All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Book Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Peter Hook: Substance - Inside New Order

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
Substance: Inside New Order
Peter Hook
768 Pages
ISBN: 1471132404
Simon & Schuster

Evidently, this is the golden age of book memoirs by world renowned music artists as the bookstores are being literary showered by juicy memoirs full of soul-baring, band drama, drugs, debauchery and salacious gossip. The appeal of some of these books is evident and immediate. Most of these artists are fascinating already because of their music and lifestyle. Many of the aforementioned memoirs rarely lived up to the expectations promising more but delivering less. Lately, some of the newly published memoirs are of Tolstoyan size with the writers obviously aiming for the equivalent of the double album in music. Bassist Peter Hook's own memoir about New Order is of a Russian classic's size with its 720 pages, but nevertheless, it is an absorbing, informative, entertaining and educational read.

In recent years, he has written two books each concentrating on different chapters of his illustrious career; a hilarious book about the money sucking investment in the form of the legendary club Hacienda (The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club) and the second was his memoir of Joy Division's brief but very influential career. Unknown Pleasures offered a firsthand look at the band's history and legacy. It told a story about real people who made this music during the depressive era Britain rather than the myths surrounding it. The band was a self-taught unit, but nevertheless, it was a group of talented musicians who could write distinct melodies and who have forged their own original sound and path. For a brief period, that band's music and the people around it had started something that would influence and color the music in the decades to come after its tragic end.

The story told in Substance is a story that starts with a band without its front-man. Rock music is full of stories of stupid and tragic ends to promising starts and Joy Division had a promising start. Joy Division became New Order with the addition of Gillian Gilbert at the end of 1980. One of the ways to deal with the tragedy was music and New Order was built on the rubble of what was a promising band on the rise. From then on, the band didn't a have a real front-man in a classical sense even though guitarist Bernard Sumner reluctantly took the lead vocals. The band had a tough start. Even the producer they had worked with, Martin Hannett, had difficulties in adapting to the band without its singer. To him, Joy Division was a band of one genius and "three Manchester United fans." The album Movement slightly resembled Joy Division's dark sound but without any desire to push the sound much forward. It also marked the end of the band's working relationship with Hannett. Their growing fascination with programming synthesizers led the band towards more electronic music as it fed on the energy of the machines, overlaid by soulful vocals from Sumner and Hook's iconic "bass-as-lead" playing style.

But the band really woke up to its own potential when they toured America at the start of the '80s and when they roamed NY's dance clubs. Fired up by the dance club culture of the New York club scene the band saw its future there. From then on New Order pretty much watermarked the music scenes starting from the '80s and onward. Power, Corruption & Lies has always been celebrated as the album on which New Order introduced its trademark synth-driven sound. Further, their other albums in the '80s were an exuberant celebration of the new hybrid they created. The band went on to become one of the most successful and innovative pop-dance acts of all time creating an aesthetic that split between guitar driven post-punk and club-friendly dance music. As a result, their songs were a near-perfect meeting of heart and mind.

The book is similarly structured in the same way as his previous one, Unknown Pleasures. Between chapters Hook is analyzing the albums in detail from this viewpoint, song by song. He looks familiar material from unexpected perspectives and how songs were written and produced, and these details are informative and insightful. Further, he adds lists with concerts from the brief tours in support of those albums with reminiscences of how certain gigs have occurred. Plus, he even adds other lists of people he had an offer to work with (for e.g. The Rolling Stones) but has declined or lists of bass cab messages (Salford Rules) or health issues from playing bass.


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Life in the Key of E Book Reviews
My Life in the Key of E
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: March 19, 2018
Read The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums Book Reviews
The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Steve Provizer
Published: March 3, 2018
Read The Universe and John Coltrane: The Physics of Cosmic Vibrations Book Reviews
The Universe and John Coltrane: The Physics of Cosmic...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Good Morning Blues Book Reviews
Good Morning Blues
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: January 11, 2018
Read Never Say No to a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger and More Book Reviews
Never Say No to a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan,...
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: January 2, 2018
Read Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years Of The London Jazz Festival Book Reviews
Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years Of The London Jazz...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums" Book Reviews The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Steve Provizer
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz" Book Reviews Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation" Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend" Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017