Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Different Kinds of Tensions...Show # 147

Buzzcocks originally formed in 1975 hailing from Manchester, England. Howard Devoto (real name Howard Traford) was on vocals, Pete Shelley (real name Peter McNeish) on Guitar, Steve Diggle on bass, and John Maher on drums. Shelley and Devoto (who were friends from school) decided to form a band after seeing the Sex Pistols perform live in Manchester in 1976. The band would get their name Buzzcocks from a TV show Rock Follies, which used the line "That's buzz, cocks" based on British slang. After getting their initial band line up, the band opened for Sex Pistols in Manchester in 1976. Touring briefly the band would record and release the four track EP, Spiral Scratch. The EP would contain four tracks "Breakdown", "Time's Up", "Boredom", and "Friends of Mine". The EP would be raw and loud backed by a band inspired by punk, sung by the odd yet intellectual lyrics of Howard Devoto. The EP was also independently released on the bands own label, New Hormones. Buzzcocks were the first punk band to have their own independently released album, it proved that you could do it yourself, supporting the DIY ethic of the emerging punk scene. A bootleg of these sessions containing fourteen tracks of the band playing with Devoto is also available, it is titled Time's Up. This would not last, Devoto wanting to return to school would leave the group only months after Spiral Scratch was released; In 1978 he would form the new wave group Magazine. The band would not split up after this despite losing their singer. Pete Shelley would take over as vocalist and guitarist, Steve Diggle would move from bass to guitar, and Steve Garvey would eventually be brought in as the bass player; Bassist Garth Smith would play for the band for a short time before being replaced by Garvey.

The band would then get a record deal with United Artists Records. The band would be a singles band the first being the song "Orgasm Addict" in 1977. The single was too controversial (lyrically) for radio. Garth Smith would be replaced with Steve Garvey after this single. The next and second single "What Do I Get?" cracked the top 40 charts. The band now fronted by Shelley was more pop oriented, lyrically the subject matter would mostly pertain to the topic of love, but other topics were also used. In 1978 Another Music in a Different Kitchen was released, the bands first full length album. The album would contain songs originally sung by Howard Devoto in the bands early days, but were re-sung by Shelley on this album. The songs "Fast Cars", "You Tear Me Up", and "Love Battery" were the songs done originally written and performed with Howard Devoto. The album would be the first pop punk album, it contained repetitious rhythms, simple solos, all packaged in undeniably catchy songs. "I Don't Mind", "Sixteen", Autonomy", "Fiction Romance" and "Get on Your Own" are all perfect examples of Buzzcocks catchy pop yet punk style.  "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat" was a simple yet longer song by the band which showcased Maher's excellent drumming abilities. The album would also contain brief intros and outros. Before the first track "Fast Cars" some of the song "Boredom" is performed by the band. The album would have a single that would do well chart-wise "I Don't Mind" would go to # 55 on the UK charts.

In 1978, Love Bites was released. The Martin Rushent produced album showed the band coming into their own not having any influence by their previous vocalist, Howard Devoto. It is a more shiny and pop album than Another Music; The album featured 11 songs. "Real World" opens the album which features harmonics and traditional buzzing guitars lyrically it is about love and life (as a good majority of the bands songs are). "Ever Fallen In Love" one of the bands catchiest songs and one of their signature songs is also featured here, the song is a romantic pop song that is about romance gone wrong. The album also contained two instrumental tracks ("Late For The Train", and "Walking Distance") and Steve Diggle's first lead vocal track on an album "Love Is Lies" an acoustic track. Other highlights include "Nothing Left", "Sixteen Again", and "E.S.P.".

A year later the band released their third album A Different Kind of Tension in 1979. The album which was made after tours supporting the bands two previous albums was made at a time when the band was showing signs of wear and tear; Another reason for this is because of their alcohol and drug consumption. The album came off sounding as more of a New Wave album. The album which I consider their best also featured more Steve Diggle songs that any previous album. It was a more sophisticated album and was inspired lyrically by literature. The title came from American writer William Burroughs, and the track "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" (which was a single not included on the album) was about the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Diggle's songs included "Sitting Around At Home", "Mad Mad Judy" and "You Know You Can't Help It". Shelley's songs were also brought up a notch with songs like "Paradise", "Raison D'etre", "I Don't Know What To Do With My Life", he also had some songs that seem of a darker nature lyrically and musically ("Money" and "Hollow Inside"). "I Believe" is a longer track in which the band follows along the same repetitious rhythm and Shelley gives his opinions and views; the song ends with the line "There is no love in this world anymore" being repeated over and over again. The album ends with "Radio Nine" a short 41 second outro that emulates a radio station tuning into Buzzcocks songs "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" and "Why Can't I Touch It?", songs that were singles for the album, but not put on the album.

Singles Going Steady was released in America in 1979 to coincide with their first American tour. The album contained 16 tracks which were all of the bands UK singles and B-sides. It featured songs such as "Ever Fallen In Love", "What Do I Get?", "Love You More" and "What Ever Happened To". The album also contains the songs "Everybody's Happy Nowadays", "Harmony in My Head" (one of Diggle's finest songs), and "What Can't I Touch It?" (a six and a half minute track fuelled by a heavy hypnotic bassline). Some people compare this album to being similar (impact and quality-wise) as Nevermind The Bollocks (Sex Pistols), and London Calling (The Clash). In 1980 the band was signed to Liberty Records. They would release the Parts 1, 2, 3 EP which featured a series of singles (3 singles, with the B-sides totalling six songs). The EP showed a band that sounded confused and the songs had things such as horn sections. The EP's songs were induced by drug addiction and the chaotic nature of the band just before its demise. There were three Diggle songs, and three Shelley songs. In 2001, Singles Going Steady was re-released with bonus tracks that included the Parts 1, 2, 3 EP. Around 1981 the band would start demoting songs for a fourth album, they would also have to deal with record label conflicts (United Artists were bought out by EMI Records). The band broke up in 1981 and Shelley would pursue a solo career. Other band members would form other groups (Diggle and Maher formed the short lived Flag of Convenience, Garvey would play with Motivation).

In 1989, Buzzcocks would reform with the same line up as in 1980 for a reunion tour of the United States. Maher and Garvey would leave the group shortly after and Maher would be replaced by Mike Joyce (The Smiths) on drums and Tony Barber would take over the bass. In 1993, Trade Test Transmissions would be released, the bands first album with the new line up. The band would also open up for the band Nirvana on some European tour dates as well. Three more albums would follow in 1996 All Set, in 1999 Modern, and in 2003 Buzzcocks. In 2003 the band also secured an opening slot for the band Pearl Jam on their American tour. Finally in 2006, Flat-Pack Philosophy was released. It is an album that sounds like a return to the early Buzzcocks style. The band continues to tour.

In October of 2008, Buzzcocks Released their first three albums in special edition format, with numerous bonus tracks. More information on these releases can be found in my A Different Music in a Different Kitchen Post, my Love Bites post, and my Different Kind of Tension post. In June of 2008, I also did a radio special celebrating the music of Buzzcocks, which can be found in my Harmoines in My Head Post.

Here's the play list:

1. Stray Cats – rumble in brighton (live 82) 
2. The Jam – news of the world
3. Undertones – here comes the summer
4. The Numbers – when I get older
5. The Wipers – can this be
6. DM3 – high rotations
7. Northwest Company – eight hour day
8. 49th Parallel – citizen freak
9. White Stripes – handsprings
10. Generation X – day by day
11. The Scavengers – twentyone
12. Only Ones – out there in the night
13. Buzzcocks – mad mad judy
14. Buzzcocks – raison d’etre
15. The Demics – the least you could do
16. The Gruesomes – who dat?
17. Hot Nasties - I am a confused teenager
18. The Onoffs – your loss
19. The Draytones – keep loveing me
20. Carbon/Silicon – the news
21. Marble Index – not impressed
22. Sloan – G turns to D
23. Arctic Monkeys – fluorescent adolescent
24. The Hives - Untitled (Live Hurricane Festival)
25. The D4 – rocknrule
26. Sex Pistols - pretty vacant
27. X - adult books
28. The Jam - in the city

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