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Music Review: Buzzcocks – Another Music In A Different Kitchen (Special Edition)

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It is unfortunate that the Buzzcocks never achieved the level of respect they deserved in the US. Back in the heady days of 1977, they were billed just behind The Sex Pistols and The Clash in the UK. In the US, though, it was a different story. Their classic first three LPs were only available as pricey imports, and there was no Pistols or even Clash level of hype to drum up Stateside interest.

It took the release of the near-perfect compilation, Singles Going Steady, in 1979 for most of us Yanks to hear them, and by then things were almost over. To say that the Buzzcocks were influential is an understatement. They almost single-handedly kick-started the Manchester scene, and even those who claim to have never heard the band have heard elements of their sound in countless others.

Mute Records have just reissued the classic first three records by the Buzzcocks in definitive packages. Another Music In A Different Kitchen (1978), Love Bites (1978) and A Different Kind Of Tension (1979) are now available as two-disc sets, featuring the original albums plus contemporary singles, live versions, demos, and John Peel Sessions. For longtime fans and the merely curious, each of these is well worth investigating.

Another Music In A Different Kitchen was their first full-length effort, and remains a classic of punk power-pop. The inclusion of the early singles is ideal here, as they put everything that followed into context. While the seminal independent Spiral Scratch EP is only represented with live versions of “Boredom” and “Time’s Up,” Another Music does contain the song many consider to be the ultimate Buzzcocks’ single, “Orgasm Addict.”

Listening to the staccato music and outrageous lyrics of “Orgasm Addict” even all these years later is still a revelation. Naturally the Beeb would not play it, but the record sold well anyway, and established the band nationally. After their second single on the UA label, “What Do I Get” (backed with the classic “Oh Shit") the band recorded their debut LP.

Another Music In A Different Kitchen opens up with the fierce punk blast of “Fast Cars.” The pace never lets up, with songs such as “No Reply,” “Sixteen,” and “Autonomy” acting as a virtual course in Punk 101. But the pop song-craft  of Pete Shelley and former Buzzcock Howard Devoto (who went on to form Magazine) is never more evident than on “Love Battery.” Presidents Of The United States Of America mainman Jason Finn got his start in the early nineties pop-grunge band called Love Battery, named in tribute to the song. In a perfect world, “Love Battery” would have been a hit single; still it remains one of the Buzzcocks finest offerings.

Closing out this excellent 11 song collection is one of the band’s biggest departures, “Moving Away From The Pulsebeat.” Unlike most of the album, “Pulsebeat” is an almost pure studio concoction, with excellent guitar and drum interaction, and a near psychedelic flavor.

The majority of the bonus material has never been previously released, including all of a great nine-song live set from 1977 at the Electric Circus. The John Peel Sessions are also from ‘77, and like most in the series, present the band storming the boards in the studio. There are also 14 demo versions of various tunes.

Whether all of the extras are important to you or not, one thing is certain: Another Music In A Different Kitchen is an essential document of the first flash of British punk, and should be heard by anyone interested in those heady days.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    good write up. almost saw what is left of the Buzzcocks last Saturday but it didn’t work out.

  • Greg Barbrick

    That would have been a fun show, too bad it didn’t pan out.

  • zingzing

    10 years ago, i bought the box set “product,” which contains nearly everything they had done before breaking up, just on a whim. for some reason, it only cost 20 pounds, which i guess was around $35 at the time. i had never heard anything outside of a few singles here or there, but had heard that they were one of the best of the punk bands. it was absolutely shocking to me that something this sophisticated was coming out of punk, as all i knew was the relative brutality of the sex pistols and early clash.

    it really got me going on punk and what came before (like pere ubu) and after (post-punk), and helped me understand the intellectual processes behind punk. nearly everything the buzzcocks did was perfect. the combination of instrumental chops, songwriting, packaging, experimentation and pop beauty was a revelation–one that really opened up my mind to the potential that punk (and music in general) had to offer.

    truly one of the most important bands of the time, and, at least to me, personally, one of the most important ever. (even though they were somewhat dwarfed by other manchester bands like the fall and new order… who are probably my two favorite bands, so…)

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Totally agree with you, zingzing, not only about Buzzcocks but The Fall and New Order too.

    Another cool thing about Buzzcocks was they had a great sense of style, wearing cool suits and some really arty shirts.

    I was, however, totally disillusioned when I saw Pete Shelley on TV recently and he was almost bald, somewhat overweight and wearing jeans and a t-Shirt.

    God, how I hate jeans and t-shirts, truly the lowest of all lowest common denominators!

  • zingzing

    other than the terrible glitch that is oasis, manchester is truly my favorite music city. buzzcocks, joy division, the fall, new order, a certain ratio, durutti column, magazine, the smiths, moz, electronic, factory records, the hacienda… that city was just overwhelmed with great music, at least for a 10 year stretch.

    pete shelley was a great, no doubt, but man, did he age. even the difference between the pictures you see on spiral scratch and love stinks show a man who had far too much too soon/quick. that said, his album “homosapien” is fucking awesome. so stark, yet so poppy. it was demos for the next buzzcocks disc, but instead he just broke up the band and put out the demos.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    funny how these things work. i love the Buzzcocks but avoid nearly ever other manchester band from that era… especially New Order, Joy Division, and The Smiths. something about them made me want to get out the ear ice pick.

  • zingzing

    if new order makes you want to get out an ice pick, you’d better just chop off your ears. that’s just bad. so bad.

  • Greg Barbrick

    Thanks for the comments everyone –

    Zing, I have to say that I am with you about Manchester. What a wealth of talent that has emerged from there! Even today, when I hear that a band is Mancunian, I pay a little extra attention to their music. I even liked Oasis, at least the first two anyway.

    Certainly anything on Factory, and the mighty Fall. Smiths, Joy Division, Durrutti…yup the list is seemingly endless.