||Manchester punk rock band Joy Division surfaced in the wake of a Sex Pistols gig in their home town that appears to have spawned many of the other leading Northern English lights of late-1970s punk. After writing a series of derivative punk rock knockoffs, the band, in particular its driven yet emotionally fragile singer and songwriter Ian Curtis, hit its stride with a trio of songs that was to form the template for its brief career: "Shadowplay," "She's Lost Control," and "Transmission." Signed to the innovative Manchester record label Factory, Joy Division recorded its debut UNKNOWN PLEASURES with the maverick producer Martin Hannett in 1979. As Chris Ott relates in JOY DIVISION'S UNKNOWN PLEASURES, his entry in the 33 1/3 series of extended essays on significant albums, Hannett's eccentric working methods, exacerbated by his drug and alcohol intake, were initially frustrating to the band. But they resulted in an album that sounded simultaneously chilling and compelling, ultimately becoming one of Factory's biggest sellers. Ott's well-researched essay combines a fan's enthusiasm with a journalist's eye for significant detail; it's a must for musicologists and punk rock devotees alike.
||Joy Division's career has often been shrouded by myths. But the truth is surprisingly simple: over a period of several months, Joy Division transformed themselves from run-of-the-mill punk wannabes into the creators of one of the most atmospheric, disturbing, and influential debut albums ever recorded. Chris Ott carefully picks apart fact from fiction to show how Unknown Pleasures came into being, and how it still resonates so strongly today.EXCERPTThe urgent, alien thwack of Stephen Morris' processed snare drum as it bounced from the left to right channel was so arresting in 1979, one could have listened to that opening bar for hours trying to figure how on earth someone made such sounds. Like John Bonham's ludicrous, mansion-backed stomp at the start of "When The Levee Breaks"-only far less expensive-the crisp, trebly snare sound with which Martin Hannett would make his career announced Unknown Pleasures as a finessed, foreboding masterpiece. Peter Hook's compressed bass rides up front as "Disorder" comes together, but it's not until the hugely reverbed, minor note guitar line crashes through that you can understand the need for such a muted, analog treatment to Hook's line. Layering a few tracks together to create a six-string shriek, Hannett's equalization cuts the brunt of Sumner's fuller live sound down to an echoing squeal, revealing a desperation born of longing rather than rage. This is the way, step inside.