Today's artists are regarded as an important influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, and indie rock. They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy.The "buzz" is the excitement of playing on stage; "cock" is Manchester slang meaning "mate" (as in friend/buddy), capturing the excitement of the nascent punk scene.... ....N'Joy
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Formed in Manchester, England, in 1975, the Buzzcocks were one of the most influential bands to emerge in the initial wave of punk rock. With their crisp melodies, driving guitars, and guitarist Pete Shelley's biting lyrics, the Buzzcocks were one of the best, most influential punk bands. The Buzzcocks were inspired by the Sex Pistols' energy, yet they didn't copy the Pistols' angry political stance. Instead, they brought that intense, brilliant energy to the three-minute pop song. Shelley's alternately funny and anguished lyrics about adolescence and love were some of the best and smartest of his era; similarly, the Buzzcocks' melodies and hooks were concise and memorable. Over the years, their powerful punk-pop has proven enormously influential, with echoes of their music being apparent in everyone from Hüsker Dü to Nirvana.
Before the Buzzcocks, the teenaged Pete Shelley had played guitar in various heavy metal bands. In 1975, he enrolled in the Bolton Institute of Technology. While he was at school, Shelley joined an electronic music society, which is where he met Howard Devoto, who had enrolled at BIT in 1972. Both Shelley and Devoto shared an affection for the Velvet Underground, while Devoto was also fascinated by the Stooges. While they were still in school, Shelley and Devoto began rehearsing with a drummer, covering everything from the Stooges to Brian Eno. The trio never performed live and soon fell apart. Shelley and Devoto remained friends and several months after their initial musical venture dissolved, the pair read the first live review of the Sex Pistols in NME and decided to see the band in London. After witnessing the band twice in February 1976, the pair decided to form their own band, with the intent of replicating the Pistols' London impact in Manchester.
Both musicians decided to change their last names -- Peter McNeish became Pete Shelley and Howard Traford became Howard Devoto -- and took their group's name from a review of Rock Follies, which ended with the quotation "get a buzz, cock." The Buzzcocks began rehearsing, picking up a local drummer and bassist Garth Smith. Shortly after their formation, Shelley and Devoto booked a local club, the Lesser Free Trade Hall, with the intent of persuading the Sex Pistols to play in Manchester. They succeeded in bringing the Pistols to Manchester, but the Buzzcocks had to pull out of their own gig when both the bassist and drummer left the group before the concert. At the Pistols show, Shelley and Devoto met Steve Diggle, who joined the Buzzcocks as their bassist, and the group found their drummer John Maher through an advertisement in Melody Maker. Within a few months, the band played its first concert, opening for the second Sex Pistols show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in July of 1976. By the end of the year, the Buzzcocks had played a handful of gigs and helped establish Manchester as the second biggest punk rock city in England, ranking just behind London.
Spiral Scratch In October of 1976, the Buzzcocks recorded their first demo tape, which remained unreleased. At the end of 1976, the group joined the Sex Pistols on their Anarchy Tour. After the tour was completed, Shelley borrowed a couple hundred pounds from his father and the band used the money to record their debut EP, Spiral Scratch. The record was the first D.I.Y., independently released record of the punk era. Spiral Scratch appeared on the band's New Hormones record label in January 1977; there were initially only 1,000 copies pressed. Shortly after the release of the EP, Devoto quit the group and returned to college; later in the year, he formed Magazine. Following Devoto's departure, Pete Shelley assumed the role as lead vocalist, Steve Diggle moved to guitar, and Garth Smith became the band's bassist. By June of 1977, the Buzzcocks were attracting the attention of major record labels. By September, they had signed with United Artists Records, who gave the band complete artistic control.
Another Music in a Different Kitchen The Buzzcocks certainly tested the limits of that artistic control with their debut single, "Orgasm Addict." Released in October of 1977, the single didn't become a hit because its subject matter was too explicit for BBC radio, but it generated good word of mouth. Following its release, Garth Smith was kicked out of the group and was replaced by Steve Garvey. The Buzzcocks' second single, "What Do I Get?," became their first charting single, scraping the bottom of the Top 40. In March, the band released its first album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen. In September of 1978 the Buzzcocks released their second full-length record, Love Bites.
A Different Kind of Tension The rapid pace of the band's recording and performing schedules quickly had its effects on the group. Not only were the concerts and recordings wearing the band down, the members were consuming alcohol and drugs in high numbers. Early in 1979 they recorded their third album, A Different Kind of Tension, which displayed some signs of wear and tear. Following the album's release in August, they embarked on their first American tour, which wasn't successful. Nevertheless, the band was enjoying the peak of its popularity at home in Britain. Later in 1979, the singles collection Singles Going Steady was released in America.
All of the inner and outer tensions on the band culminated in 1980, when they drastically cut back their performance schedule, but they persevered with recording, cutting the EP Parts 1, 2, 3, which was released as three separate singles over the course of the year. During 1980, United Artists was bought out by EMI, who cut back support of the Buzzcocks. The group began working on its fourth album in early 1981, but was prevented from recording by EMI. The label wanted to release Singles Going Steady in the U.K. before the band delivered its fourth album. The Buzzcocks refused. Consequently, EMI didn't give the band an advance to cover the recording costs of the fourth album. Shelley decided to break up the band instead of fight the label. The Buzzcocks broke up in 1981.
Trade Test Transmissions Immediately after the split, Shelley pursued a solo career that initially produced the hit single "Homosapien" but soon went dry. Steve Diggle formed Flag of Convenience with John Maher, who quit the band shortly after its formation. Steve Garvey moved to New York, where he played with Motivation for a few years. In 1989, the group re-formed and toured the United States. The following year, Maher left the band and former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce joined the band on tour. By 1990, the reunion had become permanent; after Joyce's brief tenure with the band, the final lineup of the reunited Buzzcocks featured Shelley, Diggle, bassist Tony Barber, and drummer Phil Barker.
The new version of the band released its first album, Trade Test Transmissions, in 1993. After its release, the band toured frequently. In spring of 1996, the Buzzcocks released their fifth studio album, All Set. Modern followed three years later, and a self-titled record for Merge appeared in 2003. Flat-Pack Philosophy arrived in 2006 on the Cooking Vinyl label. An anniversary set simply called 30 was released in 2008 on Cooking Vinyl. In 2014, yet another new lineup of the Buzzcocks -- Shelley, Diggle, bassist Chris Remington, and drummer Danny Farrant -- emerged with a new studio album, The Way, which was supported by an extensive North American tour in addition to their usual roadwork in the U.K. and Europe.
In October 2014 Buzzcocks toured the U.K. for three weeks with The Dollyrots as main support. In 2016, the band embarked on their 40th-anniversary tour (dubbed "Buzzcocks 40"). The Buzzcocks played at the 18th annual Punk Rock and Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas on May 29th, and headlined the first show in Denver on June 2nd.
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If Never Mind the Bollocks and London Calling are held up as punk masterpieces, then there's no question that Singles Going Steady belongs alongside them. In fact, the slew of astonishing seven-inches collected on Steady and their influence on future musicians - punk or otherwise -- sometimes even betters more famous efforts. The title and artwork alone (the latter itself partially inspired by the Beatles' Let it Be) have been parodied or referred to by Halo of Flies and Don Caballero, which titled its own singles comp Singles Breaking Up. As for the music, anybody who ever combined full-blast rock, catchy melodies and romantic and social anxieties owes something to what the classic quartet did here. The deservedly well-known masterpiece "Ever Fallen in Love" appears along with Love Bites' "Just Lust," but the remaining tracks originally appeared only as individual A and B-sides, making this collection all the more essential. The earlier numbers showcase a band bursting with energy and wicked humor - the tongue-in-cheek "Orgasm Addict," details the adventures of a sex freak with a ridiculous fake orgasm vocal break to boot. However, the slightly more serious but no less frenetic singles are equally enthralling. "What Do I Get?" with its pained cry about lacking love, the deeply cynical "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" and Diggle's roaring "Harmony in My Head" are just three highlights on an album made of them. The final songs show the band incorporating their more adventuresome side into their singles, as with the slower, very Can-inspired "Why Can't I Touch It?," the semi-jokey stop-start thrash "Noise Annoys," and the Murphy's Law worries of "Something's Gone Wrong Again."
Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady (flac 533mb)
01 Orgasm Addict 2:02
02 What Do I Get ? 2:55
03 I Don't Mind 2:19
04 Love You More 1:50
05 Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) ? 2:42
06 Promises 2:37
07 Everybody's Happy Nowadays 3:13
08 Harmony In My Head 3:09
09 You Say You Don't Love Me 2:54
10 Are Everything 3:59
11 Strange Thing 4:10
12 Running Free 3:14
13 What Ever Happened To ? 2:15
14 Oh Shit ! 1:38
15 Autonomy 3:45
16 Noise Annoys 2:53
17 Just Lust 3:02
18 Lipstick 2:39
19 Why Can't I Touch It ? 6:37
20 Something's Gone Wrong Again 4:36
21 Raison D'Être 3:34
22 Why She's The Girl From The Chainstore 2:26
23 Airwaves Dream 3:54
24 What Do You Know 3:15
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Ever since this release was announced in 1982,fans have been waiting for this, and here it finally is. Legal problems with the band's U.K. label, United Artists, held it up until now; they probably wanted too much money. These 19 live songs are culled from tapes of seven different shows, and 18 of them were from gigs on their three U.S. tours. Buzzcocks were way better than this tape indicates. On December 1, 1979, they played the Palladium and WNEW taped the show for broadcast on December 8, 1979. The thousands of Buzzcocks fans who recorded that have the real live document of this band. Similarly, anyone who has been at any number of New York Ritz gigs and has been fortunate to see the video the Ritz made of the Buzzcocks gig there on November 23, 1980, has also heard (and seen) the real document (the tape sans-video has made its rounds as well). Most of this appears to have been taken from board tapes, and thus has the same problem as most such recordings: they unduly favor the vocals, which are twice as loud as the band. And though Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley were fine singers, it's common knowledge that the Buzzcocks' greatness (and subsequent legend) was built on the band's sound: the explosive rapid fire snare fills of drummer John Maher, the heavy Rickenbacker sound of bassist Steve Garvey, and most famous of all, the absolutely dynamic knockout of Shelley and Diggle's duo guitars, that "Buzzcocks wall" referred to in so many reviews. While the tape captures much of the excitement, since it's mixing board recordings, much of the phenomenal whoosh and that wall is missing. The Buzzcocks were an incredible live band, as old fan Andy Dunkeley's strong liner notes point out, one of the four or five best live bands of all time, and not just the great one you'll encounter here. No one ever written catchier songs, and even without the ideal recording they're still red hot. Because of the superior quality, this is far better than scores of Buzzcocks bootleg audience tapes floating around; if it isn't perfect, it's the only readily available live recording, and it blows away the Live at the Roxy and Short Circuit live compilations the early Buzzcocks are on. Joan McNulty, who put this together for ROIR, deserves all of our praise and thanks for persevering and getting this released; it's so great that people will finally hear the live Buzzcocks document, and it's essential to boot.
Buzzcocks - Lest We Forget (flac 424mb)
01 Fiction Romance (Boston 80) 4:56
02 Breakdown (Chicago 79) 2:08
03 Times Up (Boston 80) 3:11
04 Autonomy (Minnesota 79) 4:05
05 Love Battery (Birmingham 80) 2:17
06 Ever Fallen In Love (Boston 80) 2:48
07 I Don't Mind (Chicago 79) 2:13
08 What Do You Know (New Jersey 80) 2:55
09 I Believe (Chicago 79) 6:38
10 Noise Annoys (Minnesota 79) 3:13
11 What Do I Get (Rhode Island 80) 3:00
12 Something's Gone Wrong Again (Boston 80) 3:52
13 Harmony In My Head (New Jersey 80) 3:11
14 You Say You Don't Love Me (Chicago 79) 2:47
15 I Don't Know (What To Do With My Life) (Chicago 79) 2:38
16 Fast Cars (New Jersey 80) 2:15
17 Airwaves Dream (Providence 80) 3:15
18 Nothing Left (Minnesota 79) 5:17
19 Love You More (New York 79) 1:56.
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Homosapien was a super-sad event upon its release in 1981. Buzzcocks fans were aware that the songs were originally intended for the band's fourth LP (even though some, such as the underground hit title track, had been composed before the band began) -- a new work that was set to continue the intriguing, strange, yet powerful and incredible direction the group had taken on side two of late-1979's A Different Kind of Tension, and its three (final) singles recorded in 1980. However, as Shelley settled into London's Genetic studios with producer Martin Rushent to demo these tunes, something unexpected happened. Shelley and Rushent fell in love with the cheesier, one-man-and-a-boop-beep-boop drum machine demos in a time when electro-pop disco was taking over. Tired of the group's sorry financial state, Shelley abruptly disbanded the band via an insensitive lawyers' letter mailed to his bandmates. Homosapien's release followed a few months later, before his fans' shock had dissipated. It can now be listened to in a different light than the inconsolably sad emotions that originally surrounded it. Despite the utterly ridiculous, aforementioned "drum" sound, it's the one Shelley solo effort worth investigating. Unlike XL1 and Heaven and the Sea, the wry, lovelorn pop songwriting inspiration is still with him. But more importantly, this is the only attempt by Shelley to retain the compressed, tight, hard production and vocals of his band work, despite the new genre and the predominance of a 12-string acoustic in favor of the old buzzsaw. More dance-pop than rock, Homosapien still straddles both fences enough to interest lovers of both genres.
Pete Shelley - Homosapien (flac 471mb)
01 Homosapien 4:35
02 Yesterday's Not Here 4:09
03 I Generate A Feeling 3:13
04 Keats Song 1:58
05 Qu'est-Ce Que C'est Que Ca? 4:21
06 I Don't Know What It Is 3:30
07 Guess I Must Have Been In Love With Myself 3:13
08 Pusher Man 2:49
09 Just One Of Those Affairs 2:58
10 It's Hard Enough Knowing 3:49
11 It's Hard Enough Knowing (Part 2) 1:49
12 Witness The Change 4:49
13 Maxine 3:36
14 In Love With Somebody Else 3:00
15 Homosapien (Dub) 9:00
16 Witness The Change / I Don't Know What Love Is 8:23
17 Love In Vain 3:11
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Erstwhile Buzzcock and former front man of post-punk outfits Magazine and Luxuria, Howard Devoto has always been somewhat difficult to peg musically. After disbanding Magazine in the early '80s, Devoto went on to pursue a short-lived solo career, resulting in his lone 1983 effort, Jerky Versions Of The Dream. More pop-based than any of his previous efforts, the songs all feature Devoto's distinctive croon--a discomfiting mix of seduction and caustic menace. Like his material with Magazine, Devoto's lyrics are peppered with poetic allusions to politics, both personal and social. The slow building heat of "Cold Imagination" comes across like a post-punk quiet storm. Trapped in the deep freeze of his own mind, his anguished voice intones, "Get me out of my cold imagination." Other tracks, like the jaunty "Waiting for a Train," allude humorously to the everyday occurrence of a train delay resulting in an existential crisis. Melding frenetic industrial funk with sardonic lounge piano, the music appropriately matches Devoto's eccentric lyrical musings--offering obtuse but highly original philosophical and social commentary.
Howard Devoto - Jerky Versions Of The Dream (flac 448mb)
01 Cold Imagination 4:20
02 Topless 3:47
03 Rainy Season 5:05
04 I Admire You 5:14
05 Way Out Of Shape 3:55
06 Some Will Pay (For What Others Pay To Avoid) 3:43
07 Waiting For A Train 4:53
08 Out Of Shape With Me 4:13
09 Taking Over Heaven 3:56
10 Seeing Is Believing 3:18
11 Rainy Season (7" Single Version) 3:39
12 Rainforest (Variation N16) 5:11
13 Cold Imagination (Extended Version) 5:08
14 Cold Imagination (BBC Radio 1 Peel Session Version) 4:32
15 Topless (BBC Radio 1 Peel Session Version) 3:39
16 Some Will Pay (For What Others Pay To Avoid) (BBC Radio 1 Peel Session Version) 3:51.
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