Thursday, February 7, 2008

No. 358: Singles Going Steady

Band: The Buzzcocks
Album: Singles Going Steady
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: In the pantheon of early punk rock pioneers, Manchester's Buzzcocks certainly belong in the conversation. This 1979 compilation of the band's early singles is a furious tear through sexual lyrics, awesome hooks and a sneering vocal performance.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Punk rock is often simple and this compilation is no different.
Best song: "Orgasm Addict" is clever and "Love You More," is interesting, but "Ever Fall in Love?" is brilliant.
Worst song: "Oh Shit!" is dumb.
Is it awesome?: Sure.

I'm a pretentious fuck.

I imagine anyone reading this knows that I'm a pretentious fuck. I often shoot down some pretty accessible stuff, I despise the "California sound" of the 1970s (save for Linda Ronstadt and that's only because I have a crush on her) and the albums I choose for "Unlisted" are of the indie rock genre (for the most part).

I've tried to lay this out in my biases and it shows up in a lot of my pieces for this site. So, you know, sorry.

For today, it would be incredibly stupid to say that I don't like "Singles Going Steady." The Buzzcocks are a seminal punk band and the band's love of hooks is one of the key pieces of the formulation of the genre. The band used awesome melodies in songs like "Ever Fall in Love?" -- probably the band's best song -- and quirky sexual/political lyrics ("Orgasm Addict," "Just Lust," "Love You More," etc.) are amazing. Hell, even the blissed out excitement of "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" is great.

But, my big complaint with a lot of punk rock remains, as well. A song like "Oh Shit!" is based on easy (facile, I'd say) repetition and the shock of bad words. Well, hooray. That's real mature.

Again, this just speaks to me inability to really embrace punk rock's earliest purveyors. I love the Clash, but the other late '70s/early '80s punk rock never really resonated with me much. I prefer the stuff they influenced (grunge and hardcore, basically) than the originals.

1 comment:

padraig said...

yeah, singles going steady is pretty undeniable. i'm not going to argue against the simplicity of punk rock - it was after all basically a return to the three minute pop song and musically quite boring and conservative - but do think it's important to place it context, namely as a reaction to the excesses of prog rock. initially bands didn't just play three-chord tunes cause it was the style - it was a deliberate statement.

I look at it like this - a lot the 75-78 or so punk rock is pretty boring but the attitude was way more important than the actual music. I'd argue that aside from the obvious stuff you mentioned (grunge, hardcore, indie rock) that punk attitude and do-it-yourself ethos influenced a ton of stuff - from early industrial (cabaret voltaire, throbbing gristle, etc.) to the detroit techno pioneers to the rave culture of the late 80s/early 90s to indie hip hop.