Chapter and Verse - New Order, Joy Division and Me
Author: Bernard Sumner
Published: 18th September 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Bantam Press
RRP £20.00 (£11.00 at Amazon - see right)
Bernard Sumner's book has arrived and first impressions are good. More than 340 pages with a printed picture cover inside a picture dust jacket and it's a nice solid object too.
We follow Bernard from a strict and often painful upbringing in Salford against the background of a society moving from the friendly communities of the Victorian "slums" and his bombsite playground to the soulless urban renewals of the high rise flats. His family and the neighbourhood were not without their eccentricities and Bernard needed to keep his wits about him from an early age - not least to avoid antique swords in the wrong hands.
But just as the new flats represented an environment superficially for the better while actually making life harder, Bernard found this echoed in his own life as he progressed through a dull school career towards the disappointing world of paid work.
The story of his school days will resonate with many a man of Bernard's age. Then, as a teenage scooter boy, his love of music developed and he and close friend Hooky started going to concerts including "short-arse" Lou Reed and ultimately the life changing Sex Pistols Manchester Free Trade Hall concert where his life started to break away from his potentially mediocre destiny.
Then we have a sizeable chunk of 70-odd pages covering the Joy Division story and it's nice to see that the staple of so many Joy Division books, the useful but space-consuming gigography, is absent. This is no deep concert-by-concert fact strewn book about Joy Division for the obsessive fan, nor does it repeat the often told soundbites with which we are all over familiar. It's somewhere in between and somehow different.
He tells us about his thought processes behind the controversial Ideal For Living Sleeve and the Joy Division name as well as revealing small details like the "opportunity" to overdub a saxophone onto the RCA demos. There's even a transcript of the now famous Ian Curtis hypnosis recording.
He also covers the split with Hooky.
Overall it's a well written and entertaining tome that casts warm light on Bernard's character more than anything else. Well, it is his autobiography.
Very enjoyable and highly recommended