The propulsive bass guitarist for Joy Division puts his fingers on the beating pulse of one of the U.K.’s most influential bands.
After the cinematic portrayals of the band’s tragic central figure Ian Curtis in the films 24 Hour Party People and Control, it’s easy to lose track of their central influences. In an unflinchingly honest memoir, Hook (The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club, 2009) peels away the romantic sheen colored by its dark history and gives unfettered insight into the band’s origins and inspirations, as well as its comedies and tragedies. From Hook’s first vision of the Sex Pistols, the young musician-to-be was hooked. After recruiting mates Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, they sought out the sensitive, artistic Curtis to lead them forward. Hook captures his lead singer well: “A poetic, sensitive, tortured soul, the Ian Curtis of the myth—he was definitely that. But he could also be one of the lads—he was one of the lads, as far as we were concerned.” What the author does even better is to remember the whole outrageous scene, from the tabloid outcry over the band’s murky name to the explosive shows dominated by bands like The Clash and Throbbing Gristle. Even the expected recollection of writing “Love Will Tear Us Apart” comes with decidedly unexpected truths. From the manifold perils of life on the road to his ongoing guilt over the band’s treatment of Curtis, Hook never pulls a punch. Add in a comprehensive timeline and track-by-track notes on the band’s two sole albums, and this is required reading for anyone who ever felt moved by Joy Division’s cold, dark music.
Electric transmissions from a bygone era, etched in blood by someone who was there in body and spirit.