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Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me Hardcover – November 3, 2015
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"Sumner's tell-all is the one we've been waiting for." ―Esquire
“No one is better positioned to tell this story than Sumner, the guitarist who shifted sideways into Curtis' role as singer and who became the primary motivator in the shift into the electronic dance music that has made New Order a popular mainstay. ... Given the author's previous reticence, fans of both bands will find this memoir revelatory.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A must for Joy Division and New Order fans.” ―Irvine Welsh
"[Chapter and Verse] has the mild-mannered charms of Sumner’s vocals." ―Rob Sheffield, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Bernard Sumner was a founding member of Joy Division and, after the death of Ian Curtis in 1980, became lead singer and guitarist of New Order.
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My two criticisms were that, while he has been in a longtime disagreement with Peter Hook, Bernard sometimes comes across as a little childish in his constant justification of himself as being completely blameless in the argument (though in fairness, Hooky's book pretty much does the same in reverse). It takes two to have an argument, and I found this quite jarring.
I also thought he was a little condescending about Gillian. I paraphrase "she had come on in leaps and bounds". I always thought she added a lot of 'warmness' to New Order records (witness the recent 'Music Complete'), and it just felt dismissive as if she isn't that important. I'd disagree.
However, these are fairly minor criticisms and all in all, if you are a fan of Joy Division, New Order, or even that period of English music, this is well worth a read.
Overall I enjoyed it and learned a lot about New Order, Joy Division, and Mr. Sumner.
What is unforgivable, and what makes this book such a wasted opportunity, is that he misses out so much important material. Incredibly, "Power, Corruption and Lies", "Low-Life" and "Brotherhood" are *not mentioned at all*. Arguably, these three albums defined New Order and are their finest work -- but he doesn't talk about them in any way. So, we'll never know the circumstances of their inception, the recording process or what they learned from them. I'm somewhat surprised that someone, an editor or anyone didn't say "Ah, Bernard -- you forgot to mention the albums." We cover Blue Monday a bit ... and then he's talking about Technique.
Also missing, Sumner doesn't talk about how he developed his craft as a singer, or anything around his personal growth. We don't care about the Elvis costume, or that time you watched football. He just doesn't seem very self-aware.
I'd say this book is for completists, which is strange thing to say considering that Sumner was the frontman of New Order.