New Order master tapes being 'held for ransom', claims Peter Hook

Possible court battle looms as former New Order bassist fails to reach agreement with rescuer of rare recordings

Former New Order bassist Peter Hook claims that a collection of the band's master tapes are being held "for ransom" by a former assistant of the late producer Martin Hannett. Julia Adamson has allegedly rejected a proposed "finder's fee" from New Order, including a percentage of profits from related record releases, as she attempts to find a home for dozens of recordings she saved from the skip.

In August, Adamson revealed that she had "rescued" a cache of tapes from Hannett's Strawberry Studios, including reels by Joy Division, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, and Magazine. "I have looked after these tapes for a long time," she wrote. "They are very old and probably deteriorating and should be baked or whatever, nor do I really want to look after them any more … Anyone interested?"

Adamson claims Hook has been hostile to her approaches from the outset. But after the announcement of the sale, Hook indicated – at least in the press – that he was "full of hope" they could work out an arrangement.

It seems this optimism was misplaced. "These things turn up, and people sometimes think they've found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," Hook recently told the Hollywood Reporter. "[They think,] 'This is gonna make me a millionaire!'"

Hook was apparently appointed by New Order's lawyer to negotiate with Adamson on behalf of several of the affected bands, offering her "a substantial reward" for the collection of tapes. "You're our mate forever," Hook claimed to have said to Adamson. "Here's a finder's fee, a thank you, and we'll give you a credit on the record. We'll even give you a [percentage] point on the record, because we wouldn't have been able to do it without you."

The surviving members of Joy Division allegedly want to use the recordings for a "definitive" band compilation, after which the original tapes would be donated to Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry.

However, the proffered sum "wasn't enough", said Hook, and Adamson is now on the verge of a court battle with Warner Music, the groups' parent label. "Warner have gone, 'Right, you had your chance'," he explained. "Record companies can't afford to lay out the money for these pots of gold because they cannot make the money back."

Hook predicts that the resulting legal wrangle could go on for years. "The only thing we will hope for is that Rapunzel will let down her hair, and I will climb up and rescue the tapes," he said. "Can you imagine me and [New Order frontman Bernard Sumner] on your white chargers, charging down together?"

Although Hook, 57, is allegedly representing New Order in this affair, his relations with the reunited group remain frigid. His war of words with Sumner even extends into the world of publishing, where both are working on new memoirs. "I'm going to bring mine out on the same day as his [in] October 2014," Hook said. "It'll be like Blur and Oasis all over again."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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