The Buzzcocks - Another Music in a Different Kitchen / Love Bites / A Different Kind of Tension

Written by Nick Churchill
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The Buzzcocks Love Bites ZANI 1.j
Of course, pop will eat itself, but how many times…?

The Buzzcocks’ back catalogue has never been that difficult to access in the CD age, less so as downloads took hold, but never has it been so lovingly and intelligently compiled. Each of their three albums has been afforded the 2CD treatment and if you’ve not heard them for a while there are one or two surprises in store – some good, some less so.

Another Music in a Different Kitchen remains the pick of the bunch, by some distance. Witty, spitty, acidic and downright lovely in places, it’s hard not to be as smitten as you were on first listen. I was 12 when I heard this and it sounded like the aural equivalent of Rice Krispies – snap, crackle and, indeed, pop!

Fast Cars might just be the new wave’s finest album opener, while Sixteen delivers all the belligerent promise it always did, Autonomy somehow gets a krautrock pulse passed the punk ideologues and I Don’t Mind is laced with Shelley’s trademark sullen romance. In this edition you also get the singles, b-sides, Peel sessions, demos and an edgy live set from the Electric Circus recorded in October ’77, capturing the band settled into its post-Howard Devoto line up with the sugar rush of their finest hour still ahead of them.

At the time it felt like Love Bites would become the band’s de facto best of set and seemed to serve as such until the excellent Singles Going Steady arrived. Three-and-a-half decade later it sounds far away, even a bit lightweight in places. Maybe a couple of tracks don’t earn their place – something Love Bites has in common with several of the era’s second albums – but Real World make for an alienated opening and ESP divulges a wider palette of influences they hadn’t quite made sense of. That said, Ever Fallen In Love remains one of the great singles and when you add the non-LP hits Love You More and Promises it takes on a much rosier complexion.

The Buzzcocks Love Bites ZANI 2.jpgThe three Peel sessions, 13 demos and frenetic, previously unreleased live set from the Lesser Free Trade Hall, contribute a variety of different levels on which to assess the material.

It had all started to unravel as 1979’s A Different Kind of Tension was released and by the time the final singles came out in the autumn of 1980 the band was hamstrung by record company inaction and they split. As an artefact the album stands up remarkably well. Steve Diggle takes a more assertive role in songwriting and moments like Sitting Round At Home predate Blur’s 13-period by a good 20 years, while Mad Mad July adds a psychedelic shirt to Dr Feelgood’s sweaty R&B model.

Musically, the sugar coated guitars are joined by wiry dischord and John Maher’s rapid fire drum fills get more spaced out with phasers set to stun. The singles – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays, Harmony In My Head, Are Everything – rightly enjoy near-classic status, but the last few 45s didn’t even chart and in the case of the horn-sodden What Do You Know? it’s not hard to hear why. Their final track, the Martin Hannett-produced I Look Alone, acts as a prelude to Shelley’s electronic solo debut, Homosapien and closes the curtain on the band’s short, fast, fascinating flourishing.

That Buzzcocks managed to reform will pride, dignity and relevance (they supported Nirvana on their final tour in 1994 and toured with Pearl Jam) is something to be glad about. They continue to tour, releasing albums when they can and feed the affections of fans old and new, aware of past glories and unafraid to add new material to their canon.

© Nick Churchill

Read 4933 times Last modified on Monday, 09 November 2020 18:09
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Nick Churchill

Nick Churchill

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