Transmission (song)

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Single by Joy Division
B-side "Novelty"
Released 7 October 1979
Format 7" and 12" vinyl
Recorded 1979
Genre Post-punk[1]
Label Factory
Producer(s) Martin Hannett
Joy Division singles chronology
Alternative cover
12" cover

"Transmission" is a song by English post-punk band Joy Division. It was released in 1979 by record label Factory as the band's debut single.


"Transmission" was released on 7" vinyl in October 1979[2] 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 has been performed twice on television. One of them was on Tony Wilson's show and the other was on BBC, on which Ian Curtis plays the guitar. 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 Debbie 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.[3] 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."[4] 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."[5]


In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Transmission" at number 20 in its list of the 50 "Greatest Indie Anthems Ever",[6] one place below "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

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; BADBADNOTGOOD; 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.[7][8] It was also covered by the cast of Control, a biographical film about the life of Ian Curtis.[9] 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. Song has been covered by Nomeansno.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Joy Division.[10]

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


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press. 
  4. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press. p. 33. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Greil (2014). The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. New Heaven & London: Yale University Press. p. 38. 
  6. ^ The Greatest Indie Anthems Ever, NME (accessed 8 January 2009).
  7. ^, 1998 Tour Dates, (accessed 16 August 2009).
  8. ^ Adam Woods, Humbling response delays Heroes, Music Week (accessed 8 January 2009).
  9. ^ Andy Kellman, Control - Original Soundtrack (accessed 1 February 2013).
  10. ^ Ascap entry

External links[edit]