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While the Sex Pistols and The Clash might have soaked up much of the punk spotlight in the ’70s, Buzzcocks brought something equally influential to the table. The Buzzcocks’ influence on indie rock, power-pop, punk rock and pop-punk is hard to overemphasize. When you think of the punk-pop tag, no band embodied it or perfected it quite like Buzzcocks.
Their songs were gritty, speedy and short like a lot of other punk music, but few punk bands remained committed to pure pop songwriting like Buzzcocks. Pete Shelley’s voice was snotty and full of attitude, their lyrics pushed social boundaries and the band’s guitars were pumping and lightning fast, but their infectious melodies might have fallen more in line with the pop or New Wave acts of the day than say, The Damned or The Stooges.
While albums like Another Music in a Different Kitchen or Love Bites are still worth digging into, the general consensus is that Buzzcocks’ most essential release is their 1979 singles compilation Singles Going Steady. It contained album cuts like “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve),” non-album singles like “Orgasm Addict” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” as well as B-sides like “Autonomy” and “Noise Annoys.” The album’s eight singles and eight B-sides buff out the occasionally forgettable moments of their LPs and it’s the most accurate document of Buzzcocks as a band.
The songs that make up Singles Going Steady are largely about relationships and youthful frustration, and the album leads off with “Orgasm Addict,” an explicitly sexual song about everything from masturbation to full-on sex addiction. The song, which also features Shelley’s erotic moans, was unsurprisingly banned by the BBC upon release. Continuing with themes about the universal, inevitable shortcomings of youth, “I Don’t Mind” sums many of them up in a sharp, snappy rock ’n’ roll nut shell. Shelley paints a picture of the longing for another and the highlighting of your own insecurities when you do find that person. What begins with a song about loneliness and escape transforms into a song about fear of unreciprocated romantic feelings, which stems from a lack of self-confidence.
01 Orgasm Addict
02 What Do I Get?
03 I Don't Mind
04 Love You More
05 Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've?)
07 Everybody's Happy Nowadays
08 Harmony In My Head
09 Whatever Happened To?
10 Oh Shit!
12 Noise Annoys
13 Just Lust
15 Why Can't I Touch It?
16 Something's Gone Wrong Again