Thursday, October 11, 2007

394. Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols (1977)

Track Listing

1. Holidays In The Sun
2. Bodies
3. No Feelings
4. Liar
5. God Save The Queen
6. Problems
7. Seventeen
8. Anarchy In The UK
9. Submission
10. Pretty Vacant
11. New York
12. EMI


This is the last album on the list for 1977 and what a great year it was. Actually this should have been right at the beginning of the year. It is not only chronologically before most other albums of the year, but it is also what opened the door to most other punk bands to be published. So this is probably one of the most important albums in music history period.

That said... is it particularly good? Not really. It seems to relish in shock for shock's sake and you can perfectly well see McLaren in the back putting all the Situationist references in the songs and so forth which frankly I don't credit any of the band's members as being cultured enough to recognise or care. So it is a manufactured boy band, the manufactured boy band of punk.

The Sex Pistols were little more than a ploy by Malcolm McLaren to sell clothing, merchandise and put forward some of his ideas, he was at the time obsessed with Situationism and the first sentence of the album is taken from a graffiti in the walls of Paris in May '68. Hey, McLaren even references his earlier career in the lyrics, New York is clearly an 'homage' to the New York Dolls, reminding me and directly quoting from Looking For a Kiss.

So the Pistols are fake, none of them are particularly talented, although Rotten would do good things with Public Image Ltd., but this is still a mark in the history of music, this opened a door. So much like some other musicians which opened doors to crap music and that I like (Dave Brubeck, Zeppelin or Springsteen for example) the Pistols did the opposite, they opened a great door with a not so great band...

Still do listen to it, God Save The Queen and Anarchy In The UK are great fun, even though they sound incredibly silly.

Track Highlights

1. God Save The Queen
2. Anarchy In The UK
3. Pretty Vacant
4. Bodies

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Never Mind the Bollocks was met by a hail of controversy in the UK upon its release. The first documented legal problems involved the allegedly 'obscene' name of the album, and the prosecution (under Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, since replaced by the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981) of the owner of a Nottingham record shop (and label owner Richard Branson) for having displayed it in a window. However, at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on 24 November 1977, defending Queen's Counsel John Mortimer produced expert witnesses who were able to demonstrate that the word "bollocks" was actually a legitimate Old English term originally used to refer to a priest, and which, in the context of the title, meant "nonsense". The chairman of the hearing was forced to conclude:

Much as my colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for the purchases of commercial profits by both you and your company, we must reluctantly find you not guilty of each of the four charges.

Far more intense outrage was sparked by the lyrics of the songs "God Save the Queen" and "Anarchy in the UK", as well as Jamie Reid's cover art for the single of "God Save the Queen". Both were perceived as musical assaults on the monarchy and civil society. In particular, "God Save the Queen" was viewed as a direct personal attack on Queen Elizabeth II. Guitarist Steve Jones, and singer Johnny Rotten, have both insisted that it was not the Queen that the band directed their animus towards, but other members of the royal house and the British government in general. In either case, the notoriety did little to harm the record's sales in the UK.

Another standard from the album, "Pretty Vacant" also earned the ire of the British music industry. In his delivery of the song's title in the chorus, Johnny Rotten heavily accents the second syllable of the word "vacant", and clips it very short in stark contrast to his drawn out delivery of the first syllable. Critics and fans alike have noted that it actually sounds like "cunt". Some allege it was deliberate; others counter that it's actually Rotten's accent leading people to the misinterpretation. It does seem unlikely the sharp-witted Rotten would have failed to notice (and savor) the implicit wordplay.

Rotten's bitten, over-articulated, angry vocals and his intentional avoidance of "good" singing were startlingly original in style, at that time, and his use of profanity and deliberately inflammatory language seemed downright shocking. He alternately screams and whines about corporate control, intellectual vacuity, and political hypocrisy, while guitarist Jones' multi-layered guitar tracks create a "wall of noise" to counter him.

God Save The Queen:


A said...

Incidentally John Mortimer had previously defended in the Oz trial and was the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.

I agree, pretty much with your comments. an 'important' album that isn't particularly good or stand the test of time - see Nirvana - Nevermind in a few years time.

Anonymous said...

I had to go back on my site well over a year to find my review of this album. It was one of the first ones I did:

Never Mind the Bollocks

I rated it a bit above average. Basically agrees with what you wrote...this album is more about the attitude and the influence than the music.

Then again, I never knew punk could sound so catchy and goofy.

-- M1001