Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, Paperback Book

Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures Paperback

Part of the 33 1/3 series

3 out of 5 (3 ratings)


33 1/3 is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years.

Focusing on one album rather than an artist's entire output, the books dispense with the standard biographical background that fans know already, and cut to the heart of the music on each album.

The authors provide fresh, original perspectives - often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums.

By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. (A task which can be, as Elvis Costello famously observed, as tricky as dancing about architecture.) What binds this series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors - musicians, scholars, and writers - are deeply in love with the album they have chosen.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Punk, New Wave & Indie
  • ISBN: 9780826415493

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I thought this would be an overly pedantic study of the album, but it is really more of an overview of ALL of Joy Division's recordings with little focus on "Unknown pleasures" itself. This wasn't unwelcome to me as someone who always gets confused as to the chronology of Joy Division recordings. Moreover, the book contains a decent (but not overwhelming) amount of biographical anecdotes which, ultimately, makes this a very readable and enjoyable book.

Review by

Fascinating that the (early) live version of Joy Division apparently differed so strikingly from the recorded, until Martin Hanett's production ideas were picked up by the band for later albums. Ott argues that Ian Curtis liked the sound, but the rest of the band was far more taken with a brash punk sound, though they loved Curtis' lyrics. So pronounced was the dislike that Peter Hook (bassist) and Bernard Sumner (guitarist) thought Hanett hijacked their songs. And understandably so, based on the description of the difference in sounds, and how much the guitar & bass were pushed to the background.Overall a worthwhile read for me, but I had extended zero effort looking up band history, so maybe it's not the best available. Ott's descriptions frequently veer into blank description: telling, not showing how the band's sound broke new ground, or how the songwriting improved over time. I tend to agree (based on listening to the music), but in these cases Ott's view doesn't stand on its own. On the other hand, he doesn't needlessly dramatize Curtis' suicide, and in fact puts it into context. I didn't know, for example, Curtis battled with epilepsy, and it's striking how autobiographical his lyrics can be.

Review by

It's interesting to read one of these buggers about an album you don't really like. <i>Closer</i> is such a better album. I agree with the reviewers on here that the writing is amateurish, and many of the events described a readily available in a lot of different mediums. Oh wait, I thought this was a book about a musical album, not a biography of a singer? It's a shame Martin Hannett never produced Cabaret Voltaire.