The Buzzcocks — Time’s Up (2017, Domino)
A long circulated bootleg, officially released in 2000 by mute, and reissued in March of this year (2017) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Spiral Scratch single, Time’s Up is a collection of Buzzcock’s demos that catches the group in their nascent and arguably most visceral (certainly most interesting) stage. Admittedly, this release only recently came into our Marginal paws, but as huge fans of Howard Devoto, Magazine, and the Spiral Scratch 45 at Marginal HQ, it was imperative to get these early recordings featuring Devoto pumping through the cans as soon as possible. Including the cuts that wound up on Spiral and a number of tracks that were later recorded with Pete Shelley replacing Devoto on vocals, this document preserves the urgency catalyzed by the infamous early Sex Pistols show at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall, along with the pomp, insouciance, and flippancy that Devoto offers. The four tracks that later feature on Spiral Scratch regrettably pale to those the wound up on the 45, largely owing to the drastically slower tempos. Among the highlights, an stripped down, but explosive rendition of Captain Beefhart’s, “I Love You, You Big Dummy,” which was later performed by Devoto in Magazine. The fidelity is remarkably clear for a young, broke, and at the time irrelevant band, who were effectively writing the guidebook for Mancunian punks to follow. This release is not an indispensable release by any account, but as someone who enjoys the extremely limited Buzzcocks output featuring Devoto, it remains exciting and historically fascinating to take give this rock n roll time capsule a spin and in the process, immerse oneself in the early pings of punk rock in the English Northwest c. 1976.