Pop art sleeve, production by Martin Rushent and songs that don’t hang around longer than two-and-a- bit minutes – the first Buzzcocks album, Another Music In A Different Kitchen, perfectly sums up 1978. Often regarded as a singles band, Buzzcocks were that rare thing in the three decades that followed – a band who didn’t put those 45s on their albums.
Well, maybe one or two – I Don’t Mind pops up midway through the debut, but there’s no Orgasm Addict or What Do I Get? Sadly the compilation Singles Going Steady is much missed here. Another Music… begins with a gag – the opening refrain of the band’s then most iconic tune, Boredom, from their previous incarnation with the wiry Howard Devoto making way for the equally feisty Fast Cars, with Pete Shelley taking the reins as lead singer.
Shelley’s high-pitched vocal was in contrast to every other band of the time, but the sharpness matched the directness of the music and the everyday sexual dramas played out in the lyrics. Buzzcocks songs were never angry or bitter. They were smart, sarcastic, self-deprecating and playful. The follow-up Love Bites was released less than six months after their debut, its recording squeezed into a fortnight between touring, but the distance between the immediacy of punk seems further, with nods towards The Beatles and more than a little filler padding out the killer.
Third album A Different Kind Of Tension pushed even further away, still conjuring new shapes from pop and punk, but with added experimental twists, and one track (I Believe) which lasted a shocking seven minutes (a sackable offence just three years previously). The band reformed in the 90s, but the 1996 album All Set, included here, seems sluggish among its younger offerings.
More fitting of their legacy is a March 1979 live set Entertaining Friends, during which Shelley dedicates their wonderful Oh Shit to a fitting cause – that night’s Eurovision Song Contest.