Buzzcocks - Singles going Steady (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Singles going Steady (1979)

I.R.S. records

In 1979, the Buzzcocks released one of the very first punk hits compilations. In the 40 years since, Singles Going Steady has rarely been rivaled. The tracklist speaks for itself. “Orgasm Addict”. “What Do I Get?”. “I Don’t Mind”. “Love You More”. “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”. “Promises”. “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”. “Harmony In My Head”. “What Ever Happened To?”. “Oh Shit!”. “Autonomy”. “Noise Annoys”. “Just Lust”. “Lipstick”. “Why Can’t I Touch It?”. “Something’s Gone Wrong”. Sixteen perfect songs.

Singles Going Steady was the first Buzzcocks album officially available in the United States, and was released to correspond with their first American tour. The sequencing of the record hardly seemed inspired. Side A was the band’s eight singles up to that point, only two of which had been on a proper full length, in chronological order. Side B was the eight corresponding B-sides, arranged the same way. Over the course of less than 20 minutes you heard the Buzzcocks go from being something fairly crude to something much more polished. Then you flip the record and the same thing happened again. Its beauty was in its simplicity.

There were two things that really set the Buzzcocks apart from the other influential first wave UK punk bands. The first thing was that they weren’t afraid to talk about sex. As a matter of fact, they seemed to revel in it. Even their name was sexual sounding. For all the revolutionary bluster of bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, they were all fairly prudish when it came to lyrics about sex. While part of that was no doubt a reaction to the hyper macho ‘70s rock culture of the time, it could at times feel like an overreaction. Pete Shelley’s sexual ambiguity was always front and center. “Orgasm Addict”, “Just Lust” and “Why Can’t I Touch It?” are the template for writing perfect songs about S.E.X.

The other thing the Buzzcocks brought to the table was an undeniable sense of melody. While many punk bands attempted to distance themselves from traditional pop songwriting, the Buzzcocks embraced it. It’s hard to argue with the results. Forty plus years after their original releases, the songs still stand up. Good melodies never get old. It’s hard to pick only a few examples, but “Ever Fallen In Love (with Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”, “Promises” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” are perfect pop songs and perfect punk songs.

With Shelley’s untimely death last year, the Buzzcocks are probably done. Honestly, how could they go on without him? Still, their influence is undeniable, especially on pop punk. The things they were able to do in their first three short years are nothing short of amazing. Pop punk as we know it today would likely not exist without them. That being said, their true legacy is in their songs. Singles Going Steady is the perfect collection of those songs.