UNKNOWN PLEASURES: THE STORY BEHIND THE FAMOUS ALBUM COVER

The interesting story behind the legendary Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album cover.
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Photo: Cococubed.com

June 1979, 40 years and a month ago, Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s debut studio album, was released. It has been named as one of the best albums of all time by publications such as NME, AllMusic, Select, and Spin. But, there’s more, the oh-so interesting story behind the legendary album cover, as told by The Magic Sugarcube:

“The cover art for Joy Division’s 1979 album Unknown Pleasures was originally published as a black-on-white science plot by Harold Craft in his 1970 PhD thesis Radio observations of the pulse profiles and dispersion measures of twelve pulsars. Page 215 shows 80 successive pulses of the first pulsar observed, CP1919, tastefully stacked on top of one another. The plot was subsequently reproduced as a white-on-red image for the cover art of the 1970 International Astronomy Union General Assembly Highlights of Astronomy edited by Cornelis De Jager, as the green-on-white image in Ostriker’s article mentioned above, as a white-on-black image in Walter Herdeg’s 1974 Graphis Diagrams: The Graphic Visualization of Abstract Data, and then in the black-on-white style in Simon Mitton’s editing of the 1977 edition of The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy.”

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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