Joy Division: Piece by Piece

Joy Division: Piece by Piece

by Paul Morley

Joy Division: Piece By Piece encompasses his complete writings on the group, both contemporary and retrospective.

Morley, who emerged from Manchester at the same time as Joy Division, effortly evokes that citys zeitgeist and psycho-geography to tell the story of this uniquely intense group.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Music
  • Rating: 3.80
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: January 28th 2008 by Plexus Publishing
  • Isbn10: 0859654044
  • Isbn13: 9780859654043

What People Think about "Joy Division: Piece by Piece"

Joy Division, for me, is one of those things - 'ground zero' in my comprehension of rock music and the most life-changing band ever, comparable to Kubrick's Clockwork Orange or Borges' Labyrinths as an artistic epiphany. Mum to Dad as the tension mounted: 'I can't believe you like this.' Dad to Reed (who perhaps was not as hypnotised as I was) re Curtis: 'Look at him. I only bought it for the lyrics (back then I didn't have the internet), and read the main body of the text grudgingly, curious despite myself but incensed that the first major book on my favourite band should contain so little information on the music. Worse still, mention Joy Division these days (since Touching..., since Control) and you're as likely to get the response 'Ian Curtis was a bastard!' as any kind of meaningful comment on the music. Me, I could give two shits what Curtis did in his spare time, which is why when it comes to recommending a book on his band I'm gonna have to make it this one, despite its faults. And another fact almost (but only almost) absolves him, and all the key players, of such congenital wankery: in the late 70s Manchester really was the site of some sort of minor miracle, which allowed four boys from the provincial grey suburbs to create a sound that not only epitomised urban European sophistication but seemed to have come from Mars. No exaggeration, the story of Joy Division is or should be one of the most moving in rock music. The documentary simply entitled Joy Division which came out soon after Control will help a little more.

Morley's writing is the opposite: he says so little with so much and deliberately attempts to speak over people's heads in a way that - I have to think - is done in an insecure attempt to prove his own intellectual superiority.

As the proto-punk Warsaw morphed into the post-punk Joy Division, as lead singer Ian Curtis found his true voice, as Hooky's bass shook the very foundations of Manchester, Morley was there to write about it. It took him almost 30 years to write the definitive book on Joy Division, the book that Tony Wilson always thought he would/could write. Piece by Piece is that book and what it reveals is the complex relationship that Morley had not only with Joy Division but also with death. Morley took 30 years to work out what he had to say and how he had to say it and why he had to say it and in what way he had to say it. Slowly, over many years, as Joy Division were repackaged and resold and the story was spun by others into Myth, Morley wrote about them again and again and each time more pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Eventually he would write a book called Nothing that dealt with his father's suicide (even if it opens with him being shown, by Wilson, the dead body of Ian Curtis).

Paul Morley writes about Joy Division... Because Morley's writings on Joy Division over thirty years become something other than a collection of reviews and recollections when placed one after the other and stitched together with backwards glances, they become a rosary of sorts.

And it's obviously interesting to read what Morley, as the Manchester Punk correspondent for the NME, wrote about Joy Division as they developed from just another new local band into something truly special, but as a bonus Morley also looks back at them and reflects in typically Morley marmite style. The NME obituary (co-written by Adrian Thrills) isn't the classic piece we would probably expect if we hadn't already read Morley's introduction to it.

Morley's writing is the opposite: he says so little with so much and deliberately attempts to speak over people's heads in a way that - I have to think - is done in an insecure attempt to prove his own intellectual superiority.