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  • The Great Rock & Roll Swindle








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    Sex Pistols

    Never Mind The Bollocks 8 ( 1977 )
    Holidays In The Sun / Bodies / No Feelings / Liar / God Save The Queen / Problems / Seventeen / Anarchy In The UK / Submission / Pretty Vacant / New York / EMI

    A glorified bunch of Pub-Rockers? Well, yeah, actually. That's what a lot of punk groups in England were, in essence. Some were glam rockers before that. The older glam rockers had been failed Sixties pop stars, like Gary Glitter. This is history, the Sex Pistols 'revolution' wasn't musical as such. There was absolutely nothing new musically here. A certain energy of course, but then again - Deep Purple had energy. The real difference was the much heralded punk attitude, which The Sex Pistols in particular had in spades. Attitude alone isn't enough. Luckily for them, they found themselves with a complete loony to front and sing for the group. Johnny Rotten ( or Lydon, if you prefer ) had such a voice it transformed the material. His lyrics were pretty good, too. Funny and humorous rather than shocking. Exhilarating. The music is fairly plodding. Well, it would be if you slowed it down just a little. You'd find very little there. It doesn't matter. The Sex Pistols have plenty of people enough already willing to dismiss them. They also have plenty of people around at the time of punk unwilling to view them with anything other than piss tinted glasses. Well, so to speak..... The fact is, this isn't musical nirvana. It's just a solid, fun record.

    'Holidays In The Sun' is made entirely by the vocal performance and twisting of vowels. 'Bodies' has a good pounding introduction before the speed punk comes in and Johnny Rotten provides us with rhythm and flow through the words. 'No Feelings' is all riffs and barely accomplished drums, but once again, Mr Rotten provides us with plenty enough hooks vocally. If this sounds like i'm dismissing the groups musical talents - it's not meant to. Steve Jones developed into a fine guitar player ( at least, within the genre ) and the rhythm section were perfectly adequate. There's just a certain lack of imagination here, and actually, very little variety across the albums twelve songs. And, I have absolutely nothing new to add to the story of The Sex Pistols, and no startling revelations. 'God Save The Queen' and 'Pretty Vacant' despite severe over familiarity still sound fresh, which must be something. 'Problems' had a decent enough riff, the closing 'EMI' a joy and delight to hear. 38 minutes, and that's your record. Did it change the world? Nearly. It helped. Is it one of the best records ever made? Maybe. Perhaps. It depends really. If you weren't around at the time of the punk explosion ( which I wasn't ) it's very easy to just write this off as 'pretty good' and 'fun'. So, somewhat controversially for some, that's what i'm going to do.

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    Readers Comments

    Alan Brooks albrookscentury21@yahoo.com
    I like the track 'Problems' especially, with lyrics such as: "eat your heart out on a plastic tray..."

    Stefan TMyers7669@aol.com
    This album always seemed like bollocks to me. I had the 1st 4 singles and it seemed like a rip-off to include them. There wasn't even an English version available with additional material . A lot of '77 punks did this-i.e. The Clash, Gen X. The singles then and now are still the best items on offer. The rest of the tracks are nothing earth shattering and it looks like the Pistols were short on ideas. "Submission" is "Hello I Love You" by the Doors w/diffferent lyrics. hahahaha!!! If you can find it, "Spunk" (a bootleg) sounds less processed, plodding and is livelier. Btw-a count at the AMG site lists 56 (!) Pistols albums. Not bad for a 4 trick pony. What mug has bought them all? :)

    bass player edd eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    what an ironic title. The album is bollocks.

    Hugues o.hugues@wanadoo.fr
    Nobody sang like Rotten before him. People who hate this record are just people collectionning CDs. I think they should listen to something else. The Pistols aren't for them.

    Ady drytherain2002@yahoo.co.uk
    The Kiss This compliation is much better than Never Mind the Bollocks, simply becuase it starts with their first four singles and their B sides, which pretty much add up to everything good they ever did. '

    Laura Freemanjama@yahoo.com
    I personally believe Nevermind the Bullocks was and is, one of the most impacting albums of the underground as well as some of the mainstream music scenes. Multiple times in your review you made reference to the fact that this album is one of most impacting albums, yet you seem to dismiss the band as merely every other band at the time. which is it? do you believe the sex pistols made an impact with "Nevermind the Bullocks" or do you believe it was just another album of the time trying to be rebelious only to blend in? Please email me back, I am curious to read your response

    Joe captaincrash@isound.com
    You're reviews are usually spot on, but I just have to disagree with this one. You say the album wasn't groundbreaking musical? This album invented the nihilistic-rant-over-powerchords schtick that has been xeroxed by everyone from Nirvana to Green Day (sic) toThe Pixies. This really is the only seventies album that still sounds modern.

    Jayson jayson_colhoun@yahoo.co.uk
    Only an eight? Nah who am I kidding you're absolutely right. I can see an ageing punk rocker choking over there high tea as I write this. With the exception of a few classic songs the majority of this album is, well average, or if you want to be cruel pretty s**t. Never Mind The Bollocks how about Never Mind The Hype.

    Suzanne Griffin suzannetgriffin@prodigy.net
    I was a teenager, in those days. Even as teens, we saw this music as hilarious, raucous fun, and meaningful - in spite of itself, of course. The whole punk thing was NOT to take itself seriously, as so much rock which had immediately preceded it had - art rock, rock operas, rock/classic fusions, rock musicals - which were, with some exceptions, much hot air and bad music. Punk got us back to the basics of rock - fast, furious, anti-establishment, and dirty, filthy fun. And, if you can't remember, the world did suck - the middle class was beaten down, the poor forgotten, the great strides of the sixties in human rights were being reversed or abandoned, the cold war had us ever teetering on the brink of destruction. Many of us were fed up with governments that gave us only council housing, minimum wage, futile foreign wars and dead end futures, while the rich and famous shoveled cocaine at Studio 57. Finally, someone said what we were thinking, and it made us very happy. ! And it still does.

    bassplayeredd eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    to the previous comment. I don't see what you have against prog and the lark, sure there are some bands who take the whole pretentious thing too far but most bands are really entertaining to listen to and really talented. Since i've started listening to better music i look at stuff like this and it just bores me. Some post punk stuff is alrght though e.g. later clash, elvis costello, stranglers

    steve flowers4000@hotmail.com
    'glorified pub rockers' - this is typical pretensious rock snobbery lol. these songs are irresistible imo despite not having much melody or anything. I think its the second best punk album, second to pink flag. You need reviews of these: Gang of Four (entertainment), public image ltd., magazine (correct use of soap) and maybe the jam


    The Great Rock & Roll Swindle 5 ( 1979 )
    God Save the Queen / Johnny B. Goode/Road Runner / Black Arabs / Anarchy in the U.K. / Substitute / Don't Gimme No Lip Child / (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone / L' Anarchie Pour le U.K. / Belsen Was a Gas / Einmal War Belsen Wirflich Bortrefflich... / Silly Thing / My Way / I Wanna Be Me / Something Else / Rock Around the Clock / Lonely Boy / No One Is Innocent / C'mon Everybody / EMI (Orch.) / The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle/ Friggin' in the Riggin' / You Need Hands / Who Killed Bambi

    Of course, The Sex Pistols never did release a second album proper. Glen Matlock, bass player, had already been fired and replaced by the musically inept Sid Vicious. Sid fitted the image, though. Malcolm Maclaren had seen Johnny Rotten off, too. So, 'The Great Rock & Roll Swindle' saw The Pistols down to a duo of Steve Jones and Paul Cook, as far as the actual music was concerned. Oh yeah, Sid was either around or he wasn't. A host of guest vocalists were brought in to cover for the absent Johnny. The story of The Sex Pistols was subsequently told through Mr Maclaren's cinematic masterpiece, 'The Great Rock & Roll Swindle'. Which is why we're here of course. So, this album contains some very early demo material, some post Lydon material. A few pieces of daftness from the film, etc, etc. One idea was for Tenpole Tudor to permanently join the group as new vocalist. Following the death of Sid, it would perhaps have been seen as unsightly to continue with the group. They'd already gone the whole hog down the road marked 'novelty', having Tenpole Tudor as your vocalist was hardly going to help deter that particular critiscm. Still, 'Who Killed Bambi' is clearly the work of a certified loony, so perhaps it would have made some sense, after all. Well, possibly not. Anyway, this isn't the same album that's currently available to buy in the shops, which is only the 'highlights' version of the same thing, a 12 track album containing 'the highlights', as I understand it. Not that there's many of those, but oh well.

    The legend and myth of The Sex Pistols ensures that any old crap is seen as passable efforts. I guess it all depends on what people found/find entertaining. Anyway, the early Lydon demos are raw and cool. The post Lydon material is dubious at best, although 'Silly Thing' and the Ronnie Biggs sung 'No One Is Innocent' are both decent enough, more than passable, not at all embarassing. The orchestral version of EMI with new Steve Jones 'vocals', is hilarious novelty listened to once, which is about the only number of times you will want to listen to it. Much the same can be said for the bulk of this entire album, actually. Less a Sex Pistols and more a Malcolm Mclaren album, it could be said. And indeed, has been. By many many people. A final word? Sid sings, or at least, tries to. Whether you want to listen to him actually sing, rather than just read about his legendary rock and roll story is upto you. Well, we like the version of 'My Way', at least. It has attitude.

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    this page last updated 14/10/08


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