16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2003
I must admit that 2003 has been a surprising year, if only for the excellent new releases by Wire, and now The Buzzcocks - the two best bands to emerge from the 1977 punk explosion in England.
Perhaps Buzzcocks fans should have been alerted by Pete Shelley's exceptional duo with original Buzzcocks leader Howard Devoto last year. He even does his own take here of a song from that great CD.
But this is most definitely a Buzzcocks release, and it's the best since 1986's "All Set", especially in light of the disappointing "Modern" from 1999.
Since returning from oblivion in the early 1990s, Pete and Steve Diggle have taken a Lennon-McCartney approach to their recorded work. They now share equally in the writing, and Steve's work is every bit the equal of Pete's, in terms of quantity and quality.
"Buzzcocks" is the work where Shelley and Diggle hit peak form together for the first time - Shelley's songs dominated "All Set."
Everything you love about the Buzzcocks is here, and it is the best quality recording of all four of their second period efforts.
Since reforming the band has been a great live attraction. With "Buzzcocks" they have finally harnessed the power and excitment of their live performances in the studio.
A great CD from a great band.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2003
The Buzzcocks have as much right as anyone to put out a record, though it's worth pointing out that the band's reunion lineup has been together more than twice as long as the one that scored all those hits in England 25 years ago.
That's not a bad thing per se, particularly when a band reforms and comes up with material at least as good as its old stuff (New Order, King Crimson, Wire). Most of the time, of course, it's the other way around (Television, Soft Boys, Spinal Tap).
It would be somewhat unreasonable to demand that any band, including today's Buzzcocks, come up with tunes as good as the ones that cover the seminal Singles Going Steady, as well as Another Music In a Different Kitchen and Love Bites. However, even if we don't demand it, their absence leaves me wanting. While 1999's All Set came closer, none of the band's reunion records provided a genuine return to form.
The new disc on the venerable Merge label is titled Buzzcocks, implying that the music therein is definitive and quintessential. Don't be misled, but don't be prohibitively cynical either. This is an absolutely satisfying listen and a feat of songwriting that few acts could match. Additionally, the old geezers haven't diluted their mission with jazz session players or choral arrangements, like Sting or his old fart comrades.
Instead, original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle have the good sense to divide the writing equally, keep 12 songs under 35 minutes total, and include absolute standouts such as "Jerk," "Certain Move" and "Sick City Sometimes." Also included are two numbers Shelley co-wrote with original Buzzcock Howard Devoto, who left the band in 1976. "Lester Sands" is a leftover from those early days, well known to fans of the 1977 LP Time's Up or the legendary 1976 bootleg of the same name. "Stars" is a new take on "'Til the Stars In His Eyes Are Dead," a cut from last year's Shelley/Devoto collaboration, Buzzkunst.
Admittedly, the more and more advanced in age that any rock fan becomes, the more likely they are to find very cool a group of aged rockers who still rock. That said, there's enough going on here to please just about anyone.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2003
Buzzcocks is the seventh studio album from ... Buzzcocks. From the urgent drum intro of Jerk to the glorious ringing final chord of Useless, this album speeds through twelve slices of pure turbocharged punk joy. It's bright and urgent, brutally melodic, fast and slick - a natural addition to the Buzzcocks canon. It's all here as you'd expect, the thrilling buzz of guitars, the trademark fluid bass and crisp drumming - these alone would be reason enough to buy this album. The added value, as ever, is in songwriters Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle's ability to marry the adrenalin rush of the music to the everyday stories of their lives, universal stories touching everyday hearts. This is not cartoon punk boys whining about nothing, or formula radio rock, the new middle-of-the-road. This is lived-in honesty. It's the formula that underpinned the band's highest profile successes in the vanguard of the punk/New Wave explosion back then; this may be the album to bring the band back to that deserved notice and prominence.
These are great songs played passionately, this album has been produced to work as a whole piece, not the ragbag stop/start collection of hit/filler we have become used to from so-called chart acts. Bassist Tony Barber's production puts the guitars at the sharp end of the sonic assault. But in these heavily labelled and branded times, is it punk rock? Yes it is, but don't let that put you off. In sound, Buzzcocks reprises key moments of the band's history, right back to 1978's seminal Another Music in a Different Kitchen album. The longest song is the closing track Useless at a smidgen over four minutes. Aficionados will welcome the inclusion of a revived Lester Sands from the band's earliest days, and a storming version of Stars, which appeared on Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto's highly-regarded Buzzkunst album. Highpoints of this album are Shelley's opener Jerk, the classic-in-waiting Friends and Diggle's Sick City Sometimes, though the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is an album you'll want to play through from start to finish again and again and again.
It's a mixed-up world, these are mixed-up times. Fame has never been more transient or manufactured. How reassuring to be presented with an honest product by the finest and original exponents of the genre they invented. Power and craftsmanship - you couldn't ask for more. This is a straight-up album that slaps you about the ears and then leaves you strangely grateful for it. Old and new punks, Nu-metal youths, sk8r b0is and grrls - get out there, buy this and enjoy. Original and best.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
It's very rare that a punk band that cranked out flawless albums in the late 70's can still accomplish that same feat in the (whatever we're calling this decade). The Buzzcocks have done exactly that with this self-titled album. This ranks right up there with "Another Music in a Different Kitchen", "Love Bites", and "A Different Kind of Tension". It's just that good.
Every song on here is top-rate Buzzcocks, and the raw yet full production lends a ballsy edge to the well-written material. I saw them live a couple of years prior to the release of this album and they still play with a true passion, and that passion shines through on this album.
MUCH better than the other 2 studio albums they recorded in the 90's.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2006
The Buzzcocks had a magnificent 5-year run from 1976-1980 as the ultimate punk band with pop sensibility. Unlike almost of his punk brethren, Pete Shelley (and, to a lesser extent, Steve Diggle) was not afraid to write songs about love. In fact, "I Don't Mind," "You Say You Don't Love Me," "Ever Fallen In Love" and lots of other early Buzzcocks songs feature brilliant, clever lyrics about heartache. The Buzzcocks have always been the darkly romantic punk band.
After a bitter breakup in 1980, the band managed to carry on through the 80's and 90's with the occasional reunion and album ... but none of their work came close to the magic of the first five years. Until 2003, that is.
As if to announce their arrival, this album is self-titled. And the most remarkable thing is, 27 years after the band's earliest recordings, this album has all the excitement and energy of a debut. True, the rhythm section is now two younger guys backing up veterans Shelley and Diggle, but the guitarist/singers haven't lost a step, even in their mid-late-40's.
Hooks abound - songs like "Friends," "Keep On," and "Sick City Sometimes" will stick in your head from the first listen. Overall, the vocals could have been a bit louder in the mix, but the sound is still terrific. A couple of Diggle's tunes do get a bit repetitive, though ("Certain Move" and "Wake Up Call" i.e.). "Lester Sands" was one of the very first songs the band ever wrote - and it really doesn't stand up to the rest of the material on this release.
Although "Buzzcocks" isn't as good as "Another Music ..." it is better than "Love Bites" and just as good as "A Different Kind of Tension." It's the first post-1980 Buzzcocks album worthy of inclusion with their first three.
Four stars for an excellent album. If I could, I'd give it 4 1/2 stars, because Shelley and Diggle deserve extra credit for proving that age doesn't have to slow you down one bit!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2003
This disc is by far the most propelling collection of songs I have heard
in one place, ever. I can think of no description for it other than
velocity. The feeling of being hurtled, albeit controlled, in a
momentum/gravity gathering intensity that simply drains you. From the
opening drumbeats of Jerk to the closing crash of cords of Useless,
there is no let up. Imagine riding a roller coaster that starts from
three miles up and launches you through turns, loops and loop de loops
w/o ever slowing or losing momentum. I was worried that being 30 some
odd minutes long, this disc would leave me wanting more. Instead, I'm
very satisfied at the end. I was watching the LED's on my cassette as I
was transferring the disc to tape (w/the volume turned down) and the
level never let up. No dips no spikes. One constant WHOOSH! I picture
hurricanes to be like this. Like a wind gust that never stops.
Yes, there are a few "classic" Buzzcocks elements weaved into places
here and there. You'll recognize them. They sneak up on you. There are
certain things that you hear, the way a guitar line will counter the
melody in the intro or after the vocal to a verse is finished or maybe
the guitar line will counter the vocal line. Some of the sonic elements
have a classic sound to them. "lester sands" has 197x written all over
the vocal phrasing, but the sound is very contemporary Buzzcocks. So
many little things. The more you listen, the more you hear. It's
deceiving at first. This wall of sound. As you become familiar with the
external/obvious layers, you begin to pick up the subtleties. They are
Tony Barber's production is really good. Even though this is a very
"wall of sound" type feel, there is plenty of dynamics to keep it
interesting. Most of this is accomplished via the melodies and vocal
lines. Barber has created a balance between the immensity of the "wall"
and the delicateness of the "brick and mortar."
Shelley and Diggle cover the bases of personal struggle in very intimate
ways and yet, the experiences are easily relatable to the listener. On
more than one occasion, I was thinking, yea yea, I understand exactly
what you mean. My personal "morning after" experience was very much like
Pete describes it in his song. Was his really like that? Is he speaking
from experience, I don't know? I can relate, though. That's what has
made this such an endearing band. The lyrics have been kept at a
standard above what most settle for. The episodes are described in ways
that are most vulnerable. And yet, that's what allows the listener to
climb inside the lyric and feel safe and protected. You know you won't
be hurt, the guy telling you this has been there too.
Yes, Pete. (Paraphrasing)These ARE mixed up times in a mixed up world
and even though the recipe of life is mixed up too, one thing's for
certain. The mix that is Buzzcocks is thoroughly developed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2003
This is a GREAT Buzzcocks cd with a much heavier heavier sound and 12 really cool songs. All the songs are really good but i'd have to say my favourite song on this cd is Useless. But each song has it's own catchy tune to it and i was really amazed by how good it is. But of course all of Buzzcocks cd's are good.
Hopefully they come out with more cd's because this band has stood the test of time and shown everyone that they can still make good punk songs after decades in the buisness.
Buy it it's worth your money!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2003
This CD is everything everyone ever loved about alternative/punk music. Wannabes watch out - The Buzzcocks are back and ready to remind the world how it's REALLY done. Never settle for less. "Driving You Insane" is dangerously contagious and "Jerk" won't let you sit still. You'll enjoy the first listen and fall in love with each one thereafter. Check out Diggle's "Some Reality" as well!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2003
On their brand-new, self-titled (or untitled, according to band spokesman and leader Pete Shelley) album, the Buzzcocks face up to the challenge of redefining their sound for a new generation of listeners -- a generation to whom 1970s punk rock can sound thin, quaint and dated. The Manchester quartet has picked up the gauntlet (a heavy leather one with steel studs this time) and hurled it back into the faces of any who dared doubt the Buzzcocks' ability to create music that's fresh, powerful and sizzling hot. The band's output during the 1990s (three studio albums and one astounding live disc since re-forming in '89) was honest and relevant, if at times unfocused, but this new CD takes the music to a whole new level. It exudes confidence and maturity -- and it rocks hella-hard, too. The sound is a distillation of the Buzzcocks' signature melodic pop-rock-punk and the 21st-century music it inspires (Blink-182, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Hives, Sum41, etc., etc.) So it's got the keening lead-guitar, sharp-tongued lyrics and double-take-inducing chord changes of the Buzzcocks at their best, and a spine-shaking, ear-shredding CRUNCH that should be the envy of today's crop of alt-rock bands.
Bottom line: If this album doesn't go top 10 on the alternative chart, it will be a serious crime!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The post-reunion Buzzcocks albums haven't been that great, but this one really is a good album.
Most of the song are just stunning, and when you combine the very powerful production (nothing they've done before or since has had guitars this LOUD and HEAVY sounding) with the fast momentum of the songs, you have an album that just knocks you on your butt.
Great melodies too, but if you know the Buzzcocks, you'd expect that kind of thing.
My one complaint, so many other reviewers have been praising "Sick City Sometimes" but am I the only one on here that noticed its pretty much the Gin Blossom's "Hey Jealousy" with different lyrics? Seriously, the chords and vocal melody of both those songs are nearly identical! You shouldn't plagiarize 90's radio songs, Diggle! ;D
Get this album, its dark, heavy, hooky and awesome.