7/22/17

Buzzcocks - Sick City Sometimes (2003)




















Six months after the first track driven from their eponymous album ("Jerk", previous post), the band released another EP with what I consider as one of their best song ever, "Sick City Sometimes", composed and sung by Steve Diggle and that would have been a massive hit if it had been released by one of the adulated band of the times (don't remember who were). But it was not. Too bad. On the B-side, there's a non-album track but unfortunately, it's not from the session of the current album but from 1995 (maybe the All Set sessions). And the song (from Shelley) is rather weak and dispendable. The last song is the unavoidable live track, this time recorded in 1999 (don't ask me why) but I've no more info about it (maybe I should have a look to the biography but I'm too lazy tonight). Since the song is "Paradise", it's interesting. But stop the babble now and catch this EP here.


7/21/17

Buzzcocks - Jerk EP (2003)

Strangely, there will be an almost 10 year gap between the Libertine Angel and the Jerk EP although 2 full album would be released (the great All Set in 1996 and the more deceiving Modern in 1999). Some singles and EPs were actually released, but only live tracks, promo singles or uneven semi-official ones. But with the abrasive self-titled album released in 2003, the band would issue again EPs with non-album tracks (demos or live songs). The first was "Jerk", the opening song from the LP. The line-up was the same than 10 years before but the energy and aggressivity were more the ones of the 1980-81 era than the ones they had shown after their reformation. The song had everything necessary to find its way in the charts (a flavour of "Everybody's Happy", even with the drumming bridge) but times were surely not ready to make this sort of fast and furious love song a hit. What's interesting is that the EP allows us to hear a non-album song, Diggle's "Don't Come Back", not a great one but as often with the man, the song is pleasant to hear and provides this energy spark that is sometimes cruelly missing elsewhere. The choice of the live song is rather strange, "Oh Shit" being an old punk tune that wouldn't help the band to put its past away. Recorded (badly) at Toulouse in 2000 and final song of the concert, I would like to know what was the reason of this choice but I surely will never have the answer. So here's this new Buzzcocks load. Another one tomorrow.


7/6/17

Buzzcocks - Libertine Angel EP (1994)





















In their series of postreformation EPs this one, released in April 1994, is quite special since it is not linked to any album, maybe because the band believed in the chart potential of "Libertine Angel". I'm not sure they were right and facts showed that they were wrong. Not that the song is weak but it was a little too much complicated to gain attention of a large audience. They even shot a video for it (see below, sorry for 24 seconds of countdown, those who uploaded the clip could have cut it) like they had done for "Do It", don't forget it was the MTV era (not for long actually) and every band had to make a visual support for their singles (although most of them were poor and not pleasant to look at now). On the B-side of the EP, there were 2 new songs, the raw, rough and rude Diggle's "Roll It Over" and a curious instrumental based on a sort of movie soundtrack (real or fake I don't know). Sound like a musical support for a scene of action in a blockbuster. Interesting although not essential. Catch all this here.

7/3/17

Buzzcocks - Do It EP (1993)




















In August 1993, 4 months after the Trade Test Transmissions LP was released (but failed to chart), another single was issued with "Do It" as A-side. Note that the version is not the album one, and has been remixed in a way that we honestly can say today that it was very bad (this phasing on the voice is horripilous). Surely it fitted better with the current sound (we're in the post Madchester year) but not at all with Buzzcocks. Fortunately, the song is backed on the EP version with 2 non-album tracks, strangely recorded live (and never issued, to my knowledge) in a studio version. Tony Barber says, in the inner sheets of the Trade Test Transmissions 2004 re-issue, that they were recorded during a sound check at the Amsterdam Paradiso, but it's dubious since their 1993 concert at the Paradiso was in October 1993, 3 months after the EP was released. Thus, the mystery is complete. If this EP is precious, it's for the Steve Diggle song, "Trash Away", showing the roughest side of the band, not far from Clash or Stiff Little Fingers, with a vicious and oblique riff, a sinister vocal tone and violently depressive and angry lyrics. Since it was not on Youtube, I decided to create a clip with famous Lewis Hines' pictures of children at work in the first half of XXth century in the US. The sound is not perfect but it gives the song a sort of enhanced authenticity. A real forgotten gem. Listening to Buzzcocks these late weeks convinces me that Steve Diggle is not far to be Shelley's pair in quality of composition. So do... oops catch it here. Above and just below are the sleeves of the vinyl EP and below of the CD EP.





7/2/17

Buzzcocks - Innocent EP (1993)



















Sorry for the delay but I was getting married so I think it's an excuse you will accept. So back to the post-reformation Buzzcocks EP series. Tonight, it's the second one, more successful than the first, issued 2 years later, and much better too. The EP featured 2 Pete Shelley tracks of their to-be-released first post-reformation LP (the excellent Trade Test Transmission) and a non-album Steve Diggle one ("Inside") which is the main interest of this post if you have the LP in its original version (since Castel re-released it with the non-album single tracks on it in 2004). Released in May 1993, one month prior to the LP was issued, the single would have deserved to chart high but failed to (as almost all the singles and EPs the band would release after they reunited). But here is a good opportunity to put these 3 great forgotten songs under the blogspot light. Catch it here. More to come (very soon this time).


6/20/17

Buzzcocks - Alive Tonight EP (1991)




















This is the first post of a series about all the singles or EPs Buzzcocks have released after they reformed in 1989. Don't imagine their comeback was a path paved with roses. Actually there were more thorns than petals. In 1989, everybody was expecting a major failure but their live sets seemed to deny this black prediction. However time was passing and no new material was recorded, leading most to the idea the band would become one of these pathetic bands that capitalize on their past and do not bring anything new, sort of nostalgia formation (after all they had a song entitled "Nostalgia"). In November 1990 and February 1991, they recorded demos for a putative album that would  never be, with a certain Paul Roberts producing. But the band was unhappy with the production and listening to this EP (issued in April 1991), the first thing they released after reformation and featuring 4 songs from these sessions, we can only agree with them. Sure the influence of the madchester scene deeply influenced the band that is hardly the one that everybody remembered. Everything here is flabby and energy lacking. Note that on drums there was Mike Joyce, ex-Smiths and no more John Maher, Steve Garvy being still on bass. The drumming is actually much more Smithian than Buzzcocksian. The songs "Alive Tonight" and "Last To Know" would be re-recorded later in a much more satisfying version and included in the Trade Test Transmission LP 2 years later. This first EP would go completely unnoticed and it's a good thing since it's not impossible that the band would have chosen to stick to this "modern" (and now dated) sound if it has found its public. Catch it here.





6/18/17

Sparks - Live at the Bottom Line, New York City (1976)





















It is said that this concert has been released on a bootleg but I was unable to localize it. So I compiled the 5 songs I found. Three are from a Sparks live semi-official LP called Live 1976-82 and were remastered, the reason the sound is quite good (tracks 3-5) and the first 2 (I took the setlist order) were caught from a Youtube source but I improved a bit the sound quality with MP3doc. All in all, it's an half-an-hour affair that is rather interesting if not essential due to the way the band was evoluting, let's say in a mainstream US rock band (although I know many that prefer this version of the band to the previous and next, but it's not my case). Recorded one month after the Capitol theatre show (see post here), it was played in front of Capitol executives, not the best conditions for a band to give everything he has. Note that on bass it is Sal Maida and not Dave Swanson as initially written, so I erased the name with a dotted line. Not very professionnal but free. If I find sources of the other tracks, I will reconstruct this live testimony (I think the image I used for the front cover sleeve is from one of the 2 Bottom Line shows but I'n not sure). Actually, Ron was not playing organ but a grand piano. Catch it here.


6/11/17

Buzzcocks - The Love Bites Tour Live at the Apollo, Manchester (1978)





















Another live Buzzcocks album (one year before the one featuring on the previous post, sorry for this stupid order due to technical reasons), with a great sound since it was recorded by United Artists and mixed by Martin Rushent, maybe for a purportedly live album (actually I've no information about it). Note that the band was not tamed like they were supposed to be compared to their more violent punk pairs since after "I Don't Mind", Pete Shelley encourages the audience to get up on the chairs saying they break very easily. This concert, recorded on the 27 October 1978 at the Apollo theatre of Manchester (their home town) stood one month after the release of their Love Bites LP and some days after their "Ever Fallen In Love" which would be their major hit but, strangely, this career peak was not a good period for Pete Shelley who showed more and more signs of extreme physical exhaustion and mental tiredness. Strangely, although we were closer to the punk era than one year later, the playing is less savage and intense, and sometimes even a little bit apathetic (on "Autonomy" for example) and approximative on some songs (like on "Moving Away The Pulsebeat"). The pace is often slower that the one the band will adopt on their later shows. But it's true the band would become harder and rougher with years finishing as a dark and rugous band in 1981. But all Buzzcocks fans found in this concert the live testimony they dreamt of since it was played with the juvenile energy of the beginnings but with a lot of the repertoire with that the band is assimilated. This concert was released in 2002, either in Italy under the name of Beating Hearts or in UK under the name of Noise Annoys (same tracks, same order, same quality). This is the cover sleeve of Bleeding Hearts I chose for the illustration. Sorry for the definition, but I do not possess the CD or LP version, only the MP3. No sound illustration found on Youtube but no problem, those who are curious will catch it here.





6/9/17

Buzzcocks - The Tension Tour Live at the Rainbow (1979)




















Initiated just after the release of the bleak but stunning and innovative A Different Kind Of Tension, the Tension tour is remembered to be chaotic and uneven but the first concert at the Rainbow on the 9th November 1979, done between their two consecutive US tours (a complete nonsense that could only drown them a little deeper in the dope trap) and caught by Joan McNulty (see previous post), to be "superb" (the word is from Tony McGartland, the biographer of the band and author of "The Complete History" that is re-released with a freshly completed edition this month). It's true the set is hyper-energetic and that most songs are played in their punkiest versions. Sometimes the band is a little bit out of the road, taking speed for precipitation, and that Pete Shelly forgets some lyrics (on "I Believe") but all in all, it could have been a great Live 4th LP like it was the tradition in the sixties and the seventies, but no more with punk. I won't talk about each song but it's great to hear the ADKOT songs played by the band that had just created them. However, far from being "the new album played live", the new songs only represent 5 from the 17 and this tended to show that the band was not so confident in the potential of these new songs. On a more discographic plan, note that this concert was released in 2 main versions. The first in 2001 under the title of Small Songs With Big Hearts in 2001 and the second under the title of Live Tension in 2002, but the latter with a song missing ("I Don't Know What To Do With My Life") so beware. I included both cover sleeves in the file. Catch it here. You can listen to the concert on the Youtube link below.




























5/27/17

Buzzcocks - Lest We Forget Live in America (1979-80)



















Another live compilation from Buzzcocks. Captured by Joan McNulty, the publisher of their official fan magazine Harmony in My Head (and supposed then-girlfriend of Pete Shelley) on cassette during their 1979 and 1980 US tours, the track selection was chosen by her and released 8 years later only on cassette again, on the ROIR label. If the setlist is wonderful (with many tracks from A Different Kind Of Tension, their then last album), if the sound is correct, the track order is totally senseless, mixing years (1979 and 1980) and concerts (mainly New Jersey, Chicago and New York). There is even a song recorded in Birmingham (the UK one) which is absurd. The worst is that, although she was a fan, she didn't respect the usual setlist order that the band is notorious for (with "Fast Cars" at the beginning and "Breakdown" and "Time's Up" at the end. Weird. However, I decided not to change this order and to post the album as it was on the cassette. The sound is not the one you can expect from an official live but it allows to savour this collection with pleasure since some songs are really played with an incredible energy and concision. The band was never better than during this period even with so many depressions and drugs circulating in Pete Shelley body. More to come. Catch it here. PS. I improved a little bit the cover sleeve of the CD version of this cassette.


5/24/17

Sparks - Big Beat Live at Capitol Theatre (1976)





















1975 will see the second Sparks mutation (after the "Island English period"), maybe one of their most deleterious and unexplainable one (but there'll be unfortunately some more in the future). Weird, in 1976 (an awfully bad year for rock music, it was urgent that punk washed that away), to adopt a half-hard rock format for such a band. Surely at the general climax has led Ron Mael to take this path (looking back at the Billboard US top 100, I don't really see such a trend in the charts but maybe I miss the point) but it was truly a cul-de-sac and a false step for the band that wasted in one year all its newly acquired credibility. I must confess that I didn't follow them at the times, and considered they were lost for the cause. It would take quite a time before I get back to them (first with Whomp That Sucker in 1981 and their synth-pop 1981-84 period but much more enthusiastically with Lil' Beethoven in 2002). So, here we are at the now mythic Capitol Theatre of Passaic in the New Jersey, with the Mael bros and a brand new band who... how to say that without being too rude... does not really match the sparkling glam playing of the previous line-up. Weird as the US backing bands of US artists that had made it in England during the 73-75 period were weak compared to their English pairs (think of John Cale for example but also Ian Hunter). Anyway, it's an interesting testimony. It was filmed and you got the video below. For this post, I tried to improve the sound quality and think I succeeded, at least substantially, so this post is a more interesting that it is supposed to be, this concert being easily available, even on a live compilation album (Sparks Live 1976-82) but with a less satisfying sound. I also created a cover sleeve with an unused picture of the Richard Avedon session, that provided the official cover sleeve of Big Beat. Catch it here. More Sparks live to come.


5/19/17

Sparks - B. Sides and a A fake LP (1974-76)

I've always wished that the non-album songs that featured on the B. sides of Sparks singles during their Island years would be gathered on a mini-Lp to be listened to independantly of the associated album. So I did it myself. I'm aware that there are some differences between these songs (not leftovers of second quality but fantastic tuned and arranged tracks). For example, the strong and thick Muff Winwood production of the four formers is rather different from the more sophisticated but weaker Tony Visconti production of "Profile" and still more from the ugly production of the Holmes and Lesser on the two last songs, the latter belonging more to the next period (the Columbia one, although in the UK they were still on Island) than to the great Island one. No matter, I think it's good to have these underrated forgotten songs all together gathered. So catch them here. More Sparks to come.