There are only about five or six people who could tell the story of Joy Division – and only three are still alive. My first knowledge of Joy Division is seeing them in Record Mirror and NME in their charts, when ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ never left the indie chart. Ever. A bit like the ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ for indie. It would take a few years before I heard the song, my indie cred in shreds as I do in fact own a Paul Young 7″ single of it (I bought it as a kind of ironic joke, as by then I had the Joy Division one – an ex-Jukebox version for 50p from our local shops).
I loved New Order pretty much from ‘Temptation’ onwards. I remember borrowing a friend’s brother’s copy (a 7″ that plays at 33 – brilliant) – that and ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ and taping them to make sure they’d stay in mint condition and I could play them to death – which I did. My first knowledge of the band was seeing the stinky letters page in Smash Hits with people complaining about Gillian being interviewed rather than the band and how it wasn’t properly New Order, and throughout my teens they became my favourite band.
So the pre-New Order time was something I’d missed. I knew it existed, I knew the singer was dead, and I knew he’d killed himself, the rest you learn through interviews and the rest. Then the films happened, touching on parts – so you feel like you know bits, but you don’t necessarily, as a film is based around one part of it, not always all of it.
Which is where the book comes in. Peter Hook. Hooky. I have a soft spot for him – I enjoyed his ‘How Not To Run A Club’ book about the Hacienda, but this was the first time things felt a little more ‘honest’. How him and Barney (Bernard Sumner) never really got on in JD and NO, how he says RIP to New Order in the book… like he’ll never go back there… recounting stories from the things Joy Division did, from gigs they played and so on. How they all did nothing to help Ian Curtis as he soldiered on because he said he was fine, they were all young and nobody recognised the stress he was under as he held it back and told them to keep going.
It’s a good read, an interesting read, a perspective on four young men making music, getting there, then it all going horribly wrong. We all know how it ends, but how accurate was ‘Control’ the film? Or ’24 Hour Party People’? Who knows… Hooky knows some bits, that’s for sure – both get mentions too.
I’m a fan of the music and having sections which go into each album and have a little writeup (and I will sit and listen to them while reading it one day) was a nice touch. You hear the music and don’t have the background – this opens it up a bit more. While he doesn’t shed any light on what happened with him leaving New Order (maybe that’ll be the next book?) you see how they kept going because that’s what they did – they knew nothing else and that’s what held them together.
There’s timelines, and a little bit on all the characters involved – though if you’re familiar with the story you’ll know them anyway. I feel like this book fits nicely alongside ‘Touching From A Distance’ by Deborah Curtis – Ian’s widow – and may well be a book I’ll go back to, I’ve not read it for several years now.
In a nutshell, if you’re a fan, get this. If you’re not, borrow it. It’s a good read, and you see how spoilt bands are these days – back then it was really really tough. Like, really tough. The Kindle edition is lots cheaper at £5.99. Get it – if you like the band or Hooky’s sense of humour. You won’t regret it – then get his Hacienda book.