Written by 4:36 am Audiophile Music

Buzzcocks Keep It Real For Rip-Roaring Reunion

Mark Smotroff gets buzzed on tasty new indie-flavored, punk-fried rock ‘n roll from Buzzcocks

For one of those silly hashtag-driven days (cleverly designed to drive user traffic across social media platforms) on Facebook recently — I think it was #waybackwednesday — I reposted an article I’d written a number of years ago for another publication entitled “Reunion Records that Don’t Suck.”  In that headily-titled piece I called to attention the notion that over the years many a reunion record by once-famous (and sometimes still famous) artists usually fail to recapture former glories or are just oddly misguided, usually for marketing reasons.

AR-TheWay225.jpgIn my article I countered the notion with several albums I like for different reasons, recordings which got lost in the sauce of time and changing times, styles, as well as (probably) misguided marketing attempts. 

Now, in the world of social media, I’ve found that — usually — when you repost an old article, a handful of people who missed it the first time ’round will give it a “like”  (courtesy of hashtag ICYMI, which stands for In Case You Missed It). Or, if they really dig the article, they’ll post a comment.  

Well, when I reposted “Reunion Records That Don’t Suck’ on one of the more engaged — as in, people actually participating in it on a regular basis — music groups I’m in (“No Hipsters Allowed [Total Rock Action]”) it really struck a chord, prompting many readers to post their fave reunion albums that didn’t suck.  It was a very lively thread and one that reminded me that just because an album isn’t a hit, or isn’t even remotely popular, doesn’t mean that it is a bad record. 

There were a lot of cool reunion recordings posted, old and new (some which I plan to check out).

Anyhow… this all ties in neatly to a new (to me) album I picked up on Record Store Day at 1-2-3-4 Go Records here in San Francisco by England’s legendary punk pop band, Buzzcocks.  

How so, you ask?  

Well, you see, Dear Readers, this new album — called The Way — is technically a reunion album that doesn’t suck. 

In fact, its really quite solid, fun and rocking. 

And, as if on cue, there at the end of side one on The Way is a song called “Virtually Real” — a tune which kicks in with a righteous near-metal riff I’m sure a band like Judas Priest would have killed for — which offers up some wry social commentary on the world of social media. 

While I haven’t found the exact lyrics online (nor are any included with the album package) I was able to decipher (more or less) some of the words to “Virtually Real” :

“You spend your life with social media

Long time professions achiever

Flashmobs to crash your party

Inbetween the Twitterati

So tell me how do you keep virtually real?”

And… here we are, all virtual-social yada-yada media writing about the Buzzcocks singing about virtual media and social media… 

And… I am chuckling. 

AR-BuzzcocksBlue225.jpgNow, if you know Buzzcocks from their classic Singles Going Steady collection, you probably won’t be disappointed by the new album. The Way offers up a bigger, denser guitar sound, but at the end of the day the Buzzcocks still are putting out melodic, hard rocking punk-pop rock for the ages. 

If you aren’t even a little bit familiar with the Buzzcocks’ sound, get thee over to YouTube or Spotify or Tidal or Amazon or wherever you like to sample music and spend some time exploring their stuff – its potent and fun. Singles Going Steady is a fine place to start — one of the all time great greatest hits type compilations out there.

But back to this release at hand, The Way, which was put out by the good folks at 1-2-3-4 Go Records. The label has done a nice job on producing this release. My record is pressed on thick, milky blue vinyl that is well centered and pretty much dead quiet. The recording itself sounds quite good — as good as loud buzzy guitar rock stuff can sound, so don’t go into this expecting a whole lot of dynamic diversity. 

Buzzcocks ain’t The Kronos Quartet, kiddies.

But The Way is chockfull of indie-flavored, punk-fried rock ‘n roll that I quite like… 

You know what I mean: these guys still play with that urgent balls-to-the-wall gusto and the production captures that raw sound just fine.   

And its not just buzz-saw toss offs either.  No, these guys have always written solid pop tunes and there are some fine one here. I particularly like “Keep on Believing” and “Third Dimension,” which kick off sides one and two, respectively. 

Nothing like front loading your album listening experience with some strong songs!

If all this wasn’t good enough, Buzzcocks put out a sweet single for Record Store Day featuring the title track from the album on one side and a non-LP B-side called “Generation Suicide” that rocks as hard as anything on the album (so its essential if you are fan). The extra cool thing is that when you buy the single at the 1-2-3-4 Go Records store, you get it on white vinyl! As far as I know that is an exclusive release for their two stores, but I assume you can get it from their website. (http://1234gorecords.com) 

The blue vinyl copy I picked up on Record Store Day turns out to be a limited edition of 300 (still available from the store). The label is now taking pre-orders via their website for another run on white vinyl (900 copies to be made). So if you are a Buzzcocks fan and like collecting these sorts of releases, be sure to get yourself to the 1234GoRecords website. Otherwise, you can also find it at Amazon

So there you have it, Dear Readers: another fine one for your list of reunion records that don’t suck. 

Thanks Buzzcocks for keeping our buzz going!

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