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Peter Hook’s Substance: Inside New Order

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752 pages never went by so quickly.

Peter Hook’s Substance: Inside New Order (Dey St.) takes readers on a rollicking jaunt through the career of New Order, the Manchester band that the remaining members of Joy Division founded. Hooky, Joy Division’s and New Order’s bassist and co-songwriter, tells his tale of New Order from a firsthand perspective.

And this perspective, which should come as no surprise for readers of the masterful Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, develops from Hooky’s hilarious, self-deprecating, and demystifying voice as a writer.

 Whether describing the band’s laugh-out-loud adventures in a restaurant at “a beautiful, seaside resort” in China or the technical ins and outs of New Order’s albums, concerts, and equipment, Hooky satisfies even the most learned New Order fans.

But the book’s greatest achievement is that for all of its physical bulk, it’s a light-hearted, funny, page-turner of a story – one that’s sometimes X-rated. Substance conjures the antics and spirit of a Monty Python sketch. In other words, the book is chock-full of absurd scenes narrated with saucy wit. For example, coked-up band personnel cowering in the corner of Hooky’s flooded hotel room while plumbers rip down walls in search of the stopgap; New Order’s “battle” with Echo & The Bunnymen over who would take the stage first or second on a co-headlining tour; and New Order’s pre-recorded appearance with David Hasselhoff of Baywatch on an episode of Top of the Pops, in which the band performed “Regret” on a beach.

Substance isn’t all fun, however. An underlying tinge of sadness accompanies all the funny stories because the book chronicles the disintegration of New Order and how its two key members – Hooky and singer, guitarist, and keyboardist, Bernard Sumner (who takes a lot of good-humored shots throughout the book) – go from being the best friends who started Joy Division to arch enemies who are now fronting two separate bands: Peter Hook & The Light and “New Order.”

With Substance, Peter Hook continues to establish himself as one of rock’s best memoirists. His writing is so vivid, personal, and entertaining that one wonders how he had the time to learn his craft while writing and playing bass on some of the most iconic records ever made.