So, apparently this was all a bit of a hoax, cooked up by Teenbeat(?). It seems that the Joy Division artwork referenced was actually from a 1988 promotional poster for the “Atmosphere” single. According to a post on the SPW blog that is responsible for said forthcoming singles collection, they reached back to this original art to create the new design based on Saville’s work.
Apparently, Teenbeat is now saying the entire thing was untrue. This only adds more confusion, as they generated the internet meme on their Facebook page. I find this problematic, since it did originate from a website that Teenbeat oversees, and thus implies that this was all generated in house. Jokesters maybe, but I find this all a bit alarming. Why create this buzz, especially in the face of decades of influence from Factory records and their work ethos. Clearly the joke is on us, but something about this rubs me the wrong way. Not enough to burn my collection of Teenbeat/Unrest work I own (which includes the rare A Factory Record 7″ from Sub Pop), but I am mystified none the less.
Further, such shenanigans can have a long lasting impact. That Teenbeat removed their Facebook post only mitigates the damage. However, the internet is a public space and the info/text we are all so apt to consume is long lasting, and archived. SPW says in their post “We find this very strange, as the band admit to
being influenced by Joy Division. Yet they are comparing their artwork (2002 album +-) which clearly appears to be influenced by the 1988 Joy Division imagery.” Both label and band owe a great deal to the over all work of Savile, Factory and Joy Division. To poke fun at this, in public, is dangerous. It will be curious to see what occurs. We’ll try and keep you updated.
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According to this article, quirky pop label Teenbeat records and their band +/- (plus/minus) have filed a lawsuit against Rhino Records and Factory Records artist Peter Saville for a recent box set design for a collection of Joy Division 7″ reissues. Saville is responsible for pretty much every single Joy Division and New Order release on Factory Records. Saville’s influence on album design is integral to the craft.
For his part, Mark Robinson is not too shabby a designer himself. Since 1985, his Teenbeat Records has displayed some fantastic art work. His visual ideas are stark and strong and he has created a distinct pallet of his own.
The problem with this whole lawsuit that I see for Teenbeat, is that both the label and Robinson are heavily influenced by Factory Records. Mark’s old band Unrest has a record called A Factory Record which is made up of covers of bands that once were on Factory Records. These covers are of bands that were not exactly chart burners for the label. Further, a conclusive look at Teebeats catalog includes entires for a van and a house and other odd, non-music related “releases” in the spirit of his beloved Factory records.
If you look at the covers, The Joy Division one found here, and the +/- found here, they are scarily similar. Teenbeat does probably have an argument that these would create some confusion, especially since Teenbeat just released a +/- “hits” collection. That is if we don’t consider that Joy Division is probably one of the most influential bands on modern music and +/- is a small indie rock band with modest achievements.
Personally, I am a bit miffed by this whole thing. Mark Robinson is one of my favorite artists. His work in the 90’s especially is terribly influential on me, and his guitar playing alone defined the way I approached the instrument. On the flip side, Joy Division helped propel Factory Records into the juggernaut they were, directly influencing Mark Robinson in his approach and artistic vision. I feel like this is a bit of a stretch, the apprentice suing the master in a way. Robinson has given a great deal of respect to Factory, but this seems excessive to me. I will be curious to see how this plays out and what Saville has to say about the suit once things are settled.