Buzzcocks – Sell You Everything 1991-2014: Album Review

A shedload of albums, singles, rarities and unreleased music from the Buzzcocks archive. As usual, lovingly collated by the fine people at Cherry Red.

Release Date: 29th May 2020

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: 8CD Box Set

A set that does a thorough job of celebrating the second of the two ages of Buzzcocks. Two ages as the catalogue is noticably spilt between their first chart bothering three albums from 1978/9 – Another Music In A Different Kitchen, Love Bites and A Different Kind Of Tension. To be fair, a trio that was definitive as anything that defined the thrill of the punk era – but without the filth and the fury.

Then there’s the ‘latter-day’ period, the ‘post-reformation years’, that kicked off in 1993 with Trade Test Transmissions. Chart positions…best not mentioned. But an era that while possibly not as urgent as 78/79, held enough of the original fire to keep things interesting.

It’s to the latter we look in this collection although the A Different Compilation disc of the set does hark back to the thrill of the Orgasm Addict / I Don’t Mind / What Do I Get? days and one that was previously issued by Cooking Vinyl in 2011.

buzzcocks - sell you everything

At the core and providing the incendiary spark is the Diggle / Shelley relationship – “We couldn’t even agree if Buzzcocks should have a ‘The’ on the front” – continued to be the driving force and one which refused to lie down even in the slightly diluted latter period. One where the intervening years might have refined if that’s the right word, the deadly duo’s songwriting skills and musical tastes. Despite line-up changes however, with Shelley and Diggle in there, no mistaking that it’s still the Buzzers (or the ‘Cocks if you prefer).

There’s an informative (for most of us who aren’t in that deep) booklet essay by MOJO’s Pat Gilbert that plots the tale with significant input from Steve Diggle, notably quoting the comment about “a different vibe to the rhythm section” and insight into Kurt Cobian. Unlikely bed partners.

As we headed towards the new millenium, a long way from the jubilations of 1977, a tour with Nirvana, the shift towards more Diggle songs and the musical climate might well have played their parts on the rockier All Set and Modern. Almost by chance they became elderly uncles to the Britpop gang and inevitably with their roots, the Madchester crew – check those pics for the baggy trousered evidence. There was a toughness to the music that had first appeared on the return with 1993’s Trade Test Transmissions, the first of six further albums.

That power pop-rock element was carried through to Flat Pack Philosophy via acknowledgment of more, erm, ‘modern’ sounds on Modern and ultimately after an eight-year gap, The Way. Funnily enough the pledge campaign reflected a strange squaring off of the circle that started with the self-financed Spiral Scratch right back at the start.

Typical of Cherry Red, they provide a veritable feast and it’s easy to get bloated on Buzzcocks and fail to appreciate the gems that surface. All the discs contain a handful of extra tracks although some may pipe up that too much of a good thing can leave one wanting less. The tracks are added from various sources, live versions and include Diggle’s own home demos. 160 tracks of which 29 hold the ‘previously unreleased’ tag include the infamous 1991 demo album. Phew!

A post-Pete, Diggle-led Buzzcocks for 2020 and beyond may be one step too far but this Sell You Everything set brings a suitable closure to a classic band.

Listen to Ever Fallen In Love from a 1978 Top Of The Pops here:

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