Archive for October, 2011

Still Going Steady With Buzzcocks.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2011 by pulmyears

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)”



Posted in Uncategorized on October 6, 2011 by pulmyears

Wanna know how a little technology can make a difference?

In 2006, Liza and I moved back to the Bay Area after living in Vancouver for five years so she could accept an offer to work at publishing company she’d always wanted to work for. We’d settled on Berkeley, which meant that Liza would be commuting by BART into her new job, downtown in San Francisco.

It was July.

The previous Christmas, I had received an iPod as a gift from a family member. It was my first iPod to feature the colour screen and album graphic display. It seemed so sleek and futuristic and it made my first generation iPod look like a kitchen white toaster. Liza also admired it but was always less apt to desire tech toys than I am. She said she’d like to think about getting one for her new commute, which was only about 30-45  minutes but still the longest she’d had in a long time.

The night before her first day at the job, I made a decision.

After Liza had picked out her clothes for her first day, she went to sleep. I went to work. I cleared off all of my music from the new iPod. I meticulously went through my iTunes files and looked for songs that I was sure she loved. I even uploaded Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell in it’s entirety, and all of B-52’s Cosmic Thing, along with some Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Everything But The Girl and some Nick Drake. In the morning it was all ready.

I gave it to Liza as her “first day” gift. She put in her ear buds and went off into the unknown.

When she got to work, she called me. She said that “Love Shack” had been playing in her ear buds as she ascended the steps from the BART at Montgomery Station.

She was so happy she could cry. She had had a familiar sound in her head as she walked into a bold new chapter in her life.

I think we both teared up a little. Her. Me. And the re-gifted iPod.

So, Thank You Steve Jobs. I’ll bet you heard stories like this all the time, but I never got to tell you that one.

Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

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