Being as I am, fairly obsessed with music documentaries, I’m always very pleased when I come across old programmes I’ve never seen before. This one, though, is a particularly good find. It’s a Granada TV documentary, filmed as part of the ‘What’s On’ Series from 1978 called ‘B’dum B’dum’ about the Buzzcocks and Magazine, following Howard Devoto’s departure of the former. It’s presented by Tony Wilson and as far as I know hasn’t been re-broadcast since it first aired. One of the fantastic things about the documentary is Tony Wilson’s pretentiousness – talking about shamanism, speaking in alliterative tongue-twisters and his general wordy foppiness.
There’s some fantastic live footage included of both bands and it captures the oddness of both Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley rather wonderfully. Both groups are rather under-rated and never quite get the kudos they deserve. The Buzzcocks were particularly important in kickstarting the DIY attitude that we associate with Punk – booking the Sex Pistols to play up in Manchester, forming their own record label and putting out the ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP off their own back. They also released a string of splendid 7″ singles, becoming probably the best ‘pop’ writers to emerge out of the punk era. You can see the influence of The Buzzcocks and Magazine in groups like The Smiths, Blur, Green Day and countless other guitar bands.
The documentary is less than half an hour and comes in five parts of various unusually-lengthed pieces.