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UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Review “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division” by Peter Hook

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The name Peter Hook may not mean much to the average music fan, but his work over the last 30-plus years will certainly conjure up great affection amongst many. Peter ‘Hooky’ Hook is the bass player, and founding member, of seminal post punk band Joy Division, and later dance-rock pioneers New Order.

Although only active from 1976 to 1980, Joy Division has seemingly increased in popularity, reaching something of a cult status among not only music fans but bands active today. From contemporaries like U2 and R.E.M. to recent arrivals like The Killers, many have cited Joy Division as having a profound effect on their musical careers. As Joy Division’s manager Rob Gretton said in 1980: “Don’t worry, Joy Division will be really big in 10 years’ time,” and how right he was.

Although one of the most influential rock bands ever, Joy Division is also one of the most tragic, as the group’s success was cut short by the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis, which led to the band’s dissolution and subsequent reinvention of its remaining members as New Order.  It is the mystery that shrouds Curtis’ premature end which makes the tale of Joy Division such an endearing one even now, some 33 years later.  In the book “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division,” which was released Jan. 29, Hook’s account of the band’s short history is as much about him as it is Curtis. Many readers will look to the book for an explanation, or at least a better idea, of the legend of Curtis and why he took his own life.

Joy Division’s tale is retold in a hugely engaging manner through Hook’s trademark wit; the countless amusing anecdotes that are featured prominently throughout are where the writing is it at its most enjoyable. Chapters on the bands disastrous trip to Brussels and its tour with the Buzzcocks are two of the most amusing stories. Hook is refreshingly honest and writes with frankness that shows the constant struggles the band faced, denouncing the romanticism that surrounds Curtis and its work.

What sets Joy Division apart from the predictable tales of rock excess is the naivety and innocence of four young lads creating a band out of nothing but belief based on seeing the infamous Sex Pistols in 1976. There are no tales of drugs and partying (Hook is saving those stories for his next book on New Order) but plenty of dark days; playing to 20 people in dingy basements, being spat on at gigs, fighting with the crowd, sleeping on hostel floors and accidentally being branded a “Nazi band.” The book truly is an inspirational account of the trials and tribulations of starting a band from scratch. As Hook says, “Kids in bands these days, they don’t know they’re even born.”

On top of the chronological narrative of Joy Division, the book is punctuated with appropriately placed timelines, which allow the reader to scrutinise Joy Divisions’s hectic schedule of performances. The timelines themselves will be of little interest to all but the most diehard fans, yet it is reassuring to see that Hook has done extensive research, chronicling every concert and key moment precisely. Another feature of the book that is especially intriguing is the song-by-song analysis of the band’s two albums “Unknown Pleasures” and “Closer.” The detailed account of how the sounds on each track were created certainly adds another dimension to their work upon listening back to it.

The only downfall of the book is the fact that it only focuses on Hook’s few years in Joy Division, a relatively short period in comparison to his 25 years in New Order, as well as the fact that the story has been covered extensively before. Anton Corbijn’s 2007 Curtis biopic “Control” and acclaimed 2008 documentary “Joy Division” along with Deborah Curtis’ harrowing account of her troubled marriage to Ian Curtis, “Touching From a Distance,” have somewhat saturated the market. Even though the book approaches the Joy Division years from Hook and band’s first-hand account, much of what is written will already be familiar to most Joy Division fans.

Curtis has before been portrayed as an arty, troubled genius as well as a heartless coward who abandoned his wife and child, but Hook again places him in a different light: just a normal guy, one of the lads. It’s this new insight into who Curtis was that will be most fascinating for fans; Hook explains Curtis as having different acts for the band, his wife and his lover, Annik. Still, no one knows the “real Ian.” This, however, is the only new light shed on his life. His suicide still baffles all, including Hook: “Sometimes you can see why he did it, other times, it just makes no sense at all.”

“Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division” is a thoroughly enjoyable read, not just for new fans, who will benefit from the meticulous story telling of the bands life span, but also for Joy Division fanatics who will find great interest in the latest details of Curtis and the bands experiences. Hook’s no nonsense approach breathes fresh life into the timeless tale of one of Britain’s most influential bands and makes for a compelling read.

Jonathan Smith can be reached at jnsmi0@student.umass.edu

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