Exciting Reissue of Punk Pioneers' First Ever Recorded Music, Preceding the Band's Seminal Debut EP Spiral Scratch!
Domino is proud to be reissuing Buzzcocks' Time's Up, the 1976 album of demos recorded with founder and singer Howard Devoto and originally released as a bootleg.
"It's the buzz, cock." Devoto read this headline from a February 1976 Time Out review of Rock Follies - the 1970's TV musical drama following the ups and downs of the fictional female rock group Little Ladies. Adapting and appropriating it for the new band that he and Pete Shelley had just formed (having just realized what a Sex Pistol was before anyone else), the Buzzcocks were officially born.
Howard and Pete went about organizing the now infamous 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs that brought punk to the provinces and galvanized the Manchester music revolution. The plan was to simply play support to the Pistols and see what happened next. The rest, as they say, is history!
Featuring the original line-up of Howard Devoto (vocals & songwriter), Pete Shelley (guitar & songwriter), Steve Diggle (bass guitar) and John Maher (drums), Time's Up was recorded at Revolution Studios, Bramhall Lane Stockport on the 18th of October 1976. The session, recording Buzzcocks' live set at the time, cost around $55 and was engineered by Andy MacPherson.
• Exciting re-issue of the punk pioneers' first ever recorded music, preceding the band's seminal debut EP Spiral Scratch - now recognized as one of, if not the, most important records of the punk explosion
• LP is pressed on 180g vinyl, comes with printed inner sleeve and MP3 download
Our take: I’m kind of surprised by how many Buzzcocks fans out there don’t actually know that the material collected on this LP exists. Of course everyone knows that the band’s debut EP, Spiral Scratch, featured a different lineup with Steve Diggle on bass rather than guitar and Howard Devoto rather than Pete Shelley on vocals, but few people seem to know that before they entered the studio to record the four songs on Spiral Scratch the Buzzcocks recorded this 11-song session, live on a 4-track with no overdubs. I was lucky enough to stumble upon Mute Records’ reissue of this material from 2000 when it came out, and it’s been a favorite ever since. All four tracks from Spiral Scratch appear here in earlier (though, honestly, not substantially different) versions, but the real treat is all of the other songs. You get a few tracks, like “Love Battery,” “Orgasm Addict,” and “You Tear Me Up,” that were re-recorded with the post-Devoto lineup for the band’s debut single and LP. I strongly prefer these versions with Devoto on vocals… as much as I love that album, the versions on there sound a bit tentative and even tepid by comparison, and Devoto’s vocals are better suited to these songs. A few other tracks would pop up further down the road. Magazine would also cover Captain Beefheart’s “I Love You, You Big Dummy” (though, again, I strongly prefer this version) and a version of “Lester Sands” would pop up on the Buzzcocks’ highly underrated self-titled record from 2003. And then there are some tracks that wouldn’t appear anywhere else, like a cover of the Troggs’ “I Can’t Control Myself” that is straight fire (ending in a cathartic noise jam) and a track called “Don’t Mess Me Round.” The recording, for all of its purported rawness, sounds fantastic to my ears, with that great analog 4-track drum sound that I’m pretty sure I’ll never get tired of hearing. And of course the band is a very different one than the polished pop band that would emerge very quickly after Devoto left the band. They’re snottier and more aggressive, having more in common sonically with the Germs than even contemporaries like the Sex Pistols or the Damned. Obviously this recording is of the highest historical importance—it’s essentially the sound of DIY punk being born right before your very ears—but it’s more than just a historical curiosity… if you love punk rock you will spin this record into the ground. Highest recommendation.