Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols - Review
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critics' view

A triumph for all concerned, despite the unbelievable chaos which existed in their world. At the time of release in October ‘77 the Sex Pistols were: Johnny Rotten (21, vocals); Sid Vicious (20, bass); Steve Jones (22, guitar) and Paul Cook (21, drums). Due to a lack of competence on Sid’s part, Steve Jones ultimately played both guitar and bass all over the set. Previous bassist Glen Matlock, who co-wrote 10 of the 12, had been asked to return for sessions but failed to appear when his fees were not met upfront. Who could blame him?

During the year-long recording process – an incredible length of time for a punk band – they had been signed and fired by EMI and A&M, had stockpiles of singles destroyed, had at least a dozen scheduled concerts cancelled by local authorities, downgraded their bassist, had their songs banned from shops and radio, been attacked by members of the public and had regularly been harassed by the police. As if all that wasn’t enough, a bootleg album of ’76 demos, “Spunk”, hit many shops several weeks before the long-awaited debut proper. To cap all the group’s angst, Virgin boss Richard Branson had the final say on the track-listing, and he stuck his neck out by including 4 of the previous singles; “Anarchy in the U.K.”, “God Save the Queen”, “Pretty Vacant” and “Holidays in the Sun”, against the wishes of the group members. With hindsight, he was absolutely spot-on and his unpopular decision ensures that “Never Mind The Bollocks” stands mightily in the annals of rock history.

Of course, it’s all about the songs, oh those songs, a cascading flow of unrelenting excellence. From the marching jackboots of the album’s devastating opener “Holidays In The Sun” to the stunning mockumentary “E.M.I.” which closes the set, the album rarely pauses for breath during its 38 minutes onslaught. Drenched in blood and sweat, and energetically bristling with venom and honesty, this statement from London reverberated all over the world in 1977.

Feel the wrath of the Rotten bombast:

Destroy” … “I Am The Anti-Christ” … “I’m Not A Discharge” … “Cheap holiday in other people’s misery” … “I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel, I pray, You pray to your god” … “The fascist regime, it made you a moron

There are no answers:

there is no future in England’s dreaming” … “I don’t work, I just speed, that’s all I need, I’m a lazy sod” … “There’s no point in asking, you’ll get no reply

Ramones may have landed the world’s first album blow from a punk heavyweight, but these lads took it somewhere else entirely. Nasty nihilism never sounded so appealing, before or after this incendiary behemoth.

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