Here’s the Buzzcocks lip-synching their new LSD-drenched single “Are Everything” on a UK children’s TV show in 1980

By on January 28, 2016

On Saturday August 30, 1980, the Buzzcocks made an appearance on the Saturday morning kids TV show “Fun Factory,” lip-synching along to their not-yet-released single “Are Everything,” while kids from the studio audience banged away on drummer John Maher’s kit, and cameramen — one dressed up in a bunny costume — wander around onstage.

Buzzcocks singer/guitarist Pete Pete Shelley — who appears to be sporting a very thin mustache — looks pretty manic when the camera closes in on him while he’s pretend-singing, his eyes wild, shooting furtive glances back at guitarist Steve Diggle, who seems to be getting right up in his face and against his back, perhaps egging him into some kind of on-camera altercation, while bassist Steve Garvey looks on, wondering what the hell is happening, and drummer John Maher, who is joined by kids smashing his cymbals (after the song ends, you can hear the racket they were making in the TV studio), watches the insane proceedings, which include a cameraman dressed in a blue-and-white-striped bunny rabbit costume.

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One online review later described the recording “Are Everything” as sounding like “the Buzzcocks are deep in the muddy tunnel of super-strength LSD.”

Interestingly, for this particular recording the Buzzcocks had just gone back to working with their former producer Martin Hannett — he’d produced their first songs for their early Spiral Scratch EP recordings before moving on to produce nearly all of Joy Division’s recordings — for what would end up to be the Buzzcocks’s last single release, and apparently the band and their producer had all been taking acid for this session — they wrote, recorded and mixed under its influence — all this, according to Shelley, who once said this:

“When I did ‘Are Everything’ with Martin Hannett producing, one of the last sessions as Buzzcocks, every time we recorded a track I was taking acid. So doing the vocals, for example, weird things were going on. There was this kind of golden trail coming off me… everything on that record we did on acid, the vocals, the mixing – and of course, the way Martin was, he was well into that stuff as well. On those last tracks, we were doing Frisco speedballs…There was acid in it – which would have been the Frisco bit, I suppose. So that would have contributed to the…” (his voice trails off here).

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Hannett — largely regarded as a brilliant engineer and producer, but notoriously difficult to work with — was also said to have been able to see colors in his mind, known as synesthesia, a neurological phenomena (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia) which Wikipedia tells us happens when “stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

In Hannett’s cases, certain sounds were represented by colors that he saw in his “mind’s eye,” and according to Tony Wilson, the owner of Joy Division’s record company Factory Records, Hannett, an extreme perfectionist, was never satisfied in the studio until he got the just the sounds he “saw” in his head just perfect, no doubt matching the colors up. Also, he loved to experiment with sounds, and if you listen carefully at the end of this single, you can hear them using the knives and forks and spoons and things from the little kitchen at the studio in the backing tracks.

Photo of BUZZCOCKS and Pete SHELLEY and John MAHER and Steve DIGGLE and Steve GARVEY

The Buzzcock had returned to working with Hannett again after a long period of working with record producer Martin Rushent, who had helped the band chart their singles in 1978 and ’79, but when “You Say You Don’t Love Me “ failed to chart in September 1979 (it was released shortly after a reissue of the long out-of-print Spiral Scratch EP), the band decided to go back to Hannett, just to shake things up again.

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Hannett — who at one time had been focusing on chemistry as a college student — had been a huge part of the Manchester music scene and its development in the late 70s, having previously played bass for a local band named Sad Café and also engineering the sound in some of Manchester’s pubs before working as an engineer in recording studios and eventually earning himself quite a reputation for his production work on of  the Spiral Scratch EP (for which he used the name “Martin Zero”), leading to him working with Joy Division and other bands.

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When Hannett was working again with the Buzzcocks, however, he was still mourning the recent suicide death of Joy Division’s singer Ian Curtis, and his drug use was quite evident, apparently. Not only that, but the tense relationship between Shelley and Pete Diggle, the Buzzcocks’ lead guitarist, was rapidly starting to deteriorate as well, and so perhaps everyone decided it was easier to deal with each other while on LSD (Diggle and Shelley were even working apart and dividing up vocals and A & B sides, further fracturing the band, who seemed to be unraveling while in the studio).

Speaking to Jon Savage in 1989, Hannett described those final Buzzcocks sessions as “totally chaotic. They were wired… it was fraught [and] I’d gone a bit self-absorbed by then.”

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The Buzzcocks’s new UK single – “Are Everything”/“Why She’s A Girl From The Chainstore” — which hadn’t yet been released yet when they appeared on “Fun Factory,” arrived in record stores a few weeks later, the single’s artwork depicting that they’d gotten away from giving either side a letter to denote which was the preferred A-side. The side with “Are Everything” had a “triangle” symbol, and “Chain Store” had a “square” symbol. This one, and next three singles, in fact, were all given sequential numbers — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 — which was similar to the kind of packaging that the UK label Factory Records was known for at the time.

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When Smash Hits reviewed the new single, “Are Everything“/”Why She’s A Girl From The Chainstore” (Sept. 4-17, 1980 issue), they said this about the single:

“The Buzzcocks choose to do away with A and B sides altogether. ‘Are Everything’ couples tight rhythmic coils of standard rock with abrasive vocals and no hookline, while ‘Chainstore’ is attacked with more positivism and purposeness. Again it’s tight and solid, and vaguely stirring, but nothing to get too hot under the collar about.”

 

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“Are Everything” would end up peaking at #61 on the UK singles chart.

The Buzzcocks went back to working with Rushent again, in early 1981, to record a fourth album, but learned that their record label wasn’t planning on releasing it and wouldn’t pay for the recording sessions, which no doubt played a part in the band breaking up — announcing their parting officially in the summer of 1981 — and then going their different directions, with further friction coming from the band and their management when their former record label decided to release a single’s compilation, Singles Going Steady, which, amazingly, failed to chart.

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One of the reasons that led to the breakup was that producer Martin Rushent invited Shelley to come and record at his brand new Genetic Sounds studio, which the singer accepted, knowing that he’d love the chance to record some of the songs he’d been writing that weren’t quite right for the band (even songs he’d written before the Buzzcocks had formed), and those recordings later led to him being offered a solo deal by Island Records after Andrew Lauder heard the demos he was recording.

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This singular appearance on “Fun Factory,” showing the band pretty much near the end of their run, is rather interesting in that this was a TV show primarily aimed at very young kids, and the Buzzcocks were just one of many bands who came on the show to lip-sync to their latest hit: Madness and Duran Duran, in particular, also appeared on the show (the latter notably performing their song “Planet Earth”), and the show also aired Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” video.

“Fun Factory” was actually a replacement show for another Saturday morning kid’s TV show, a rather wild and unpredictable program called “Tiswas” -- which is how it was spelled, apparently an acronym for “Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile” — which ran from January 5, 1974 to April 3, 1982, with “Fun Factory” occasionally appearing in its time-slot until the show took it over completely.

“Fun Factory” later dispensed of live in-studio appearances by hosts and bands, and eventually became a block of children’s cartoons, still using the same name, for the Sky channel (later to become Sky One) and that ran from 1985 to 1991. It continued as a programming block without a host up until 1994.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.