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Chapter and Verse - New Order, Joy Division and Me Paperback – 10 Sep 2015
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"Contains poignantly rendered family tragedies, told with warm humour and without self-pity... As well as showing a life saved and made by rock'n'roll, it illustrates someone almost effortlessly negotiating the rapids of success and stardom, armed only with street smarts and laconic Manc wit... A must for Joy Division and New Order fans'" (Irvine Welsh Esquire)
"A fascinating memoir...The book is filled with memories of every kind" (Mark Ellen The Times)
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Founding member and guitarist of Joy Division and the lead singer of New Order, Bernard Sumner has been famous over the years for his reticence. Until now... An integral part of the Manchester music scene since the late 1970s, his is the definitive version of the events that created two of the most influential bands of all time.
Chapter and Verse includes a vivid and illuminating account of Bernard's Salford childhood, the early days of Joy Division, the band's enormous critical and popular success, and the subsequent tragic death of Ian Curtis. Bernard describes the formation of New Order, takes us behind the scenes at the birth of classics such as 'Blue Monday' and gives his first-hand account of the ecstasy and the agony of the Haçienda days.
Sometimes moving, often hilarious and occasionally completely out of control, this is a tale populated by some of the most colourful and creative characters in music history, such as Ian Curtis, Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett. Others have told parts of the story, in film and book form. Now, for the first time, Bernard Sumner gives you chapter and verse.
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Some key relationships are barely mentioned and conflict with Peter Hook clearly does not tell the whole story and yet there are lengthy passages about getting wrecked in Ibiza which the reader is left to trawl through wondering if any of this is ever going to lead anywhere. I guess you had to be there.
If you're a New Order or Joy Division fan then this is definitely worth reading, but prepare to be annoyed by the gaps and unanswered questions.
Arguably, Barney's book can be seen as a reaction to Hooky's recent books, 'The Hacienda: How Not To Run a Club' (2010) and 'Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division' (2012), a need to tell his version of events and 'correct' Hooky. While Hooky covers only the Joy Division years, Barney covers New Order too, coming right up to date with the 2011 reboot. They write of the same story and their versions click in most places, as you'd expect, but there are some differing accounts. For instance, who were the twats in the flats towards Ian and Annik when they were recording 'Closer' in London? Hooky and Barney, as Hooky says; or Hooky and Rob, as Barney says?
Some revisionism, past moments seen through adult eyes, and 'chronology disorder,' as he jumps around. One minute he's 18 years old, then 15, then 21... There's redundancy, contradictions and arguments that don't fully resolve, irritating at times. A good edit could have fixed these. Interesting analogies include, 'I imagine it's a bit like being a doctor...,' and '...we were like apprentice bricklayers...' There's pomposity too: '...if during this life I've climbed a mountain...' Quirky theories, philosophies and omens make for fun reading.
There's a whole chapter about the fallout with Hooky, in which Barney uses his crystal ball to speculate on Hooky's motives, sounding a little paranoid at times. He praises everyone bar Hooky. Some full-on bitchin'! Following this, he gushes about how wonderful everything is now Hooky's out of his life: the band, the new material, enjoying touring more than ever, the new band mates are the best you could hope for, a new bass player who's 'capable of playing in a range of styles,' his personal life, health, home-work balance. [Yeah OK, Barney, we get the picture!]
Personally, I would have preferred more details about the songs, their creation and recording. There are a few bits and bobs for some, 'Love Vigilantes,' 'Love Will Tear Us Apart,' 'Blue Monday,' but not many. There's two sections of photos: early life, promos, some we've seen before, some even featuring Hooky! A must read for Joy Division and New Order music lovers? Not necessarily! Obsessives? Yes!
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