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Ahh! There's a bumblebee on my penis!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Time's Up
*Spiral Scratch EP
*Another Music In A Different Kitchen
*Love Bites
*Singles Going Steady
*A Different Kind Of Tension
*Parts 1-3 EP
*Trade Test Transmissions
*All Set
*Flat Pack Philosophy

The Buzzzcocks used to be an impressive British pop-punk band featuring castrato-voiced singer/guitarist Pete Shelley, normal-voiced guitarist/singer Steve Diggle, versatile drummer John Maher and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey. But that band broke up in 1981. In the early '90s, Shelley and Diggle reformed the band with a new rhythm section and I think we all know how THAT went.

(if we've read this whole page already)

Time's Up - Mute 1977
Rating = 7

When The Buzzcocks started up in show business, they actually weren't Pete Shelley's band at all! Okay they were, but they were also Howard Devoto's band. Howard was the band's original singer and co-songwriter on the Spiral Scratch EP and this demos compilation (which incidentally includes demos of all four Spiral Scratch songs). The really bizarre thing about hearing this record is learning that, before Pete Shelley took control of their musical direction, they sounded like the Misfits! I'm not even lying, like I generally do to people in life (especially doctors).

If you've ever heard the Misfits' Legacy Of Brutality compilation, you will instantly recognize the crisp loud drum sound and low-pitched growly slightly-out-of-tune fuzz guitar tone used on over half of this record. I'm not saying that one band was imitating the other; they started around the same time. It's just startling in retrospect because the Buzzcocks so quickly became a trebly pop-punk band. This early Devoto material isn't Sabbath-heavy or anything, but it certainly sounds more unhinged and raw than anything they would record afterwards.

Perfect example: I've owned Singles Going Steady for 18 years, and have always hated its first song, "Orgasm Addict." From my first listen, it hit me as musically ugly, boring and stupid (not to mention lyrically vulgar, though who am I to complain about that). Yet here, in its original growly-punk Devoto-sung version, it's a great punk rock song! The drumbeat is much more driving and headbangy, the guitar sound much sicker and darker, and the bass line highlighted by what I'm pretty sure are chords (though maybe he's just playing it messy). Devoto's voice is unfortunately just as high-pitched and thickly British as Shelley's, but he likes to feign scratchiness and sneered-lip 'punkiness' so he doesn't sound quite so choirboy-esque.

This record, though not flawless by any stretch of the legs, is an absolute must-hear for anyone who thinks they've got the Buzzcocks pegged. In addition to the "Orgasm Addict" and Spiral Scratch demos (including an alternate version of their AWESOME WONDERFUL HEAVENLY debut hit "Boredom"), it features humorous covers of The Troggs and Captain Beefheart, Devoto-sung versions of two Another Music In A Different Kitchen tracks (pissed-off, almost hardcore-speed "You Tear Me Up" and strikingly dull pop punker "Love Battery"), and a pair of fantastic and otherwise unavailable originals in the gritty 60s garage rocker "Don't Mess Me 'Round" and angry neck-swooping crazy chord collection "Lester Sands (Drop In The Ocean)" (which they DID eventually re-record, but not until a couple reunions later).

Hmm. Okay, I realize I just made it sound nearly flawless. Let me try again: Devoto ruins "You Tear Me Up" with an ultra-annoying Johnny Rotten impersonation, and three of the four Spiral Scratch tracks just aren't ready to go yet. They're too slow, choppy and annoyingly recorded.

But seriously, just look at this great verse from "Don't Mess Me 'Round"; how could they have let this song DIE and go to waste!?

"Any more of your mouth
And we'll both see red
I'll pin your bottom lip
To the top of your head
You've got too much talkie-talkie
Don't say one more thing
I'll make your insides look
Like a Jackson Pollock painting"

In summation, although Time's Up does include a couple of Shelley-esque pop-punk tunes ("Breakdown" and "Love Battery"), it predominantly presents The Buzzcocks as raw punk rockers and '60s garage devotees.

Or should that be "devotO"s????

No, it shouldn't. Both "Howard Devoto" and "Pete Shelley" are pseudonyms. Their real names are Cotton Nosey and Anus Crapsalot.

Speaking of which, here are a few hilarious gags I would have used in my eighth Red Eye appearance had appropriate questions been asked of me:

THEY: Both Sublime and Alice In Chains have reunited with new lead singers. Is it hard for a singer to replace a dead star?
ME: Well, that depends. When Bon Scott died, AC/DC chose a great replacement in Brian Johnson. Then again, when Sammy Hagar died in my dreams, Van Halen's replacement didn't work out at all!

THEY: Do you think Michael Jackson will still be able to put on a show after all these years?
ME: Absolutely. He put on a tremendous show of innocence just a few years ago!

THEY: Britney Spears just kicked off the 'Circus' tour. What wildly inappropriate dance moves can our nation's 12-year-olds expect to see?
ME: Well, she's slept with Kevin Federline, so we know she can at least do the jerk!

THEY: Kevin Federline doesn't want their children present while she performs, because of the subject matter. Do you agree?
ME: Forget the subject matter; what about the fecal matter - those SONGS she performs!?

So stick with me -- I'm going places!

The unemployment office, for example.

Add your thoughts?

Spiral Scratch EP - New Hormones 1979
Rating = 8

For those who knew these songs only through their Time's Up demo versions until a few minutes ago when they downloaded this EP off the Internet, the strength, energy and toughness of the re-recordings will come as an exciting surprise! They no longer sound like the Misfits, but the guitar tone is raw and ragged, the beats are up and hoppin', the mix is pristine (or as pristine as you can make a pile of dirt sound), and Howard Devoto has mastered the art of sounding like a 'could give a shit' British punk without sounding a bit like John "Lydon" Rottenny.

"Time's Up" is a mite playful to be one of only four tracks (those silly response vocals at the end of each line make the whole enterprise feel like a Herman's Hermits b-side), but "Breakdown" is killer Shelley pop-punk and "Friends Of Mine" is TRILLIONS more kickass than the terribly-mixed Time's Up demo, driven by a dizzying seasick verse riff and oddly-chorded chorus.

Also, "Boredom" is on here.


Or LURES, if you're an avid fisherman.

Add your thoughts?

Another Music In A Different Kitchen - United Artists 1978
Rating = 7

Something unbelievable happened to me last week, and when I tell you about it you're going to think I'm lying, but it's TRUE! My wife was there and she saw the entire miracle come down to Earth and take place. I had set my alarm for the ridiculous time of 9:52 AM (it's a long story) (shockingly, involving OCD), and like many kids of today aged 35 and younger, rather than using an old-fashioned ring alarm like a 36-year-old bag, I set my alarm to a rock and roll radio station playing all the hits of yesterday (Led Zeppelin) and today (The Rolling Stones). Well, imagine the (a) shock and (b) wonderment glee I experienced when, at 9:52 AM that morning, I awoke to the sounds of nine billion alarm clocks ringing in my ear -- the alarm had gone off at the EXACT MOMENT in Pink Floyd's "Time" when the alarms begin ringing! No ticking, no jumping in late -- it was the EXACT MOMENT. My mind blew out my ears, my wife shouted "Wow!" and now you're sitting there in disbelief and awe.

No hang on, that's boredom.

My point is simple: let's say you're Pink Floyd in 1969. Your key figure/lead singer is no longer in the band, but you don't want your fans to notice or think about such a thing. So what do you do? You begin Ummagumma with a song written by your old lead singer! Your fans shout, "Yay, it's 'Astronomy Domine!' Good old Pink Floyd and their Roger 'Syd' Barrett."

Now fast forward your literal cassette tape 19 years, and in that EXACT SAME SPOT (Great Britain) The Buzzcocks are preparing to release their first record without key figure/lead singer Howard Devoto. So what do they do? They start the album with 30 seconds of "Boredom"! What better way to say, "Hey, we're still The Buzzcocks you know and love! Look, here's 'Boredom'!" than to start the album with 30 seconds of "Boredom"? To answer your question, socks. But come on, do you realize how much labor and capital it would take to include a pair of socks with every single copy of the record!? See, this is why the U.S. is in the economic large intestine right now -- because nobody ever thinks about the sock expense. Then the taxman comes around and BOFFO! His name is Boffo.

But are they still The Buzzcocks we know and love? Well, I don't know. The guitars are treblier and less gritty-sounding, as if they bought actual instruments. The new lead singer Pete Shelley sounds like an eight-year-old. And although the disc begins with three angry punk songs, it thereafter lightens up into a warm mix of cheery pop-punk and rhythm-focused repetition vamps. So to answer your question, socks again.

Let's address the pop-punk first. The Early Buzzcocks excelled at pop-punk; you might even say they invented it. Their melodies (written mainly but not exclusively by Shelley) were astonishingly hooky; the guitar lines, vocal riffs and arrangements of such classics as "I Don't Mind" and "Autonomy" easily rival those of The Beatles or any other pop-rock band you'd care to name. This quality is most obvious on their singles though, later collected on the correctly-acknowledged-classic Singles Going Steady. The studio albums are a bit more diverse, and hence a bit less consistent.

Which brings us to the 'rhythm-focused repetition vamps.' Just because a band can play convincing pop-punk doesn't mean that they're equipped to imitate Can. "Sixteen" is 3:38 of rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tatting drums and TWO FUCKING CHORDS. Ugly chords too! I'll admit a fondness for the Venturesy guitar breaks, but the blueprint of the song is a headachey nuisance -- complete with mid-song noise breakdown. Similarly, "Moving Away From The Pulsebeat" offers a strong tribal drumbeat (reminiscent of later Killing Joke!) supported by.... well, pretty much TWO FUCKING CHORDS! This one at least attempts musicality, seeming to be sort of a Bo Diddley revision; unfortunately the guitar breaks sound like they were written by a one-fingered child, and the damned thing eats a full five minutes out of your life.

Having said that, the hypnotic and hooky "Fiction Romance" proves that when Shelley sticks to his songwriting strengths, a little injection of repetition isn't a bad thing at all! This two-part wonder clocks in at 4:30, but its chug-chug-chugging guitars and singalong vocals feel so good on the ears that it could probably even get away with a few minutes more. Pete (or "Shelley," depending on whether you like to imagine having sex with him as a boy or a girl) would continue to develop this hypnotic pop-rock style over the next couple of albums.

But why in Horsefuck's Living Sausagefactory did they re-record "Love Battery"!? That song DOES nothing, HAS nothing, IS nothing, and MAKES nothing. Why stink up the album with it?

For that matter, what's with the yodeling in "Get On Our Own"? What is this, The Price Is Right's Cliff Hangers game? Nobody wants to hear that crap, Pete Shelley. In fact, I just looked up 'yodeling' on Wikipedia and it says "You're an asshole if you do this. SHUT UP."

Granted I just wrote that entry, but who's the yodeling expert? The guy who wrote "it was probably developed in the Swiss Alps as a method of communication between mountain peaks" or the guy who erased what that guy wrote? Clearly the latter.

Which reminds me of a hilarious joke:

One day a farmer was using a ladder. Something something something. And then a punchline about the former and the latter (farmer and the ladder). HA HA HA! AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Look, I admit it's a fixer-upper.

POST-SCRIPT: I just read All-Music's review of this album, and it says all the same stuff!!! About how the singles are pop-punk, but the studio albums are more diverse, and how they try to sound like Can and all this crap. Fie on you, All-Music Guide! You've trumped me and made me cunnilingus!

Surely that's not the word I was actually trying to think of.

Ah! Sorry, it's "irrelevant."

Reader Comments
maybe I'm a music nitwit, but

1. I love noisy breakdowns so to me, it works really well in the middle of "Sixteen". I heard no Can influence but again, I don't pick up on things like that, and I own almost every Can album.

2. I don't know if you simply ignored it but how could you not love the line, "sooner or later/ you're gonna listen to Ralph Nader" from "Fast Cars" What?!

I bought this album just to be prepared to see the Buzzcocks on May 22 in Detroit because they said they were going to play everything from their first two albums. In conclusion, I like this album a lot.

Add your thoughts?

Love Bites - United Artists 1978
Rating = 8

If I know you right about now, you're out there worrying, "I wish Mark would stop reviewing this English band. It's as if he doesn't love America anymore." But this is simply not the case. I love America as much as I always have, and maybe even more. To celebrate, here's a little 'Get To Know America' quiz that I've prepared for all the foreigners out there in the audience tonight:

Q: Why did John Wilkes Boothe assassinate President Lincoln?
A: To impress Jodie Foster.

Q: How many stripes are on the American flag?
A: It depends on how many times you've wiped your ass with it.

Q: Why is George Washington known as "The Father Of Our Country"?
A: Because Gram Parsons had already taken his first choice, "The Father Of Country Rock."

Q: What is America's Favorite National Pastime?
A: Ham radio.

Q: Why did Barack Obama recently state that he "hasn't been to all 57 states"?
A: He misheard the question, and thought he was being asked his familiarity with the Heinz product line.

Q: What is the best studio album by America's The Buzzcocks?
A: Love Bites

Mature, consistent and diverse -- with TWO instrumentals -- Love Bites isn't the least bit angry, but it is alternately calming, sorrowful, fun, dark, exciting, dramatic, smart and corny. Shelley's strong melodic sense makes classics out of pop-punkers "Just Lust" and "Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone) Ever Fallen In Love (In Love With Someone) Ever Fallen In Love (In Love With Someone You Shouldn't Have Fallen In Love With)?," as well as unexpectedly strong forays into '60s Nuggets rock, '70s boogie rock and straight-up midtempo pop. He also continues to pursue his interest in hypnotic repetition with mixed results (wasting five and a half minutes on the two-chord guitar solo "Late For The Train," but RULING CATCHY ASS in drumroll-happy "Operators Manual" and genius lopey-doper "E.S.P.," whose lead guitar riff never changes no matter what rhythm chords are being played). Steves Garvey and Diggle do their part for stylistic range too, contributing should-be TV theme song "Walking Distance" and fey acoustic love song "Love Is Lies" respectively.

In other words, the Gods of the Pop-Punk Single only included three pop-punk songs on their entire second album -- and two of them were released as a single!

This record also makes it clear (in a way that Another Music didn't) that Pete Shelley didn't ask for this voice. You can tell that he's trying to sing in a calmer, lower voice in several of these songs, but Mother Nature just didn't bless him with a baritone. He does the best he can with his voicebox though, and sounds really quite good!

On a final note, Another Music In A Different Kitchen and Love Bites are available on a single CD, so do your ears a favor and purchase it today (using the handy Amazon link I've provided at the bottom of the page).

Reader Comments
Alright! Ever since my cousin introduced me to these guys (who incidentally loves "Orgasm Addict"), I was very surprised that you hadn't covered them yet. Love Bites is certainly very good. I absolutely LOVE how it starts with "Real World," such a bouncy good time! I haven't yet listened to it enough for all of the songs to embed themselves in but I love what has stuck. You're also very right about their coincidental similarity with the Misfits in the drums production department. Guitars aren't quite as blood-curdling though.

Also, congratulations on getting into SPIN! The day has come!

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* Singles Going Steady - IRS 1979 *
Rating = 10

I absolutely despise two of the songs on this record: aforediscussed "Orgasm Addict" and excruciating children's song "Noise Annoys," which is the best argument I've ever heard for not being a high-pitched Englishman (more like "VOICE Annoys"!). But if you're out there watching this review on the TV and thinking, "Mark, you can't give a 10 to an album if you DESPISE two of its songs," then one thing is for certain: you haven't heard the other 14 songs.

Singles Going Steady is THE pop-punk album. Throw away your (*names a bunch of pop-punk bands*) because THIS is where all the melodies are. The cheery, the heartbreaking, the angry, the whimsical, the brooding - why, the whole realm of human emotion is contained within these tunes, with vocal and musical hooks to murder for. The guitar tones are trebly and the vocals even treblier, but the uptempo popcraft songsmithery is infallible: the disc goes from one highlight to the next to the next to the next as you sit there wondering, "Jesus, did these guys EVER write a bad song?" Then "Noise Annoys" shows up and answers your question. But the amazing thing to realize is that half of these songs were b-sides!

The melodies speak for themselves, so let's discuss the lyrics instead. To put it bluntly, The Buzzcocks' protagonists aren't exactly 'lucky in love.' The album title says it all: these are stories of "singles going steady": men and women failing to connect, doomed for unhappiness, and staying together only for fear of being alone. Witness my examples:

"What Do I Get?" - Nothing but sleepless nights alone in a half-empty bed. Sigh....

"I Don't Mind" - He's convinced that his girlfriend hates him and makes fun of him behind his back. He'll deal with it though, as long as she doesn't leave him!

"Love You More" - This could almost be mistaken for a sincere feel-good love song if not for the final verse, wherein he informs the girl that if their love doesn't last, he's going to slit his wrists. WHEE!

"Ever Fallen In Love?" - In which Pete puts forward his philosophy that the only thing worse than having a lover who treats you like dirt is losing a lover who treats you like dirt.

"Promises" - This heartwarming piece begins with the narrator confidently describing he and his girlfriend's love and trust for one other. Two and a half minutes later, she has betrayed him. WHEEEEEEE!!!!!

"Everybody's Happy Nowadays" - Except him. He's lonely!

"Whatever Happened To?" - She's a floozy, giving it up to every Tom, Dick and Harry!

"Oh Shit" - On this very rare occasion, he actually feels anger towards the girl instead of pity for himself. He goes on to call her a "cow."

"Just Lust" - He loves her, but she just wants to have sex - with whomever, it doesn't matter.

"Lipstick" - His lover has left him. And she did it to the tune of Magazine's "Shot By Both Sides"!

In fact, the only song on here where love seems to work out is Steve Diggle's "Autonomy," and that girl probably cheats on him right after the song ends anyway. Cunt. If she's like every other girl in the world, believe you me, she has a cunt.

I'm sorry; that was crude. I sometimes forget that I'm writing for mixed company. The medical term is of course "post office box for dickmail."

Also, as if all this heartbreak and loneliness isn't enough, in "Something's Gone Wrong Again," he LOSES A SOCK!!!!!!

I bet now he regrets not including a pair of socks with every copy of Another Music From A Different Kitchen.

Reader Comments

I'm French and these guys play a pacy music I do appreciate, but I only get one word out of four, and most of the time, to be honest, I can't even find this word in a dictionnary. I never really understood what all these songs were about - apart from the ones Diggle penned. And Noise Annoys.

I get to listen to the album(s) every time I grasp some kind of an explanation like yours. I always hope I'll get to understand it all, but it never works. The music has remained way too catchy to focus on the lyrics. And I've been trying for over 10 years now.

So thanks for telling me it was all about socks.
Bah. Don't like. Yes, it's hooky and fast for the most part, but only mildly so. The only song I'd listen to and think to myself "Holy shit! Why wasn't this a super dooper number one hit???" is "Why Can't I Touch It?", and that's because it's got plus-sized length and is impossible to miss.

Frankly, the whole thing reminds me of Moby's first album--yeah, it's pretty much a singles compilation, but that don't mean we like it in LP form. Though I guess if you listened to each song by its lonesome, wait three minutes and then movie onto the next, it might sound better. I give it an 8.
Nice job on the Buzzcocks reviews, I've always enjoyed most of "Singles Going Steady" but not EVERY song on it. Though on the strength of "What Do I Get" and "Ever Fallen In Love" I'd probably give this one the ten also. I can't ever seem to listen to it without repeating those two songs over and over and over again, that's just how good they are. Probably two of the catchiest songs I've ever heard in my life.

Incidentally, have you seen the remastered re-issue CD of it? Where they toss on an additional 4 singles and B sides, bringing the total songs up from 16 to 24? Its very nice!
Fuck me, "Orgasm Addict" might be my favourite song on there -- how the fuck can you hate that adrenaline-pumped, hilarious pop-punk fuckathon? Sorry, "fuckathon" strikes me as far more interesting than "song" could ever hope to be.

Yeah, anyway, I do love this album, I do. One of the earliest albums I got myself, just on the strength of the hits, so the memories I have attached to it make it difficult for me to slam it much at all. Which is OK, since there isn't really anything to slam. I own the latest remaster and reissue, with the bonus tracks (check 'em yerself!). Not vital, but worth picking up.

And also: ddickso2's comment is among the dumber things I've read concerning the band. I have no clue how one could consider the pop-punk Can adaptation -- totally; listen to the spacey guitar interplay, it's totally the greatest Can application Pete ever did -- more striking as a pop hit than, say, the actual pop hits of "Ever Fallen in Love?" or "Everybody's Happy Nowadays." And Moby? The fuck is that talentless, bald nob doing on a Buzzcocks page?

ps: nice to speak to you again, Mark, it's been a while! How's life? I'll be sure to get comments up for some of the band's other albums sometime in the near future -- holy FUCK have you underrated A Different Kind of Tension!

pps: "Lipstick" came first; Pete let Howard *borrow* that melody!!! I'm such a fanboy.

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A Different Kind Of Tension - IRS 1979
Rating = 7

How is it that a compilation of eight different records sounds more cohesive than its studio follow-up? This album is a complete mess! It's clear from the beginning that something is awry, as the very first song (punker "Paradise") jumps from chord to chord seemingly at random; whoever told Pete Shelley this song has a 'hook' must've been high on the dope! And I don't mean President Reagan!

Though the record definitely improves after this trainwreck of a beginning, it remains bizarrely slapdash and inconsistent for a full 3/4rdths of its playing time. Where Love Bites sounded diverse yet focused, this one sounds confused and directionless. At first, I thought the problem was that Shelley and Diggle split the songs, with Shelley sticking to pop-punk and Diggle branching out into more in-your-face rock and roll music. But then I realized Diggle wrote the pop-punk gem "You Know You Can't Help It" and Shelley wrote the slow piss-off "Money," so that theory flew out the window. Along with MY TIE, GODDAMN YOU THEORY-BIRD!!!

Heh heh. Come on, there's no such thing as a theory-bird.

So I have to conclude that the problem is simply hit-or-miss songwriting. Two of Diggle's three contributions are particularly sketchy: "Sitting Round At Home" has a fun vocal effect and "Mad Mad Judy" is certainly an energetic old-time rocker, but quite frankly, neither song progresses beyond two underwritten segments repeated over and over again. As for Shelley, his melodic pop muse strikes gold once again in "You Say You Don't Love Me" and "I Don't Know What To Do With My Life," but aforementioned "Money" and "Paradise" are certainly no classics -- and why he decided to devote the entire second half of punker "Raison D'etre" to a guitar solo is a question better left to the Gods Of The Ages.

There is, however, one saving grace to this disheveled old mongrel of a record: tracks 9-11. And I'm sorry for bringing up the memory of that horrible day, but you have to admit it resulted in some great songs (Bruce Springsteen's "You're Missing," The Bee Gees' "Hey Osama, Eat My Pud"). And here, on the third Buzzcocks studio release, it results in the absolute peak and pinnacle of Peter Pshelley's repetition obsession. The sixteen-minute triumvirate of "Hollow Inside," "A Different Kind Of Tension" and "I Believe" is a masterwork of darkly hypnotic hookery. I know I've done my fair share of complaining about underwritten songs, but some riffs are so driving and haunting that they demand to be played 400 times in a row. These three qualify.

"Hollow Inside" kicks it off by simply jumping into "Money"'s space, denying that song its chance to end gracefully. Its steady 4/4 rhythm and creepy arpeggios then keep you pinned to your seat as the band principals sing the song title something like 8 hundred billion times. Even my wife loves this song and she's never given any other Buzzcocks song a second listen-glance. Granted, she generally sings it as 'Henry The Dog, He was Henry The Dog, and I can't figure out what the reason was why he was Henry The Dog, he was Henry The Dog (and so forth),' but that still counts.

The title track keeps things moving with an anxious downbeat, two foreboding chords and doubled vocals that not only talk over each other but actually give way to a ROBOT a couple times! This song may give you the willies, but one thing's for curtains: a rod.

That song may give you the willies, but one thing's for certain: when The Buzzcocks labeled this record's A-side "The Rose On The Chocolate Box" and B-side "The Thorn Beneath The Rose," they weren't just tossing jam at a motorcycle!

Finally, "I Believe" completes the record's finest section by cheerfully expressing optimism galore as if a cloud has lifted from the brow of Pete Shelley's hat -- only to bodily smash your heart back to the Floor of Damnation with its unexpected conclusion that "THERE IS NO LOVE IN THIS WORLD ANYMOOOOOOOOOOOOORE!"

Then they play a couple snippets from earlier hits, release a few singles, break up for twelve years, reunite, and suck.

Add your thoughts?

Parts 1-3 EP - IRS 1981
Rating = 7

I saw the Dead Milkmen live tonight! I saw them several times back in the day, but never thought I'd get the chance again. Here's what they played from each record:

Big Lizard in My Back Yard - Tiny Town, V.F.W., Serrated Edge, Lucky, Big Lizard, Bitchin Camaro, Right Wing Pigeons, Nutrition
Eat Your Paisley! - Beach Party Vietnam
Bucky Fellini - NOTHING!
Beelzebubba - Stuart, I Walk the Thinnest Line, Punk Rock Girl, Smokin' Banana Peels, Life is Shit
Metaphysical Graffiti - Methodist Coloring Book, If You Love Somebody Set Them on Fire
Soul Rotation - NOT A THING!
Not Richard, But Dick - NOT A GODDAMNED THING!
The King in Yellow - The King in Yellow/William Bloat, Fauxhemia, She's Affected, Caitlin Childs, Meaningless upbeat Happy Song, Hangman, Some Young Guy (seven of the CD's first eight songs -- they completely ignored the last nine!!!)
non-LP covers - Cars (Gary Numan), Death Valley '69 (Sonic Youth)

I loved the show to kibbles and bits. Thank you, The Dead Milkmen, for all the wonderful music and laughter.

This EP features the final three singles of the "first-era" (i.e. "any good at all") Buzzcocks, with the songs segregated by songwriter. Shelley continues his repetition manifesto, but with a bit less hypnotic success than previously, particularly in the cheesy saxophone-splattered crap ball "What Do You Know?" Steve Diggle brings a bit more quality to his half, consisting of the Weller-mod "Why She's the Girl from the Chainstore," ringing rocker "Airwaves Dream" and lovely vintage keyboard showcase "Running Free."

Still, even if only one of Shelley's tracks is up to his usual standards (the dark driving stereo-player "Strange Thing"), at least he's still experimenting with song structure instead of just urinating out a bunch of awful power pop as he would on their reunion CDs. (See below)

(No, that's your penis. I meant see the words below)

(No, that's the tattoo on your penis. I meant see the words on the screen below)

(Jesus, who wears a screen on their penis!?)

Reader Comments

Edwin Oslan
I think it's an interesting release based solely on how Martin Hannett is all over this thing, using his technique, making it sound more post-punk with all "space" between the instruments and giving the drums the same mechanical drive and reverb that you'd find on a Joy Division album. Also, you don't mention the heavy use of keyboards. It would have been neat to hear how the band developed if they had kept going in this direction. In some parts it seems like they're trying to emulate Magazine as well.

Add your thoughts?

Trade Test Transmissions - Caroline 1993
Rating = 4

Yeah, more like BuzzCROCKS!!!

Of SHIT!!!

After a brief full-band reunion, the rhythm section said "Up your ass, Stinky" and went back to work on the carrot farm. As such, Whatsisname and Roger Ebert got the, okay I'll look up their names.

As such, Peter Nelson and Dave Winfield got a new rhythm section and okay I still didn't look up their names. I'll do so now.

As such, Castor McOilField and Steve Diggle got a new rhythm section and okay I still didn't look up their names but I remembered one of them. I'll look up the other name now.

Peter Landfill and

Uncle Patootie a

Fuckity McPoopsSoPlenty a

Ernest Goestocamp

David Lee Penis

PETE SHELLEY! I still didn't look it up, but I apparently wrote his name here in the margin of my notes paper. And be thankful I did; otherwise we'd both be here all night watching me list names like "Guernseycow Medicalbutt" and "Dented Corvette Bill."

So Pete Smelley and Steve Dingdong hired a new rhythm section and set out to record a disappointing power pop album. Pete's voice is lower than before, and also much, much gayer. I'm not knocking gay people (in the ass, with my penis), but he should realize that if he EVER wants to score a good-looking man, he's gotta start sounding a bit less like a member of the Fabulous Gay People Five or whatever those guys were called. You know, that TV show.

In other, less offensive news, the guitars are thick and fuzzy with a chorus sheen.

Diggle contributes a few catchy power-pop-punkers, but Shelley seems to have left his songwriting talent in 1979 -- or at least his interest in writing anything other than underwhelming sub-Matthew Sweeters by the dozens. Surely he realizes that all of these happy little chord changes have been used hundreds of times over the years, and that they require stronger vocal melodies than the off-the-cuff sing-speaking he has on tap for us here at his Bar Of Shit. What happened to his interest in hypnotic repetition and stylistic diversity? Hell, what happened to his BRAIN!? Nearly every song on this record is mindless, obvious three-chord power-pop. (or, if sped up, "pop-punk.")

And what's with these lyrics?

"I can do it, do it, do it till the morning comes
Like the river fills the sea
I can do it, do it, do it like incessant drums
I can do it like the birds and the bees"

??? He's talkin about FUKIN!

"I think it's time we did more than kiss
Ever fallen in love with the palm of your hand?
It's practically safe, not much risk of disease
My craving feeds at the palm of your hand"

!!! He's talkin about HANJOBS!

"369 all the time
What's the meaning in the number?
Somebody tell me
369 through my mind
All I'm getting is a number"

$$$ He's talkin about GETTIN THREE 69'S!!!!

So yes, out of 10 Pete Shelley compositions, a mere TWO move me: the title track because it's a fun boogie-rocker and the only diversion from happy (power-)pop(-punk) on the record, and "Crystal Night" because it's a creepy anti-censorship song. The rest sound like Evan Dando outtakes with guest vocals by Jm J. Bullock.

Add your thoughts?

All Set - IRS 1996
Rating = 2

Position: Chief Executive Officer
Organization: Best Friends Animal Society
Location: Utah
Date posted: 3/5/2009

In the late 1980s, when Best Friends was in its early days, roughly 17 million dogs and cats were being killed in shelters every year. Despite the commitment of shelter workers to the animals in their care, the conventional belief was that little could be done to lower that terrible number.

·Demonstrated track record of success as the leader of a complex organization, with a national/regional reach.



I would like to apply for the Chief Executive Officer position you currently have advertised on your site. I feel that the job is a perfect fit for my experience, as I am a "demonstrated track record" with many "terrible numbers." Most of them are just dull power pop with predictable chord changes and ugly vocals. Please give me a call at your convenience, because I'm All Set and ready to go!

The Buzzcocks' All Set CD


Landscape Design – PT to FT - Freelance

Natural Pools & Gardens needs an energetic, personable, Freelance / Independent Contractor Landscape Designer to assist with our new construction and renovation projects. Our perspective is that most spaces suffer from a lack of creativity and understanding of the critical role of the design process. We have developed an interactive, collaborative design process which our clientele find works well as a refreshing change of pace and focus on their needs.



I would like to apply for the freelance landscape designer position that you currently have posted on If you're looking for a "lack of creativity," I'm your man! My songs are lethargic midtempo power-pop bores that sound so tentative and unconfident that you'd swear they were demos. I hope to hear from you soon, because I'm All Set to bring my shocking lack of imagination to your customers!

The Buzzcocks' All Set CD


Sheet metal Workers
Job type: Full-time
Company Name: Recruiter - MULTIPLE POSITIONS
Country: United States
State: Georgia
City: Savannah

Job Description:
Makes repairs to aircraft following orders of higher grade worker. Removes, cleans, reinstalls, or replaces defective parts, accessories, and components such as gear boxes, couplings, and fittings; bad actuators, accumulators, gauges, sections of corroded fuel and oil lines, worn cable pulleys, and burned-out lights, using hand tools.


To whom it may concern,

I would like to apply for the shit metal worker position that you have posted on In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that my experience is mostly in worthless power pop. However, I do contain a few shit metal songs that I'd be happy to show you. I'm confident that their "defective," "bad," "corroded" and "burned-out" nature will convince you that I have the skills necessary to succeed as a shit metal worker. I will follow up with you in a few days, because my mind is All Set and I'm ready to get going!

Thank you for your time,
The Buzzcocks' All Set CD


Dear Mr. All Set,

We have reviewed your application and determined that you only have one good song (Steve Diggle's harmony-vocal-driven "Playing For Time"). As such, we have created a new position for you in our front office: Garbage Bag Filled With Stinkbugs. If this slot doesn't appeal to you, I'd be happy to consider appropriate alternate positions (e.g. Malfunctioning Waste Treatment Plant, Throat Coated In Bird Guano, Syphilis-Ridden Penis That Ejaculates Bloody Pus). Either way, we'd like to start you off with a $160 million bonus. Please let me know your thoughts.

Edward Liddy
Chairman, AIG

Reader Comments
Funniest thing you've wrote in a while - keep it up.

Add your thoughts?

Modern - Go Kart 1999
Rating = 3

Talk about a ball of suck.

You are invited to an important talk being held on the subject of the recent Ball of Suck, a kissing-focused party thrown by t

Yesterday it was brought to my attention that between the Buzzcocks' breakup and reunion, Pete Shelley released several electronics-focused Thomas Dolby-style hit singles like "Homosapien" and "Telephone Operator." I urge you to check out the ghastly music videos available on YouTube; "Homosapien" is particularly... well, homo-something at any rate. The reason I bring this up is that the album title Modern seemingly refers to this record's experiments with synthesizer pulses, electronic beats and studio-manipulated guitarwork. But this is the same kind of shit Pete Shelley was already doing 16 years earlier! Modern!? More like RETRO -- especially since underneath all the electro-pips and swishly noises is nothing but the same generic power-pop-punk they played on the last two albums.

Having said that, "Soul On A Rock" features Pete Shelley's most creative chord sequence since his heyday, Diggle's "Turn Of The Screw" would fit perfectly on the Ramones' Pleasant Dreams LP, and I adore the fun little gimmick of having two strangely-distorted guitar chords call and respond to each other from opposite speakers (see "Rendezvous" and "Stranger In Your Town"). However, aside from these four songs, Modern has nothing. There is a stretch on the CD where there are literally EIGHT bad songs in a row. And by "bad," I mean any combination of formulaic chord changes, shaky vocals, miserable ballads, ripoffs of Styx and Talk Talk, horrid electro-Tuff-rock, and even a Steve Diggle RAP SONG.

But now I must tell you about a small but unfortunate event that occurred in my strife yesterday. Let me preface this brief yet uninteresting anecdote by stating that I was in the wrong. You do not need to write in to tell me that I was in the wrong; I know I was in the wrong. To incorrectly quote The Germs, "What I did was stupid - stupid." However, sometimes being in the wrong can result in you doing funny things, and this was kind of a funny thing, as in the wrong as I was.

So I was letting Henry The Dog pee on a USPS mailbox when suddenly a

Okay see? I was in the wrong. I realize I should not have been letting him pee on a public mailbox. My mind had drifted and I just wasn't paying attention. The mailboxes are sealed, of course, to keep rain away from letters, but that's not the point. It's just rude to let your dog pee on a public mailbox when there are so many perfectly nice fire hydrants and poles around. But back to my hilarious yet underwhelming anecdote.

So I was letting Henry The Dog pee on a USPS mailbox when suddenly a rotund old woman walking towards me was heard to say, "Not on the mailbox, please!" Snapping out of my absent-minded reverie, I spoke, "Oh, it's okay." What I meant was "Don't worry, the mail won't get wet because the mailbox is sealed," but that's not how it came across. She responded, "It is NOT okay! People shouldn't have to -- and it's AGAINST THE LAW!" My interest was piqued by this suggestion for I had never heard of such a law. I replied, "It is not against the law," and she got out her cellphone and began dialing!

(here's where it gets kinda funny yet pathetic)

Seeing this, I grew angry and asked, "You're calling the police!?" She replied, "Yes, I am!" So I GRABBED THE PHONE out of her hand and shouted, "Then I'll steal your fucking phone!" Though I greatly enjoyed the look of horrified shock that crossed her face, it was like 2 in the afternoon and we were on a busy sidewalk. So I handed it back to her and said, "You'd better watch how you talk to people." She grew quieter then and said, "But it's just as easy to have him go in the street. Can't you have him go in the street?" Finally realizing I was in the wrong, I replied, "Okay."

Fantastic anecdote, who's with me?

Reader Comments
I don't think there's a law against peeing on old ladies. Maybe Henry The Dog could try that next time instead of peeing on the precious mailbox. (Johnny)
"Yesterday it was brought to my attention that between the Buzzcocks' breakup and reunion, Pete Shelley released several electronics-focused Thomas Dolby-style hit singles like 'Homosapien' and 'Telephone Operator.'"

Fun fact: The photograph of Pete Shelley from the cover of the "Homosapien" single was also used on the cover of (of all things) Anal Cunt's "Morbid Florist" EP. Seth Putnam claims that he used this photo because Pete "was the gayest looking person that [he] could find in [his] record collection that day".

Jim Hull
If your dog can only find man-made objects to pee on, you need to get out of the city, my friend. It's obviously rotting your mind.

You were in the wrong, by the way.
It was around the time of this album's release that I saw Buzzcocks live for the first time. Um, it was totally boring. They said not one word to the audience, rapid-fired through their set, and bailed. This might not sound so bad on paper, but the entire time I found myself saying "So, anyway..." to people, just for something to do. It felt like I had merely made a monetary donation to a band rather than seen a live show. Whatever energy there was, it was not especially good. A little cold, if you asked me. Whatever, that's fine, I'm just saying.

Add your thoughts?

Buzzcocks - Merge 2003
Rating = 6

Well, leave it to Merge Records owner "Ass-Kickin' Mac The Ass-Kicker" McCaughan of SuperMotherFuckinChunk to get The Buzzcocks off their sissy fairy la-de-da asses and making some ANGRY BALLZ-TO-THE-WALL CHUNKY FUZZY LOUD THICK RICH BASSY DARK ROCKKKKK MUSIC! Have their guitars ever been this loud and heavy? Have their voices ever been this buried in the mix? Has Pete Shelley ever written this many great songs in the past two decades? The answers are "No!," "No!" and "I doubt it, if 'Homosapien' is any indication!"

Here's you listening to the first song on here: "What the devil!? Since when did The Buzzcocks consist of Bad Religion with Pete Shelley singing?"

Here's you listening to Pete Shelley's other songs on here: "Hey! These are good!"

Unfortunately, here's you listening to Steve Diggle's five contributions to the record:
(1) "This one isn't bad, I guess."
(2) "ARGH! Who does he think he is, Judas Priest!? He's not Judas Priest!"
(3) "FUCK! What does he think he's playing, The Gin Blossoms' 'Hey Jealousy'? He's not playing The Gin Blossoms' 'Hey Jealousy!'"
(4) "KILL! What album does he think this is, The Ramones' Pleasant Dreams? This album isn't The Ramones' Pleasant Dreams!"
(5) "This one isn't bad, I guess."

But now here's you commenting in general about Pete Shelley's contributions: "His songs are sad, thoughtful, tough, hooky and racked with adult anxiety."

And here's you pointing out that the album includes two Shelley/Devoto compositions, including the great old Lester Bangs put-down "Lester Sands (A Drop In The Ocean)":

But before we get to your thoughts on that topic, I've got something important that I want to say. No Buzzcocks album recorded before or since has sounded so much like a post-Nirvana "punk/grunge" album. It may be inconsistent and disingenuous, but its high points are by far the most compelling songs they've recorded during the reunion years. If nothing else, it deserves to have had at least one hit on modern rock radio -- and probably would've had they recorded it in 1993, when the world was actually into this kind of music.

(Not that Trade Testicle Transsexuals wasn't just as timely with its shitty terrible power pop fucken shit songs of garbage.)

Okay, now you can go ahead and point out that the album includes two Shelley/Devoto compositions, including the great old Lester Bangs put-down "Lester Sands (A Drop In The Ocean)."

Reader Comments
I've been kicking around the idea of actually buying this album for a while now, but after reading your review of it, I had to give it a try, even though you only gave it a six.

That said, YIKES!!! This is about the meanest a Buzzcocks album has ever sounded!!! Guitars and bass are HEAVY and THICK and loud loud LOUD!!!

Not too many punk bands seem to realize how much good it will do to have your guitars all big and loud and tough-sounding like they are here, but it sure does help me not mind so much that some of the songs aren't totally great. I wouldn't go out of my way to say any are outright bad, but some aren't perfect, and "Sick City Sometimes" is pretty much plagiarism. Did they think no one would notice that its the "Hey Jealousy" chords AND vocal melody? All he did was write different lyrics!!!

Oh well, I can't offer much criticism beyond that though, because even if it isn't all around consistant and one song is a re-written Gin Blossoms hit and Shelly still has an unfortunate singing voice, the sheer power and momentum this album has just floors me. I enjoy it deeply. That and some of the songs really are truly great. I'd give it an 8 for sure.

Add your thoughts about the album including two Shelley/Devoto compositions, including the great old Lester Bangs put-down "Lester Sands (A Drop In The Ocean)"?

Flat Pack Philosophy - Cooking Vinyl 2006
Rating = 5

So much for that, I guess. It's back to power-pop-punk with loud vocals and unremarkable melodies. These songs are a bit more nuanced and less grotesquely happy than the TTT/All Set/Modern triumvirate, but aside from the impossibly pleasing tonic-subdominant opener and downright bouncy "I Don't Exist," there's not a track on here that holds my attention all the way through. Furthermore, I haven't heard this many obligatory-sounding backup vocals since the first non-Danzig Misfits album. Listen to the background of nearly every song and you'll hear a crystal-clear, unnecessary "oooo," "oh-oh-oh" or "ahhhh" vocal line tossed in for no reason at all.

Still, it's not a bad album, and that alone is cause for celerybration when it comes to reunion-era Buzzcocks. Actually, I'm listening to it right now and it sounds fine. The real problem is that I'm not at heart a power pop fan. I've simply heard far too many songs at this point in my life to be super-impressed by basic chord changes. And this brings me to the underlying error of all music critique, review or performance.


Let's try that again. The problem isn't merely that every person has his or her own unique idea of what constitutes 'good music'; it's that we all encounter specific musics/songs/bands in a different chronological order. If I had encountered Flat Pack Philosophy at an earlier stage in my musical listeninghood, I'd probably rate it a 6 or even a 7. The songs would seem plenty hooky to me had I not already heard so many tracks similar to them. Or hell, even tracks that AREN'T similar to them. For example, as jubilant and bass-bouncy as "I've Had Enough" is, I can't get over the vocal line's similarity to the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home"! Plus, Diggle's really got to get away from his Pleasant Dreams fixation.

Which brings us to another example: The Ramones were the first punk band I ever got into, so to this day I love them to death pieces. However, if you're out there with your 2000 punk/hardcore CDs and decide to finally check out this old 'Ramones' band based on my rave reviews, you're probably going to find their music too slow and rudimentary to enjoy at all!

Which brings us to yet another example: why did I give all those late-period Agnostic Front albums such high grades!? That's just nuts!

Having said that, Diggle's "Sound Of A Gun" is a truly awful song. I think even a newborn baby could tell you this.

And sure, it'd be in their little nonsense goo-goo language, but keep listening and I guarantee their first words will be "Daddy! Turn this shit off."

Add your thoughts?

Get out your dickwallet and buy some Buzzcocks used or new - RIGHT HERE!

Or read about some other great bands like Rudimentary Peni or Peekays Kiddie Band on