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Joy Division: Piece by Piece: Writing About Joy Division 1977-2007 [Paperback]

Paul Morley
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Dec 2007
Joy Division remain the perennial cult post-punk band. Author/TV broadcaster Paul Morley wrote extensively and evocatively of the 'mood, atmosphere and ephemeral terror' that enveloped this unique group and their doomed front man, vocalist Ian Curtis. These are his complete writings on Joy Division, both contemporary and retrospective, forming a close personal account of the band's brief, turbulent history: from primitive beginnings as Manchester punk band Warsaw, to Curtis' near-fatal epileptic seizure following a London concert, and his tragic suicide in May 1980. As Morley says, 'The more that time moves on, the more I have to say about them.' In addition to collecting all of the author's journalistic writings on the band from the late 1970s/early 1980s (including his eloquent obituary for Curtis), this unique work includes retrospective articles on the significance of the group, framed by an extensive essay. Contemporary elements include Morley's critique of the acclaimed new film 'Control', recounting the brief life of Ian Curtis, for which the author visited the set during production. Most movingly, Morley includes the original text that grew into his literary work 'Nothing', paralleling the two suicides that marked his life: those of his own father, and his young contemporary Curtis. He also evokes the late 1970s zeitgeist and the 'psycho-geography' of Manchester, which combined to produce the most uniquely intense rock group ever.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Plexus Publishing Lt (10 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0859654044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0859654043
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 385,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Joy Division: Piece by Piece offers a fascinating insight into what it feels like to have a rock legend crystallise inside your own head... A remarkable achievement. --The Independent on Sunday

Another book about Joy Division? No, the book... One engages here with a master of his craft. --The Spectator


"Illuminating, even revelatory. This book is a quixotic scripture for true believers."

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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight 13 Dec 2007
This is a marvelous account of Joy Division's brief but significant career, chronicled by the writer most closely associated with the group.

Over the last thirty years Paul Morley has accumulated an impressive corpus of writing about Joy Division - and this book collects it all, arranged in the most effective manner to evoke the time, the place and those involved.

This is not a dreary procession of dull facts and descriptions of guitar solos - 'Joy Division: Piece By Piece' gets inside, beneath and around its subject matter in a manner that no other contemporary music writer but Paul Morley could achieve.

Neither is it packed with photographs that we've seen time and time again. This is a book about words, thoughts, feelings and a moment that passed far too quickly.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best rock journalism of it's era 12 Dec 2007
Joy Division were the most significant band of the post punk era and Paul Morley the most accomplished music journalist of the period.

Collecting Morley's writing on the band together is a wonderful idea, although I am a little surprised that it hasn't been done before. Like Martin Hannet's production on the Manchester quartet's recordings, Morley's rich prose enhances and highlights the significance of this groundbreaking group.

Morley's insistance on using the full spectrum of language and syntax may go over some reader's heads, but he is a master craftsman and the topography of his development can be charted in this fascinating book.

In an era that sees books by so many writers who have little connection or empathy with their subject matter, it is refreshing to discover a book about a group written by the most appropriate person to chronicle their history.

This is not only a book for fans of Joy Division, it is also recommended for anyone who appreciates well constructed descriptions and prescient observations that sit well among the best music journalism ever committed to print.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional 16 Jan 2008
This book is the prefect overview of Joy Division's brief, but overwhelmingly influential existence and Paul Morley is the only person outside of the band who could possibly have written it.

Like his prose, Morley's credentials are impeccable - he was offered the opportunity to produce the group's earliest demo, championed them from their inception and was Factory founder Anthony Wilson's personal choice to biograph the band.

Like the group he so often wrote about, Paul Morley quickly developed a unique style - anyone who buys a book written by this author expecting to read a series standard recountments of gigs and recording sessions is as misguided as anyone buying a Joy Division album and expecting to hear ordinary pop songs. The very point about both Joy Division and Morley is that they are unique creative forces.

Like any anthology, `Piece By Piece' contains some repetitious elements. Just as Joy Division recorded progressively more subtle and complex versions of their songs, so Morley's writing expanded and developed to provide a unique series of snapshots of a work in progress. Most satisfyingly, Morley has framed his older pieces with a contemporary perspective that ensures that this book is a cohesive whole. He has thought seriously about the implications of his corpus of work and it has paid off handsomely.

Unless Bernard, Peter or Stephen opts to write their own books, this is the final word on Joy Division.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overblown, repetitious, pretentious guff 9 Jan 2008
Joy Division is probably more important to me than any other group, but the band are ill-served by this hastily assembled mix of Morley's flat, prosaic early writing, and, worse still, his pompous later musings - his attempt to mimic the style of JG Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition is particularly risible. His specialty is to say something vacuous and then paraphrase himself three times. Many of the pieces are repetitious, some barely mention the band at all. What they have in common is that they are chiefly about the writer himself.

I've enjoyed some of Morley's writing in the past, and found his Words and Music book largely infuriating, but with some glimmer of wit, but this is a waste of time. There is more of worth in the 2-3 pages Simon Reynolds writes about the band in the brilliant Rip It Up... than there is in this entire book.
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