ALBUM REVIEW: Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady (Domino)

This compilation of the first eight singles by the Manchester punk legends is one of the greatest albums ever released of any kind of music, full stop.

Originally issued in September 1979 to sell the band to the American market on the eve of a US tour, it has become the one Buzzcocks record you’ve got to own.

It sold so well on import that it was eventually released in the UK in 1981, as a posthumous ‘best of’, as by then the band had split.

It was reissued in expanded form on CD in 2001 with eight extra tracks, adding the A and B-sides of the four singles released between its original release and the group’s break-up.

But here it is remastered and returned to its original form, 16 tracks which come in at a touch under 48 minutes – in other words, your classic three-minute pop song.

Now, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary, Domino has remastered it and officially re-released it on vinyl for the first time in many years. And it’s not just any old vinyl, it’s a beautiful magenta purple.

Sadly, Singles Going Steady has taken on new poignancy after the death in December last year of one of its creators, Pete Shelley.

In a genre which was all about anarchy, nihilism and fighting the system, Shelley and songwriting partner Steve Diggle were writing about unrequited love – or, in the case of opener Orgasm Addict, wanking.

The song was never going to get played on the radio, and the BBC duly banned it, which merely endeared it to a generation of young punks.

A latter-day Buzzcocks line-up, including the late, great Pete Shelley, second from right.

My favourite Buzzcocks song, What Do I Get?, is next, and it’s as close to punk-pop perfection as you’ll get.

They hadn’t even hit their stride yet, and I Don’t Mind, Ever Fallen In Love, Promises and Everybody’s Happy Nowadays established them as one of the best singles bands of their – or any other – generation.

The B-sides weren’t half bad either; most of their contemporaries could only dream of coming up with something as good as Diggle’s Autonomy (the flip of I Don’t Mind), Noise Annoys (from Love You More) or the slightly unsettling Something’s Gone Wrong Again (from Harmony In My Head).

It’s a shame it took Shelley’s death for mainstream music to properly acknowledge his songwriting genius.

You’d like to think he’ll be looking down on this weekend’s big Royal Albert Hall celebration of his life with a wry smile. 10/10.

Gary Welford owner