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Odes To Joy

As the 40th anniversary of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures approaches, Peter Hook tells Jonathan Wright about the “wonderful out-of-control excitement” of making one of the best debut albums ever committed to vinyl

Over the course of their brief career, Joy Division made just a single appearance on national television. In September 1979, the band performed Transmission and She’s Lost Control on a BBC2 proto-yoof show, Something Else. All of the elements that made Joy Division so compelling are in place: skittish drum patterns, the swapping of lead lines between guitar and bass, and a collective demeanour pitched somewhere between nerdy and belligerent. And then there’s Ian Curtis, first twitching as he gets lost in the music before dancing like a man possessed, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.

Th e contrast between the band’s first regional TV appearance, a performance of Shadowplay introduced by Tony Wilson for Granada Reports a year previously, is slight yet telling, a matter of more confidence, more experience, better clothes even. Th e Joy Division of autumn 1978 are reaching, rich in promise, but by 1979 they’re the finished article, scarily good. As the 40th anniversary of the release of Unknown Pleasures approaches, it seems an apposite moment to ask, what alchemy made this possible?

Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty
Joy Division were always a powerful live outfit, an aspect of the band that wasn’t reflected in the band’s masterful debut
Martin O’Neill/Redferns/Getty
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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Jul 2019 - David Bowie
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