They never achieved the status of punk peers the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but the Buzzcocks are one of the most influential rock bands of the latter 20th century. With a blazing guitar attack, bratty singing, and riff-happy songs built around a few simple chords, the Buzzcocks could almost be called England's answer to the Ramones. Crucially, they added wry, scathing wit and undeniable pop sensibilities. They created some of the greatest singles in rock, and generations of groups have subsequently borrowed or stolen from them.
With a name designed to shock, and song titles like "Oh Shit?" and "Orgasm Addict" the Buzzcocks were proud proponents of British late-'70s punk rock. But in retrospect, it's easier to see what else they accomplished--some of the catchiest, most provocative pop singles ever. Pete Shelley expressed heartbreak and frustration ("Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with?" goes one catchy chorus) without falling victim to lovey-dovey cliches. This definitive 1979 collection nicely captures the Manchester quartet's tight melodies, economic writing and appropriately fast pace. --Steve Knopper
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