Sunday, April 30, 2006

Vinyl Tap: Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady
I get a new turntable and dust off some old records. Vinyl Tap #1:

Three minutes and the truth. Or at least some tight and economically infectious and frenetic pop punk centering around everyday fun and frustrations, romantic hopes, and inevitable heartbreak. As Buzzcocks’ lead singer and main songwriter Pete Shelley bemoans in his acerbic lyrics and tone, not only has “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” it’s gone wrong “again and again and again again and …” A familiar refrain, somehow.

With over a dozen albums, including a new one, Flat-Pack Philosophy, to cap off their off-and-on recent years, Buzzcocks were inspired by the Sex Pistols and formed in Manchester, England, in the punk-heady mid-1970s. As a compilation of previous A and B sides, 1979’s Singles Going Steady is an essential hook-filled album of consistency and manic pop thrill -- ranging from the lustiness of the ready, willing and -- to judge from the aural embellishment -- able “Orgasm Addict,” to the more vulnerable, tender and just as universal concerns expressed in “Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn't've Fallen In Love With)?” wherein:

You disturb my natural emotions
You make me feel like dirt
And I'm hurt
And if I start a commotion
I'll only end up losing you
And that's worse

Other highlights include the head-over-heels surrender of “Love You More” to the more tiptoeing wariness -- “I don't know if I should be believing / Deceptive perceiving” -- at the heart of the musically and deliriously intricate “I Don‘t Mind.” In answering the musical question “What Do I Get?” -- a plaintive imploring comes up a little wanting: “I only get sleepless nights / Alone here in my half-empty bed.”

Our insomnia-ridden and woebegone would-be Romeo is perhaps too bewitched and bothered when lost in the bewilderment of “Promises” where “We play a game with two sets of rules.” At the same time, in "Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” no amount of wishful thinking will alter the course of events as the narrator repeats: “Life's an illusion love is a dream / Life's an illusion love is a dream." Apparently, something’s gone wrong again.


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