We were driving today in San Francisco with CD of a BBC 6music radio documentary playing in the car. The CD was burned for us by our friend Daniel Swan, who has been kind enough to send me several of these. He is like Netflix to me, so to speak. I thank him now and often.
Today we put in a BBC documentary about Buzzcocks. Not THE Buzzcocks, FYI, as they point out in the program,. just Buzzcocks, “because The would make it sound old like The Kinks, obviously!” Apparently, the name of the popular British TV quiz show, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, really annoys them.
Anyway, the reason I am writing this little entry here is that I want to confess that sometimes, when I think back to my golden punk and post-punk memories, I find myself forgetting to place Buzzcocks on the high mantle they so richly deserve.
This is criminal, and should not stand. As the documentary reminded me, the band had a string of catchy, original pop hits that were every bit as punk rock as the Sex Pistols, and they put Manchester on the punk map in a way that caught the ear of Tony Wilson and directly influenced everybody in the textile city from Joy Division / New Order to The Smiths and Happy Mondays. Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle (and early singer Howard DeVoto) did it the old-fashioned punk way, because they couldn’t do it any other way. They used the limited tools at their disposal and cranked out songs that spoke to their bleak Northern existence.
Out of chaos and teenage angst they created beauty and joy. That’s worth something to me. Listening to a bunch of their songs in a row, I realized I knew every lyric, every riff and could tell you where I was when I first heard them.
So remember Buzzcocks. They reformed over a decade ago and are still going, making new stuff and playing the old faves.
If you’re curious about that early run of amazing singles, need I remind you to download or buy a hard copy of the 1979 compilation Singles Going Steady, surely one of the most important “hits” collection you’ll ever hear.
Here are just a few songs to prove the case for Buzzcocks, listen and learn and fall in love (all over again) with something you SHOULD.
“Boredom” (from Spiral Scratch e.p. 1977, with Howard DeVoto singing lead, note the “2 note” guitar solo).
“Orgasm Addict” (1977)
“What Do I Get?” (1978)
“I Don’t Mind” (1978) (Video from Top Of The Pops!) (Pete Shelley was so cute!)
“Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?” (1978) (TOTP again!)
“Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” (1979) (Maybe my favourite, but I love them all).
“Harmony In My Head” (1979) (A rare Steve Diggle lead vocal)
“Something’s Gone Wrong Again”
“I Believe” (1980)
“Promises (Live, Peel Session 1978)”