Monday, June 15, 2009

30 Years Ago Today: Joy Division releases "Unknown Pleasures"...

Unknown Pleasures is English post-punk band Joy Division's debut album, released in 1979 through Factory Records. Martin Hannett produced the record at Strawberry Studios, Stockport, England. The album sold poorly upon release, but due to the subsequent success of Joy Division with the 1980 single "Love Will Tear Us Apart", Unknown Pleasures is now much more well-known. Factory boss Tony Wilson had so much faith in the band that he contributed his £8,500 life savings toward the cost of producing the initial run of 10,000 copies of the album.

The highest position Unknown Pleasures reached in the UK Album Chart was number seventy-one in August 1980, soon after the release of their second album, Closer. It fared better, however, in the UK Indie Chart, placing at number 2 in the first indie chart to be published in January 1980, and going on to top the chart when redistributed in July 1980, spending 136 weeks in the chart in total.

In 2000, Q magazine placed Unknown Pleasures at number nineteen in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. Pitchfork Media placed it ninth out of the its 100 Greatest Albums of the 1970s while the 2007 re-release received the rare accolade of 10.0/10. In his 1995 book, "The Alternative Music Almanac", Alan Cross placed the album in the eighth spot on the list of '10 Classic Alternative Albums'. Ned Raggett of Allmusic guide describes it as "all visceral, all emotional, all theatrical, all of the best albums ever."

The Cover:

The front cover image comes from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, and was originally drawn with black lines on a white background. It presents exactly 100 successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered, PSR B1919+21—often referred to in the context of this album by its older name, CP 1919. The image was suggested by Bernard Sumner and the cover design is credited to Joy Division, Peter Saville and Chris Mathan. The back cover of the album contains no track listings, leaving a blank table where one would expect the listings to be. The original release came in a textured sleeve.

The original LP release contained no track information on the labels, nor the traditional "side one" and "side two" designations. The ostensible "side one" was labeled Outside and displayed a reproduction of the image on the album cover, while the other side was labeled Inside and displayed the same image with the colors reversed (black-on-white). Track information and album credits appeared on the inner sleeve only.

Suggested listening:

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