Bernard Sumner: Chapter and Verse (Thomas Dunne) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Bernard Sumner

Chapter and Verse

Published by Thomas Dunne

Nov 03, 2015 Bernard Sumner Bookmark and Share

One year after Peter Hook’s memoir about his time in Joy Division, Bernard Sumner gives his perspective in Chapter and Verse. The book was published in the U.K. last year, and Sumner adds only a postscript for the U.S. edition. More than a memoir, Chapter and Verse traces Sumner’s life from childhood to (almost) the present day. Though the narrative is slow to start, he goes deep into his upbringing with his handicapped mother, absent father, grandparents with whom he lived, where he was raised, how his creativity was crushed both in school and at his first job, and how this pushed him to pursue music.

What Sumner seems to have spent a lot of his time doing is being in dance clubsin New York, London, and of course, Manchester at the famed Hacienda, where he was co-owner. He makes connections between these experiences and New Order’s move toward more electronically generated sounds. He calls out his manager and the owner of Factory Records for using Joy Division’s and New Order’s earnings to keep the sinking club afloat long past its expiration date.

Sumner doesn’t hide his indulgences, and he is made all the more likeable for them. One of the best side-splitting accounts in Chapter and Verse is the story of partying all night in New York with Johnny Marr and Seal, and how he couldn’t face a radio station interview the next morning. Marr went without him and covered for him while he sat in a cab outside the station. Or better yet, how he carried a bag of vomit through airport security because he felt it would look suspicious to dump right before going through the screening.

Much like Hook’s book, the coming together of Joy Divisiona group seminal to the landscape of musicis explained, but so casually that the impact of the foursome on the world is hard to be believed. What Sumner does not do, thankfully, is use his pages to bash Hook, something that got very tedious in the latter’s tome. Sumner does address when things started to get weird with his former bass player, but only in a few pages of one chapter, and mercifully leaves it at that.(

Author rating: 8/10

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