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Hook and Sumner books July 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’m reading Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner’s books on Joy Division and New Order (though Hook only deals with the former in any detail) at the same time. Kind of an odd experience flicking between one and the other. They’re both interesting in their own way,

Sumner’s is perhaps the more thoughtful. Certainly one would come away from it with enormous sympathy for the man in some respects to his life.

There isn’t really a single comprehensive book on this topic, and perhaps never will be. Indeed there’s a danger that learning too much about the creators of the music will in some way diminish it – seeing the sausage made in a factory is always an unedifying process. But then – as noted above – we don’t really get to see the sausage made. And parts of the story are now well worn. How could it be otherwise with a film about Joy Division, another film on Factory that has a strong focus on the groups, a number of documentaries and so on?

There’s less about the actual music than one might expect. Curious as to their thoughts on Movement, New Order’s first album? Well, you won’t learn much more than you probably already knew. Or Brotherhood, their mid to late 80s album? No mention at all. And you’ll learn nothing at all in Hook’s book about the New Order years which concentrates on Joy Division and then briefly his split with New Order and after.

As to the…erm… disagreement between the two camps, well don’t expect to be hugely enlightened by the books. Fault on both sides is perhaps the only reasonable conclusion. Indeed the fact that they worked together as long as they did is something of a miracle.

For all that, there’s a real strength in the reminiscences about growing up in working class Manchester. I keep having to remind myself that both men are barely nine or ten years older than myself and yet their experiences were a world away from Northside Dublin, or at least the parts I grew up in. I guess there’s a thesis in there about how things changed between the start of the 1970s and the end of it…


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