By Rob Jones
The written experiences of Peter Hook are always worthy of inspection and Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division (published by Simon & Schuster) is an engaging tale. Hook was at the core of the Joy Division tale from a nascent 1977 through to closure with the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis on May 18, 1980. The sight of The Sex Pistols at The Free Trade Hall, Manchester in 1976 sparked a musical revolution in that city and Joy Division sprung forth after stints as The Stiff Kittens and Warsaw. This post punk protean gave birth to a smorgasbord of sound that would heavily influence the future of alternative rock.
The 70’s was an era before the exposure of You Tube, Facebook X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, MTV or many other small screen channels! A young act such as Joy Division had to graft and that meant travelling in squalor and then playing numerous dingy venues! The payment for these ‘unknown pleasures’ was minimal (if at all)-and, the pressure of day jobs added to a demanding schedule. A clash of personalities and the resultant squabbling increased the chaos but it has left us with a body of work that has not been bettered. The diligence and determination of Hook, Curtis, Sumner and Morris and the input of figures such as the late producer Martin Hannett led to aural achievements that still stand their ground.
There are major regrets about the untimely demise of Curtis. The exuberance of a youthful crew of ambitious musicians and a selfish, looking after number one attitude outweighed a cry for help from the troubled singer. Hook admits that things could have been dealt with in a more mature, caring manner and perhaps the Joy Division story may have gone on. However, there was a maelstrom of emotions and a catalogue of situations making up this unique and embracing tale. The Control movie and other texts such as the Deborah Curtis penned Touching from a Distance offer further insights.
Joy Division was seen as a sombre act but their outlandish off stage pranks offer humour and horror with a headlining Buzzcocks taking a lot of flak. Other bizarre episodes allow the literature to head in different directions e.g. the mistaken identity of Hook as the possible Yorkshire Ripper is another intriguing episode!
The attention to detail, explanation of recordings and the timeline of events are essential components to a well researched and cleverly constructed literary release.
You have read about Joy Division but it is now time to put your Heart & Soul in to the known pleasures of their sonic CV!