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Released: June 1979

Rating: 4.686 (average of 13 ratings)

Genre: rock > goth

Quotable: “All visceral, all emotional, all theatrical, all perfect – one of the best albums ever.” – Ned Raggett, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  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

Total Running Time: 38:21

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart 71

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • --


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Mojo Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums NME Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums Q Magazine’s Top 100 Albums Spin Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums Spin magazine – album of the year

Unknown Pleasures
Joy Division
“While Joy Division self-destructed before achieving the commercial success they would find as the more upbeat New Order, their influence is still felt today, from Goth bands like Bauhaus and early Cure to industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. The band initially started out (using the name Warsaw) as one of dozens of second-tier punk bands formed in the wake of the Sex Pistols’ romp through the UK, but soon transcended the genre and created a distinct sound all their own. Joy Division elevated the bass-line to prominence, coupling driving riffs with Ian Curtis’ baritone (and Jim Morrison-esque) vocals, intense lyrics, and haunting studio effects to create a truly unique sound.” PK

That influence comes out in spades on the band’s debut album, Unknown Pleasures. It is “all visceral, all emotional, all theatrical, all perfect – one of the best albums ever.” NR Just take a peek at the cover and “it even looks like something classic, beyond its time or place of origin even as it was a clear product of both – one of Peter Saville’s earliest and best designs, a transcription of a signal showing a star going nova, on a black embossed sleeve.” NR

“If that were all Unknown Pleasures was, it wouldn’t be discussed so much, but the ten songs inside, quite simply, are stone-cold landmarks, the whole album a monument to passion, energy, and cathartic despair.” NRUnknown Pleasures, their first full-length album, is a blazing portrait of stark depression and oppressiveness. (Ok, not exactly a ringing endorsement for people who aren’t clinically depressed, but even the happiest folks enjoy spending an occasional evening moping around in the dark).” PK

“Of course, the dark tone doesn’t mean it isn’t catchy.” PK There’s “the romance in hell of Shadowplay [or] Insight and its nervous drive towards some sort of apocalypse.” NR “The nervous death dance of She’s Lost ControlNR as well as “Disorder and Interzone are built around simple but infectious bass hooks that are hard to get out of your head.” PK

Some of the more brooding, slower numbers like the menacing,” PK “harrowing call for release New Dawn Fades [in which] all four members in perfect sync” NR “are downright spooky.” PK

The band’s sound owes “a great debt to producer Martin Hammett’s delicate atmospherics.” PK His “deservedly famous production” NR is “as much a hallmark as the music itself.” NR as “the quantum leap from the earliest thrashy singles to Unknown Pleasures can be heard through every note” NR thanks to his talent for “emphasizing space in the most revelatory way since the dawn of dub.” NR “Songs fade in behind furtive noises of motion and activity, glass breaks with the force and clarity of doom, minimal keyboard lines add to an air of looming disaster – something, somehow, seems to wait or lurk beyond the edge of hearing.” NR

“But even though this is Hannett’s album as much as anyone’s, the songs and performances are the true key. Sumner redefined heavy metal sludge as chilling feedback fear and explosive energy, Hook’s instantly recognizable bass work at once warm and forbidding, Morris’ drumming smacking through the speakers above all else. Curtis synthesizes and purifies every last impulse, his voice shot through with the desire first and foremost to connect, only connect – as Candidate plaintively states, ‘I tried to get to you/you treat me like this.’” NR

“The band’s follow-up album, Closer, was even more intense; while neither album is exactly mainstream-friendly, Joy Division did enjoy huge critical success in the UK. Sadly, singer Ian Curtis hung himself on the eve of the band’s American debut; the rest of the band regrouped as New Order.” PK

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

next album: Closer (1980)

Last updated March 26, 2010.