Tuesday, September 2, 2014

singles going steady / a different kind of tension

The Buzzcocks wed the punk promise of their singles with a pressured paranoia and found a power pop paradise in their revolutionary raison d'etre.  After signing to United Artists, they put out two albums in 1978, 'Another Music in a Different Kitchen' and 'Love Bites'; but, at the same time, they were releasing non-album singles that continued to break into the British top forty.  In September of 1979, as they were preparing to release their third album, 'A Different Kind of Tension', they compiled eight a-sides and their respective b-sides into 'Singles Going Steady'.  

Pete Shelley ponders:    "I think there's a lingering misconception that we were just a singles outfit, but if you listen to the albums, they contain lots of things beyond three minute love songs...I never knew there was a law against sounding vulnerable. And anyway, personal politics are part of the human condition, so what could be more political than human relationships? Many of those songs are more about not having love- the downside of things...As Steve Diggle says, we were punks with library cards. We found this whole other world of ideas, but tried to temper all that meaningful stuff with humour. Really, punk was about questioning things ... Punk is just an idea that got people to do a lot of different things. For me it was to make music. But it's just as relevant an idea now as it was then. It's a revolutionary idea. The American dream can still inspire people. Punk can inspire people to be creative, to be an active participant instead of a passive consumer...There were a lot of people singing about what was wrong with everything, and there were people going on about what everyday life was like. The music previous to that was the rock'n'roll lifestyle idea, about driving your convertible down the freeway. We didn't have freeways or convertibles. So we sung about what we knew. It was the idea that the everyday trivial thing is universal, and that's what always got shoved out of communication. The hardest things to talk about, really simple things, are where the richness of life is."

Steve Diggle remembers:    "We recorded a lot of that stuff in this place called Olympic Studios. It's where the Stones and Led Zeppelin did their first albums. It's a great studio, a massive room. The picture on 'Singles Going Steady' is just equipment sitting in that room. We'd do it all kind of live. We'd go in and do three backing tracks, pick the best one, then work on that, do guitar overdubs and vocal overdubs. We start at noon at be on the pub at seven. I think the first album took about three weeks to do. We just went in and it poured out ... It was fairly radical at the time. I think it was radical in the sense that the record pressing plant went out on strike and wouldn't press it because they thought it was filth rather than art. That was almost like a simple, direct thing to write about in those days. We wrote songs about other things than that, but as far as that subject, nobody was really singing about stuff like that. I think it shocked a lot of people. It's like, ‘What the fuck?’ Normally people are singing about the moon or something. That cut to the chase. That's just one part of the human condition. 'Autonomy' sings about self-rule. 'Fast Cars' is about singing about fast cars. We covered a lot of subjects. But 'Orgasm Addict', we thought, ‘It's alright to think about that.’ It had more of a shock value, but that's what we thought. In 1977, when it came out, that's what we needed...We wrote a lot of stuff over the years that followed. Different songs, different directions. 'Harmony In My Head' is a different song all together, that was slightly inspired by James Joyce's cinematic imagery. That's a little different than 'Orgasm Addict' in a sense, but it's still a powerhouse song. We covered a lot of ground in some ways. Even things like krautrock and stuff like that. Bit more angular guitar. There was a lot of complexity in a lot of the records. I can't remember the day I stopped wanking and started fucking women."  

 'Singles Going Steady' failed to chart in the US, where it was intended as an introduction to the band, or in the UK; but it has gone on to be considered a seminal document of the punk era.  'A Different Kind of Tension' became their only album to chart in the US, peaking at number one hundred and sixty-three.  In the UK, it went to number forty-two.  


"Promises"   (Diggle, Shelley) Non-album single 2:34


"Everybody's Happy Nowadays"   (Shelley) Non-album single 3:09


"Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)"   (Shelley)  from Love Bites     2:39

"Why Can't I Touch It?"   (Diggle, Steve Garvey, John Maher, Shelley) "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" single 6:32

"Something's Gone Wrong Again"   (Shelley) "Harmony in My Head" single 4:29

"I Don't Mind"   (Shelley)   from Another Music in a Different Kitchen 2:16

"What Do I Get?"   (Shelley)  Non-album single 2:52

"Orgasm Addict"  (Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley) Non-album single 2:00

'Singles Going Steady'
full album:



The Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady (Full Album) by cbsickjukebox

1. Orgasm Addict - 0:00 
2. What Do I Get? - 2:00 
3. I Don't Mind - 4:57 
4. Love You More - 7:15 
5. Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)? - 9:06 
6. Promises - 11:48 
7. Everybody's Happy Nowadays - 14:25 
8. Harmony In My Head - 17:37 
9. Whatever Happened To...? - 20:46 
10. Oh Shit! - 23:00 
11. Autonomy - 24:37 
12. Noise Annoys - 28:21 
13. Just Lust - 31:13 
14. Lipstick - 34:13 
15. Why Can't I Touch It? - 36:52 
16. Something's Gone Wrong Again - 43:28

"I Believe"  (Shelley)


'A Different Kind of Tension' 
full album:


1. "Paradise"     2:23
2. "Sitting Around at Home"   Steve Diggle 2:38
3. "You Say You Don't Love Me"     2:55
4. "You Know You Can't Help It"   Diggle 2:22
5. "Mad Mad Judy"   Diggle 3:35
6. "Raison D'etre"     3:32
7. "I Don't Know What to Do with My Life"     2:43
8. "Money"     2:45
9. "Hollow Inside"     4:46
10. "A Different Kind of Tension"     4:39
11. "I Believe"     7:09
12. "Radio Nine"     0:41

Peel Session 1979

1. I Don't Know What To Do With My Life (0:07)
2. Mad Mad Judy (2:47)
3. Hollow Inside (5:27)
4. E.S.P. (9:11)

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