Buzzcocks: Access All Areas: Live 1990

Everybody’s happy nowadays, except Pete Shelley.

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Buzzcocks fell through the cracks long before this re-formation gig at Nottingham’s Central TV Studios in 1989 (the disc’s title getting off to a bad start) but weren’t averse to revisiting old hits and choice album tracks in pursuit of crowd-pleasing nostalgia.

Ten years after A Different Kind Of Tension it was obvious they didn’t fit in with punk or new wave. Pete Shelley’s lovely pop songs, represented here by You Say You Don’t Love Me and Ever Fallen In Love (With Somebody You Shouldn’t’ve) weren’t cast in the prevailing antisocial mood; they were more like antisexual mopes and would soon appeal to Morrissey, who took them as his mission statement.

Steve Diggle was a more upfront presence with a penchant for attempting Germanic guitar rock drones, encapsulated by Autonomy. Diggle was sick with flu during this date and the accompanying DVD suggests the Buzzcocks’ legendary reticence remained intact.

The early Fast Cars, Noise Annoys and Harmony In My Head are reminders they could put up a good fight and are less DIY, rather more akin to, say Television, when they tackle the instrumental Walking Distance.

Never mind the Buzzcocks? They meant a lot in their heyday. This isn’t that./o:p

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.