Steve Diggle

Heated and Rising

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    9
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With the heart-stopping, sensational "Terminal" alone, Diggle's first solo outing since his beloved Buzzcocks reformed in 1989, continues his terrific run of '88-'89 when he finally put it all together, without hearkening back to that work at all. In fact, these four songs are more restrained than Diggle has ever attempted, with a minor R.E.M. folk-pop influence; now Diggle's strong songwriting (many have noted that he largely out-wrote the gifted Pete Shelley on Buzzcocks' Trade Test Transmissions), and distinctive voice are carrying a larger share of the load. The title track and "Over and Out" are catchy enough, but it's cut three that is, alongside "Exiles," "Pictures in my Mind," and "In the Back" (and Buzzcocks classics such as "Autonomy" and "Fast Cars") his finest work ever. "Terminal" is a totally new wrinkle for Diggle, a resigned, weary voice struggling to keep a grip on heavy emotions, lifted up by deeply ringing, doleful acoustics, and a totally memorable verse/chorus. "Anyone can make a mistake" he sings, and the mood is complete. The tasteful (uncredited) drumming pushes deftly and gently ahead, as Diggle reluctantly warns, "I should tell you right now, for you it is too late, (it's) terminal, as the subject broadens to societal illness. The lush sound and tugging words of ""Terminal," and the closing song, "Wednesday's Flowers," are more in-line with Diggle's ex-Buzzcocks' mate Mike Joyce's old band the Smiths than you'd ever imagine. This EP is so good, it instantly eclipses Trade Test Transmissions, strong as that was, as the most important and instantly memorable/relevant work by Diggle and Shelley in the '90s. You won't find any hint of nostalgia here at all.