The fact that the final few singles from Buzzcocks sold in such few numbers means that they are now the most difficult to find on the second-hand market and are marginally more expensive to buy than the hits.
That’s one theory. But it might well be the case that this particular single is more valued as it is something of a forgotten classic.
Strange Thing isn’t anything at all like the catchy near power-pop of the hits of the previous years. Instead it’s more akin to the sound of many of their new wave peers – surely I’m not alone in listening to the music and hearing the sort of sounds that Weller & co. were taking to new unthought of heights of popularity? The closing section in particular always brings to mind Private Hell from Setting Sons.
In keeping with what had happened with the previous single, the flip side was given over to Steve Diggle and this time he came up with something that proved he had indeed been playing close attention to the support band on the last big tour of 1979. Airwaves Dream really does sound like Joy Division without the tricked up production values applied by Martin Hannett.
What I’m kicking myself about is that I didn’t buy the single on its release. In fact, I didn’t discover these two gems until many many many years later when I picked up a cheap copy of the re-released and re-packaged Singles Going Steady CD which had been expanded to include the final four singles from that great era (the initial release of the compliation ended with Harmony In My Head/Something’s Gone Wrong Again). Given that the younger me had felt let down by Are Everything I wasn’t expecting much from these unknown songs; it was a surprise that they both turned out to be pleasures.
It’s fair to say that the teen me might have struggled with Strange Thing/Airwaves Dream on its release as my mind and tastes would have been attuned to the poppier side of Buzzcocks, and so I’m glad it took me 20+ years to hear them for the first time.