If impact and influence are true measures of a band's lasting greatness, Manchester, England's Buzzcocks should already be in the rock 'n' roll hall of fame. Right behind the glorious spectacle that was the Sex Pistols, and the more polemic Clash, this buzzsaw-guitar pop group is the best-loved band from the now mythic, original 1976/1977 English punk explosion. Moreover, like The Jam, it's clear that Buzzcocks' sound and style had more universal scope and vision, and thus they've been revered by all rock fans, far beyond the narrow confines of punk. This distinction continues on their under produced, but still good new LP, their fifth, All Set . (Don't miss "What Am I Supposed to Do Now?" and "Without You.") Nearly two decades before the current rise of punk here, Buzzcocks' unprecedented combination of punishing wall-of-guitar power and machine-gun drumming, mixed with disarming, irresistible pop melodies, and leader Pete Shelley's intelligent, shrewd expressions of romantic frustration, set the unequaled standard. Those impressed with Green Day and Offspring would do well to buy Buzzcocks' seminal pop treasure, their compilation of their first eight U.K. Top-40 hits 1979's Singles Going Steady Since returning in 1989 after an eight year absence, Buzzcocks triumphant reunion tours of American theaters paved the way for the "alternative" explosion that has all but knocked mildewy "classic rock" off the radio stations. Observes Shelley, "It's true bands are recording a kind-of 90's version of our sound. The way these bands have progressed, we definitely seeded the population, we infected them, with the tours we did after we came back. The similarities are more than could be expected by random mutations. But that's fine. A band can't jealously guard its formula. And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
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