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This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

Joy Division: The Oral History
Narrated by: Liam Gerrard
Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Summary

An exciting new book on Joy Division, featuring never before told stories.  

Jon Savage's oral history of Joy Division is the last word on the band that ended with the suicide of Ian Curtis in Macclesfield on May 18, 1980. It weaves together interviews conducted by the author, but never used in the making of the film Joy Division, which told the story of the band in their own words, as well as those of their peers, collaborators, and contemporaries.  

Here are 15, or so, vivid witnesses to the band's genesis, meteoric rise, and tragic demise, including Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Annike Honore, Deborah Curtis, Paul Morley, Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton, Martin Hannet.... It is the story of young men driven to create and cause rock 'n' roll havoc inspired by literature, radical ideas, and the wasteland that was post-industrial Manchester in the late '70s. It is as intense and funny and alive as only an oral history can be, recalling masterpieces like "Edie" by Jean Stein and "Meet Me in the Bathroom" by Lizzy Goodman. It is essential listening.

©2019 Jon Savage (P)2019 Tantor

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A better read than a listen ?

Being a fan I have read, heard and watched many diferent versions of the story of Joy Division. I thought this was a good way to tell the story with contribution from people involved, from the band members to others on the sidelines

But for me what lets this audio book down is the narrator, he has a jarring sounding voice, and obviously has no knowledge of the subject, as he continually mis-pronouces bands, places and peoples names which I found most irritating.

As my title suggests would have been good book to read but not so good to listen to.

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A well written timeline of a superb band

Jon has offered a great insight of JD from their inception to Ian's death. I would highly recommend this diary of JD. My first encounter with JD was of course via John Peel, then live it was at the Prince of Wales YMCA London (I still have the flyer and the ticket), I have never seen anything so powerful and still haven't. From this point with my fellow JD fan Rhys we travel the length and breadth of the UK going to see them, if we couldn't get in we would ask the band, Barney was accommodating but Hooky usually told us to F**ck off, if they didn't help somehow we just bunked in - there was always a way. I kept reading this book and thinking...I remember that etc..For me it will always be Dead Souls, the first time I heard it I was blown away - I still am. Thanks Jon for this piece of work.

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Perpetuates the myth

Despite its limited strengths, what we had here was yet another biography of Joy Division masquerading as something else, that being a litany of witness statements which have to be taken as the truth and with which we cannot argue. Particularly irritating at the outset was that myth of Manchester providing a depressed postwar industrial context for the band which is particularly skewed as it ignores a broader landscape reality of the city which takes in glorious Victorian architecture, middle class suburbs, green areas and parks and the close proximity of the beautiful Peak District. But to include such details would negate the Joy Division songbook beloved of the devoted few which relies on that myth as much as does the equally depressing soap, Coronation Street, for another demographic. Both appeal however to an image of the North which some desire but that is only part of the bigger picture. Joy Division is a sacred cow that has to be revered for its place of residence in the high church of the lie that is the grey and depressing Manchester of the seventies. To further support this we had a narrator whose voice was a caricature of the stereotypical Manc which is, jarring on the nerves after a short period of time. Overall, this book presents nothing that we did not know before and does little to question the limited strengths of Joy Division, a band that exists in a distorted northern urban landscape that never really existed for those of us who allowed our geographical reach at the time to extend slightly further than all that faux greyness.