6/20/17

Buzzcocks - Alive Tonight EP (1991)




















This is the first post of a series about all the singles or EPs Buzzcocks have released after they reformed in 1989. Don't imagine their comeback was a path paved with roses. Actually there were more thorns than petals. In 1989, everybody was expecting a major failure but their live sets seemed to deny this black prediction. However time was passing and no new material was recorded, leading most to the idea the band would become one of these pathetic bands that capitalize on their past and do not bring anything new, sort of nostalgia formation (after all they had a song entitled "Nostalgia"). In November 1990 and February 1991, they recorded demos for a putative album that would  never be, with a certain Paul Roberts producing. But the band was unhappy with the production and listening to this EP (issued in April 1991), the first thing they released after reformation and featuring 4 songs from these sessions, we can only agree with them. Sure the influence of the madchester scene deeply influenced the band that is hardly the one that everybody remembered. Everything here is flabby and energy lacking. Note that on drums there was Mike Joyce, ex-Smiths and no more John Maher, Steve Garvy being still on bass. The drumming is actually much more Smithian than Buzzcocksian. The songs "Alive Tonight" and "Last To Know" would be re-recorded later in a much more satisfying version and included in the Trade Test Transmission LP 2 years later. This first EP would go completely unnoticed and it's a good thing since it's not impossible that the band would have chosen to stick to this "modern" (and now dated) sound if it has found its public. Catch it here.





6/18/17

Sparks - Live at the Bottom Line, New York City (1976)





















It is said that this concert has been released on a bootleg but I was unable to localize it. So I compiled the 5 songs I found. Three are from a Sparks live semi-official LP called Live 1976-82 and were remastered, the reason the sound is quite good (tracks 3-5) and the first 2 (I took the setlist order) were caught from a Youtube source but I improved a bit the sound quality with MP3doc. All in all, it's an half-an-hour affair that is rather interesting if not essential due to the way the band was evoluting, let's say in a mainstream US rock band (although I know many that prefer this version of the band to the previous and next, but it's not my case). Recorded one month after the Capitol theatre show (see post here), it was played in front of Capitol executives, not the best conditions for a band to give everything he has. Note that on bass it is Sal Maida and not Dave Swanson as initially written, so I erased the name with a dotted line. Not very professionnal but free. If I find sources of the other tracks, I will reconstruct this live testimony (I think the image I used for the front cover sleeve is from one of the 2 Bottom Line shows but I'n not sure). Actually, Ron was not playing organ but a grand piano. Catch it here.


6/11/17

Buzzcocks - The Love Bites Tour Live at the Apollo, Manchester (1978)





















Another live Buzzcocks album (one year before the one featuring on the previous post, sorry for this stupid order due to technical reasons), with a great sound since it was recorded by United Artists and mixed by Martin Rushent, maybe for a purportedly live album (actually I've no information about it). Note that the band was not tamed like they were supposed to be compared to their more violent punk pairs since after "I Don't Mind", Pete Shelley encourages the audience to get up on the chairs saying they break very easily. This concert, recorded on the 27 October 1978 at the Apollo theatre of Manchester (their home town) stood one month after the release of their Love Bites LP and some days after their "Ever Fallen In Love" which would be their major hit but, strangely, this career peak was not a good period for Pete Shelley who showed more and more signs of extreme physical exhaustion and mental tiredness. Strangely, although we were closer to the punk era than one year later, the playing is less savage and intense, and sometimes even a little bit apathetic (on "Autonomy" for example) and approximative on some songs (like on "Moving Away The Pulsebeat"). The pace is often slower that the one the band will adopt on their later shows. But it's true the band would become harder and rougher with years finishing as a dark and rugous band in 1981. But all Buzzcocks fans found in this concert the live testimony they dreamt of since it was played with the juvenile energy of the beginnings but with a lot of the repertoire with that the band is assimilated. This concert was released in 2002, either in Italy under the name of Beating Hearts or in UK under the name of Noise Annoys (same tracks, same order, same quality). This is the cover sleeve of Bleeding Hearts I chose for the illustration. Sorry for the definition, but I do not possess the CD or LP version, only the MP3. No sound illustration found on Youtube but no problem, those who are curious will catch it here.





6/9/17

Buzzcocks - The Tension Tour Live at the Rainbow (1979)




















Initiated just after the release of the bleak but stunning and innovative A Different Kind Of Tension, the Tension tour is remembered to be chaotic and uneven but the first concert at the Rainbow on the 9th November 1979, done between their two consecutive US tours (a complete nonsense that could only drown them a little deeper in the dope trap) and caught by Joan McNulty (see previous post), to be "superb" (the word is from Tony McGartland, the biographer of the band and author of "The Complete History" that is re-released with a freshly completed edition this month). It's true the set is hyper-energetic and that most songs are played in their punkiest versions. Sometimes the band is a little bit out of the road, taking speed for precipitation, and that Pete Shelly forgets some lyrics (on "I Believe") but all in all, it could have been a great Live 4th LP like it was the tradition in the sixties and the seventies, but no more with punk. I won't talk about each song but it's great to hear the ADKOT songs played by the band that had just created them. However, far from being "the new album played live", the new songs only represent 5 from the 17 and this tended to show that the band was not so confident in the potential of these new songs. On a more discographic plan, note that this concert was released in 2 main versions. The first in 2001 under the title of Small Songs With Big Hearts in 2001 and the second under the title of Live Tension in 2002, but the latter with a song missing ("I Don't Know What To Do With My Life") so beware. I included both cover sleeves in the file. Catch it here. You can listen to the concert on the Youtube link below.