The Infinite Jukebox: The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve?)’

There’s a case for featuring practically every single by The Buzzcocks on The Infinite Jukebox (the blog series, that is: practically every Buzzcocks single is on the Infinite Jukebox in my head), but despite my abiding love for ‘I Don’t Mind’, it is the band’s fifth single and it’s biggest hit that means the most to me, for a variety of reasons.
Ever since I first discovered music, in 1970, I’ve always had a favourite band or singer. Four times, that’s been a Manchester band. I first discovered The Buzzcocks just before I swapped the punk hotspot of Manchester for the punk-hating environs of Nottingham for two years. It was born of a late-evening recording of their second single, ‘What do I get?’ off Piccadilly Radio. It was the last to feature bassist Garth, before Steve ‘Paddy’ Garvey completed the classic line-up. I loved it from the off: I was losing my original antipathy towards punk the more I heard of it, drawn by the energy and simplicity of the music, its rawness, and The Buzzcocks were a sharper, more precise version of that, bringing back into the rush and tumble the element of melody that was the Sixties’ gift to all time.
An Articled Clerk – i.e., a Trainee Solicitor – who was a punk music fan, and open about it in the office. I remember debates about music, especially about ‘Love You More’, notorious for its brevity, and our student ‘Madrigals’ (her surname was Bell and she sang them) telling me she understood what they were trying to do but that it didn’t work, an opinion I disagreed with in a most patronising manner.
Then one night I’d gotten home, turned on the radio (Radio Trent, probably) and they announced the new Buzzcocks single. And I jumped for the tape recorder (reel-to-reel: my Dad had been an enthusiast and under his influence I was a late and reluctant adopter of cassettes) to capture it, and stayed in the corner, squatting, listening as it poured out. Steve Diggle’s riff and line, John Maher’s didactic drums, leading into Pete Shelley’s falsetto yawp. You disturb my natural emotions, you make me feel I’m dirt, and I’m hurt.
For most bands, for their most commercial single, that would have led into a second line, but the flow was disrupted, the evenness shattered by Diggle and Maher, repeating that sequence from the intro. And if I start a commotion, I’ll only end up losing you, and that’s worse. Then Diggle/Maher again and then this soaring, gorgeous, free-flowing, expansive chorus lifting the roof of, the title line, folding into and out of itself, so utterly compelling that, to my astonishment, when it came round the next time, I joined in, in my toneless tones, the record not having finished and my not having played it back a half dozen times yet, but before the song had even finished. That had never happened before.
Of course, the problem with the singles that grab you immediately is that they’re usually the ones you tire of first, and don’t want to hear again, because they often have nothing more than immediacy, but not so ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)’, not so even for forty years.
I remember the song for that immediacy, and I remember it for its title. It was the first of that trilogy of personal anthems that I carried around with me for a decade, along with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and that one-off Feargal Sharkey and Vince Clarke record as The Assembly, ‘Never Never’ (it never happens to me…). Ever Fallen in Love with Someone you shouldn’t have? Too bloody often and every time.
I remember it for being the single that, after two that had sneaked into the top 40, was the big one, big as in reaching no 13 in the autumn charts, and getting the band onto Top of the Pops more than once. It was the breakthrough, but The Buzcocks would only reach the top 20 once more, with the follow-up, ‘Promises’, and that only just made no 20, at Xmas.
And I remember it for being in Nottingham, in exile in more senses than one, including musically: alone but responsible for myself for the first time. Things like this song, and the fact it had gotten into the charts, was being played on the radio, were victories, victories for a cause that was the greatest fun time in music I ever had, the going-to-be-Solicitor who looked nothing like a punk yet who championed the music and roared on every moment that ‘we’ broke through and ‘you’ had to listen and to admit our music cut it.
The Buzzcocks, with Shelley leaking melody wherever he went, were our scalpel, their music a knife-edge of frustrated romance and realistic emotion, and ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have?)’ was the far too late warning for someone who had and who still remembers fondly and who is still drawn into carolling that chorus, even though my voice is not just toneless but cracked and broken. And the music still has a life that belied my best mate of then’s dismissive warning that no-one would remember The Buzzcocks in ten year’s time.
(The above essay was written before Pete Shelley’s recent death).

Oh Shit – Pete Shelley R.I.P.

It doesn’t seem possible that Pete Shelley could be gone. Punks aren’t supposed to die this soon, even if he was the same age as me.

I remember hearing ‘What do I get?’ late one John Peel night, just before moving to Nottingham and away from Punk’s other great centre. I remember it’s b-side when I bought it, one of the most honest break-up songs ever, ‘Oh Shit’. I remember seeing them of Top of the Pops with ‘I Don’t Mind’, which should have been fucking mega. I remember arguing about whether ‘Love You More’ worked or not, and singing along to ‘Ever Fallen in Love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve?)’ the very first time I heard it. I remember the years when it was like a personal theme song, the answer to which was too fucking many times.

I remember playing ‘Love Bites’ and ‘A Different Kind of Tension’ obsessively as soon as each came out. I remember seeing them at the Appollo, the second and last time I saw Joy Division, the night I heard ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ for the first time. I rememeber them finishing with ‘ESP’ as one by one the band laid down their instruments and left until only Steve Diggle was left, playing that incredible spiral riff.

I remember ‘Homo-Sapien’ and ‘XL1’ too.

I remember the Buzzcocks and I remember Pete Shelley and I ain’t never gonna forget and this is why, because you don’t forget perfection.