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20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Unknown Pleasures

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Unknown Pleasures

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Unknown Pleasures
06 April 2014

It was a record that didn't threaten the charts and had spare copies filling up the offices of Factory Records. Yet it went on to become one of the most critically-acclaimed, influential and loved albums ever released. The 39 minutes of Joy Division's debut album Unknown Pleasures changed music forever: a mixture of Ian Curtis' mesmerising vocals and lyrics, Bernard Sumner's spiky guitar work, Peter Hook's distinctive bass playing and Stephen Morris' hypnotic drum patterns, all brought together by the mad genius that was producer Martin Hannett.

However, despite its ubiquity, you might not know everything about this classic record. Celebrating its 35th anniversary last year, we've put together a list of 20 things that you might not know about Unknown Pleasures. Read on and discover something new...

(Images: Rex)


No singles were released from the album, although non-album track Transmission was released on 7" in October 1979, causing album sales to rise substantially.


Various recording techniques used by producer Martin Hannett include: smashing a bottle, someone eating crisps, backwards guitar, the sound of the Strawberry Studios' lift with a Leslie speaker inside, a toilet and vocals recorded down a telephone.


The original vinyl pressing of the record featured the groove notations: 'This is the way' (Side A) and 'Step' (Side B) - both are taken from the lyrics to Atrocity Exhibition.


The band were initially unhappy with the album, feeling that it watered down the loud, heavy sound of their live gigs. However, Peter Hook later noted that he was able to hear Ian Curtis' lyrics and Bernard Sumner's guitar parts properly for the first time due to the space given to them in the recording.


The famous cover image, designed by Peter Saville, and taken from the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, was chosen by drummer Stephen Morris.


The cover design was once parodied by Disney, who turned it into a silhouette of Mickey Mouse, although it was quickly withdrawn.


Design notes written by Peter Saville show that the tracklisting originally had Insight as the second track on the album. It was, clearly, later moved to track 4 by the time of release.


According to Tony Wilson, the album cost £18,000 to make.


The band actually recorded an additional 6 tracks during the Unknown Pleasures sessions, which took place at Strawberry Studios in Stockport during April 1979. They were: Auto-suggestion, From Safety to Where...?, Exercise One, The Only Mistake, Walked In Line and The Kill. The latter 4 would all later appear on Still (after receiving additional production at another session in 1981), while the former 2 surfaced on the Earcom 12" compilation.


The A and B sides of the records were subtitled 'Outside' and 'Inside'.


Martin Hannett described the band as "a gift to a producer, because they didn't have a clue. They didn't argue." He would use clear sound separation not only for individual instruments but even for individual parts of the drumkit, enabling them to be effected in different ways.


The inner sleeve of the record featured a famous photograph entitled 'Hand Through a Doorway', taken by Ralph Gibson. However, Peter Saville was initially unaware that it was already well-known.


The original Factory USA release had the groove notation 'I've been looking for a guide' on Side B, which is a variation on a lyric taken from Disorder.


Q magazine placed the album at 19 in its list of the 100 Greatest Britsh Albums, whilst NME ranked it at 43 in its list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.


Other later UK pressings of the record included different groove notations, among them words such as 'a porky prime cut' or 'town house'.


Martin Hannett has stated that the band ran out of time in the studio and that it would have sounded slightly different if they'd had more time to work on it.


Early recordings of the lyrics for Shadowplay, in the band's days as Warsaw, have the first line of the song as "To the centre of the city where all roads meet looking for you". In later recordings the word 'looking' is replaced with 'waiting'.


The guitar riff from She's Lost Control was later sampled by 808 State for their 1993 single Contrique.


Shadowplay was covered by The Killers for the movie Control - it also became a live favourite for the band's Sam's Town Tour of 2006-2007. Bernard Sumner joined them to perform it at two seperate gigs in 2013.


Live versions of She's Lost Control would see Curtis play a keyboard line during the outro - a relatively rare example of Curtis playing an instrument.