Love Bites – The Buzzcocks

 

The Buzzcocks were one of the first punk bands, famously supporting The Sex Pistols in Manchester. I first heard them at a youth club I went to a lot in 1977-78. The 62 Club was just off the main street in Aberdeen, Union Street. I met a lot of people there who I still count as friends to this day. At the first disco I went to there in late 1977 I can remember meeting Les. He had an amazing painting on the back of his jean jacket of Jesus hanging upside down on the cross. We quickly became friends (Les ended up doing artwork for us for Creation Records and, lately, for my own Oatcake Records. He does loads of artwork for East Action Records and has a style and quality to his work that is still in demand.) Les had a box of records with him and I suspect that a lot of the records played were his.

The 62 youth club had a great, wee dance floor and a tiny DJ booth. Some great gigs were held there too, including UK Subs and Patrik Fitzgerald. I saw the film, The Harder They Come in the upstairs room there – shown on one of those big box projectors spinning the huge reels round at a terrifying speed, the noise competing with the sound of the movie. At the 62 club you could dance to punk rock records (our school disco rarely played any)or drink coffee upstairs . There were lots of Northern Soul records played too and I remember sharing nights with the Soul boys and girls, where we’d hear a punk record and a soul record alternated throughout the night.

Over the next few months, I would hear lots of great records there and buy some of them too. But one of them seemed impossible to buy. It had a cool bass intro followed by a single string guitar riff, a swinging verse but the chorus was the bees-knees “Boredom, Boredom, b-dum, b-dum”. I loved it and hunted for it in all the record shops from Aberdeen to Dundee to Glasgow not realising that it had long gone out of print. It was a long time before it was reissued and I managed to get a copy. There was a bootleg album going round of their early recordings but there was no way I could afford that.

Their following singles were all classics, What Do I Get/Oh Shit, Orgasm Addict, I Don’t Mind/Autonomy, Love You More/Noise Annoys and so on for a good two or three years. The artwork on singles and albums was first class – modernist and eye-catching. Their sound moved from that early rumbling fast train to a slick in-your-face guitar onslaught and big production values by Martin Rushent but always with that plaintive voice which destroyed the rock sound of it and made it more accessible to punks and pop buyers alike. They had many hits of course and are still playing today. I’ve seen them a few times and the gig at Aberdeen’s Capitol Theatre on the Love Bites tour was one of the best gigs I have ever been to – Joy Division supported and were excellent and I wondered if The Buzzcocks could follow that. But it was no problem for them as they were at the top of their game.

1985 – The Jasmine Minks were trying to come up with a new set after the release of our first two singles, Think (where Adam played the Boredom two-note solo near the end of the record), Where The Traffic Goes and mini-album, 1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven. Adam had that bootleg album Buzzcocks record which I had taped onto cassette. I was playing it non-stop and loved the way The Buzzcocks held onto one chord for longer than you would normally expect giving a sense of anticipation about when (or if) it would change – Breakdown, Friends of Mine, A Drop in The Ocean, Love Battery. There was something magic about that and it seemed like enough years had gone that we could use the same trick. So we did. We wrote a brand new set with songs called – Black and Blue, Forces Network, What’s Happening, All Fall Down, You Got Me Wrong, The World’s No Place For A Romantic Today. We would play our new set and we were so happy with the songs that we hardly visited our old songs. It was very liberating for us but, looking back, probably quite frustrating for our fans and I remember people shouting for songs which we refused to play (at Primal Scream’s club in Glasgow there was a woman shouting all night for us to play an older song, Work For Nothing, but to no avail).

We recorded 4 songs, over a weekend at Alaska Studios, near Waterloo Bridge, for what we thought was the perfect ep. It didn’t come out as we’d hoped. But, eventually, two of the songs came out as a single – What’s Happening/ Black and Blue (where Martin did bass overdubs) and the others came out at various times as tracks on albums. What’s Happening has a great cover (a hand playing on an electric guitar, printed in simple colours – it has been even included in a book showing the history of 7″ single cover artwork). I remember hearing the DJ Peter Powell playing What’s Happening on his Radio 1 show – he compared it to a jingle (at 1 min. 54 secs it must have been a very short record for those times?) A brief moment in time when The Buzzcocks moved us to be creative and incisive…

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