Peter Hook, center, with Joy Division bandmates Bernard Sumner, left,… (Harper Collins )
Unknown PleasuresInside Joy Division
Peter HookIt Books: 416 pp., $27.99
In the three decades aback he committed suicide, accompanist Ian Curtis has become both a attribute and a caricature. Curtis' acutely bent activity as a affiliate of the English post-punk bandage Joy Division and aboriginal afterlife in 1980 accept been adapted into allegory and Curtis into a modern-day Thomas Chatterton or Sylvia Plath. His activity offers a absolute anecdotal for disaffected, sun-averse souls the apple over: a adolescent ability too authentic to live.
As declared in above Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook's honest, befuddled and chapped certificate of that period, "Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division," Curtis was as adverse and alluring a amount as the fable suggests, acceptance at the time Hook saw him mostly as a beer-drinking, prank-playing pal.
Struggling with depression, a declining alliance and debilitating bouts of epilepsy, Curtis dead himself on the eve of Joy Division's aboriginal American tour, aloof as the band's penultimate single, "Love Will Tear Us Apart," was released. The agreeable bequest that Curtis, Hook, guitarist Bernard Sumner and bagman Stephen Morris created still resonates.
"Unknown Pleasures" is a aperture into a active moment in bedrock history as able-bodied as the activity and times of a alive band. The book is abounding with car breakdowns, fistfights, festering grudges, sniping, drugs, girls and, in the average of it all, the transformative ability of music.
Hook, a self-described banal yobbo who cofounded Joy Division with Sumner in Manchester, England, anon afterwards seeing the Sex Pistols in 1976, is the absolute guide.
"You shouldn't assurance a chat I say," he writes at one point, abroad acceptance that during Joy Division's acceleration amid a aggressive Manchester music scene, "we reveled in abuse and treachery." His accent suggests a adolescent cogent the agrarian adventure of his adolescence over the advance of bisected a dozen pints.
He provides a raw, abundant archival annual of those canicule with an admirable directness, alike as he addresses adamantine truths about the way he and his mates handled their advance singer's condition. At one point, speaking of the concrete assessment that touring was demography on the agilely adversity Curtis, Hook writes that an alternating appellation for his book ability be "He Said He Was Alright So We Carried On."
They did backpack on, and the aftereffect was a atypical sound, one acid by convenance but able in the flat by administrator ambassador Martin Hannett. Hook captures the band's aesthetic accession aback anecdotic a pre-show complete analysis aback they were alive out their archetypal song "Transmission." Playing for an abandoned house, the bassist describes a "stop-the-presses moment" aback the complete guys, the aperture band, the PA agents chock-full algid and started watching. "Looking at one another, we were cerebration that maybe, aloof maybe, we ability be able to accomplish a go of this."
Hook tells his adventure afterwards any brightness — in fact, he seems to bacchanal in his abrasiveness throughout. He badmouths the Cure, writing, "I anticipate they thought, 'I ambition we were Joy Division.'" He describes Buzzcocks advance accompanist Pete Shelley as a "Little Lord Fauntleroy" for acclimation lobster at a restaurant. Hook says aboriginal on that above bandmate Sumner hates actuality alleged Barney — again gain to alarm him that for the blow of the book. (The two accept had a bouldered relationship: New Order, formed by the actual associates of Joy Division afterwards Curtis' suicide, reunited afterwards Hook in 2011; Hook, in turn, agitated the added above associates of Joy Division by touring to accomplish the band's admission album, "Unknown Pleasures," adjoin their wishes.)
Hook stews about his role in the bandage as the workhorse; while Curtis is accomplishing things like blind out with Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P-Orridge, the bassist is acclimation the agent of the band's touring van — and, abundant to his dismay, advantageous for the all-important parts.
Interspersing capacity with timelines, Hook additionally offers track-by-track rundowns of the authoritative of Joy Division's two archetypal flat albums, "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer." The adjustment provides a solid arch about which he hangs his tale, which as it progresses against a acute Saturday in May 1980, becomes the sad, assured admission of Curtis' final days. By 1980, the accompanist is bubbler bottles of Pernod and slashing himself with a kitchen knife, alike as his absorbing and spastic onstage movements are acceptable added mesmerizing.
Hook describes those backward performances durably as Curtis consistently adventures seizures during shows. He'd freeze, midstrum, staring blankly into space. The bandage apprenticed lighting technicians to abstain strobes, but they'd balloon and Curtis would end up on the attic askew in a fit. He fell aback into Morris' boom kit, lost.
The band's response, writes Hook: "We'd stop him from burning his argot and he'd get up, acquaint us he was fine, and, well, you apperceive the rest."
Thanks to this sometimes heartbreaking, consistently absorbing memoir, we do indeed.
Hook will altercate and assurance copies of "Unknown Pleasures" at Skylight Books at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1. For added information: http://www.skylightbooks.com/event.