Joy Division and the making of Unknown Pleasures — Jake Kennedy

I picked up this book in the bargain bin of a HMV in Manchester in 2006, when I was on a — sort of — pilgrimage. But I left it on my bookshelf for 12 years, thinking I probably knew most of it already. But books are meant to be read, so I had to get to it eventually.

Joy Division and the making of Unknown Pleasures — Jake Kennedy (2006) — 214 pages

I think I understand why this book was already in the bargain bin the same year it was released. Not that is a terrible book, but it is just a really hard sell. In depth reviews of every Warsaw/Joy Division song, demo or recording session are something only hard hardcore fans have a thirst for. But if you do, you will find a chronological and remarkable tale of four guys who went from sloppy generic punk music to producing a timeless, unique and legendary album within two short years. With each page turn, they improve and get closer to reaching that point. Which was a natural conclusion of everything prior, and didn’t drop out of the sky. But even so, the progression and quality of a debut album is still unmatched (maybe only by that other band).

The book falls somewhere between a biography and an encyclopedia. In other words, just my cup of tea! I certainly picked up a few new things. Mick Middles gets quoted often, he is another authority on Joy Division because of his book. I also own his book, and I definitely need to read it now!


Originally published at Jan van den Berg.