Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures

by Chris Ott
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

EXCERPT
The 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Music fans love to trumpet their favorite recordings to a sympathetic audience. Continuum has given fans that chance with its quaintly titled "331/3" series, in which the authors wax poetic on the greatness of their favorite LPs from the past 40 years. Though it's unclear how Continuum selected the authors, the musicians and music writers chosen do their subjects proud. Their articulate, well-researched, and passionate cases are a welcome change from the capsule reviews found in most music magazines, which seem intended to show off the reviewers' pithy witticisms rather than to illuminate the merits of the work in question. Interestingly, the authors here take on the qualities one would expect of fans for each artist. For instance, Perry, former guitarist for the Only Ones, gamely tries to explain the technical details of Jimi Hendrix's brilliant playing; Ott, a regular contributor to Pitchforkmedia.com, is serious and dramatic in telling Joy Division's tragic tale; and Vincentelli (music editor, Time Out New York) is a bit defensive in her self-conscious apology of Abba, resorting to tearing down other artists to make her faves look better. While the series is refreshing in its decision to sidestep the usual suspects (e.g., the Beatles' Revolver, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds), its focus on lesser-known, more cultish albums limits the series' appeal to larger public libraries. Also potentially problematic: the artists' names are not always included in the book titles. Though written for lay readers, "331/3" may get better use, as a whole, in academic libraries.-Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826415493
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date:
03/31/2004
Series:
33 1/3 Series
Pages:
136
Sales rank:
539,224
Product dimensions:
4.78(w) x 6.52(h) x 0.34(d)

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Meet the Author

CHRIS OTT is a regular contributor to Pitchforkmedia.com, one of the world's leading alternative music websites.

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