buying it. I guess I always thought it was going to be too oppressive, too claustrophobic and too haunted by the ghost of Ian Curtis to be anything other than a depressing and down-right dreary experience.

But actually I really was very wrong! Listening to Unknown Pleasures isn't a depressing or oppressive experience (despite what other people might say.) Intense and dark, yes, and I'd admit to Ian Curtis' lyrics being on the dreary side, but Joy Division knew how to write songs, and the sheer melody of tracks like She's Lost Control and Disorder are positively up-lifting.

Also, Unknown Pleasure is one of the most spacious sounding albums I've heard. Apparently Martin Hannett recorded each instrument separately (including each drum of the drum kit) giving the album its clean-cut and pure sound. It means even when Joy Division 'rock out' (as on Interzone) the guitar sounds clipped and self-contained, brimming with barely repressed energy. It also gives the album quite an electronic feel, an effect enhanced by the many studio tweaks (the echo-effect on Ian Curtis voice on She's Lost Control, the wooshes and laser sounds on Insight, for example.)

The sparse sound also sets the stage for Ian Curtis' characteristically haunted vocals, the only element allowed to be expansive and emotional. It cannot be over-stated just how beautiful and harrowing Ian Curtis voice is. He sings with a passion and intensity that leaves you feeling suddenly slightly under-whelmed by Editors and their ilk.

Like other great post punk albums of the era (eg Fear of Music, Entertainment!
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