Buzzcocks - Time's Up - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Buzzcocks - Time's Up

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-10

While many music nostalgists will be busy this year partaking in the no doubt numerous celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, some of us will busy ourselves fondly recalling another music from a different kitchen – the 40th anniversary of punk rock. And Domino are jumping in where it all began, reissuing the first DIY punk single (EP actually), Buzzcocks’ “Spiral Scratch”, originally foisted on an unsuspecting public in January 1977. But approximately four months before the band recorded their famous EP, they laid down nearly a dozen tracks, four of which were re-recorded for the EP. Those original 11 tracks trickled out on various bootlegs on punny-but-dodgy-named labels like Voto, Hugh Normones, and Smilin’ Ears, finally getting a somewhat legitimized release on Document in 1991. Domino’s reissue drops the “Spiral Scratch” version of ‘Boredom’ that closed the initial bootlegs.

So, enough history, it’s on with the show. And what a show it is, indeed! Essentially a run through of their then-current live set (check out Live At The Roxy Club - April ’77), these are the original line-up recordings featuring Howard DeVoto doing his best Johnny Rotten impersonation, with drummer John Maher, bassist Steve Diggle, and soon-to-be-frontman Pete Shelley making a confounded racket in the background. It’s a balls-to-the-walls, three-fingered salute to anything resembling timing, talent, or coherent production. In other words, it’s bloody brilliant.

Martin Rushent would clean up ‘You Tear Me Up’ and ‘Love Battery’ for their United Artists debut Another Music In A Different Kitchen, coincidentally released 39 years ago today (3/3/78)! But these raw runthroughs contain all the lads’ passion, sweat, anger, and spittle before Rushent wiped their chins and watered it down for mass consumption. ‘Breakdown’ presages The Dickies by a year with DeVoto’s moronic delivery setting a trend for future fuckwit punk vocalists everywhere. ‘Friends of Mine’ attempts a guitar solo before DeVoto trails off to the looney bin, while the original ‘Orgasm Addict’ peels wallpaper at a hundred paces courtesy of Shelley’s super distorted fuzz muff, and the original ‘Boredom’ helped define a generation, perhaps more so than Rotten & Co. Shelley’s two-note solo epitomizes the scene’s disdain of show off wankers and 10-minute solos, while the title track shows what a bunch of lads can do with six strings, a naff drumkit, and a throbbing bass.

Not for the faint of heart, Time’s Up is the poster child for DIY aesthetes everywhere, fondly recalling a time when a bunch of dedicated kids could buy a bunch of cheap instros, throw caution to the wind and cobble together enough dosh to share their dreams with the world. The title proved prophetic, as DeVoto got bored with the whole scene before it even began and quit the band on the eve of the “Spiral Scratch” release. Apparently bored with boredom, he formed Magazine two months later with John McGeoch and Barry Adamson and they soon forged their own historic contribution to British (post) punk.

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