"Basically, the real question is which of the two Buzzcocks collections you're going to buy - Operator's Manual or Singles Going Steady. It's a tough choice. Singles Going Steady is probably the best singles collection ever, next to the Who's Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy. The sequencing is flawless and there's a wonderful continuity between songs that gives it the unity of a studio album. So, at first, it would seem that Singles is the obvious choice, but there's also a convincing argument to be made for Operator's Manual. First of all, it just has more songs; second, it contains a generous sampling of album cuts, giving a more rounded idea of the Buzzcock's ouevre; third, it includes later songs such as "You Say You Don't Love Me" and "I Believe," which are missing from Singles Going Steady. On the negative side, Operator's Manual sounds a hodge-podge, there's no real flow from one song to the next. On the bright side, both collections are comprised of the same core tracks, so either way you choose, you'll still be getting most of the essentials. In the end, I suppose I would have to cast my vote for Operator's Manual, just because of all the extra material."
A flawed look at a great band
jay_banerjee | NYC, USA | 05/22/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Buzzcocks, out of all the hundreds of bands in the original British punk scene, made the most enduring music out of all of them, matched only by the Jam and the Clash. Their fusion of noisy punk assault with pop songcraft sensibilities have made them an all-time favorite to many people, myself included.Operator's Manual attempts to find a middle ground between the 16-song singles collection Singles Going Steady and the 3-disc boxed set Product. Unfortunately, it loses both the unmatchable consistency of Singles Going Steady and the comprehensiveness of Product, which is why I must give it 3 stars.This collection would have benefitted from better track selection. Choosing "Get Out on Our Own" as a representative from Another Music in a Different Kitchen, the Buzzcocks' debut and best album (not counting SGS), was silly, given the much better songs on the album: "No Reply", "You Tear Me Up", "Love Battery", etc.The Love Bites selections are bewildering. First of all, on this CD, Love Bites gets five tracks not on Singles Going Steady, but Another Music gets four, which is simply wrong since Love Bites is vastly inferior. "Nostalgia", "Operator's Manual", and "Nothing Left" are relatively weak tracks. Why they didn't pick "Just Lust", B-side to "Ever Fallen In Love?" and available on SGS, is puzzling to say the least. Another Love Bites selection that would have made more sense is Steve Diggle's "Love Is Lies".Which brings me to A Different Kind of Tension, where the creators of this compilation show their pro-Pete Shelley, anti-Steve Diggle tendencies. There are only three selections from this album (not counting the 30-second throwaway "Radio Nine"), which is kind of strange because this album had a bunch of great tracks, and "I Don't Know What To Do With My Life" and "You Say You Don't Love Me" are both classic tracks worthy of selection, but "I Believe" is NOT. They could have chosen one of the three great Steve Diggle compositions ("Sitting Around at Home", "You Know You Can't Help It", and "Mad Mad Judy") in place of "I Believe". Actually, since "I Believe" is SEVEN minutes long, they could have chosen two or three. The catchy Shelley composition "Raison d'Etre" also would have done very nicely here, but they chose the grating "I Believe" instead.As for SGS, Operator's Manual wisely includes all 8 A-sides, but only three B-sides, and those B-sides are not the best three. "Lipstick" and "Autonomy" are classics, but "Noise Annoys" is a bit silly and is dreadfully outmatched by "Just Lust" and "Something's Gone Wrong Again", both criminally overlooked. "Just Lust" is their best B-side, and its absence is most definitely felt.Finally, they chose one song from the last three Buzzcocks singles: "Are Everything". Like most of the other songs on those last three singles, "Are Everything" shows the effects of heavy drug abuse by the Buzzcocks at this stage in their career: it's anemic, it's weak, and it sounds like it was recorded underwater. Steve Diggle's "Why She's a Girl from the Chainstore", as fiery as any track on SGS, is the only classic song to emerge from those three singles, easily one of the ten best Buzzcocks songs EVER, and they left it off in favor of "Are Everything". That's unforgivable. It's not just a matter of personal opinion, here. The only song the Buzzcocks made a video for from those last three singles is "Chainstore". And they left it off. That alone has to dock off one star.In conclusion, Operator's Manual succeeds in an absolute sense, but not relative to better Buzzcocks compilations. If you just want a look at why this band is the best, go for Singles Going Steady. If you want every track the original Buzzcocks recorded, go for Product (which, in case you're wondering, has many classic tracks not available on Singles Going Steady: "Fast Cars", "Fiction Romance", "You Say You Don't Love Me", "Why She's a Girl from the Chainstore", etc.) Operator's Manual is feckless middle ground."
Punk and pop merged to perfection
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first time I heard the Buzzcocks, I was stunned at how underrated they are compared to bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and the Clash. John Maher was punk rock's best drummer (check out "I Don't Know What to Do With My Life" and "Orgasm Addict"), and Pete Shelley wrote songs that were far more emotionally complex than anything the Sex Pistols ever did. Basically, the Buzzcocks single-handedly pushed open a door that made it possible for many post-punk British bands to exist...they are simply the first English band to merge the classic 3-minute pop song with the speed and aggression of punk. Unlike the Ramones, the Buzzcocks experimented more, but they never stopped writing songs that were witty, masterful, and tuneful. Great music, and this is a great CD to start with."
A now under-appreciated band from a time full of them.
fiora | Moreno Valley, CA United States | 07/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Buzzcocks are still waiting for their recognition. With their newest CD, Modern released just last year, pete shelley, and co. really want to entertain you. And this CD will do just that. If you are into bands like the Jam and the Damned, you'll appreciate this CD. Its a culmination of their works from the height of punk, with songs to grab you, and make you listen throughout. The only problem is, sometimes, its just too much of a good thing, and the songs start to sound the same. Songs like the first two tracks, which were also their first two singles, orgasm addict, and what do i get are super, and there are more songs with that intensity on the album, but with 25 tracks on the album, its almost too much of a good thing. A worthy buy if youre into late 70s punk, you should already own it if you've been a fan."
Diego O'Toole | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned "Singles Going Steady" and "Different Kind of Tension" on LP for about 25 years. I don't listen to vinyl much anymore, so I forgot how great the Buzzcocks are. I just found this album, which gives you a lot of good songs for a great price.
Some people have commented on the sound quality. Well, the original recordings weren't the greatest, and the Buzzcocks have a kind of rough sound anyway. I listen to this CD mostly in my car player, and it's fine. On my better home equipment, imperfections are there, but not horrible.
The Buzzcocks have another greatest hits album, made in 2001, called "Ever Fallen In Love?". Maybe it has better sound, but it DOESN'T have better track selection.
I like Jay Banerjee's review, and I agree with him that "You Know You Can't Help It" and a few other Diggle compositions would have been nice. However, I do happen to like "Noise Annoys" and "I Believe".