If you’ve ever found yourself in the throes of a musical debate, being challenged by someone to ratify your decision as to why a certain record is the best, then we suggest you take notes from Henry Rollins and his praise of Joy Division.
Henry Rollins is a man who knows his music. The former leading man of Black Flag, Rollins made a name for himself as a no-bullshit yet eloquent orator. Here, in this clip for The Sound of Vinyl, Rollins gives his verdict on Joy Division’s seminal album, and quite possibly one of the greatest records in history, Unknown Pleasures, and it’s a joy to watch.
To call Joy Division’s 1979 record ‘seminal’ for the band is an obvious statement but the truth is that it was a seminal record for rock and roll in general. As Rollins says at the beginning of this clip, “When they finally write the real book on rock and roll, when all the dust settles and the truth is finally told and they get it right. One of the bands at the top of the mountain along with the David Bowies and The Rolling Stones will be Joy Division because they are easily as great as any band that has ever existed.”
He continues, “Their first album Unknown Pleasures is an absolute masterpiece.”
As many of you Black Flag fans know, there isn’t much that Rollins doesn’t know about punk music. An avid consumer of the art form he is an authoritative voice that we will always listen to. His explanation of why Unkown Pleasures is a masterpiece is a truly captivating watch. It’s a band he’s clearly been enamoured with for some time.
In an interview with Quietus Rollins shared some more thoughts on the band, “As far as staggering genius – you will not be able to have that conversation without including Joy Division. You’ll be lost without Joy Division. They were that good.
“And it’s not just Ian Curtis. If you really deconstruct the music of Joy Division, that is a band where if you remove any element it ain’t the same. Like Joy Division without Ian Curtis? It’s a cool post-punk band with ridiculously great components but once you add him to the mix you’re aware of great composition but when you put them all together and it’s Joy Division? Holy shit man, it’s like, ‘What – are you guys psychic? how did you do that?’”
Back to the clip and Rollins has a fairly simple message: “I cannot recommend this record to you more strongly. It is the introduction to what will be your long and very happy relationship with Joy Division.”
He moves on to talk about Martin Hannett’s production, to the band’s performance to Ian Curtis’ stunning vocal, his quick synopsis of the album which he says is, “As good as any debut album to have ever existed,” is a perfect way to spend a few minutes of your day, use the rest of them to listen to the record.
Watch below as Henry Rollins gives his verdict on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.
As part of the series, he also went on to recommend, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, The Saints, Suicide, and John Coltrane, which equally as intense and informative. You can watch them below.