THE SEX PISTOLS – “Anarchy In The U.K” / “I Wanna Be Me” (EMI 2566) November 1976
The Sex Pistols ‘Anarchy In The U.K’ – Ten years ago some gents of my acquaintance used to amuse themselves by hurling abuse, ash-trays, sparking plugs and the occasional fire extinguisher at the parade of two-bit groups that opened package shows and attempted to hold impatient audiences at bay by making a similar noise to this.
It was an essential initiation ceremony, an endurance test for group and audience alike. If the group broke first they usually disbanded and were never heard again, most of those that survived the ordeal went on to fame and fortune. Some of them even had talent.
Unless they happen to chance upon the same generation audience – an unlikely event. I think you’ll agree – it doesn’t seem like the Sex Pistols will ever be tested. Which isn’t very fair on the lads. Here they are, all punked up, ripe for a battle with the establishment, and no-one’s fighting back. In fact, horror of horrors, they’re being accepted so quickly they might have well just won Opportunity Knocks.
Full frontal coverage and six page pull-out supplements in the music press, gigs reviewed, every pose applauded, and all this before their first release. Not playing the game is it, Pistols? Just to help you out you might like to know that I think your record is lousy, but not so atrocious that it scores on that count either.
Admittedly Johnny Rotten sings flat, the song is laughably naive, and the overall feeling is of a third rate Who imitation, but even so there’s a certain neurotic aggression that distinguishes it from the rest of this week’s insipid bunch and prevents it acquiring good-bad status.
There, I can’t be more conservative than that. I know it’s not much of a substitute for an ash-tray whizzing out of the darkness and clouting you on the butchered lug, but it’ll have to do for the time being.
Your next step should be to book yourselves as opening act on a tour with Jerry Lee Lewis. You owe it to yourselves, just for the experience of really having to fight to make yourself heard. Odds-on you wouldn’t survive longer than ten minutes (NME)
Having signed to EMI for £40,000 advance, the Pistols were immediately in conflict with the company over their first single. EMI planned to issue “Pretty Vacant” on progressive label Harvest with an in-house sleeve featuring a snap of their four spiky tops. They settled for “Anarchy” on EMI, wrapped in a black plastic sleeve (bin bags were big news), and promoted with a Jamie Reid poster featuring a ripped Union flag held together with safety pins and bulldog clips.
A clarion call of teenage disaffection, “Anarchy” marked the Pistols’ triumphant entry into the public arena, with Rotten’s pub-singer diction enunciating provocative lyrics into which McLaren’s ideas had fed.
After the Pistols’ TV contretemps with Bill Grundy, EMI pulled the single (after 55,000 sales) and dumped the band, who trousered their loot and moved on into the inferno of the Summer of Hate. (Mojo)
This was the first ever release by The Sex Pistols with, of course the original line-up of Rotten, Jones, Matlock and Cook. It’s been re-issued before but go for an original, they’re still around for about £25-£40 in decent shape.
Despite little or no radio airplay the single still managed to dent the Top 40.
Thrashing guitars, a maniacal chuckle from Johnny Rotten, and we’re into the most eagerly awaited single in ages. Single of the week? Has to be, and not just because Sounds was the first to feature the Pistols / Punk phenomenon. It explodes out of the pre-Christmas product pile, and by any standards it’s a great rock record.
In fact it has so many of the traditional ingredients of high-energy rock that it makes nonsense of all those hysterical letter writers who see the Pistols as a threat to Music As We Know It. Conversely, it also makes nonsense of any claims that the Pistols are revolutionaries. They may want to push the old farts aside, but they’ve borrowed a lot from ’em.
Far from being bizarre, it’s really a simple, basic record: so basic in fact that even fans of Hawkwind would feel at home with the relentlessly hammering rhythm section (shades of “Silver Machine”).
Pistols fans, I suspect will be surprised (disappointed?) that the record isn’t faster and nastier. It’s just a little too smoothly produced by Chris Thomas of Roxy Music fame. Will the Beeb ban it? Hard to see why: the opening line “I am an anti-Christ” is intended to shock, but in these irreligious times who can it offend?
No, this ain’t revolution, it’s the same old rock and roll – but YOUNGER and more intense than we’ve heard it for a long while. And as an old fart who loved the early Who, I welcome the Pistols. (Sounds)
The most important single since “My Generation” and “Satisfaction.” Trendy. Aren’t I? Seriously though babes, it’s the most alive with energy thing since me mod days, Yawn! Here we go!
Johnny Rotten, surely the Mick Jagger of the ’70s if ever there is to be one – kicks, twitches and contorts himself and his foul-mouthed bunch of already expert rockers into Coronary Nerve Wrecks.
In a phrase, it’s a single made by 19 year olds for 19 year olds. And rock ‘n’ roll will always be about 19 year olds, not 29 year olds or 39 year olds, so help me. The unrelenting resentment of the dole queue, irrelevant uncaring education, the whole brutality and mediocrity laid on the Bash Street Kids finds it’s Voice.
The Pistols CAN play, and tremendous NOW rock it is, too. Rotten is a brilliant performer, he’s obviously had Jagger, Daltrey and the rest lodged in his back-brain since his early childhood. which is one of the things he’s pissed off about, of course. That’s the name of the game.
Hear the future of rock ‘n’ roll. It ain’t pretty. When has it ever been. really? People try to put us down . . . just because. . . (National Rock Star)