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190 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars into darkness; into creation
Joy Division's `Unknown Pleasures' arrived in 1979 without warning or fanfare. Product inwards, this group was immediately different: austere, minimal graphics; monochrome, formal clothes; ascetic, modernist titles. And then there's the music, whose beauty, power, and long-term importance is hard to measure. In 1979, many things didn't exist in rock, and Joy Division,...
Published on October 27, 2000 by undeletablearchive

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as advertised
As a previous review has noted, track #7 (Shadowplay) is NOT the album version, remastered, as are all the other tracks...it is a live version that has been previously released. This means that one of the group's most popular and influential tracks is missing and inexplicably replaced by an inferior live version. If you truly want the 2007 Collector's Edition, you'll need...
Published on June 29, 2008 by R. Tolbert


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190 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars into darkness; into creation, October 27, 2000
By 
"undeletablearchive" (Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
Joy Division's `Unknown Pleasures' arrived in 1979 without warning or fanfare. Product inwards, this group was immediately different: austere, minimal graphics; monochrome, formal clothes; ascetic, modernist titles. And then there's the music, whose beauty, power, and long-term importance is hard to measure. In 1979, many things didn't exist in rock, and Joy Division, with this record, brought them into being. First, the idea that rock music could express emotions other than drugs, rebellion, youth, love: `Unknown Pleasures', for the first time in rock, expands the palette to include sadness, murderousness, self-hatred, despair; without apology, without embarrassment - like the entry of Greek Tragedy onto the rock stage. Without this, no Nirvana. No Husker Du. No Metallica, even. Second, an entirely new vocabulary. Melodic, dolorous bass, treated as a lead instrument. Baritone vocals, harsh, deep and dramatic, but with no interest in theatrics. Metronomic, disinterested percussion. Textural, ambient guitar that also bites, warps, and attacks. Third, production-as-aesthetic. The sound emerges out of inky blackness, prismatic like shards of broken glass: Noise and noise effects are as important as structure. Many genres and many bands owe their existence and their careers to the simultaneous, unprecedented innovations this record makes. It is as groundbreaking and original - if not more - as Revolver, Axis: Bold as Love, Fun House, or Ziggy Stardust, in whose company it should be kept. In other words, a fundamental, utterly essential work for any rock music enthusiast.
What about the songs? A brief glimpse into two key tracks (my favourites): `Shadowplay' follows some kind of imagined urban murder, charging through neon-lit darkness on the back of Albrecht's guitar: alternatively chordally violent, or flying through systemic solos that cycle like Reich or Glass. This will make your heart beat faster. `New Dawn Fades' starts up with bits of backward guitar-detritus, turning left into a requiem sung by a 20-year-old for his own life. It is utterly resigned and moving, and that would be enough; but towards its end it shifts up a gear and climaxes like no other song in rock; like despair finally expiated. Again, this one will have your hair standing up. Possibly the greatest single song in all of rock music, `New Dawn Fades' hits you with the Shock of the New. All these years later, it simply sounds thrown out of the void at us, fully-formed and totally unprecedented, and new with the original hurt every time. (Perhaps the nearest relative is `Tomorrow Never Knows'.)
Unknown Pleasures is new-minted like nothing else in rock, utterly astonishing, and timeless. Off the scale in terms of creativity, emotional expression, dynamics, and the power to excite and rejuvenate, this record does everything a rock record has to do to be called classic, and then goes way further: into darkness; into creation.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Influential to Modern Music, July 10, 2003
By 
Un Anglophile (Davis, California, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
Joy Division, originally called Warsaw, was formed in 1977 by a group of Mancunian lads (Ian Curtis, Bernard Albrecht [later changed to Sumner], Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris) that were hugely influenced by Bowie, Iggy Pop, and the punk-rock explosion that was engulfing Britain in the late `70s led by the Sex Pistols and the Clash. After teaming up with Tony Wilson's Factory label and with producer Martin Hannett, they released "Unknown Pleasures" in 1979. Little did they know that they were changing music forever.
The end result is an album that combines Albrecht's discordant punk guitar riffs with Curtis' ever-present brooding tension and monotone deep voice, that can be exhilarating at one moment and the voice of doom the next. The album's opener "Disorder" combines all of these, along with Morris' fast drumming and Hook's never-ending bass hooks. "I'm looking for a guy to take me by the hand" Curtis explains, rushed and almost carefree. The next track, "Day of the Lords" proves almost to be the complete opposite, where the drums have slowed down, the guitars are lower, and Curtis sings like the town crier announcing the end of the world.

Some of the songs on "Unknown Pleasure" have a slower pace rather than the frantic quality many other bands at the period had, which made Joy Division be labeled as "post-punk" to the British music press; the guitar, bass and drums could still surprise you with pounding riffs, but could also march along at much slower paces. But even in the slower songs, like "Candidate" or "New Dawn Fades," the instruments, despite being slower and quieter, echoed and give a general eerie and brooding feeling that might be distant but is still ever-present. To add this all together with Curtis' nihilistic vocals and British working-class pessimism, the songs can become four minute-long journeys through closed factories, failed economics, bleak connected-house neighborhoods and dismantled relationships that were plaguing late '70s Britain--a time when many punk groups were crying out in bold capitals No Future. We hear occasionally distant samples of breaking glass, shut doors and footsteps leading to nowhere. Some of the true gems of this album, as well as in Joy Division's entire career, like "She's Lost Control" or "Shadowplay" combine these themes and are truly memorable. Even though the group later claimed that producer Hannett ruined their sound on "Unknown Pleasures," to listeners the music and moods are perfect; dark, but never dark enough to make you turn away.
Sadly, singer Ian Curtis killed himself in mid-1980 before completing the group's second and last album "Closer." The survivors later joined together and created New Order, who virtually created modern dance and rave music in the '80s and '90s. Meanwhile, Joy Division itself became credited with influencing the Gothic scene in music. Although influential on many goth and later indie rock, Brit-pop and alternative groups, the group never intended to be "goth." Joy Division was coming from an England where the Sex Pistols had broken up, where Thatcherism and the Tories was bringing new meaning to carelessness, where the Falklands War was just on the horizon, unemployment and worker unrest was acute, and skinheads were frighteningly becoming more popular. Certainly, there's no bats, vampires or haunted castles here. Instead, these are songs that come from the industrial grime and nihilism of Manchester circa 1979, with a tortured working-class bloke trying to make sense out of his life. One listen to "She's Lost Control" confirms all of this.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and beautiful. You know the rest., October 14, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
What happened to punk anyway? Didn't it used to mean something, back in the day when people believed in one last real rebellion, a handful of great bands changed music forever, and then it all sputtered out? We should mourn it, but then, it wasn't all bad that punk died. We got Joy Division at the funeral, after all.
In 1979, the original punk explosion's dying year and the year that post-punk, goth, and all of those other related genres began to emerge from the cacaphonous ooze, Ian Curtis and his band Joy Division came up with Unknown Pleasures, a dark proto-goth gem in dark times. From the raw, spooky-punk of "Disorder," "She's Lost Control," "Shadowplay(the reason I bought this and as good as anything Ian ever wrote)," and "Interzone" to the quieter, more eerie ruminations of "Day of the Lords" and "New Dawn Fades," this album fits the definition of a classic perfectly.
The whole album is incredibly stark, almost too stark on the first listen, just like the images of a barren wasteland it evokes. At the same time, a powerfully dark and morose atmosphere smothers the listener, leading him/her into the stygian depths of Curtis' own mind. Just as all great albums do, this one gains power with each listen. Some may call it a bit dated, but I call it timeless. RIP Ian. Too bad the world was too much for you. It was beautiful while it lasted.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as advertised, June 29, 2008
By 
R. Tolbert (Roswell, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a previous review has noted, track #7 (Shadowplay) is NOT the album version, remastered, as are all the other tracks...it is a live version that has been previously released. This means that one of the group's most popular and influential tracks is missing and inexplicably replaced by an inferior live version. If you truly want the 2007 Collector's Edition, you'll need to buy this on CD. Other than that one key track, the rest of the download is fine.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A note on the remastering, October 31, 2007
The superlatives heaped on Unknown Pleasures, which regularly makes the best albums of all time lists that magazines insist upon publishing, are well known: sonically groundbreaking, birth of postpunk, early Goth template, integration of electronica, etc. It is hard to imagine anyone remotely interested not having a copy already (or two, or three, between vinyl and previous CD issues). So the question is -- does the remastering justify purchase, despite the fact that all but two tracks on these two discs are on the Heart and Soul boxed set? The answer is yes -- far more space on the individual instrument tracks on the studio album than on the box set, and the mastering is louder, as most CDs are now by comparison to 10 years ago. The live album is still a bit ropey, but interesting, and the remastering definitely justifies repurchase.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really unreleased material, October 29, 2007
BEWARE! If you already own the Heart and Soul box set, then you already own all but 2 of the tracks on this 2 CD set, since Unknown Pleasures is included in its entirety on the box set, and the first 10 tracks on Disc 4 are 10 of the 12 tracks on the bonus live CD. The 2 tracks not on the box set are Shadowplay (in fact previously unreleased from this gig), and Transmission, previously available on the 1988 Atmosphere CD single and on one of the 1995 Love Will Tear Us Apart CD singles. Still a good gig. Actual date and location were The Factory, Hulme, Manchester, July 13, 1979.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Dawn Fades, March 11, 2005
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
Long tormented guitar tones, simple yet catchy lead bass, mechanical drumming, a myriad of sound effects, a anguished baritone and melancholy lyrics. To think this was written in 1979.

Joy Division was one of those bands that added up to exponentially more than the sum of its parts. Their influence on modern rock bands is immeasurable. Goth, New Wave, Post punk whatever you want to call it, Joy Division was something special.

The genius of Joy Division laid much in its vocalist, Ian Curtis. Ian Curtis was one of those dark yet intense creative geniuses who scaled a mountain but could not appreciate it. He lived a tortured life of mental illness and bleak existence. Right as Joy Division was about to break out, he threw it all away.

This album is a glimpse into madness and pain. The lyrics certainly are. Overflowing with pessimism, cynicism, longing, pain and subdued anger with the world and humanity. Pure rock poetry.

Unknown Pleasures kicks off with Disorder. Warm bass juxtaposed with stark hopelessness segues into the apocalyptic trio of Day of the Lords, Candidate, and Insight. Crushingly slow and saddening, Curtis asks "Where will it end?". The next three songs are the most well known and best songs on the album. New Dawn Fades has an immense beautiful guitar line combined with Curtis's dark lyrics and vocals. She's Lost Control is a dark and danceable tune about confusion and possibly Ian Curtis's epilepsy. Shadowplay exhibits a sense of longing and shame. You can sense the emotion in the vocals. I love the part where the lyrics go "I did everything, everything I wanted to, I let them use you for their own ends". Wilderness and Interzone are faster, short punky songs. Wilderness has great lyrics about religion and human kind. Interzone is the fastest and heaviest song on the album with a punchy riff. The closer, I remember Now is a slow deathly conclusion to this extraordinary album.

The emotion, passion and pain exhibited in Unknown Pleasures has never been fully duplicated. Though, you can hear traces of it in many rock bands around. In short, this is a classic album that is worth your time and money.

Joy Division didn't stop here. Their next album Closer is also classic.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A postpunk classic in every right., January 27, 2003
By 
Shotgun Method (NY... No, not *that* NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
Let's get something out of the way right now:
This is one of the greatest rock albums. Ever. Calling Unknown Pleasures "proto-goth," "alternative," or "new wave" is somewhat misleading (although it did arguably inspire those genres). Joy Division's debut, alongside Closer, simply transcend classification.
On first listen, most listeners don't care for the seemingly random sounds and emotion rushing from Unknown Pleasures. It's powerful stuff--one has to listen to it several times to realize the brilliant interplay of Ian Curtis' vocals along with the stellar guitar, drums and synths, which come to an incredible climax on Shadowplay. This recording ranks in my personal Top 10 favorite songs, and it will be one of yours too.
Of course, there's more than just Shadowplay. The entire album is fantastic. Highlights include Disorder, Day Of The Lords, Insight, New Dawn Fades, Wilderness, and the spooky closer I Remember Nothing, with its sounds of shattering glass behind Ian Curtis' funereal voice.
In summary, if you haven't heard Joy Division's work, I urge to go out and buy a copy of Unknown Pleasures. Right NOW. Listen to it. Then go buy Closer. After that, buy New Order's compilation Substance (an excellent compilation) and see how Joy Division's members (sans Ian, R.I.P.) evolved their sound into something different yet equally memorable.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of The Best, December 18, 2002
By 
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
In my opinion, this is THE essential post-punk LP. In Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris, Manchester had its answer to the overflow that London started with the basic chords of punk and the Sex Pistols. Joy Division were the full meating of Bowie-influenced ambience and disregard for conventional music as punk exemplified.
Joy Division formed in 1977, one of the many second-rate thrash acts to come into being after the Sex Pistol's legendary gigs a year earlier. They were rough, but they began to form a cohesive unit by 1978, developing their own sound in the relative isolation of their native Manchester. Finally able to record for the legendary RCA (which had Curtis' idol David Bowie on its label), the band found their recordings were already dated by the time the album was finished, and a parting of the ways allowed them to sign with Tony Wilson's upstart Factory Records.
Unknown Pleasures, the first fruit of that meeting, came out in June 1979 and marked a break with the aggresive posturing of punk. Instead of spitting on his audience and barraging them with incomprehensible lyrics, Curtis instead spoke slowly, enuciating the angst of post-Pistols England, where Thatcher was the new power and things went from bleak to worse. The Falklands War was only a few years away, and the young people of England were fearful of being used as so much cannon fodder for an uncaring government. It is only in this enviroment that protest music can flourish, but Joy Division did not protest, they merely articulated the fear underneath the surface.
The songs are incredible, full of energy even on the slower numbers. Martin Hannett's producing was cited by the band as "ruining" their sound, but to the casual fan no such crime is commited.
All in all, this is high on the list of great debut albums, and it is rendered more poignant by the fact that they would only record one more album, released almost exactly a year later, after Ian Curtis took his own life. But back in 1979, on this record, Joy Division have never sounded more alive. Buy this album now. Quit wasting your time with pop records, this is the real thing. U2 learned all they know from the boys from Manchester, and this album is a perfect primer for any upstart wannabe rock band. More than that, it is a road map to the mind of Britain in the Thattcher age.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get to Know "UnknownPleasures", January 23, 2002
This review is from: Unknown Pleasures (Audio CD)
The first time you listen to this outstanding record, it probably won't hit you. the second time, it starts to nudge you a little bit. the third time is when you get slammed. dark, mysterious, lurking. ian curtis put together a phenominal collection of music that holds the true test of time. UnknownPleasures is a trip down a dark alley...a trip through ian's mind...a trip into your Unknown Pleasure zone. simple guitar driven punk...with a heavy dose of gothic flair....
Yeah, i've got "Closer", and that is easily one of the best recordings to come out of the post-punk era, but this album has a personality that is unrivaled. do yourself a favor, pick up a copy of UnkownPleasures. every song will stay with you long after the CD ends....
peace
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Unknown Pleasures
Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division (Audio CD - 2008)
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