Buzzcocks: Steve Diggle, Steve Garvey, Pete Shelley, John Maher.
Producers: Martin Rushent, Martin Hannett.
Includes liner notes by Jon Savage.
Liner Note Author: Jon Savage .
Photographer: Chris Gabrin.
Unknown Contributor Roles: John Maher; Pete Shelley; Steve Diggle; Steve Garvey.
Of all the first-generation British punk bands, the Buzzcocks were the poppiest. Whether by accident or design, they figured out a way to sing juicy pop hooks while playing super-fast, white-noise guitar lines. And not only weren't they afraid to sing love songs, they specialized in them. As such, they had a profound influence on every so-called punk-pop band that followed, from Husker Du and Sugar--both fronted by Bob Mould, a member of the official Buzzcocks fan club--to Nirvana and Green Day.
They also had a career that blazed as brightly and quickly as any punk song, recording virtually all their great works during a two-year span in the late '70s. OPERATORS MANUAL catches just about all of it, with eleven of the sixteen tracks from their one essential album, SINGLES GOING STEADY (which was itself a compilation of the Buzzcocks' early singles), a few from the distended follow-up, A DIFFERENT KIND OF TENSION (including the philosophic epic "I Believe," which manages to hold up through all of its uncharacteristic seven minutes), and assorted extra tracks from before and after.
"Everybody's Happy Nowadays," the bitingly funny, Who-ish "Orgasm Addict," and "Ever Fallen In Love?," which adds a meaty guitar hook to the wall of noise, remain some of the catchiest punk songs ever written. "And I hate modern music/Disco, boogie, pop," singer Pete Shelley whined on "Sixteen," one of the earliest tracks included; but it now comes across as pure punk posturing. In true punk style, the Buzzcocks then went about giddily refuting their own words.
They never achieved the status of punk peers the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but the Buzzcocks are one of the most influential rock bands of the latter 20th century. With a blazing guitar attack, bratty singing, and riff-happy songs built around a few simple chords, the Buzzcocks could almost be called England's answer to the Ramones. Crucially, they added wry, scathing wit and undeniable pop sensibilities. They created some of the greatest singles in rock, and generations of groups have subsequently borrowed or stolen from them.
Spin (1/92, p.71) - "...The highlights come tumbling over each other....[A] mixture of vulnerability and violence rendered the band unique..."