Given that the Buzzcocks, the esteemed inventors of chainsaw pop, already have ten live albums on the market at this writing, the arrival of 30, titled to commemorate the three decades since their debut album, seems like something less than an event. Which is not to say the album isn't good -- Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle have admirably maintained the Buzzcocks' standing as one of the best and most consistently entertaining live acts in British rock, and this recording of a show in London (no date given) sounds passionate and energetic, with just enough of a ragged edge to keep things exciting but without sounding as if they've abandoned their professional status. Just as importantly, Shelley and Diggle are both ace songwriters, and 30's set list ticks off one great tune after another, from "You Tear Me Up" to "Orgasm Addict," and while the focus is mostly on the "hits," the newer tunes that make the cut sound just fine in this context. The recording is good, if not remarkable, and no one would have any reason to doubt that the folks who saw this show had a great time. But the same problem that's dogged the last few Buzzcocks live discs follows this one as well -- this group's status as a great live act has been documented well enough that unless you're an utter obsessive, there isn't any compelling reason to pick up 30 if you've already got a decent live recording of the Buzzcocks in action. If you don't, 30 is fine stuff and ripping fun, but it doesn't tell you anything about the Buzzcocks that fans don't already know.
by Mark Deming