Graham Reid | | 1 min read
So here is 40th anniversary edition of the Buzzcocks' famous 1977 four-song Spiral Scratch EP -- "one of punk's most important releases" said Uncut magazine recently.
And it is coupled with a furious 11-song live-in-the studio set from that brief moment when Howard Devoto (the prick!) was in the band alongside Pete Shelley (he left with a month after Scratch was released and founded longtime Elsewhere favourites Magazine).
Spiral Scratch was the perfect punk emblem of the late Seventies DIY ethic: Recorded dirt cheap by Martin Hannett (who would soon craft Joy Division), it used money borrowed, was done with manic urgency and proved the provincial cities for the first time since the Beatles broke out of Liverpool (the Buzzcocks were out of Manchester not London) had something to unique say . . . even if the noise might be primitive, it could also be sharp and clever. (Check out Devotos' whiny Boredom and it's hilariously annoying two note break.)
Time's Up! was recorded just as cheaply and was quickly bootlegged, so was given an official release. On it you can hear Devoto singing Orgasm Addict and a few other songs which the Buzzcocks would re-record after his departure.
It is an excitingly raw and sometime bit rough collection and you do wonder what might have been if he'd stayed . . . but we got Magazine and the Buzzcocks' more streamlined version of some of these songs became classic underground pop hits . . . in the absence of radio play.
You can stream these songs, but the package of vinyl with memorabilia seems the way to go.
Edgy punk before it became formulaic.
And with this reissue, nostalgia for a generation which back then was denying such sentimental nonsense.