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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Buzzcocks (with Howard Devoto) "Spiral Scratch" Vinyl, 7" EP 45rpm Single, 1979 (New Hormones)

I first purchased this 7" EP at Bomp Records, and I believed in 1976.   It may have been the same shopping trip where I bought the Sneakers EP as well as the Devo single "Jacko Homo/"Mongoloid." History will tell that this was a great shopping day for me.   When I went to the record store, I don't think I have heard of the Buzzcocks.  Maybe in passing in a Brtish publication.  But I was struck by their image on the front of the sleeve, as well as reading the song titles on the back.  "Boredom," "Time's Up," "Breakdown," and "Friends of Mine."  At that time (and still) I'm attracted to the titles of songs.  I was reading a lot of poetry at the time, so the lyrics and even its title had meant a great deal to me.    The Punk Era, including what was happening in New York City as well as within the U.K., was a very literate time for me.  Not only in reading, but myself trying to write lyrics as well as getting into the songwriting and craft of Cole Porter and Noël Coward.  Which sounds odd, but I put Howard Devoto and Richard Hell into the same framework as these classic lyricists. 

This 7" is a perfect moment of its time, but even now, listening to it this morning, it's fresh air being pumped into a stale environment or room.  The sound of the instruments seemed simple, but almost bordering on an avant-garde level.  Minimalists who rock!  Howard Devoto's lyrics strike me as being very literary, profound, and smart.  This wasn't angry music against a system, but a reflection of what was happening around them.  Aggressive yes, but with wit and intelligence.  The Pete Shelley/Howard Devoto team couldn't possibly go wrong.  But then Devoto left the band.  For sure, I thought that would be the end of the Buzzcocks.  Boy, was I ever wrong!