#250: Singles Going Steady, Buzzcocks
We’ve reached the halfway point! Weird! This is a big milestone for sure, but there’s so much more music to listen to still, so there’s nothing to do really but press on, on, on.
This is actually a Buzzcocks compilation album, eight 45s stitched together. I’m a sucker for punk bands that are subhuman and unsexy. Case in point: “Orgasm Addict” is NOT a sexy song, not even when Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle are faking orgasms; they sound like polo-and-leather-clad school lads.
Singles Going Steady may be a compilation album, but it was their first North American release, coming out in 1979 (four years after forming and two years before breaking up). It’s so interesting; why include a US release when they’re so very, very British? (Listen to “What Do I Get?” to know just what you’re getting.)
Even though it’s tempting to compare the Buzzcocks to fellow Brits the Clash, they’re really more like NYC’s Ramones: speedy, snarky, supposed to upset your parents. “I Don’t Mind” and “Noise Annoys” made me want to run back to my parents’ garage and play an out-of-tune guitar like Lindsey Lohan in Freaky Friday. “Whatever Happened To…?” made me scream YOU AND IIAAHEE — HA-HA-EEEEE and then Google what happened to Chairman Mao. And “Oh Sh**” has me wanting to curse someone out in Cockney.
This entry has inspired me to revive an old segment of these reviews: IS RS FULL OF IT? I stopped pursuing this line of thinking because I started to realize that I didn’t know what I was talking about (and neither did they). Maybe I’m just sick of compilation albums.
The obvious choice for an alternative is Love Bites, which has their hands-down greatest hit “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?).” Shelley wrote that about a man that he was infatuated with, but it still made it into Shrek 2. Go figure.
Then again, I looked up some of my other favorite songs and found that they weren’t on studio albums. I would have had a difficult time finding the Brit-punk “Harmony In My Head” in 1979, especially if I was here in the US. Steve Diggle has said he smoked 20 cigarettes to make his voice sound all nasty like this. The B-side, “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” is even better, like the creepy showpiece at a Halloween-themed bordello. And yet another single, “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” is built around a Brave New World reference and grapples with meaninglessness. It scared me, but also made me, well, happy. The great thing about compilation albums is that they collect all these deep-cuts and distribute them en masse.
I might love the Buzzcocks.
Other Highlights: “Why Can’t I Touch It?” has this thoughtful guitar part through all six minutes and thirty seconds. Also shout-out to everything else that reminded me of Manic Street Preachers, like “Just Lust,” “Lipstick,” and “Autonomy.”
Not My Faves: “Love You More” and “Promises.”