UNKNOWN PLEASURES: INSIDE JOY DIVISION
by Peter Hook
(It! Books, 2013)
Thank you, Peter Hook. You're no longer simply one of my favorite bass players of all-time. You've also now delivered a memoir so powerful that it's somehow taken Joy Division's already-transcendent music to even greater heights.
We'd play "Disorder."
"Is that all right, Martin?"
"No, didn't like it. Try it slower but faster. Meaner but kinder."
We'd look at each other like, 'Oh, do fuck off.'
First, there's naturally plenty of writing with regard to Ian's struggles at home with his wife, the build-up of his affair with Annik, and his eventual suicide. The latter brings forth Hook's honest wrestling with his own emotions – including many sentiments that he realizes could expose him to seeming callous or petty.
In even greater detail, however, the majority of the book details the songs themselves: how they came about, what their writing process was, how they were recorded, and in what order they wrote them. This includes track-by-track commentaries for both albums as well as detailed timelines for each year covered in the book that truly reinforce how the story unfolded in front of the world's eyes.
Thankfully, Hook also discusses at great length the details, successes, and struggles that came from working with their legendary producer, Martin Hannett. We even get insight into how this, as well as the writing process itself, evolved into New Order's process – both in the latter band's post-Ian beginnings all the way through their first break-up in 1993. These moments, along with those detailing the songs themselves, are my favorite parts of the book as they take the songs to all-new places – which is no easy feat after 30+ years of heralding, documenting, discussing, etc.
While the book is at times at repetitive, Hook truly welcomes you into their family – including the crew, management, Factory Records, and more. It's beautifully packaged (sans the incessant typographical "widows" that appear) and due to it being written like Hook speaks – it's a quick, unstuffy, easy read – even for a slow reader like myself.
Buy. This. Book.