Sound — 9
The Buzzcocks were a 4-piece punk pop band from Manchester, UK. In late 1976, the band, then still with original vocalist Howard Devoto, recorded a 4 song EP and released it through Richard Boon's upstart New Hormones label. Spiral Scratch was released in January 1977, making it the first British punk album to hit the record stores. The first full-length Brit punk album, The Damned's Damned Damned Damned, would make its appearance in April.
Lyrics — 9
Spiral Scratch runs less than 10 minutes, a good thing when talking about any punk album. Howard Devoto does his best to impersonate Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame. His style meshes well with Pete Shelley's melodic 3-chord riffs. The rhythm section does a competent job of providing a solid backing. Steve Diggle had not yet joined the band, leaving Shelley to overdub his guitar at points (most obviously during Boredom's infamous 2-note solo). Boredom is the biggest highlight of the album with its aforementioned solo and strong lyrical hook. Breakdown comes in a close second for Devoto's spitfire performance. The remaining two tracks fly by quickly enough but aren't nearly as memorable. Friends of Mine is notable for its insane guitar distortion, which sounds more like a broken vacuum cleaner than a guitar at points.
Overall Impression — 9
If you can find this EP cheap, buy it. It's just as good an introduction to UK punk as Never Mind the Bollocks or the Buzzcocks' own later compilation Singles Going Steady. It can also be acquired on the Buzzcocks' Anthology album or in different takes on the Time's Up "official bootleg."