Unknown Pleasures Turns 40

downloadThe eponymous first full album by Joy Division, and the only one Ian Curtis was alive for, Unknown Pleasures was released on June 15, 1979 a on Factory records. The album was a more solid performance for newly renamed Joy Division. Warsaw, as they were previously called, changed their name to avoid confusion with another band, Warsaw Pakt.

Oddly, no singles from Unknown Pleasures were released, with “Transmission” released as a single separately that would attract attention to the album that was slow in selling. While sales were slow to begin with, since its release it has been named one of the best albums of all time by Spin, AllMusic and NME.

Produced by Martin Hannett, using some very un conventional production techniques (AMS Digital Delays, Marshall Time Modulators, and tape echo) The 10 track album lists some of the classic Joy Division catalog including “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay”, a rerecording of a Warsaw song. Previously the band had self produced and released a EP An Ideal for Living after being released from a recording contract with RCA records. The band had three weekends to record for Unknown Pleasures at Strawberry Studios in Stockport.

The iconic cover art of radio waves from pulsar CP 1919 was adapted by Peter Saville, who worked on advertising and posters for Manchester’s Factory club 1978 (The Hacienda). The image is reversed from black on white, and was originally printed on the first editions in a textured card relief. The image has ben morphed and modded over the last 40 years as images for anything from mountain ranges to beer labels. It’s initial run was 10,000 copies, which sold at a very slow rate after the initial 5,000 sold in its first weeks, but copies sat around. After the single “Transmission” came out, the rest of the initial pressings sold out. Joy Division would go on tour supporting The Buzzcocks and a profit of £50,000 in album sales would finally result, being split between Factory records and the band. Sadly, Tony Wilson spent the profits mostly on other Factory Records projects and the band saw very little of it. It would not make it to the UK music charts until after singer Ian Curtis’ death in May 1980, and the release of the second album, Closer, lead to a rerelease of Unknown Pleasures. Finally the album reached No 71 on the UK Albums Charts. It did however reach No 2 on the UK Indie Chart.

Did you get your 40th anniversary Unknown Pleasures album on hot red vinyl on Friday June 14? I’m waiting for the import copy I special ordered. to arrive. Until then I’ll listen to my current playable Canadian molasses version, yeah it’s a vinyl that when you hold up to the sun looks like black strap molasses. How many versions of this album have I owned over the years, two vinyl, one tape, one CD….?

Unknown Pleasures at 40: How Joy Division and singer Ian Curtis changed what rock and pop could be about

Rhino Records Re Release 40th Anniversary Unknown Pleasures

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40th Anniversary Reissue of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division.

Kalifornia: The Old West Coast Punk Scene Captured

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Flipper

It’s the way back machine here. Back in the day when punk hit the western US States, we usually think of Los Angeles as the main hub. While it’s suburban sprawl helped to disenfranchise just about everybody, no more so than kids who came from both the wrong side of the tracks and the suburbs in NorCal did. It’s Kalifornia, we were all disenfranchised and gentrified out. It all started back in the late 70s when suddenly everyone in the world wanted to live in California, and riots weren’t just in LA.

Many kids would say you weren’t punk unless you came from an extreme lower class situation, east side big cities, or lived 6-10 deep in squats. Many of us were annoyed at the upper middle class kids who ran the punk crowd, and showed up to gigs in their parents hand-me-down Mustang car that actually worked. Many of the punk musicians came from white middle class suburbia, and so did many of us fringe kids who flocked to LA or San Francisco to become part of the urban landscape of the industrial warehouse scenes. Wherever we came from we all railed against it, the American myth of tract housing, with the Regan Era death nell on the horizon. Armed with cassettes of California punk bands, punk art gig flyers, and zines, we along with the rest of the punk scene fans from all over the world displayed them in our flats and plastered the walls of our little music shrines.

In the late 70s and early 80s, the California Punk Scene was an interesting mix, and definitely had two distinct flavors, the NorCal and SoCal arenas. LA had insane mosh pit meisters Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Wasted Youth, The Dickies, and Agent Orange to name just a few. Other fringe bands, that had their own cultish following and played many of the same venues or shared gig bills were The Cramps (Pychobilly, Gothabilly) and X. Southern California was greatly influenced by the ethnic makeup of the LA basin, while many punk bands had all white male members on the East Coast. Proto Riot Grrl artists like Alice Bag, a Chicana and a female lead in a band (Masque Era and The Bags), pushed at boundaries within the punk scene. With the diversity of the LA area, it was all in, and the freedom to gig wherever you could before the police or fire marshal came.

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Alice Bag

Best LA Venues: Whisky a Go Go, Starwood, Cathay de Grande, Cuckoo’s Nest, House of Blues, Hong Kong Café.

NorCal punk was a different flavor, Fog Town SF being the center of it. San Fransisco still had that 60s hippy vibe, but much political upheaval with the Harvey Milk Assignation, and the riots that ensued changed into an ugly feel. Punks were in it, fighting for the rights of all to live and breathe in San Francisco, follow what sexuality they desired, have a place to live and not be forced out by the first gentrification waves, and not to fear the police. The NorCal scene encompassed San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda Co., and Sacramento. The bands that would make SF famous in the scene were Flipper, The Nuns, Fright Wig, Crime, The Mutants, and of course The Dead Kennedys.

San Francisco was near the heart of Silicon Valley, and not as intensely packed in populations as LA. The bands mostly came from lower-middle class backgrounds, suburban kids who migrated to the big city. The SF scene tended to be a bit more artsy-punk, with many shows being on small suburban college campuses with often a mix of Punk/Rockabilly and maybe a Goth Band. Then if there was enough of a following for the band, they would play larger venues in San Francisco and Berkeley. One of the best spots to see some very “interesting bands” was The Farm, an art commune property and community center off Army Street. But arguably one of the most typical places to see punk was The Mabuhay Gardens.

As the movement grew on the coast, punk would follow a nomadic touring loop between San Francisco, Sacramento, down I-5 to Bakersfield and LA proper, then loop back up again. You would pick up the local small paper or go to the record shops to see when the bands were playing that month and at which clubs, if not arrive in gangs on any given night on Broadway Street and get plastered with band promos. This Nomadic movement would later become part of the late 80s and early 90s phase of the Nomad and Tribalism movement, in the creation of huge concert/art/cultural venues like the Burning Man and Coachella Festivals culminating in a 90s version of Counter Culture.

Searchanddestroy2Check out the San Francisco scene I once knew with this great article. The best venues in SF for the punk scene were: The Farm, The Elite Club, Cloyne Court, The Deaf Club, The Mab(uhay), The Warfield Theatre, and Trocadero Transfer (yeah it was a Disco heaven back in the day).

Ruby Ray, Photographer

Ruby Ray was one of punk scenes photog fiends and has captured a vast wealth of the West Coast Scene in her new book Ruby Ray: Kalifornia Kool. Bending the rules herself in being a female photographer in a male dominated field, she captured the pure audacity that these bands had, along with her own. DIY music labels, art, dress, and anti-establishment lyrics made this scene and she captured its essence. Ray began her career with her work being shown in Search and Destroy punk-zine, and later in its followup, the ever thought provoking and in depth table art zine RE/Search.

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Articles

Kalifornia Kool: San Francisco punk culture in the 70s and 80s – in pictures

Alice Bag: The Latina Girl Who Rioted Before Riot Grrl

Bay of punks: remembering when punk rock invaded San Francisco

Slash Zine Article

San Francisco Visual History Punk Indie Garage Flyers and Posters

Survival Research Labs

Lost SF Punk Clubs

Mabuhay Gardens

Punk Rock Captured

Ruby Ray, From The Edge of The World  Out of print and hard to get

Jim Jocoy We’re Desperate, Order of Appearance

Michael Stewart Foley Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (Dead Kennedys)

 

 

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Exhibit New York

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Photo by Jenna Bascom

MADMuseum.org

THE MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN
JEROME AND SIMONA CHAZEN BUILDING / 2 COLUMBUS CIRCLE / NEW YORK, NY 10019
(212) 299-7777

Traveling to New York this spring or summer? Get yersel to the Museum of Art and Design (MADMuseum.org) to see this exhibit. Sponsored by none other than Dr. Martens boots, for who better to do so? This exhibit features the art and design behind the DIY movement that was started by none other than punk rock fans and musicians, and focuses on the design concepts, not necessarily the music itself. Bands represented by The Ramones, Television, The Damned, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Black Flag, Pere Ubu and more.

The exhibit features the  punk rock of the New York scene and British groups from 1976 to 1986, their posters for gigs, fanzines, badges and any other promotional in-your-face graphics, mostly done as cut and paste DIY in most instances. Hand drawn and inked, pasted, and whatever it took flyers, club promos, and DIY independent labels for records. The mainstream music industry shied from punk and post punk bands until they saw how lucrative they were becoming. Sadly, punk itself died out by 1980, as bands signed on to larger labels and started morphing into the post-punk phase of music.

There are several events hosted by the museum over the next few months centered around the punk scene, with photographers David Godlis, and Marcia Resnick. Other events include record label execs, and a Global Punk Film Series.

You know it’s scary when AARP has an article about this. Yup, we’re getting old.

Article on Gothamist

Punk Film Series

Confessions of a Punk/Post-Punk Makeup Fan

RSD 2019 I’ve Had a Sulk

japan-230x230.jpgIt’s Friday the night before RSD. My knees have had injuries for a few weeks. There’s no way I could camp out for two sought after records. After looking at the huge list for weeks, I narrowed it down to two records I could really justify getting. Can I just go in the morning and have working knees for the week? Argh.

Japan, that band from the late 70’s and early 80s, that finally morphed from boy hair band to New Romantic. Yeah, that’s the one. Foppy boy toys in makeup fun. Their iconic first hit release, “Life in Tokyo”, was being released as a B Side to “Quiet Life”. And cooler still, in the UK there were a limited 500 copies of Red Hansa label copies. Of course that would get wiped out. But in the US, the copies would be black. Maybe not so limited?xrayspex-200x200

The other LP I sought was a compilation of singles by the classic UK punk band X-Ray Spex, with a great classic photo of Poly Styrene on the cover in her military helmet. Of course it was in day-glo vinyl.

I had my very short list. However even though I kept telling myself no one in Portland was that interested in these two bands, what little came in was gone by the time I reached the store. I spent an hour trying to get through the store, check put backs and odd places. Gone. The next shop I checked, gone too.

But wait, the UK online shops said that after the 20th at midnight UK time, whatever stock remained would be put up online. I waited all week, poised for what was midnight in the UK in our time zone. I struck out again. It was not meant to be. I put in my request to be notified if anything turned up.

So now I am poised to really get annoyed. I know for a fact that most of the people who bought them in this town didn’t do it because they were fans. They did it on speculation. What happens is that groups of young kids camp out all night, get in line, and buy up the limiteds. They aren’t doing so for anything other than resale. Yes, let’s go look. Sure enough, two copies of RSD Red Quiet Life by Japan for 200% what they were selling them for. And X-Ray Spex, “I am a Cliché”, at 300%.

Is there a seventh place in purgatory for people who grabbed the last copy on speculation? Some way to ask the vinyl record fairy to pay them a hellacious visit and scream righteous rants at them? I am poised and so want to send them a message about how rude they are, but I don’t want my eBay account to get a bad rating if I do. Wait, someone has the reissued collectors edition of “Germ Free Adolescents” for less than $30.00. Hmmmm. Maybe I should just get the classic on retro. Hovering above the click…

Peter Murphy Adds Bowie Tribute to The Chapel Shows

Peter Murphy has decided to add on to his two weeks of shows at The Temple in San Francisco. Some of these shows have been sold out for months, and the Bowie tribute show, with selected songs has just been added. Purchase from the official links from the venue, others are selling at excessive pricing.

Race to get tickets! They just went up today at 2pm PST The Chapel Peter Murphy Tribute

Trivia:

Bauhaus released their version of Ziggy Stardust on October 5, 1982

Bauhaus appeared in the classic vampire film noir, The Hunger, playing a group of caged feral musicians. They performed their song, Bela Lugosi’s Dead for the opening credits.

Peter Murphy and David J at The Roseland Theatre

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On January 18, 2019 Portland was treated to a rare show with the return of Peter Murphy and fellow former band member David J from Bauhaus. The tour,  The Peter Murphy 40 Years of Bauhaus Ruby Celebration featuring David J, was on it’s second US date. I hadn’t seen Bauhaus live itself since 1996, and sadly missed the Coachella performance in 2008 where Peter sang upside down during the length of Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

The house was packed, with a very responsive audience. Unfortunately there were a few in the crowd that were a bit rough to push and shove, however most settled into dancing and sang along with the performance of the debut album by Bauhaus 40 years ago, In The Flat Field, in it’s entirety. Peter was constantly moving around the stage, still doing a small bit of Nijinsky posing and David J was killing the bass. Having been a Bauhaus fan from back in the day, it would have been great to hear Daniel Ash along with them, sadly he was not on this tour. But the rest of the band whipped up the crowd and most of the audience was singing along and taking over from Peter, at his encouragement, during the second half of the show where classics were played.

Music

Songs from In The Flat Field: “Double Dare”,”In the Flat Field” ,”A God in an Alcove”,”Dive”,”The Spy in the Cab”,”Small Talk Stinks”,”St. Vitus Dance”,”Stigmata Martyr”,”Nerves”

“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” with killer David J bass

“She’s in Parties” long stage dub version

“Kick in the Eye”

“Burning From The Inside”

“Silent Hedges”

“The Passion of Lovers”

“Severance” – Dead Can Dance Cover

“Dark Entries”

“Adrenaline”

Other songs have been played on the tour, however not for the Portland set. If you are seeing the tour in the coming weeks, or lucky enough to be in San Francisco where Murphy will be performing in depth at The Chapel over the course of two weeks in March, get your tickets now. Each performance will be a different theme. Check out his Tumbler page for more details. For a set list of possible music at your show:

Peter Murphy set lists by Tour

The Chapel Events list

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Trip The Goth Fantastic Ep 1

Played some great classics tonight. Join me bi-weekly. Sorry, there’s a few boo boos.

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Hey everyone, it’s the Gothic Classic Radio show yours truly is hosting tonight on Stranger Radio. It’s our debut. We hope you like the blast from the past old school Gothic Rock with some other elements kicked in. Find out what happened to all the old Goths you used to know. They just moldered away, so you thought.

Stranger Radio – Trip The Goth Fantastic Ep 1