The 2nd Album by the Punk Rock Band from the U.K.
Anger is the emotion people often attribute with punk rock or hardcore. Love, however, has its place within the genre, and one of the best bands to express the emotion through song would be – the Buzzcocks. In 1978, they released the album Love Bites with plenty of top singles about the madness and wonder of falling in love. Something we can all relate to that is if you do indeed have a heart.
The Buzzcocks entered the punk rock world in 1976 due to the meeting of founding members Peter McNeish and Howard Trafford (they later changed their names to Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto). Throughout the Buzzcocks‘ tenure in creating nine studio albums, members have come and gone, including Howard Trafford, who left within a few months to form the band Magazine. At the time of Love Bites‘ release, the band consisted of Pete Shelley (lead guitar/lead vocals), Steve Diggle (rhythm and acoustic guitar/backing vocals), Steve Garvey (bass), and John Maher (drums).
One of the cool aspects, maybe downfall to some degree, about Love Bites is the timing. They released this baby within a year of their debut album, and it only took two and a half weeks. While most say their debut is their best work, to put out another album that includes some of their greatest hits like “Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” within the same year is an outstanding accomplishment.
The album starts with “Real World,” a perfect intro with a dagger-like guitar sound that hits the soul. The bass and drums are subtle, at first, until everything comes together in aggressive and playful harmony. After “Real World,” you have their top single, “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?,” that offers this swirling guitar play. The sound rotates from the left to the right as if you are cast in love’s dizzy spell, especially if it’s a one-sided relationship. To hammer the point home, the song features clever lyrics like “You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel like dirt and I’m hurt, and if I start a commotion, I run the risk of losing you and that’s worse.” Love Bites also contains a few songs that are uber fun. “Just Lust” and “Sixteen Again” are both examples that offer upbeats with a sharp guitar that will have you bobbing like a school kid with a crush. And overall, the instrumentals are stellar. Songs like “Nothing Left” and “E.S.P” each showcase the band’s musicianship. And one has to assume the arms come off of drummer John Marh after playing “Late for the Train,” the last song on the album, which evokes a sense of anxiety, as if you are late for a train (ha.ha.), yet is pleasing to the ears.
As much praise as I give this album, where the album lacks is the flow, which is why I said “downfall” earlier. I wonder if this album could be better if the band left out songs like “Love is Lies,” one of the slower songs, or at least has a different feel than the rest of the album. The placement of “Love is Lies” is also a bit strange. It’s between “Walking Distance” and “Nothing Left,” which are pretty fierce. To have a slower song between them seemed to stop the energy. One could assume the speed at which the album was put together might have affected certain decisions on keeping songs, leaving them out, or their placement on the record. An assumption, of course.
The Buzzcocks’ Love Bites is a classic punk rock albums and one of the best example if you are looking for love songs. From earlier teenage years to what’s it like to love another only to feel as if you’ve wasted your time, the Buzzcocks truly capture the emotion with Love Bites. Don’t take my word for it. Turn it up, fiends.