I was never as big a Buzzcocks fan as all that, as some of my friends were. But boy, they had their moments, and those from 1977-78 which are captured on Singles going steady – ‘Orgasm addict’, ‘What do I get?’, ‘I don’t mind’, ‘Love you more’, ‘Ever fallen in love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve)’, and ‘Promises’ – are up there with the best pop moments full stop. It takes some special magic to string together a run of singles as flawless as those, especially with B sides on a par; a gift for songwriting, of course, but every other ingredient has to be present and correct too. Instrumentation, production, the combination of cutting edge and pop, personnel and personalities – that blend and bond forged between singer and group.
Then there’s Pete Shelley’s simple and effective lyrical prowess across the course of those singles, which cover sex and love from first wank to last rites. ‘Orgasm addict’ seems incredibly plain-speaking for 1977, and was banned from being played on the radio at the time. Even today I doubt whether a lyric of its kind – blunt and more than somewhat alienated, rather than suggestive – would get daytime radio exposure.
Also making this a particularly notable release is that the sleeve comes dressed in a collage by Morrissey’s mate Linder Sterling, herself a singer in the group Ludus.