This shirt features the cover art of the debut studio album by the band Joy Division (1976-1980) called Unknown Pleasures. The Manchester label Factory Records issued the album in June of 1979. The iconic image derives from radio waves imagery from the pulsar CP 1919. When the pulsar was first discovered, the regularity of its signal prompted many to propose that it may be a signal from a sentient civilization and thus was nicknamed LGM-1 for Little Green Men. A similar image was also featured in the 1979 film Alien by Ridley Scott, resonating with fans of both.
At the time of its release, Unknown Pleasures failed to chart and was a commercial failure. I did not discover Joy Division until much later, sometime around 1981-82 when the legend of the band had begun to grow and news of them to trickle into America. The band's second album, Closer, was my first experience with Joy Division. I do not have a T-shirt for Closer (at least not yet). Shortly after discovering Closer, I purchased Unknown Pleasures, Still, and the maxi-single for Love Will Tear Us Apart. These were all LPs back then, "in the day," as it were. I did not buy the T-shirt until much later.
I bought this T-shirt after seeing it advertised in a British music magazine. I am mad for British music magazines, such as Mojo and Uncut, the antecedents of classic music publications, such as NME and Melody Maker. I sent away to the U.K. for this shirt and a few other Brit-centric items that will surely be featured in this blog soon. I paid extra in pounds to dollars and shipping only to discover the Joy Division shirt being sold here in the States, even locally. I love the shirt's image and the meaning behind it, even though I love the album Closer more.
I listened to Joy Division constantly throughout the 1980s. Well, not non-stop. I listened to other things, too. But Joy Division was always in the rotation.
Though I do not listen to the music as much these days, I still count Joy Division as one of my favorite, all-time bands. I have not yet watched the bio-film Control (2007) or the documentary Joy Division (2007), but these films are high on my to watch list.
A FEW FAST FACTS AND/OR TIDBITS
- Joy Division took its name from the prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel The House of Dolls ("Joy Division," Wikipedia, 2013).
- Learning about Ian Curtis' suicide and listening to Joy Division profoundly influenced my own thoughts on life, death, and suicide for many years.
- The remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order (but I would be surprised if anyone reading this does not already know that fact).
- My wife and I share a love of both of these bands; this is one of the ways we are most compatible, for which I thank the universe every time we are in the car rockin' to "Love Will Tear Us Apart" via her Pandora account.
- I lied earlier in the entry. I have my friend John Locke's Joy Division Closer shirt, which he left behind after a game of Ultimate when we graduated college and somehow I never managed to return it to him (among other things). Can you say, GUILT? I should listen to some Joy Division to wallow in this guilt and regret.
- My favorite Joy Division song is "Isolation" from Closer, which explains a lot if you know the song.
- Of the top five albums in my life that I have played over and over and over again consecutively, Joy Division's Closer joins Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat, Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, Laurie Anderson's Mister Heartbreak, David Bowie's Low, and 10,000 Maniac's The Wishing Chair. Oh, that's six. Okay, top ten, top ten...
- Though Unknown Pleasures is now considered one of the greatest and most influential albums ever made, I still like Closer better. I think these opinions often have to do with which I hear first.
- chris tower - 1304.25 - 9:22
Photo courtesy of Liesel MK Tower