They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

The Buzzcocks were unique among British punk bands of the late seventies; not only were they more melodic (at a breakneck pace, granted) than most of their peers, they were prone to lead with their hearts. Pete Shelley, lead vocalist and chief songwriter, was the reason why; while other groups traded furor and phlegm gems with their audiences, Shelley yelped about love and lust, found and lost, in a way that girls and boys could both relate to, and he did it in perfect three-minute bursts. Shelley turns 57 today and is still going strong; we’re honoring him with these five covers from the first phase of the Buzzcocks’ career.

MP3: Yeastie Girlz – Orgasm Addict (Buzzcocks cover)
The Yeastie Girlz have one of the greatest band names based on another band’s name. They were one of the first bands to appear on the late, great Lookout Records. Their feminist a cappella raps were novel, exciting, and still sound fresh today. They only released one record, but they made it count – their Ovary Action EP races through ten songs in under thirteen minutes. Listen to them call and respond their way through the Buzzcocks’ “Orgasm Addict” – but not if you’re at work or near children, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

MP3: Phil Aiken – What Do I Get? (Buzzcocks cover)
Shelley specialized in writing punk paeans to romance, and the more unattainable the better. With the huge energy of the band behind him, it was easy to miss the tender longing of lines like “I’m in distress, I need a caress.” Phil Aiken solves that problem on his cover of “What Do I Get?” by slowing the pace, basing the instrumentation around a piano, and adding a female vocal track; thanks to him, now you can bathe in your sorrows rather than thrash around in them.

MP3: Bad Shepherds – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've) (Buzzcocks cover)
If you know Adrian Edmondson only as Vyvian from the classic Britcom The Young Ones, and you learned he now fronts a punk cover band called the Bad Shepherds, you might expect them to play with a lot of sturm und drang – and you’d be dead wrong. They’re a Celtic folk band, with Edmondson on mandolin, and they approach their covers of classic punk/new wave tunes with a seriousness you never realized the songs deserved. They take “Ever Fallen In Love” and rearrange it into a lilting lament, leading listeners to realize that the best-known Buzzcocks song was one they didn’t really know at all.

MP3: The Last Names – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays (Buzzcocks cover)
We mentioned earlier this year that the Last Names were covering a song a week throughout 2012. They’re up to week 15 as of this writing, and the quality hasn’t dropped in the slightest. The electropop ghost that weaves its way through their version of “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” is out to haunt you, and we wouldn’t blame you for welcoming that opportunity.

MP3: Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – You Say You Don’t Love Me (Buzzcocks cover)
Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have recorded two albums of cover songs together – three, if you count disc two of the deluxe edition of Under the Covers, Volume 2. On that second disc, they add ten more ’70s covers to the sixteen released on disc one. True to the ethos of the project, their cover of the Buzzcocks’ “You Say You Don’t Love Me” is faithful to the original and showcases the deep affection Sweet and Hoffs clearly feel for the work that inspired them so much.

The Buzzcocks’ music can be found on Amazon and iTunes, and even more about them can be found on their website.

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