on 1 October 2012
Everyone has a right to tell their own story. They have the right to give their point of view of their own life. I loved the Hacienda book (which I once saw in a bookstore under the section True Crime). Unknown Pleasures is filled with humour and regret. It's well balanced and shows almost a third-person singular admiration and shock at what happened. It has a collector's obsessiveness and an undercurrent of detective work. It's as if, if you could only figure out the mystery of your past, you could find the moment that would have made it all different. This makes Unknown Pleasures more than a book about a band; it's a book about trying to make a coherent narrative of your own life. Your adult self asks so much more than is possible from your younger and more foolish self.
on 8 October 2012
Here we have the first memoir of Joy Division by someone who was actually in the group, which, given their importance and achievements, should be greeted with huge enthusiasm by anyone who appreciates the group's work or with an interest in the post-punk era. Sadly, it's been greeted with accusations of "rip-off" or "cash in" in some circles, pathetic knee-jerk reactions that say more about those making them than they do about Hooky and his book. Any surviving member of Joy Division not only has the right to relate their side of the story, they should be encouraged to do so. Though it's hard to picture Barney or Steven coming up with anything more entertaining and revealing than this.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Hooky's own account of his life up till the death of Ian Curtis is no-one's idea of great writing. It reads like transcriptions from conversation rather than written prose, and would benefit from some judicious editing to remove repetitive phrasing, vague phrases and lazy cliches. Had such minimal amounts of polish been applied, this would be a five-star review.
Now here are the positives. It may need some editing, but too much would be a disaster, because there's no doubt (unlike previous hack-jobs like the autobiographies of John Lydon and Mark E. Smith) that no ghost-writers are involved. Apart from a few contextual notes to set the scene, this is clearly Hooky's unadulterated voice, and while there may be repetitions and lazy cliches, they're HIS repetitions and lazy cliches. Which means the tone of the book is relaxed, amiable and amusing, and outrageously rude, in all senses of the word (and with particular regard to his former pals in New Order, though he's always quick to praise them as musicians). It's a quick, easy and frequently very funny read. But it's also very touching as it becomes clear that Hook and the rest of the band really didn't know what was going on with Ian Curtis, and Hook is still asking himself lots of "What if?" questions. It may seem implausible, but as Hook rightly points out, young men from that time and place just weren't equipped to realise their mates were having major emotional problems, let alone feel they could and should do something about it.
Anyone interested in reading this probably knows the basic Joy Division story inside out by now. In that sense there's no further enlightenment to be had here (though the detailed chronological notes and comments on the albums will be of interest). What is new and illuminating is the perspective. We see a different Ian Curtis here - the band member, ambitious, fiercely loyal to the band, and also up for the kinds of bad behaviour which very young men on the road will inevitably indulge in. There's lots of that here, and it's in marked and often very amusing contrast to the image those of us reading the music press at the time were presented with (partly, it turns out, because Rob Gretton forbade the "thick ****s" Hooky and Barney from speaking out in interviews).
This new perspective immediately means this becomes one of the three most important Joy Division books, alongside those by Deborah Curtis (showing us Ian as the family man) and Paul Morley (showing us, indirectly of course given the author, Ian the intellectual). What none of them do, of course, is tell us how four ordinary herberts produced music of such emotional power, formal beauty, blazing originality and lasting significance. Probably only one person could tell us that, but, 32 years on, even if there is an afterlife, he's not saying anything.
on 31 December 2012
It has to be said that Hook's revisionist take on the Joy Division story is refreshing. Don't be misled by the typically moribund image on the cover - this is basically Hooky and the boys go mad across Europe. All the purported sturm and drang of the Ian Curtis story is brought down to earth with the sound of pint glasses thumping on bars. And then there's the fights. And the pranks played on other bands (showers of maggots anyone?).
It feels a little mean-spirited to criticize something that is so obviously heart-felt and genuine, but it does ramble on a bit, and yes, while it is touching to see Curtis transformed from the rain-coated doom-monger of legend into a human being (and a bit of a jack-the-lad, despite the Kafka and William Burroughs fixation), a little more depth here and there would have been nice.
Hook intersperses the narrative with a series of time-lines, which basically read like filler: and then we played this gig which was ok but the playlist could have been better and then we played somewhere else and my bass string broke and then we released this flexidisc etc. etc. Much of the detail is repeated (more effectively) in the main parts of the book.
Similarly, Hook's blow-by-blow breakdowns of 'Unknown Pleasures' and 'Closer' are almost autistic in their almost total focus on the technical details of the recording process, with little or no emotional comment on the songs themselves (other than 'great song this one', 'I thought this was too slow when we did it but now I think it's ok'). In fairness, he does give a little anecdotal detail about Curtis' inspiration for 'She's Lost Control', but I suspect most readers will know the background already.
Of course, If you're a Joy Division / New Order fan, you will lap all of this up. It's hardly a classic like 'Rip it Up and Start Again' (Simon Reynolds - who himself has some provocative things to say about the band - stadium rockers in waiting?) or Jon Savage's unmatchable book on punk,'England's Dreaming', but, as pub-corner raconteur, Hook does a man's job.
on 27 September 2012
Unknown Pleasures - Inside Joy Division - Peter Hook
Peter Hook - Unknown Pleasures -Inside joy division, the ultimate, all-encompassing definitive guide into one of the most influential bands of a generation.
Written in the same forthright, tongue in cheek, tell it as it is vein as his previous book "The Hacienda - How Not to Run a Club "Hooky starts this epic tale with stories from his early life to meeting Bernard Sumner at Salford Grammar School, to the formation of the band, from the original recording of An Ideal For Living, the recording of the Unknown Pleasures LP on Factory, right until the untimely death of one of the most charismatic lead singers in the last 40 years.
The book is split into five parts. Timelines are provided at the end of each part with specific dates and years which were pertinent to the band and Peter Hook. The timeline at the end of part one lists the dates and years of birth of anyone important to the Joy Division story. The timeline in the epilogue covers the final two years of the band.
Throughout the book the scene is set with paragraphs about what was happening with the band at that particular point. This is then followed by Hooky's narrative on what was happening from his own perspective. This helps the reader to understand what was happening in terms of gigs, record sales and management and what was happening on the road and behind the scenes with the band themselves.
Closer and Unknown Pleasures are dissected track by track. This gives the reader an insight into Hooky's memories of recording the track and his thoughts on the tracks themselves. This in itself is interesting reading for any Joy Division fan that already has their own thoughts on the albums and individual tracks.
The book also contains never seen before photographs of the band and two pictures from the wedding of Ian and Deborah Curtis.
Hooky is frank in his account of the friendships and fallouts among the band members and those who came into their realm. His honesty is all the more apparent when talking about the death of Ian Curtis and the impact this had on himself and the beginning of the end for Joy Division.
This an easy to read book detailing every aspect of the ups and downs of four young men beginning their journey from humble beginnings in Lancashire to becoming one of the most influential bands of the post punk era.
on 27 April 2014
Joy Division was without a doubt, one of the most important bands of the modern day. They practically invented goth, for better or worse, inspiring legions of clones who could only ever imitate them at the superficial "gloomy" level. Over the years, much has been written about the tragic story of this group and its late singer Ian Curtis. Films such as Anton Corbijn's "Control" ( a fantastic piece of film making, it must be said) only serve to perpetuate the myth of Curtis being this T.S. Elliot type, a brooding poet who stood apart from his friends. That he was, but only to an extent. Peter Hook's "Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division" does much to paint a far more realistic and believable portrait of the man as "one of us", and offers probably the most vital account of Joy Division's short career yet. He was the bassist, after all. I haven't even finished reading this book yet but over the last 3 days I haven't been able to put it down, and I just had to praise it.
Having found myself hooked on his "The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club" I knew this one would be just as essential. Hooky takes us from beginning to end, growing up, meeting Bernard Sumner, founding the group, success, and the sudden jolt of the end while they were on the edge of a breakthrough American tour. This, apparently, was all that Curtis wanted all along, but as anyone who knows this band is aware, his personal circumstances became too much to handle. Given the fact that Hook and the other members of Joy Division/New Order are currently bitterly estranged (a frankly sorry state of affairs for what once was one of the very finest British groups), Hook does make a few personal criticisms of Sumner and the others throughout...however, he's always quick to balance it out by praising them (especially Sumner) as musicians. He's clearly proud, and rightfully so, of being a groundbreaking bass player with lines such as "She's Lost Control" practically re-inventing the instrument in the context of modern rock, and its great to see his appreciation (in hindsight) of Martin Hannett's genius production of their music. He also gives an intriguing track-by-track commentary to the albums which is like gold dust to fans like me.
However, what I admire most about this book is Hooky's down to earth nature. Just as with his book about the Hacienda, reading "Unknown Pleasures" is like hearing him reminisce casually, yet thoroughly, about those times as if you were sat having a conversation with him. Despite their austere public image, these 4 guys got up to plenty of mischief on the road just like any other band and there are plenty of funny antics to read about. Its so refreshing to see the band's story being told this way. There's been so much pretentious nonsense written about Joy Division over the years, we really don't need any more, especially not from one of the guys who was actually in Joy Division. I'm looking at you, Paul Morley. Now all that's left for Hook to do is publish the New Order book alluded to in the pages of this one. Can't wait for that.
on 30 September 2012
This book will divide opinion; "the true word" vs "milking". I favour the former - northern lads with fab talent inadvertently become gods. Lots of little nuggets as well but maybe a jape too many. Nice glosses on Closer and U pleasures.If you liked Control then this will go well with that; grounded, detailed and pacy. I liked Hooky more as a result and you can play "I was at that gig" in the history chapters.
'Hooky' is the only member of Joy Division to emerge from "Touching From A Distance" with any compassion. Of course, that might be Debbie having a bit of a crush on him or just saying something at the right time, but the same shines through in this book, his story of Joy Division.
I was (and am) a New Order fan, who came to Joy Division pretty late (and, I must admit, didn't know of Ian Curtis' story until much, much later), so the story of Joy Division is really just a "bunch of lads form a punk band and then, somehow, find a unique direction that lead to greater things" story and that's pretty much what Peter Hook recounts here.
Scraping together money to make calls to get gigs, fix his van (which he always had to load whilst the rest of the band went off to get drunk and pick up girls) or do a recording. Putting out an EP (that sounded awful) on 7" because no-one told them it would sound awful in that format, the references to bands and performers, some long forgotten, others who have taken directions wildly different to his (Mick Hucknall? OMD - "Good band, nice blokes, but they got me into Cocaine and didn't one set up Atomic Kitten?"), the oft told story that they all just ignored the evidence of Curtis' increasing illness and the honesty that he doesn't REALLY know why Curtis killed himself on the cusp of their big breakthrough, all make personal, insightful reading, with little of the self-indulgent pomposity that more than a few musicians (and others, if we're honest) pack their memoirs with. You get the feeling that this is just Hooky saying it as he remembers it and it ending up on paper and that worked for me.
Probably not THE definitive story of Joy Division, but an interesting angle and Hooky comes out of this as, basically, a decent bloke.
A good read, I thought and (whether it's a plus or a minus in your view) I don't read a lot of music books.
on 11 January 2013
This was bought for a christmas present for my husband who saw the last gig joy division did before the singer killed himself.
He loves the book and the interesting information on the life of the band coming from one of its members.
on 27 December 2014
I loved Joy Division when I was a gothkid in the eighties and I still love them now that I've grown out of feeling sorry for myself. Peter Hook's anecdotes are very funny and self-deprecating ... but while he is ever-willing to mock his and his bandmates youthful antics, the one thing he never does is belittle the music or Ian Curtis as an artist and poet. Peter Hook shares the fans love for Joy Division's music and doesn't indulge in false modesty about his own part in it. His bass riffs have never been bettered and Martin Hannett's production is given full credit in this book - even when he admits that he didn't agree with a lot of what he was doing at the time. Hard to believe these guys created something so timeless and beautiful when they were kids in their early twenties!
on 16 April 2013
Hooky has written a very well presented and well written book. Its full of information,quotes and tales told in a very witty but sensible fashion. At times it seems you could be sat in a pub with him listening to yet another anecdote and eagerly waiting for the next before buying the old git another pint (of lemonade these days). Giving the less than harmonious relationship with Bernard at the moment its good that hooky hasn't just filled the book by slagging him off. Its a corker of a book so I recommend you should buy it. How about Vol.2 What New Order Did Next? Get writing!!!!!!!