Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: "Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division" - Peter Hook

I read this book whilst on holiday and thought I'd give it a mention here.

The story of Joy Division has been told many times by many different people.  But this one really matters - because Peter Hook was there.

Peter Hook, bassist in Joy Division and later New Order, tells the real story in "Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division".  The mystique and romanticised cult of tragedy around Ian Curtis' suicide and the intensity of the band's music and lyrics is refreshingly absent from this book.  Instead we get a little bit of a biography of Hooky's early life and the beginnings of his punk-inspired music career, with the formation of Warsaw who later became Joy Division and the rest is history.  A large chunk of the book is devoted to the band's life on the road, with all the laddish behaviour and jolly japes described in explicit detail with some glee.

Hooky's straightforward storytelling style may lack literary depth and intensity, therefore may not be to everyone's taste, but I lapped up his easy going and very funny anecdotal style - reminiscent of a guy sitting chatting to you over a couple of drinks in the local pub, about his adventures in a band once upon a time.  But Joy Division wasn't just any old band of course.

The story ends with Ian's suicide, and the guilt and conflicting emotions around this.  Again, Hooky is brutally frank and honest at the end of the Joy Division story.  The story was to continue, as the three remaining JD members, along with Gillian Gilbert, evolved into New Order, who quickly became my favourite band, thanks to their ahead-of-their-time fusion of alternative music and dance rhythms.  Hooky is now writing a follow-up to "Unknown Pleasures", to be published one year from now, which will focus on his time in New Order.  Now that is a story I can't wait to read, and I'm sure he will have lots to tell.  The camaraderie of the Joy Division days is long gone, and the acrimony continues to this day.

One thing which clearly shines through this book is Hooky's love of music and his affection for Joy Division's songs which carries on, as he continues to perform songs from the Joy Division/New Order back catalogue with his band The Light.

"Unknown Pleasures" is well worth reading, whether you are a Joy Division fan or not.   It's a lively and often funny insight into the short career of a band whose music remains as influential today as it has always been.

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