When Joy Division released their debut EP in 1978, no one could’ve predicted the impact the Manchester band would have. Because of this, An Ideal For Living has become one of the most collectable records ever.
Released on Enigma, the band’s own label, with only 1,000 copies pressed, the back story behind Joy Division’s debut makes it all the more alluring.
The four-panel sleeve is printed on heavy card stock; the copies are said to have been hand-folded by the band. The sleeve also generated controversy due to its Hitler Youth image (drawn by Bernard Sumner) and, along with their name, led people to believe the band had Nazi sympathies. That’s not true, of course, but it got people talking about Joy Division regardless.
The recording of the EP is primitive, but gives the four tracks a sense of raw punk urgency. It’s a world away from the layers of haunting post-punk sound that would pepper their later output, but shows the roots of Joy Division at their best. An Ideal For Living was re-pressed as a 12″ later the same year to enhance the sound quality, but not by much.
The record has been heavily counterfeited over the years. Some are better than others, but most are on poor-quality coloured vinyl and have thin sleeves. The way to tell an original black-vinyl copy is by the anti-slip ring on the centre label of the 7″, which only genuine 1978 pressings have. Of course, the band ended in tragedy, with the suicide of Ian Curtis in 1980 – but An Ideal For Living was a humble start for a band whose legacy is still felt today.