There are hardly any bands performing today that genuinely deserve the adjective ‘legendary’. Buzzcocks are one of those very few. Their achievements are staggering: one of the original holy trinity of British punk (with the Sex Pistols and the Clash), innovators of the independent record scene and genuine punk rock superstars who have been cited as inspirational by bands as diverse as REM, Nirvana and Green Day. Nine studio albums, over twenty singles and EPs, a constellation of compilations, covers by other bands and songs on film soundtracks and advertisements have put Buzzcocks among the top echelons of British recording artists. A Mojo Inspiration award in 2006 is just one of the many accolades they have received for their work.
Buzzcocks have been thrilling audiences for over thirty-five years. Once called ‘the Beatles of punk’, their music blends high-octane guitar, bass and drum power with heartrending personal statements of love won and lost or dismay at the modern world to create a unique catalogue of unforgettable and immortal music – music they continue to deliver to fans old and new around the world with undiminished passion and energy.
Buzzcocks have forged a unique relationship with their public and are deeply loved and revered by a global audience. They are simultaneously true to their original ideals and open to new ideas and new ways of doing things – a happy result of their own uncompromising and individual standing.
Over the years, generations of musicians have tried the Buzzcocks methodology and have formulated their own variations of it. Most are generous in their thanks to the band that started it all. Those impressed by successive waves of ‘punk’ bands would do well to spend an afternoon with Buzzcocks’ seminal pop treasure Singles Going Steady, consistently the band’s biggest seller and a masterclass in genre-busting songcraft. This compilation of their first UK Top 40 hits is a classic album in every sense, an astounding collection of stunning moments such as Orgasm Addict, What Do I Get? the anthemic Harmony In My Head and, of course, the song that has become their calling card: Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn’t’ve Fallen In Love With?). These songs continue to be covered by dozens of groups in many styles – a testament to the strength and quality of the originals, not as slices of punk rock history but as timeless examples of songwriting craft.
Buzzcocks are the true godfathers of punk-pop, having laid down that infinitely superior archetype. They are also a band with a present, and a future. It is an unfolding story the group’s members could never have imagined, back in the hot punk rock summer of 1976. Says Pete Shelley: “Looking back on it now, what’s going on is like echoes of the Big Bang. You look around you in society and the culture; so many things would not have been the same if there never was punk rock. It’s strange; it’s like a science fiction novel. But to us at the time, it just sprung naturally.”
They’re still doing it, better than anyone. Sometimes the archetype is clearly the best. Buzzcocks – no. 1 in people’s hearts. Icons, superstars, legends.
Photograph: Leone Collinane.