Sooner or later
You’re gonna listen to Ralph Nader

With those lines in the first song on their debut LP I swooned and fell in love with the Buzzcocks for ever more.  I already liked them a lot, there are tribes as-yet-undiscovered in the Burmese interior who can hum at least one of the many cover versions of ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ and what mucky minded (overgrown) teenager doesn’t love to jump about to ‘Orgasm Addict’ in his bed room?  This was my first dabble with one of their albums and I picked out Another Music In A Different Kitchen out of a stack of LP’s that my dad was storing for a friend, intrigued by the neat, clean design and colour scheme.  Put it on and … this was punk Jim, but not as I knew it up to that point.

(The colour scheme makes this a damnable difficult LP to photograph)
(The colour scheme makes this a damnable difficult LP to photograph)

Punk was often touted as the end of rock and roll and a Pol Pot style return to year zero, it wasn’t of course.  The best and most popular punkers, Sex Pistols, Clash and Ramones to name but three, at their very best just burned away all the impurities in the crucible of their raw punkiosityness and served us up a pure hit of the rock and roll the world was craving.  Wonderful stuff and some of my favourite music ever but not new.  This was the first punk from ’78 that could fit that bill, another music.

There was no discernible swearing, no reheated and sped up Small Faces riffs, no jokey cover versions, no ham-fisted politics and/or shouting about the cops/anarchy/refusing to tidy up your bedroom.  This was spiky, angular, funny, intelligent, very arty and rather arch, owing far more to Television than the Ramones – I wanted in.  I know you all have me down as a bit of a Conan figure, but I just adore the way that Pete Shelley keeps all traces of anything macho out of his voice, making sure it all ends up a bit more fey and interesting than anything else around in the scene at the time. Now, add all those qualities to some proper pop smarts and you have the whole package.

Buzzcocks Another Music 07Buzzcocks Another Music 06

‘Fast Cars’ kicks of by quoting their own track, ‘Boredom’ from the Buzzcocks own, legendary, Spiral Scratch EP from the Howard Devoto era of the band*, it’s clever, it signals that Buzzcocks have moved on already and they aren’t going to even let die-hard fans get nostalgic about the last single – onwards! ‘Fast Cars’ comes crashing out of the gates like a, umm, fast car? John Maher’s drumming is absolutely brilliant, propelling the track spasmodically forwards at a rate of knots**, the rest of the band lurching forwards in an effort to catch up, buzzing guitars to the fore.  Great song, what better way to show that this really was Another Music In A Different Kitchen, a break with the past, than to yawn at that great rock staple/fantasy, a fast car?  2:16 later and we’re straight into ‘No Reply’, again another brilliant rhythmic workout, two songs into their debut and the band have walloped down their template and reinforced it.  I love to pogo to this one, it got played on a punk night I was at once and the whole place just went mad – Steve Diggle (I think) even sneaks in a tiny guitar solo in; take that punk orthodoxy!

Buzzcocks Another Music 04

You want odd chords, a bored dismissive attitude to doing sex things and an almost claustrophobic wall of sound? well then, ‘You Tear Me Up’ is all yours.  Look, I won’t go through every track because it will just get very repetitive reading me going, ace/brilliant/fab/buzzing/fucking great over and over again – both you and the Buzzcocks deserve much better than that.  Suffice to say I love their jagged tracks like ‘Sixteen’, their witty punky blasts (‘I Need’) and their poppier more conventional ones like ‘I Don’t Mind’ equally, devotedly.  Every single track here just fizzes and, umm, buzzes.

Buzzcocks Another Music 03

The real jewel in the crown of Another Music In A Different Kitchen, for me at least, is the LP closer ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’, a seven-minute blast of punky exposition fuelled by the band’s love of Can and Krautrock in general^.  Again, it all hinges on a brilliant drum rhythm captured perfectly by the producer Martin Rushent, the guitars snap and whine as the track pulses on.  It was circulated as a DJ 12″ at the time, it would have taken a pretty assured DJ and a knowledgeable crowd to have gone for that on a night out – by the way, anonymous millionaire benefactors, if you’re listening I’d love one of those for the 1537 archives.  ‘… Pulsebeat’ is a mighty, mighty achievement for a bunch of arty oiks from Manchester, tied to a movement where it was considered cooler not to be able to play too well – it just transcends anything else coming out of the UK punk scene at the time.  Bonus 1537 points are awarded for the ‘Boredom (Slight Return)’ section at the end of the track and the beeps on the run-out groove of the LP.

Buzzcocks Another Music 01

Another Music In A Different Kitchen is up there with Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables as the punk LP with the truest and best title.  All manner of other interesting music would sprout from and build upon the achievements of the Buzzcocks debut LP.  You know what? six months later they’d released an even better album, with an even better Krautrock influenced closing track. Wow.

Buzzcocks Another Music 05

614 Down.


*the fact they also play a further snippet towards the end of closing track, is the sort of thing that moves the Fanorama-Lama-Ding -Dong dial mounted prominently on my forehead from ‘Admire’ to ‘Worship’.  True story.

**great drummer, you never see John Maher get any/enough credit at all.  He could smash a tune forwards, as well as hit some really interesting, technical patterns.

^I’m pretty sure Pete Shelley did the liner notes for a Can compilation album later on.

16 thoughts on “The Pulsebeat

  1. I share your love for Buzzcocks and their exceptionally written and performed songs. I can’t definitively choose one favorite track, but I’ve always liked the metal edge of “Fiction Romance.” I read they are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year with a tour.

  2. I’ve never really bothered with this lot. Seems I might need to reassess my thinking …

    Liked this a lot. As for the cover … what an inconsiderate bunch!

    1. Thanks Bruce, I felt like something frenetic and arty. I think of them a bit like Television’s younger brothers.

      My copy is a trusty old original I bought when I was at university, in perfect nick still. I do hate trying to take photographs of LPs with silver covers!

      1. It’s the reflective ones where you end up with the unwanted reflection of a hideous malformed half-troll … holding a camera.

  3. Oooo I do love me some Buzzcocks! YAY! Great post. These guys were (are) so smart, so great at crafting tunes. I have a 3CD set here called Product, and it’s been a little while since I rocked it – your post has inspired a re-play!

    Life Regret Of Mine: I was at a three-day festival in 1996, with two stages playing simultaneously, and on the Saturday night it was Tragically Hip (a fave Canuck band I’d never seen live before, at that point) on the main stage, and Buzzcocks on the smaller stage. I chose the Hip, and I loved their set. But I’ve always regretted not seeing the Buzzcocks… The Hip have played here a zillion times since, and how often have the Buzzcocks played? Exactly.

    1. When I do an LP I’ll make sure it has a matt cover so bloggers can photograph it under artificial light easily – that’s very important to me.

      1. What if Matt doesn’t want to be on your LP cover?


        I hate when an album cover doesn’t photograph or scan well. How can I convey its awesomeness properly???

      2. Exactly! One of my very favourite White Hills LPs has a mirror cover – that’s even worse, you just end up with glimpses of a hideous distorted middle-aged man with a camera …

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