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Trade Test Transmission , 5/10
All Set , 5/10
Modern , 4/10
Buzzcocks , 4/10
Flat-Pack Philosophy (2006), 5/10

I Buzzcocks furono una delle formazioni piu` dotate del punk-rock britannico e sarebbero state altrettanto influenti dei Sex Pistols sulle generazioni future. Se i Sex Pistols aprirono la corrente "hardcore" del punk-rock, i Buzzcocks aprirono quella "punk-pop". Entrambi erano figli dei Ramones, ma isolarono di quel gruppo visionario due elementi diversi: da un lato la violenza, dall'altro la melodia.

I Buzzcocks si erano formati a Manchester. Howard Devoto (canto), Pete Shelley (chitarra), Steve Diggle (basso) e John Maher (batteria) approfittarono del boom del punk-rock per pubblicare il singolo ormai storico Orgasm Addict (ottobre 1977), e soprattutto l'EP Spiral Scratch (New Hormones, 1977 - Mute, 1999), che sarebbe comunque importante perche' fu una delle prime incisioni "indipendenti". Il brano Boredom valeva anche in se', essendo uno degli inni punk piu` epici del periodo. Le canzoni che il gruppo aveva composto nel 1976 verranno pubblicate soltanto un quarto di secolo dopo su Time's Up (Mute, 1999).

Quando Devoto se ne ando` (per formare i Magazine), Shelley prese il comando e i Buzzcocks presero a sfornare canzoni molto piu` melodiche della media. Se le liriche parlavano ancora dell'angoscia adolescenziale dei ragazzi, le musiche svelavano invece l'influenza di Kinks e Who, da What Do I Get (febbraio 1978) a I Don't Mind (1978), con coro epico alla Clash, e Ever Fallen In Love (1978), il loro massimo hit e la loro romanza pop per eccellenza.

Gli album Another Music In A Different Kitchen (UA, 1978) e Love Bites (UA, 1978) sfiguravano in confronto a tale dovizia di melodie memorabili.
A ritornelli facili e sentimentali come Promises si contrapponevano brani dalla struttura piu` complessa come Everybody's Happy Nowadays, vagamente psichedelico, o Harmony In My Head, sospinto da un riff "duro", o Something's Gone Wrong Again, un boogie decadente. I primi otto singoli vennero raccolti su Singles Going Steady (IRS, 1979).

Shelley aveva ormai raggiunto la maturita` e le canzoni intellettuali di A Different Kind Of Tension (UA, 1979), in particolare You Say You Don't Love Me e I Believe, ne facevano gia` uno dei piu` creativi cantautori inglesi del momento.

Vide la luce anche l'album che Pete Shelley aveva composto nel 1974, Sky Yen (Groovy, 1979), un'opera sperimentale di musica elettronica.

Iniziatori della scena di Manchester, i Buzzcocks fusero Beatles e Stooges in un "punk pop" poetico (invece che polemico) e patetico (invece che epico).

(Translated by Giorgio Curcetti)

The Buzzcocks were one of the most valid outfits of British punk rock and would have prouven to be as influential as the Sex Pistols on future generations. If the Sex Pistols opened the punk rock "hardcore" movement, the buzzcocks opened the "punk pop" one. Both heirs of the Ramones, but of that visionary group the Buzzcocks isolated two different elements: on one hand the violence, on the other the melody.

The Buzzcocks were formed in Manchester. Howard Devoto (singer, real name Howard Trafford), Pete Shelley (guitar, real name Peter McNeish), Steve Diggle (bass) and John Maher (drums) took advantage of the punk rock boom in order to release the nowadays historical single Orgasm Addict (October 1977) and moreover the E.P. Spiral Scratch (New Hormones, 1977 - Mute, 1999), which would have been of primary importance because it was the very first one "independent" release. The song Boredom had a particular importance per se, being one of the most epic punk anthems. The songs the group wrote in 1976 would be released only a quarter of a century later on Time's Up (Mute, 1999).

When Devoto left (in order to form Magazine), Shelley took control at the helm and the Buzzcocks started releasing songs much more melodic in compared to the average trend. If the lyrics still talked about the kids' adolescent anguish, the music revealed instead the influence of bands like the Kinks and The Who, from What Do I Get (February 1978) to I Don't Mind, with epic backing vocals la Clash, and Ever Fallen In Love (1978), their most famous hit and their pop epic par excellence.

The albums Another Music In A Different Kitchen (United Artists, 1978) and Love Bites (United Artists, 1978) were slightly undertone compared to their previous cornucopia of memorable melodies. Easy and sentimental choruses were opposed to songs with a more complex structure like Everybody's Happy Nowadays, vaguely psychedelic, or Harmony In My Head, pushed by a hard riff, or Something's Gone Wrong Again, a decadent boogie. The first eight singles were gathered in a compilation called Singles Going Steady (IRS, 1979).

Shelley had just reached artistic maturity and the intellectual songs of A Different Kind Of Tension (United Artists, 1979), particularly You Say You Don't Love Me and I Believe, made him just one of the most creative English singer-songwriters of the time.

Even the album Pete Shelley had composed in 1974, Sky Yen, was released on Groovy in 1979, an experimental work of electronic music.

Kickstarters of the Manchester scene, the Buzzcocks fused Beatles and Stooges whose result was a poetic "punk pop" (as opposed to polemic) and pathetic (as opposed to epic).

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After the Buzzcocks broke up, Shelley and Diggle parted ways. Diggle formed Flag Of Convenience, who recorded a few catchy tunes (New House, Back Of My Mind, and the hit Life On The Telephone) before dissolving and resurrecting as FOC (Exiles, 1988).

Pete Shelley started a solo career in the realm of electronic dance-music with Homosapien (Arista, 1982), that includes the minor hit Homosapien, and with XL1 (Arista, 1983), with Telephone Operator. Heaven And The Sea (Mercury, 1986) was hardly noticed.

Trade Test Transmission (Essential, 1993), the first studio album in 14 years, is a collection of honest if a little outdated punk ditties (Innocent, Mever Gonna Give It Up, Who'll Help Me Forget, Palm Of Your Hand). Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle are the only two surviving members from the original line up.

All Set (IRS, 1996) adds more pop tunes (Totally From The Heart, Give It To Me, Hold Me Close, Back With You), but by now this sounds like an 80-year old John Lennon still playing his same old refrains.

Modern (Go Kart, 1999) is the end of the road: the composing duo has run out of steam and can only churn out dejavus like Thunder of Hearts.

Buzzcocks (Merge, 2003) was even worse, but Flat-Pack Philosophy (2006) was a diligent power-pop workout.

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