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!


Electronic – Disappointed

Boy, have I rediscovered my love for this song over the past few days. About two years ago this was pretty much my all time favourite song. I played it to death, then played it some more. It’s so gorgeous that I’m always a bit gutted (disappointed?) that Neil Tennant wrote this song for Electronic didn’t keep it for Pet Shop Boys instead. It’s the Pet Shop Boys classic that never was.

There’s so many reasons I love this song. Firstly Neil’s vocals –  are utterly beautiful here (and the harmonies are stunning). Then, there’s the lyrics. They have a certain degree of optimism for once – happy love songs aren’t something Neil Tennant has written a lot of. It makes for refreshing listening. The song has a beautiful arrangement too, with plenty of synth strings, house pianos and brilliant guitar playing from Johnny Marr. The whole song just sounds so damn euphoric. Disappointed  became Electronic’s highest charting single on the UK charts, although it doesn’t seem to be remembered nearly as much as Getting Away With It. In fact, Disappointed isn’t even on any of Electronic’s three studio albums. It was featured in the film Cool World and as such could be found on the film’s soundtrack, but not any any Electronic release until 2006’s Get The Message – The Best of Electronic. I think the song is highly underrated. In my opinion – it’s one of the best songs of either Bernard Sumner’s, Johnny Marr’s or Neil Tennant’s careers.

Reviewed: Cut Copy – Free Your Mind

Released just last week, Free Your Mind is the fourth album from Australian synth-pop group Cut Copy. It’s an album so summery and just downright danceable in sound that it’s hard to believe that it’s been released in early November. If it were released just a few months prior it could have been the soundtrack to summer 2013.

From the Intro to Mantra, Free Your Mind plays as one long love letter to the Second Summer of Love. If the Hacienda existed in 2013 it’d probably be playing the whole of Free Your Mind on loop. The fact that Dan Whitford’s vocals sound like Bernard Sumner crossed with Bobby Gillespie just adds to it. Every track on Free Your Mind invokes New Order, 808 State and so forth. From that perspective it’s hard to single tracks out as highlights. It’s a very consistent record. Meet Me In The House Of Love contains a blistering chorus that cements its status as one of the most downright euphoric dance records all year though. Then you have Footsteps, which contains a pounding bass-line that is more acid house than piano house. It’s so 808 State esque and it almost certainly samples Pacific State (for a second). The balance is the blissed out, slightly psychedelic Walking In The Sky – which is the perfect comedown after the sheer euphoria of the preceding twelve tracks.

Free Your Mind is surely one of 2013’s most cohesive records – it’s utterly liberating to listen to. Much of it sounds like some sort of  warehouse wave dreamscape. In that sense, the overall atmosphere of Free Your Mind is akin to Screamadelica – whilst listening to it, you feel like you’re in another world. Irresistible dance hooks are in abundance here. Does it bring anything new to the table? No – it’s too much of a sonic homage for that. Although frankly it’s so easy to get lost in the music on Free Your Mind that really, that doesn’t matter. And for that reason Cut Copy have released one of the best albums of 2013.