I can’t let the sad news of Buzzcocks’ frontman Pete Shelley’s death on Thursday pass without comment.
There are very few albums that I consider to be essential for any music lover to own; even fewer of those are compilations or Greatest Hits albums.
But Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady is one of them.
Originally released in 1979 as an introduction of the band to an indifferent US market, and then released in the UK a couple of years later in 1981, it contains 16 singles and their B-sides, all of them (bar the final two) clocking in at around the three-minute mark, all of them absolute perfect examples of buzzing guitars, insightful lyrics and, above all, amazingly catchy songwriting.
I have no idea how often one of these tracks must have cropped up on a mix-tape I made as a teenager (or on a CD as I got older); the brevity of the songs just perfect for squeezing in at the arse-end of a C-90, a pleasing tempter for what might lay on the next side.
Consequently, it’s hard to pick just one to highlight, so I figured I’d plump for one written by Shelley on his own, rather than in collaboration with guitarist Steve Diggle, or Howard Devoto (before he jumped ship to form Magazine).
What I mean is: I could have picked any track to illustrate how great Buzzcocks were in their pomp, and how important to the whole punk and new wave scene they – and Shelley – were. I’ve plumped for this one; it’s not the tune that means the most to me (that would be What Do I Get?, which we used to cover in the band I was in at college, complete with it’s “tricky guitar solo”) but it does make my point exquisitely:
Rest in Peace, Pete; you’ll be sadly missed.