The first thing to say about this particular album is it concentrates it sole purpose on the songs written between 1977 and 1979 – this is the period after Howard Devoto (former vocalist) had left the band. The three years this album focuses on are undoubtedly the time when they produced their finest hits including the song featured as the title of this compilation.
Forming in 1975 in Manchester, England the Buzzcocks quickly established themselves as one of the most renowned British punk bands supporting the Sex Pistol’s on their infamous Anarchy tour. They werent however just another carbon copy of the Pistol's, they took this form of punk (which was pioneered in New York and spread like wildfire through 70s Britain) and pioneered their own unique sound, this was to become in later years known as Pop-Punk.
This compilation spans 3 albums:
Another Music In A Different Kitchen (United Artists 1978)
Love Bites (United Artists 1978)
A Different Kind of Tension (United Artists/I.R.S. 1979)
This album starts of with music from the 1978 album “Another Music in a Different Kitchen" and the two b-sides of What Ever Happened to? and Oh ***!. I Don’t Mind sets the tone of the album nicely, with Shelley’s pop sounding vocals and catchy guitar riffs with the fast punchy drumming of Maher.What Ever Happened To? follows this standard nicely, these two songs are both light-hearted and a stark difference to counterparts the Sex Pistols. Oh ***! Contains some nice tinny sounding guitaring from Shelley and despite the constant use of the word ***… and other profanities, it does have an endearing charm to it. From this early section of the album the best song has to be Moving Away From the Pulsebeat. This is a 7 minute epic, from the rhythmic drumming intro, to the modest guitar solo’s building up to the middle of the song (where there is a great drum solo) and onwards to the end which climaxes in an instrumental and synthesised cocktail of experimentation this is a great track!
The middle part of this album comes mainly from the "Love Bites" album, which is personally my favourite Buzzcocks album! The Real World moves into a more serious form of lyricism.
Do things happen like they do in my dreams
Some of the rules may be different
But maybe they'll stay the same
In the real world
In the real world
This song also delves into surf-rock with a Beach boys sounding guitar solo. Just Lust, Walking Distance and Sixteen Again are nothing spectacular, but Nothing Left makes up for these songs with some heavier guitar riffs and a great guitar solo in the middle. The drumming on Nothing Left also must be given a mention, but unfortunately the lyrics despite being well delivered in a catchy way aren’t quite up to par with those on The Real World. Late For the Train is a truly great piece of music, right away the drumming picks you up and demands your attention. It is frantic, and combined with the main guitar riff creates a sense of panic like you are indeed late for a train! Ok I might be over selling this, but as a purely instrumental track I think it is great. This is not the typical Buzzcocks poppy sounding punk, nor is it anything heavy or rebellous like the Sex Pistols this is more Classic 70s rock – think Free, Deep Purple even Santana! Shelley really delievers in this song as a great guitarist with the frantic riff and the light subtle airy solo’s that aren’t rammed down your throat. Ever Fallen in Love – the most famous of all Buzzcock tracks. This includes the popularly reknowned chours, but aside from this a great deal of lyrical prowess is displayed
You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel like dirt
And I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you
And that’s worse
The track as a whole strikes the same resonance as Teenage Kicks by the Undertones. There is not a lot I can say that hasn’t already been said about this song its truly a classic. Lipstick ends the “Love Bites" section of the album, which is a catchy little number, with the familiar pop-punk sound back in order.
Harmony in My head kicks off the “A Different Kind of Tension" part of the album. The vocals become a lot more strained and harsher than the previous light hearted sound that Shelley had perfected previously. This track starts with a kind of humourous guitar riff that sounds almost like an ambulance (“nee nah nee nah") noise. In the midst of this song comes a sound that most modern punk fans would easily recognise, the pluggy, plucking sound familiarly used by bands such as Sum 41 and Blink 182. Somethings Gone Wrong Again – anyone who has read my musing on this song already knows that I have given it the tag of grunge! It easily can be misconstrued as this – its a lot more darker and heavier than the previous pop-punk sound. However, the main thing that stands out in this song is the guitar solo in the middle, which any person of my age will definitely pick up as one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite tricks! It has a lot of deep distortion and string bends to form a chaotic yet decent sounding solo. With my love of raw, dirty distortion I am obviously quite taken with this track. I Don’t Know What to do With My Life is a return to the earlier tracks, a good punchy pop-punk beat and vocals to match. Like The Real World, there is another Beach Boys style guitar solo, but it doesn’t sound out of place. Finally I Believe In is another 7 minute classic song! It is lyrically brilliant, and vocally Shelley rams it down our throat that there “is no love in this world anymore" it is somewhat politically satirical, but a very good song.
Overall this album, is a good introduction to the Buzzocks in their most creative period! They were perhaps the best British Punk band – more talented than the Sex Pistols and dare I say it the Clash? They combined this instrumental talent with a popular edge so to not exclude the people isolated by the Sex Pistols and avoided becoming too political like the Clash. They may not be as mainstream, nor even as popular as their two contemporaries, but they certainly have had an impact on many bands – Kurt Cobain invited them to tour with Nirvana in the early 90s, and the pop-punk style which has taken off in recent years does have plenty of similarities to the sound that the Buzzcocks pioneered! Anyways back to this album, it cant be claimed to be a classic, but it is very good and to any modern pop punk fan I must urge you to pick this up! Not only will you find it a lot more appealing than the rawer sound of the Sex Pistols, you might actually learn something about old school punk!
Pete Shelley (Vocals, Guitar)
Steve Garvey (Bass)
John Maher (Drums)