Buzzcocks - The Complete Singles 3 cd set

The key word in the title of this triple-disc collection of single sides from the Buzzcocks is "Complete," which in this case proves to be both a virtue and a flaw. In their original incarnation, the Buzzcocks scarcely ever made a wrong move, and between 1977 and 1981, they released a string of genius singles that not only defined the nascent genre of punk-pop, but showed how adventurous their lean but hook-laden bamalama could be. In 1989, after an eight-year split, the Buzzcocks got back together and, following a handful of well-received tours, they began recording again (with Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle joined by a variety of bassists and drummers). However, while the Buzzcocks continue to be a superb live band, the recordings from the new edition of the group simply haven't been as exciting or memorable as their original string of discs, and though the quality level of this set begins to falter a bit with the last few sides from the first Buzzcocks lineup, it's when the band reunites for Trade Test Transmissions on track 32 with "Alive Tonight" that the dip becomes really obvious. Mind you, it's not that the recordings from the second-generation Buzzcocks are bad; the group could (and can) still write good songs and play them with vigor and enthusiasm, but when you were perhaps the world's greatest singles band for four years, simply being considerably better than average just isn't the same. The epochal Singles Going Steady is still the best document of the Buzzcocks' first flower of genius, and while The Complete Singles Anthology has everything from that album, along with the brilliant Spiral Scratch EP, you also get a bunch of other stuff you'll probably find yourself skipping over after you've played it once.

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