Life after Joy Division: an insider offers a comprehensive history of New Order.
Now entering a new phase as the elder statesman of electronic dance music and the “Madchester” music scene, Hook (Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, 2013, etc.) provides an extremely thorough history of his legendary follow-up group, New Order. As raw, undiluted, and fitfully funny as its predecessors, this spiritual sequel starts by asking a difficult question: “Do we need to go into the circumstances of Ian’s death?” The answer, as it turns out, is no and yes. No, because it’s been covered, and yes, because Hook never fully recovered from the death of Joy Division’s doomed frontman Curtis, not to mention the consequential years of drug and alcohol abuse. The stories are entertaining, though, opening with producer John Robie assaulting “Hooky” in front of Molly Ringwald at the premiere of Pretty in Pink in 1985. In the following pages, Hook describes the making of hits like “Blue Monday,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and others as well as his dynamic and difficult relationships with his band mates, particularly vocalist Bernard Sumner. Even triumphs like headlining the Reading Festival are dismissed with casual abandon: “International rock star = bollocks.” Along the way, Hook offers anecdotes, timelines detailing recording sessions and performances, “geek alerts” commenting on instruments and recording gear, and sly asides—e.g., “Ten Most Interesting Medical Problems I Got Working in a Band.” The author also offers a visceral depiction of the druggy music scene with stories about bands like Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, who “deserve a chapter to themselves, so here we go.” It’s an unapologetic rock memoir, concerned less with legacy and more with what really went down: “the idea being to bring you the most complete and truthful record of life inside New Order as is humanly possible.” By that standard, the book is a marvelous success.
A well-written and brutally honest remembrance of the glory days of rave culture.