Saturday, June 15, 2019

"A temporally transcendent statement for our age"

There can be little better testament to the enduring influence and appeal of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, which turned 40 yesterday, than this Quietus article. A special Baker's Dozen of Baker's Dozens, it reproduces the thoughts of some of those who have picked the album as one of their favourites over the course of the feature's history, including Bob Mould of Husker Du and Sugar, Suede's Brett Anderson and author Irvine Welsh.

Some focus on the music, with Brix Smith Start crediting the album with inspiring her to first pick up a bass and Verve guitarist Nick McCabe saying he was smitten with the synth drones. (He also claims to want to be "disturbed" by music, "and that's something I haven't really lost throughout my life" - which makes Urban Hymns rather hard to explain...) Some dwell on Ian Curtis and the existential angst of his lyrics - in a memorable turn of phrase, Ian Astbury of The Cult describes the vocalist as sounding as though "he had the finger of God pointing at him". Some praise Martin Hannett's production for giving the songs a sense of space and resonance. Some comment on Peter Saville's iconic cover, which is what induced Mary Anne Hobbs to buy a copy. For Quietus co-founder John Doran, though, the album as a whole is "a perfect gesamtkunstwerk" - "not just in musical terms but in that of photography, production, technology, design, journalism, marketing and fashion".

As the singer in a punk band, novelist Ian Rankin remembers learning of Curtis' death and dedicating a performance to him: "I don't think anyone in the audience knew who Ian Curtis was - we were the support to a heavy metal group who had a laser. I think the only reason people were in the room was to see a laser."

Meanwhile, OMD's Andy McCluskey recalls what he said when his teenage son demanded to listen to Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park on a road trip because he loved the bass and drums: "'We're going to listen to drum and bass music from 30 years ago, and at the end of it you tell me that you want to listen to fucking Limp Bizkit again and I'll kick you out of the car.'"

The consensus is that Unknown Pleasures has aged remarkably well, if at all - and certainly better than McCluskey's claim that the first Glasvegas album is "the greatest rock album ever made"...

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