The British punk scene of the 1970s may be best known for the Sex Pistols, but the Buzzcocks were also a terrific band that helped define the pnk generation. Singles Going Steady is a great compilation of the band's early work, highlighting their stripped-down musical attack and punk-pop lyrics.

Headed by singer-songwriter-guitarist paid Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, the Buzzcocks were punks as interested in teenage romance (and its failings) as in bucking the system. They might comment on the vapid pleasantness of society in "Everybody's Happy Nowadays," adult disproval in "Noise Annoys," or difficulty of life in "Something's Gone Wrong Again," but they really hit their stride with teen angst about romance. It's no coincidence that the fairly romantic "I Don't Mind" is followed here by the song that asks "Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with?" Lust also plays a big factor in their experience, from the wanting "Why Can't I Touch It?" to the straightforward "Just Lust" to the fairly comic "Orgasm Addict."

These themes are well supported by the angry, fast music that match the sneering vocals of the singers. There's a raw energy to the songs, as they're blasted out fast (few songs are over three minutes long; most are closer to two minutes) with competing guitar, bass, and drums. And while the music is angry, it's also catchy: a strange melody that makes you want to sing along.

Singles Going Steady is, in many ways, the best of the punk scene: a reminder that punk wasn't just tone-deaf pissed-off rockers, but people who blend their passion with talent to create memorable music. Singles Going Steady belongs with the best of the Ramones and Sex Pistols.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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