THE BARGAIN BUY: The Buzzcocks; Original Album Series

 |   |  2 min read

The Buzzcocks: Without You (from All Set)
THE BARGAIN BUY: The Buzzcocks; Original Album Series

Although the Buzzcocks came through when punk kicked the doors down in the late Seventies, they were -- despite singer/writer Pete Shelley being inspired by seeing the Sex Pistols -- less of a punk band than a high-wired pop-rock band who carved out great slices of short, sharp songs with a real pop sensibility.

That's perhaps why, when they still hit the touring circuit these days, they don't seem as silly as their peers like Slaughter and the Dogs who are also out there trying to relive glory days.

The Buzzcocks delivered then (and can still do so now) land-speed record sub-three minute songs like Fast Cars, No Reply, Orgasm Addict, Ever Fallen in Love With Someone You Shouldn't've?, What Do I Get?, the stop-start Noise Annoys and other such durable songs.

The evidence of their energy is here on the live album Entertaining Friends (recorded in March '79, but not released until '92). It is the centrepiece of the five albums in this set which collects their first three albums from the Seventies (Another Music in a Different Kitchen, Love Bites and A Different Kind of Tension) and tacks on their first reunion album All Set ('96).

Although the Buzzcocks had a reputation for those furiously focused singles they also stretched out on post-punk pieces like Moving Away From the Pulsebeat (on Another Music) which went out to seven minutes over a relelentless rhythm (like Bo Diddley's patented sound as reimagined by a British guitar band). It reflected Shelley's interest in Krautrock but never took its eye off the tension they could conjure up.

It was a different kind of tension . . .  and as guitarists in an era renown for being anti-guitar heroics, neither Shelley nor Steve Diggle shied away from soloing.

But pop was at their heart and in a funny review of Love Bites at the time, the astute British rock critic Simon Frith (noting the album was a contrary and admirable step backwards) likened them to the Hollies who he said also sounded sincere on the songs written for them by Graham Gouldman "because they were dumb enough to believe everything they read in front of them".

He argued that Shelley -- singing in that whiny 4th form punk voice -- was faking sincerity very cleverly and that they could get away with it because of "the sharp power of the Buzzcock's rhythm section".

Yes, the Buzzcocks were bratty but also snappy.

And despite their lengthy absence, that reunion album All Set from the Nineties showed they didn't intend to change from a successful formula, except craft it into some more akin to power pop.

JB_logoThe Buzzcocks were one of the more enjoyable, tight and important pop bands out of Britain in their period (and singing about love very often) and these albums are the evidence.

And at just $20 for this five CD collection at JB Hi-Fi stores here that makes this our recommended Bargain Buy for this week.

Play them loud. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   The Bargain Buy articles index

THE BARGAIN BUY: Cheap Trick, The Box Set Series

THE BARGAIN BUY: Cheap Trick, The Box Set Series

Elsewhere is on record as saying one of the most memorable and exciting rock concerts in our opinion was Cheap Trick at the Auckland Town Hall in '79 when they were at the top of their fame.... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Joy Division; Unknown Pleasures

THE BARGAIN BUY: Joy Division; Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division's debut album, for the sound of Martin Hannett's production alone, changed the way people thought about music in the post-punk era. Here was glacially smooth and dark music with... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Natacha Atlas: The Best of Natacha Atlas (Mantra)

Natacha Atlas: The Best of Natacha Atlas (Mantra)

Atlas -- born in Belgium but with family links to Egyptian, Palestinian and Moroccan cultures -- is one the most thrilling contemporary voices of the Middle East crescent. She came to attention in... > Read more

Billy TK Jnr: Presenting Billy TK Jnr (Ode)

Billy TK Jnr: Presenting Billy TK Jnr (Ode)

It's odd that this album should be called "Presenting" given that Auckland-based guitarist Billy TK Jnr has been taking his brand of tough Texas blues around the bars and clubs of New... > Read more