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one for the fans I think...
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 oddly numb 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.