Friday, 4 January 2019

The Buzzcocks - A Different Kind Of Tension (1979)


Released September 1979

For me, the two previous Buzzcocks album, "Another Music In A Different Kitchen" and "Love Bites" are much better than this one, which is slightly formulaic and repetitive in places, particularly the old "side one", which contained the punkier material. It already sounded somewhat old hat, even by late 1979, unfortunately. For some people, this is their best album, but personally it lacks something in comparison to the others. It sounds a bit tired, to be honest, despite the lively nature of the material. If you think about it, The Buzzcocks had just a couple of great years - 1978 and 1979 - two good albums, and this ok one. Their legacy has been far greater than the sum of their parts, however. Forty years later, they are still remembered with respect for their contribution and subsequent influence.


1. Paradise
2. Sitting 'Round At Home
3. You Say You Don't Love Me
4. You Know You Can't Help It
5. Mad, Mad Judy
6. Raison D'Être
7. I Don't Know What To Do With My Life
8. Money
9. Hollow Inside
10. A Different Kind Of Tension
11. I Believe
12. Radio Nine                                              

"Paradise" is a typical Buzzcocks punker, with the late Pete Shelley's instantly recognisable bleating vocals and a solid fast punk beat. It actually sounds comparatively dated by now, though, compared to some of the post-punk material they had been dabbling in on previous albums. "Sitting 'Round At Home" moves between chugging verses and a breakneck, punky chorus. "You Say You Don't Love Me" is a classic Buzzcocks punky love song. "You Know You Can't Help It" is pretty much Buzzcocks punk by numbers. "Mad, Mad Judy" is full of riffs, bass and growling punk attitude and I can't help but like it. "Raison D'Être" is also an appealing staccato-beat, riffy punky track. In fact, though, listening to this side over and over, it has hidden depths and I have got into it all over again.

"I Don't Know What To Do With My Life" is a sort of Buzzcocks meets The Sex Pistols to kick off the old "side two" and "Money" gives us the first taste of post-punk industrial rhythms, such as were explored on the previous two albums. "Hollow Inside" is in the same vein, with some impressive drum parts and bass lines. It is here that the album becomes a little more interesting and more experimentally progressive. I much prefer this side, despite my liking for punk. I feel that this was far more futuristic material than simply retreading old punk footsteps. The title track is sort of post punk meets new wave with some robotic vocals floating around. Again, it has something about it, although it does sound pretty dated now. The tracks are longer though and more in step with the whole post punk thing. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the seven minute "I Believe". Seven minutes? From a punk group in 1979? It was certainly unusual. It doesn't get boring though, in its punk meets Joy Division sort of way.

There were no singles on the album - the two that were released around the same time were "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" and "Harmony In My Head", both of which would have improved the album by their presence. The 'b' side "Why Can't I Touch It?" is a great track, and a real shame that it was not on the album.


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