What is there to say at this point about the Buzzcocks’ anxious, evergreen anthem of unrequited love, heartbreak and jagged guitars? Composed by the legendary Pete Shelley, the edgy, beautiful, sad and pragmatic (and ever so slightly petulant) “Ever Fallen In Love” is just a perfect pop song. It’s no surprise then that the song’s infectious tune and painfully universal sentiment have turned it into cover catnip. There have been dozens upon dozens of covers of “Ever Fallen…” over the years, the most successful of which was the slick-as-ice 1987 version by Fine Young Cannibals which landed in UK pop top 10, several spots higher than the original managed back in 1978 (sad but true).
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
The world of rock lost a uniquely talented songwriter on December 6th, when Pete Shelley died of a heart attack, aged 63. He was best known as the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter of Buzzcocks, a late-’70s Manchester band that brought the fierceness of punk to catchy guitar pop, or possibly the other way around.
Welcome to the third installment in our Best Cover Songs of Yesteryear countdown, where we act like we were compiling our usual year-end list from a year before we – or the internet – existed. Compared to the first two, this one has significantly less grunge than 1996 and less post-punk than 1987. It’s hard to have post-punk, after all, before you have punk, a new genre starting to hit its peak in 1978. And don’t forget the other big late-’70s sound: disco. Both genres were relatively new, and super divisive among music fans. Lucky for us, both genres were also big on covers.
Disco, in particular, generated some hilariously ill-advised cover songs. We won’t list them all here – this is the Best 1978 covers, not the Most 1978 covers. If you want a taste (and think carefully about whether you really do), this bonkers take on a Yardbirds classic serves as a perfect example of what a good portion of the year’s cover songs looked and sounded like:
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Rock history is full of bands who created something truly special, with inherent value, that for whatever reason never got their due in the music marketplace. The dB’s (that stands for decibels, don’t you know) could be a case study in how to make great music and influence other musicians, but miss out on commercial success. Passed over by labels hunting for the next Knack, the band, led by guitarists Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple, signed with British label Albion Records at the very beginning of the ’80s, which meant that both their stellar debut and its follow up weren’t officially released in America for years. The band only signed with an American label, Bearsville, after founder Stamey left to forge a solo career. When they submitted a video to MTV for their suicide-themed song “Amplifier,” they were rejected.
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.
Manchester trio The Whip took a long break between the 2008 release of their debut album, X Marks Destination, and follow-up record Wired Together, which drops on September 19. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t kept busy. Last year they recorded a series of covers for JD Set, including a take on Buzzcocks’ “You Say You Don’t Love Me” that found them collaborating with The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess and Mike Joyce of The Smiths.