Song of the Week: “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue

by Douglas Cowie on 23 November 2018

Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.

This is “Love Buzz” by Shocking Blue:

Kurt Cobain had a good ear for the cover version, often from obscure and/or little-known sources. Through Nirvana I learned about The Vaselines and The Meat Puppets, for just two examples. Because I’m a nerd who reads liner notes and song credits, I knew that “Love Buzz”, the fifth song on Bleach, wasn’t a Cobain-penned song, but I’d never actually heard the original until this week, when it buzzed in from 1969 and out of the speakers while I was listening to the radio.

I almost held my breath listening to it. The thing that struck me most was all the space–Shocking Blue are not afraid to use silence as part of their sonic palate, and it creates a serious tension that Nirvana’s cover version replaces with the big Melvins-y guitars. I really like the Nirvana version: it’s creepy and sleazy and big Melvins-y guitars light my fire. But Shocking Blue create a different kind of vibe–tense, longing where Nirvana is creepy, and building its set of psychedelic guitar sounds into a frenzied groove in that middle section. Listening to it feels like listening to the exact Venn diagram overlap of Jefferson Airplane and The Cramps.

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