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Finally, a Buzzcocks release that isn't totally worth the import buckaroonies (the U.S. release was canned when EMI U.S. went under, leaving the band label-less here). This collection of unreleased demos from their glory days, 1976-1980, is a great idea. Except that these 17 selections here that were later re-recorded for release are not as good as the proper versions that have barreled out of the stereos of devotees. That's why they call them demos, after all. True, some bands' demos actually are better than their fully-funded, overproduced remakes. But in Buzzcocks case, demos were clearly works in progress. This we could hear in the grooves, even if we weren't treated to Steve Diggle's total gibberish on the parts for which he had yet to write lyrics. Also, the six songs that were never rerecorded, released here for the first time ever, only prove that the band had a good grip on the difference between their "A" and "B" material. On the other hand, any solid, raving fan of the original Buzzcocks (post-Devoto lineup) could do worse than this purchase, assuming they've already gobbled up the better, similar collection of early recordings, The Peel Sessions. For one thing, any vintage studio look at this completely sensational band is welcome. And even if the real (or Peel) versions are preferable, there's plenty of raw energy and excitement. A couple of the "new" tracks, such as the Steve Garvey-penned "Runaway From Home," the low-driving Diggle goodie "Drive System," and the sharp instrumental "I Don't Know," make one want to travel back in time and see this band live about 50 times. The verdict? New fans get Singles Going Steady. No contest. But old fans dive in here, if with lower expectations.

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