Books, books galore (If you like New Order/Joy Division)

This is a strange little post regarding something that’s left me quite surprised (in a good way). I’ve always been a bookworm and stemming from that I absolutely adore a good music book. You can really gain such a deeper level of appreciation of an artist thanks to a well written book. There’s plenty I have on my want-list and there’s three upcoming books that I simply can’t wait for – two of which I only discovered were coming out yesterday! Stranger still, they concern the same musicians and are coming out in relatively close proximity. I do wonder just what that’s about.

index 3Anyway, the first release is the most publicized one of the three and I was already aware of it. Joy Division and New Order’s Bernard Sumner is releasing his memoirs entitled Chapter and Verse – New Order, Joy Division and Me. We’ve obviously had Peter Hook recounting at least part of the story with his fascinating Joy Division memoirs and comparing the two accounts will be very interesting. Bernard never has come across as particularly open in interviews to me and I’m sure there’s going to be many interesting stories in his memoirs. The New Order section in particular should prove especially intriguing. I’m particularly looking forward to learning more about working with Johnny Marr as Electronic too. It’ll be a must read for Joy Division/New Order fans.

The second one is something that a friend of mine stumbled upon yesterday whilst index 2pricing Bernard’s autobiography online. I’m a big fan of the Manchester music scene in general and Kevin Cummins has taken some absolutely magnificent pictures that capture the development of that scene like no other. In 2010 he published an absolutely beautiful book on Joy Division which features many of the most iconic pictures taken of the band. He continued that relationship as Joy Division developed into New Order and he photographed them right up until their initial 1993 split. Quite simply, he has a wealth of pictures at his disposal. More than enough to create a lovely sequel to his Joy Division book and on March 31st 2015, that’s exactly what’s going to be published. Just in time for my 21st birthday….

indexLastly is the book that I’m most surprised about. Again, I only found it by chance online. On October 16th of this year So This is Permanence: Lyrics and Notebooks will be released. It’s the writings/lyrics of Ian Curtis, complete with a foreword by his widow Deborah. Some previously unpublished and incomplete lyrics featured in Deborah’s memoir. I’m surprised there’s anything at all new left to publish really. From what I can gather this will be a complete compendium of lyrics, both released and unreleased. I do wonder if there’s any other sort of writings in those notebooks too? They’ll be presented in a facsimile style, much like how Kurt Cobain’s notebooks were done for Journals. Of course, this will ignite debates about the ethics of publishing material that is fair to say was private and never intended for public eyes. Ultimately I think it boils down to the individual fan to make their choice. The life and death of Ian Curtis is a compelling subject and I’ll definitely be wanting a copy – and I also fully respect the choice of those who don’t feel it’s an appropriate purchase. That’s my two cents.

So, that’s my thoughts and musings about these upcoming books. I just hope that there’s going to be a good New Order documentary at some point as well. Mind you, I don’t think it’s all that likely given the relationship between Peter Hook and the current lineup. Whatever happens on that front, I’m most excited that we’ll gain more insight into this compelling tale with these three books!

Synth Britannia

This is something I watched (finally) for the first time yesterday and would you believe it, BBC4 are showing it again tonight! It’s a documentary originally from 2009 charting the rise of synth-pop up until 1985 roughly. If you’re into the likes of Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, The Human League etc then this is an essential watch. It does spend more time charting the origins and the rise of synth-pop which was interesting and it made for something a bit different. It’s actually given me an incentive to seek out more music by Silicon Teens and Cabaret Voltaire which is always the sign of a good documentary.

The only real downside I can think of is that the documentary doesn’t even mention Brian Eno and his pioneering solo work which I thought was a big oversight. Surely he was one of the pioneers of synthisizers along with Kraftwerk (who do feature). Apart from that the documentary was very interesting and didn’t fall into that trap of sounding like it’s a 101 guide to 80s synthpop. As much as I love Pet Shop Boys, I don’t need to hear various commentators and musicians tell me how great ‘West End Girls’ is. In fact, they only get mentioned in the last 10 minutes or so. Although speaking of the commentators, they had basically everyone you really need: Vince Clarke, Bernard Sumner, Phil Oakey, Pet Shop Boys, OMD… you get the idea. It was a great watch and definitely worth recording tonight if you’re into that sort of thing!

Rediscovering Roxy Music

Every so often I get days were I just spent the entire time exploring music I haven’t heard before. Today is definitely one of these days, and it’s paying off dividends. I decided to listen to More Than This: The Best Of Bryan Ferry + Roxy Music and I am so surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it! I had tried to get into Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry a few months ago (after  loving a few of their singles) by trying out Avalon. I found it forgettable and at that pointed decided they were not for me. I think I may have given up on them too quickly – More Than This has really impressed me. I’ll definitely be going back to listen to those Roxy Music albums now (and probably some early Ferry solo material).

It’s even made me discover a song I’ve loved for a year or so without knowing who it was. ‘Let’s Stick Together’ was featured on a TV advert here and yet even with that unmistakable voice I never realized it was by Bryan Ferry. It sounded more like a 60s song to me, so I assumed it was from that period. Well, I wasn’t too far off the mark there to be fair as it does date from 1962 in its original version. Wilbert Harrison recorded it originally, whilst Bryan Ferry recorded his version for his 1976 third solo album, also called Let’s Stick Together. Bryan Ferry’s version proved very successful, reaching #4 in the UK Chart. It’s a song that’s just impossible to dislike really, it’s just got this irresistible pound to it. A great cover version that still stands up today!