Early 80’s. I was a kid looking for a destiny. Through my father I learned about The Beatles in the years before. I purchased my own copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when I was 8 or 9. In England. On vacation. For £3.99. In a way I started with the best music imaginable, a tough act to follow. And my father didn’t have a lot more to offer.
I wanted something more, I wanted something else, in a way I wanted something to impress the kids at school with, something that would make me popular, at least with the ones that wanted to be different, alternative we would say at the time. I never succeeded, but that’s another story, not a very important one. I had no money and no role models. To my luck there was a library in my home town with a pretty big record collection. People would go to the library to lend records just as they would lend books. Pretty normal business at the time. I went in, feeling uncertain, having absolutely no clue what to look for, too shy to ask anyone. I wanted to be Punk, I wanted to be alternative, so I had a few names I was looking for. Siouxsie & the Banshees was one of those names. ‘The Scream’, their first album, was sort of an underground hit and quite good according to the critics. However, I could only find ‘Join Hands’, their second album. A pretty mediocre album in retrospect. I don’t remember a single song, only fragments of ‘Icon’. I didn’t even tape the album.
My second pick of the day was something I had no clue about. A front cover with a semi-scientific audio wave drawing, a back cover revealing only the name of the band, the name of the album and the catalogue number (Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures – FACOZ 1003). I can say a lot of things about it now but at the time it was only the artwork that attracted me. The record had no clear indication of A and B side and for a long time I thought ‘She’s lost Control’ was the album opener. I was 12 or 13 maybe, definitely not older and by any account not an adolescent yet, but ‘Unknown Pleasures’ was the first album that hit me on a personal level, the album was about me, about my life:
“To the centre of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you,
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank, searching for you,
I was moving through the silence without motion, waiting for you,
In a room with a window in the corner I found truth.”
This was heaven and hell for all would-be romantics, for every single soul with a crush on someone, for all failures or kids (like me) who were too shy to do anything, let alone fail. I know, every single review of Joy Division in general and Unknown Pleasures in particular talks about the fact that all adolescent kids can instantly relate to it, that it is one of those rare albums that seems to be written and recorded for you, and is about you. Every year millions of kids around the world discover the album again, and find the same underlying logic and emotion in it. I was no exception. I listened to it over and over again. It provided the basis for my adventures in Punk, New Wave, Gothic, Industrial and 80’s Avant Garde electronic music. It was the start of a long musical adventure.Tweet