Beating Hearts: Manchester '78

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The Buzzcocks were never as great a live band as their posthumous reputation (and subsequent re-emergence) suggested; the songs that sounded so pristine on vinyl struggled to translate to the concert stage, particularly the handful of unabashed pop classics that they knocked out so effortlessly on record. This gig, capturing the cocks in their Manchester hometown as they toured in support of their second album, Love Bites, is a case in point. Spreading out over "Moving Away from the Pulsebeat," they sound way too ambitious for their abilities; compressing everything into the nuggets of "Oh Shit" and "Ever Fallen in Love," they seem amateurishly calamitous, resigned to sounding like a punk rock band when what they really wanted to be was the new 10cc -- another great band, funnily enough, that simply couldn't really cut it in concert. If you love the cocks, then this is a charming memento of times gone by. But if you love their songs, stick with the studio stuff.

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