As a rule, books about musicians are best written by people who aren’t in the band, but in the case of Joy Division and New Order, this has proved to be untrue not once, but twice.
Following (and in many ways reacting to) ex-New Order bassist Peter Hook’s splenetically entertaining autobiography Unknown Pleasures, Bernard Sumner’s version of his life before and after Joy Division is one of the best books ever written by a lead singer.
Capturing Sumner’s mixture of dry Northern wit and dreamy strangeness (his hypnotic regression of Ian Curtis is included here in its entirety), Chapter And Verse is funny and considered, well-remembered and told by a musician whose prose is almost as good as his songs. Everything, from Sumner’s horrific childhood to Hook’s increasing bitterness (the book is worth buying just for the bizarre amp graffiti story) is here, with self-awareness and a typically unblinking glare.
Lacking the rancour of Hook’s Unknown Pleasures, Chapter And Verse is arguably the best book about New Order – at least, until Steven Morris or Gillian Morris write The Other Two’s version of events.