NONFICTION
This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division; The Oral History
Faber & Faber. May 2019. 272p. photos. ISBN 9780571345373. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780571345380. MUSIC
COPY ISBN
Joy Division, a post-punk band in Manchester, England, in the late 1970s, achieved cult status in the UK and Europe and was about to embark on a U.S. tour when lead singer Ian Curtis died by suicide in May 1980. Savage's (England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock) riveting oral history draws heavily on candid interviews with the surviving band members—Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris—along with Curtis's wife, the group's manager, and journalists and friends. The result is a revealing portrait of four young musicians and the dynamic music scene in Manchester. Curtis and the others were influenced greatly by the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, and the Velvet Underground, as well as the writings of William S. Burroughs and J.G. Ballard. Joy Division's music was described as dark, despairing, and menacing, yet their concerts were mesmerizing and usually garnered rave reviews, and Curtis was a charismatic performer. In the late 1970s, he began having epileptic seizures, sometimes on stage, and his mental health declined. The final chapter offers a powerful account of his last days and the shock of his death.
VERDICT Joy Division recorded only two albums but deserve to be better known. This title will appeal to anyone interested in punk, post-punk, and 1970s rock music.

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