Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division

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Joy Division changed the face of music. Godfathers of alternative rock, they reinvented music in the post-punk era, creating a new sound—dark, hypnotic, and intense—that would influence U2, Morrissey, R.E.M., Radiohead, and numerous others. The story is now legendary: in 1980, on the heels of their groundbreaking debut album and on the eve of their first U.S. tour, the band was rent asunder by the tragic death of their enigmatic lead singer, Ian Curtis. Yet in the mere three years they were together, they ...

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Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division

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Joy Division changed the face of music. Godfathers of alternative rock, they reinvented music in the post-punk era, creating a new sound—dark, hypnotic, and intense—that would influence U2, Morrissey, R.E.M., Radiohead, and numerous others. The story is now legendary: in 1980, on the heels of their groundbreaking debut album and on the eve of their first U.S. tour, the band was rent asunder by the tragic death of their enigmatic lead singer, Ian Curtis. Yet in the mere three years they were together, they produced two landmark albums and a handful of singles—including the iconic anthem "Love Will Tear Us Apart"—that continue to have a powerful resonance.

Now, for the first time, their story is told by one of their own. In Unknown Pleasures, founding member and bass player Peter Hook recounts how four young men from Manchester and Salford rose from the punk scene to create a haunting, atmospheric music that would define a generation. Peter talks with eye-opening candor about the suicide of Ian Curtis; the band's friendships and fallouts; and the larger-than-life characters who formed the Joy Division legend.

Told with surprising humor and vivid detail, Unknown Pleasures is the book Joy Division fans have awaited for decades.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Justin Moyer
…in Unknown Pleasures Hook wrestles with Joy Division's failure to recognize the obvious: that the sick young man singing songs center stage about death was actually ready to die. It's compelling.
Publishers Weekly
One of the progenitors of what became alternative rock, Joy Division pioneered a sound that would reverberate for decades, inspiring a litany of bands in its wake. The recording career of the band was tragically cut short by the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis . Founding member and bassist Peter Hook recounts the history of Joy Division, offering insight, righting wrongs, and separating fact from fiction. Hook is humble and affable (he's the first to admit he's not the world's greatest bass player), and his tone is more like that of a lengthy discussion with a pal at the pub, rather than a studied, academic assessment of the band and its legacy. This warts-and-all approach results in a warm, occasionally melancholy reminiscence, as Hook discusses the band's process, as well as its members' willful ignorance of Curtis's declining mental state. While the book ends on a sad note, Hook's fond recollection of various moments in Joy Division's short life, such as meeting a young U2, wrestling with a temperamental van on early tours, and a track-by-track commentary on the band's albums (he recommends readers put on the album in question when reading about Closer and Unknown Pleasures) will likely give readers a deeper appreciation for the people behind the music. Hook has written one of the warmest, most honest musical memoirs in recent memory. Agent: Matthew Elblonk of DeFiore & Co. (Feb.)
A SPIN Best Music Book of 2013
Kirkus Reviews
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.
“An immense account of Joy Division’s rise, cataloguing the group’s struggle for recognition, their rapidly gained superiority on the Manchester scene and the epic numbness following Ian Curtis’ shock suicide. Having read Hook’s book, you’ll feel like you were he fifth member of the band.”
Metro London
“It’s a window like no other into the reality of life in this most aloof of bands.”
Rock Cellar Magazine
“A tiny gem written by a monster musician. It’s the best document yet to be produced on Joy Division. There’s nothing like hearing the story straight from Hooky’s foul mouth.”
Los Angeles Times
“Honest, punchy, and rough-hewn . . . a portal into a vivid moment in rock history . . . the life and times of a working band . . . and, in the middle of it all, the transformative power of music.”
A.V. Club
. The passages where Hook details the recording of the Unknown Pleasures album are fantastic and insightful . . . . the book itself is gorgeous. . .
Entertainment Weekly
“A surprisingly funny-and gleefully profane-portrait.”
LA Weekly
“Rich in detail.”
Cincinnati City Beat
“A comprehensive, illuminating portrait of the band that often takes the piss out of its doom-ridden legacy.”
San Francisco Chronicle
MTV Hive
“Like talking to a bawdy uncle after his fourth beer. Apparently being in the saddest post-punk art-goth band in history can occasionally be pretty fucking funny.”
SF Weekly
With Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division fans can finally hear the band’s story from someone who was there from the very beginning-iconic bassist Peter Hook.”
Keith Cameron
The most colorful and intimate account of Joy Division ever written . . . Hook evokes the spirit of the age with a bluff authenticity that no outsider could hope to emulate…explaining the creation of his band’s remarkable music with all the passion and insight it deserves.
Ian Harrison
“A bittersweet, profanity-filled recollection of their brief existence . . . recalled with Hook’s winning Manc gallows humor . . . If you like Joy Division you really have to read it.”
Simon Reynolds
“Vivid, funny, and unexpectedly touching, Peter Hook’s memoir strips away the shroud of myth surrounding Joy Division to offer a refreshingly gritty perspective on the story of four ordinary young men who together made extraordinary music.”
A SPIN Best Music Book of 2013
Neda Ulaby
You don’t have to be a hardcore fan of Joy Division or New Order to appreciate Hook’s wry evocation of Britain’s 1970s punk scene and his street-level remembrance of the tragedy and ecstasy . . . that went into building the foundation for the next few decades’ alternative rock scene.
An NPR Best Book of 2013
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062222565
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 386
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

As cofounder of Joy Division and New Order, Peter Hook has been shaping the course of popular music for more than thirty years. He provided the propulsive bass guitar melodies on "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and the bestselling twelve-inch single of all time, "Blue Monday," among many other songs. He tours New Order and Joy Division albums with his band Peter Hook and The Light and DJs internationally, including at the numerous regular Haçienda nights at clubs around the world. The author of the New York Times bestseller Unknown Pleasures, he lives in Cheshire, England, with his family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014


    Oh wow.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Flower's Capture Chapter Eight by Violet

    Wait. There was a new servant. That was bad news, as she was the oldest servant and there were only fifteen servants at a time. Those statues were of the older servants that came before her. Anyone with half a brain could connect the dots. And she had half a brain. "SERVANT NUMBER ONE!" a booming voice called from the speaker. "REPORT TO ROOM NUMBER FORTY-SEVEN!" She knew what she had to do. Immediately, her chain began pulling itself to the room. Once she was there a chime dinged. The door opened and a robotic being that seemed to be crusted in ice was lounging in a chair. "Why, hello," a drawling voice came from the strange form. "It's about time we had fresh blood. I have come to a habit of replaacing my oldest servants. But, before we continue, you must know what your name really is. You are not seevant number one, but you were known as
    Rose. I suppose
    I must explain my purpose to you, before
    I freeze you. You see,
    I am the leader of a group of aliens called the
    Glaciards. We thrive on the souls of young girls, but only have the power to drain the souls of those named for flowers. Soon enough, any girl that enters the woods will be taken. And then any child. Finally we will take over the Earth and eventually breed and no humans will be left except for a select few that are key to our survival, and servants that will aid our survival. Now if you would follow me over here, he suddenly stood, and his movements were quite graceful, despite his deformed and frozen body. Rose did not comply because of what she knew was going to happen, but her chain forced her there anyways. She was thrust into a mold and it clamped shut. Steam and silent screams came from the hole in the top, and the process ended. Rose's beautiful body was an iron statue.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Great for any fan

    Okay. Two reasons why I requested this book for review. 1. The hombre loves Joy Division. and 2. I wanted to know more about the band. Now I’m not a fan. Yes, I listen to a few of the songs when the hombre plays them (I must say, he still has the CD set of Heart and Soul that I bought him as a gift years ago - which makes me all warm and fuzzy because I got him something that he loves and still listens to..anyway! I’m going off topic here....) I thought the book was pretty good - now I completely understand a fan would greatly appreciate this book as it gives you an insight on how the band was. I liked the way it was written, it was to the point, and at some times really blunt. I found myself laughing at bits of it. Gradually as the book progresses though, it does get more serious and more sad - since you know what’s going to happen to Ian Curtis and although he was undergoing serious health issues they just kept going. It’s admirable because they went through a lot of struggle in the beginning, but they persisted (it’s also extremely difficult to be successful as a rock band as I learnt while reading through this book) The book also includes a more detailed description on each track the band has made which I believe fans will greatly appreciate and lots of references to other bands they have met, toured with, and sometimes fought with (hah, those were funny parts). It was also interesting to see how Hook describes Ian Curtis during their tour stops. (He can be just one of the guys too - which was hard for me to see) You also had to sympathize for him and his struggle with epilepsy. Hook’s narrative is very good and easy to follow and above all very entertaining. Fans will greatly appreciate this book, non fans wanting to read how a real (yes I say REAL) band works should pick this up to get a glimpse at how hard it really is (no seriously, it’s really hard and not as easy as you think!) also, nice small appearances from The Cure and Bono!!!!

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  • Posted March 21, 2013

    Peter Hook's Book Is a Joy to Read

    A must have for all the fans of Joy Division. Peter Hook (bass guitarist of the Joy Division and New Order) writes very well. His book is informative and fun to read.

    I hope he writes another book about New Order. I'll buy it, if he does:).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    A tragicomic excellent read.

    A tragicomic excellent read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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