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.