Boredom (1977)

From the initial Buzzcocks line-up, which featured Scunthorpe’s Howard Devoto (nee Trafford) on vocals and Mancunian fellow Bolton Institute of Technology student Peter McNeish (renamed Shelley – after his favourite poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley) on guitar, came one of the first British punk anthems. Boredom appeared on the Spiral Scratch EP, self-released on New Hormones, which paved the way for the wave of punk and post-punk indie labels from Rough Trade to Factory. It was also produced by future Joy Division producer Martin Hannett, so its significance goes far beyond the tune. That, though – written by Shelley on a Woolworth’s guitar – is fantastic. Devoto’s lyrics are self-explanatory (“You know me – I’m acting dumb / The scene is very humdrum / Boredom! Boredom!), and Shelley’s two-note guitar solo is the epitome of punk’s rejection of pomposity and virtuosity. Five years later, the song would be famously referenced in Orange Juice’s similarly disaffected hit, Rip It Up (“and my favourite song is titled Boredom”).

Orgasm Addict (1977)

Buzzcocks’ first major-label single didn’t do the fledgling band’s punk credentials any harm when it was banned by the BBC. Clad in a striking sleeve designed by Malcolm Garratt using images created by Ludus singer Linder, the United Artists 7-inch delivered is a furiously funny blast of subversion, about the radio-unfriendly topic of masturbation. With Devoto leaving (subsequently forming Magazine), Shelley steps up as lead vocalist and the opening wail – “Well, you tried it just for once found it all right for kicks” – unveils Buzzcocks Mk2 in style. England’s Dreaming author Jon Savage recently described Orgasm Addict as “one of their best and one of the best ever songs about sex”.