Buzzcocks - The Way - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Buzzcocks - The Way

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2014-11-18

You might have been asked, or asked someone, to respond to the question: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take with you one band’s catalog of music, who would it be?  Well, mine would without question be The Brian Jonestown Massacre simply because it would probably be the most CDs. 

How about this one: What city’s musical catalogue would you pick? Without question, it would be Manchester. The Hollies, New Order, Smiths, Stone Roses, Catherine Wheel, etc. Also, in the mid-70s, along came a Manchester band called Buzzcocks. 

I didn’t actually listen to a Buzzcocks album until the other member of Husker Du, not Bob Mould, mentioned them on a radio station somewhere here in the Midwest of America in 1991. Then I was hooked. They had a jagged, poppy sound with punk roots, but Buzzcocks seemed to be more power-pop than punk, which no doubt helped usher in the alternative music scene of the late 70s/early 80s - bands like The Jam, The Romantics, Devo, and thousands of others .

Buzzcocks began almost 40 years ago. So what would you expect from a new album in 2014?  The last thing you would probably expect is sheer pop-punk brilliance on each and every track.  But that’s what lies within these 10 short songs. 

The opening track is the accurately titled ‘Keep on Believing’, a fast, tart and sassy punky pop tune that frankly I wasn’t expecting. And what follows is nine more fresh blasts of power-chords and familiar, if a tad weaker, vocals from a band that has proved alarmingly relevant 28 years after their breakthrough single, ‘Orgasm Addict’, was banned by the BBC.

The only remaining members from the original Buzzcocks are the two guitarists/vocalists, Pete Shelley and Steve Diggles, but the pure energy and spirit of this truly seminal Manchester band is alive and well on such tracks as ‘Chasing Rainbows Modern Times’, which easily re-imagines their Ramones influence, and such blistering numbers as ‘Third Dimension’ and ‘It’s Not You’, which you can hear immediately as being songs that, back in the day, could set the Husker Du frets on fire.

The Way is an amazing album on many levels. It comes from an old band, but not a single track sounds in the least bit dated or long-in-the-tooth. There is very little repetitiveness from song to song, and the variations in delivery are remarkable. Back in the day, this was one of the musical attributes I always thought separated Buzzcocks from so many other four-chord pop bands. 

The Way is not only a solid album but could easily slide onto a few top 10 lists this year. Remarkable. Thank you, Manchester, once again.

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