Listeners, it’s been a bad month. We’re in distress, and we need a caress. So what do we get? Well, sleepless nights, to be honest. But also one of the world’s best “greatest hits” albums: Singles Going Steady by The Buzzcocks.
The Buzzcocks occupy a weird place in Punk orthodoxy. They’re considered the progenitors of pop-punk, and have been covered by world-renowned sellouts like The Offspring and Green Day (bands that, incidentally, we love). But they were also there from the very beginning, their first ep is one of the most legendary DIY releases in the medium, and Kurt Cobain brought them on their last tour. If you want to look at them through the lens of “credibility”, you have your work cut out for you.
But this is Desert Island Discourse, where we believe two things: that credibility is for losers, and that The Buzzcocks are better than The Beatles.
After founding member and incorrigible suffragette Howard Devoto left the band to start post-punk weirdos Magazine, Pete Shelley took over primary songwriting duties and turned The ‘Cocks into some of the finest popsmiths in any genre, releasing a string of legendary singles that, in a just world, would’ve been number one hits the world over. And while the three albums they released before their initial breakup are all good in their own right, it’s those singles that really cement their skills in the genre.
On their own, they’re fantastic, crystalline blasts of hyperactive, open-chord melody. Collected altogether on Singles Going Steady, they become a convincing argument that Pete Shelley is one of the most underrated songwriters in rock music. It’s (mostly) pure pop perfection, and a kind reminder of what “hooks” are supposed to sound like after a full month of terrible pain.
You can see how baffled we are, learning what good music is again, so this episode also doubles as a document of us slowly emerging back into the light. Take our hands, and join us in the sun. Also: Fortnightly Fuckabouts, The Ol’ Diggle n’ Dial, and Baby Bjork.