Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

BUZZCOCKS, The

New wave/punk combo formed in Manchester UK '75 by guitarist Pete Shelley (b Peter McNeish, 17 April '55) and Howard Devoto (b Howard Trafford), who sang and wrote lyrics. Manchester appearance of Sex Pistols March '76 inspired them to form band with John Maher, drums, Steve Diggle, bass. Played many late-'76 punk events, incl. Sep. festival at London's 100 Club with Pistols, Clash, Banshees, Damned. EP Spiral Scratch on own New Hormones label confirmed promise, but then Devoto left to form Magazine, breaking songwriting partnership. Diggle moved to guitar, Garth joined on bass (replaced '78 by Steve Garvey). LP Another Music In A Different Kitchen '77 saw Shelley's romantic/adolescent lyrics differ from prevailing social/politicising concerns of punk, yet the songs were played at breakneck punk pace, like the Beatles at 78rpm. Worked better as singles: "Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have)' made no. 12 UK chart, consummate late '70s power-pop, with churning guitars and keening vocals; more top 40 hits '78-9 incl. reissue of Spiral Scratch. Second LP Love Bites '78 saw songwriting shared more widely, incl. long, experimental "Late For The Train', like first LP's "Moving Away From The Pulsebeat' reflected Shelley's interest in avant-garde Euro rock e.g. Can (he wrote sleeve note for Can compilation LP '78). As Diggle took over singles composition, Shelley lost musical direction; third LP A Different Kind Of Tension '79 disappointed fans. Despite overt commercialism and signing for Miles Copeland's IRS label in USA, two successful American tours failed to lead to breakthrough; the only output was three singles '80 as the band fell foul of record company takeover; impetus lost, they disbanded early '81. Shelley had been collaborating with Buzzcocks' prod. Martin Rushent; Diggle and Maher formed Flag of Convenience; Shelley was more successful: Homosapien '81 capitalised on groundwork in USA, made no. 1 in Australia; "Telephone Operator' from album XL-1 '83 just missed UK chart: the album incl. computer-programmed lyrics to be run on a Sinclair, a then-common UK home computer. Despite this ingenuity he did not equal Buzzcocks' simple (some would say childish) appeal; followup was Waiting For Love '86. Diggle formed FOC for Northwest Skyline '87 on FOC label.