Transmission (song)

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7" cover
Single by Joy Division
Released7 October 1979 (1979-10-07)
Recorded28 July – 4 August 1979[1]
Producer(s)Martin Hannett
Joy Division singles chronology
"Licht und Blindheit"
Alternative cover
12" cover
Music video
"Transmission" on YouTube

"Transmission" is a song by English post-punk band Joy Division. Originally recorded in 1978 for the band's aborted self-titled album, it was later re-recorded the following year at a faster tempo and released by record label Factory as the band's debut single.


"Transmission" was released on 7" vinyl in October 1979[5] by record label Factory. It was re-released as a 12" single with a different sleeve in December 1980. The single charted twice in New Zealand, debuting at number 2 in September 1981 and re-appearing again at number 24 in July 1984.

The song was performed once by the band on television, for the BBC Something Else programme. Twenty seconds of the song is shown in the movie Control (2007), directed by Anton Corbijn, a film based on the biography of Ian's wife, Deborah Curtis's Touching from a Distance.


Greil Marcus has a chapter on this song in his book The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs.[6] According to Marcus, "'Transmission' is not an argument. It's a dramatization of the realization that the act of listening to the radio is a suicidal gesture. It will kill your mind. It will rob your soul."[7] Marcus also quotes the band's bassist Peter Hook about the importance of this song: "We were doing a soundcheck at the Mayflower, in May, and we played 'Transmission': people had been moving around, and they all stopped to listen. I realized that was our first great song."[8][n 1]


In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Transmission" at number 20 in its list of the 50 "Greatest Indie Anthems Ever",[10] one place below "Love Will Tear Us Apart". In 2016, Pitchfork placed "Transmission" at number 10 in its list of "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s".[11]

Cover versions[edit]

"Transmission" has been covered by: Low (on its EP Transmission); Bauhaus (as well as by frontman Peter Murphy on his solo tours); Innerpartysystem; The Weather Station; Girl in a Coma; and Hot Chip on the 2009 War Child charity album Heroes. It was played by The Smashing Pumpkins on their Adore Tour in 1998, with performances of the song usually lasting from 15 to 25 minutes.[12][13] It was also covered by the cast of Control, a biographical film about the life of Ian Curtis.[14] In 2009, the song was covered by Russian post-punk group Последние танки в Париже as "Радиоволна", in 2012 by Italian black metal band Forgotten Tomb, by Nomeansno, and by BadBadNotGood with the song "Mass Appeal" on their debut album, BBNG.

Track listing[edit]

Both tracks written by Joy Division.[15]

  1. "Transmission" – 3:36
  2. "Novelty" – 3:59


  1. ^ In 2018, Peter Hook would recollect that on the first occasion the band had played "Transmission" at a gig, the entire audience at the venue ceased "literally what they were doing to listen and to turn round and watch us".[9]


  1. ^ Hook, Peter (2012). Unknown Pleasures. Simon & Schuster. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-4711-4833-0.
  2. ^ Alexander, Phil (1 April 2014). "20 Great Post-Punk Tracks". Mojo. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  3. ^ David N. Howard (1 June 2004). Sonic Alchemy: Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings. Hal Leonard. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-4768-5209-6. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. ^ Stanley, Bob (13 September 2013). "Routine is the Enemy of Music: Post-punk". Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop. Faber & Faber. p. 486. ISBN 978-0-571-28198-5.
  5. ^ "FAC 13 Transmission | Joy Division | Cerysmatic Factory". 18 May 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  6. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press.
  7. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press. p. 33.
  8. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press. p. 38.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Staff (2 May 2007). "The Greatest Indie Anthems Ever – Number One is getting close". NME. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  11. ^ Staff (22 August 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  12. ^ "tour history – dates : 1998-05-02". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  13. ^ Adam Woods, Humbling response delays Heroes, Music Week (accessed 8 January 2009).
  14. ^ Andy Kellman (30 October 2007). "Control [Original Soundtrack] – Original Soundtrack | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  15. ^ "ASCAP ACE – Search Results". Archived from the original on 15 February 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2011.


External links[edit]