Record Play Pause: Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist: The Joy Division Years by Stephen Morris (Hachette Australia)

morris bookHe's the drummer chap in Joy Division and now New Order. Morris has written about how he got there, but with a rather rueful (and lucky for us, gently comic) look back at what a twat he once was. Cleverly written, sensibly contrite and a bit ashamed of himself, this is corking stuff. Even if you weren't interested in his music, in fact.

However, we're also in modern myth territory. That means the tragic suicide of frontman Ian Curtis; a death which seemed to grip the nation's rather maudlin youth and media of the day to such an extent that death of The Ruts' frontman, Malcolm Owen a couple of months later, was completely eclipsed; surely both were equally as tragic. 

But no, the Joy Division wave, which was only just rearing up, hit the UK quite hard. 

A friend of mine commented recently that he just does not understand the JD appeal, there was nothing astonishing about either the guitar or beats. He's right, too. Perhaps it was one of those right band right time things, a bit like Nirvana a decade or so later. Personally, I really enjoyed them at the time, and do now even more so. There was something off-kilter about them, several things happening at once. Something dismally English, yet European and bohemian. A touch, in fact, of Krautrock (which is partly explained here).

While Joy Division are now seriously revered, Morris' story reveals that they were essentially a bunch of northern blokes. Can't have been easy for Morris, coping with the later fame and idiot adulation of your now-deceased singer who had been alternately moody, interesting, a root-rat and a bit of a knob - so I'm looking forward to the sequel. And Morris' stories of Warsaw/ Joy Division's frequent ham-fistedness are quite eye-opening (as well as causing people on the same bus as you to glare haughtily) as you cackle like a loon. In fact, it gives me great pleasure to report that, like most young blokes (this writer included) Joy Division were frequently somewhat knobbish.

Doesn't matter. The records - in my opinion anyway - are still ace. Reading here how the songs came about, how the band struggled with the tedious everyday, the dullness of their home town (Macclesfield) with its tendency to completely close at inconvenient times, and the endless sagas involving cough mixture, shit cars and too much lager is rather wonderful. Realistically truthful, sometimes cringingly so.

Even if you don't like Joy Division and think New Order has something to do with George W. Bush or Ron Asheton, you'll have great fun reading this.

three mcgarrett

Tags: postpunk, new order, joy division , hachette , stephen morris, record play pause

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