Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Unknown Pleasures – Inside Joy Division (Peter Hook)

A memoir/biography that did what it says on the tin


Title: Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division
Author/narrator: Peter Hook
Genre: Non-Fiction / (auto)biography / memoir / music
First published: 2012
Edition: Audio

Inspired by the attitude, energy and sound of Punk, particularly the Sex Pistols, Peter Hook and his old school friend Bernard Sumner started a band which continues to influence popular music 35 years later, uniting with a gifted lead-singer and lyricist, Ian Curtis, and a brilliant drummer, Stephen Morris. With some cobbled together instruments and a clapped out old van, four young lads from Manchester and Salford shared the same vision and created their own unique sound in pubs and clubs first across the north-west, then across the whole of Britain, until in 1980 they had released two albums and were on the cusp of touring America. Then Ian Curtis committed suicide leaving everyone around him bereft.


I picked this one at random to listen to. I always love a music biography and Joy Division are one of those bands that have always been at the edge of my consciousness. A lot of bands I listen to were influenced by them and I was aware of their story in a general sort of way, but never really dug into the particulars.

Peter Hook did a great job telling the Joy Division story from his point of view, with frank honesty and without holding back. The narrative feels authentic and you can kind of feel the melancholy of what could have been and the sense of coulda-woulda-shoulda. It’s always easier to see what went wrong when you look back and that is definitely the sense I got from him.

This is an honest account of young guys in a band, warts and all, but with plenty of early excitement and optimism.

My attention did drift at points as the narrative meandered a bit too much at times, but overall I enjoyed the listen and I will definitely be making the effort to get better acquainted with Joy Division and perhaps New Order.

5 out of 7 stars


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