THE SEX PISTOLS – NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS

1977 original press

“Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” (Virgin V 2086) October 1977

The Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ – What are you waiting for? True love, school end, Third World / civil war, more wars in the Third World, a leader, the commandos to storm the next aeroplane, next week’s NME, The Revolution?

THE SEX Pistols album!

Hail, hail rock and roll, deliver them from evil but lead them not into temptation. Keep them quiet / off the street / content.

Hey punk! You wanna elpee-sized ‘Anarchy’ single? You wanna original ‘Anarchy’ in a black bag? You wanna bootleg album? You wanna collect butterflies?

Very fulfilling, collecting things . . . very satisfying. Keep you satisfied, make you satisfied, make you fat and old, queueing for the next rock and roll show.

promo shot

The Sex Pistols. They could have dreamed up the name and died. The hypocritical equation society makes of love / a gun = power / crime shoved down its own throat, rubbed in its own face. See, I’m just as repressed and contaminated as the next guy. And I like The Sex Pistols. Aesthetically, apart from anything else. Three of them are very good-looking. And the sound of the band goes. . .

“I don’t wanna holiday in the sun
I wanna go the the city
There’s a thousand things I wanna
say to you. . .”

All very Weller, but is this a Jagger I see before me? No, it’s the singles, all four of them – ‘Anarchy In The U.K’, ‘God Save The Queen’, ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Holidays In The Sun’ – constituting one third (weigh it) of the vinyl.

Of course, there are other great songs, this is no first round knock-out. There is no Clash attending the CBS convention; no Jam voting Conservative; no Damned fucking an American girl with a Fender bass; no Stranglers distorting Trotsky and Lenin for their own cunt-hating, bully boy ends.

tour poster

No, this is The Sex Pistols. The band which started it all.

submission

Great songs like ‘Submission’, a numb-nostrilled ‘Venus In Furs’ / ‘Penetration’ / ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, in from hypnotic, in content writhing. Pain through a dull, passive haze. Is that a whip in your hand or are you abnormal?

“Submission, going down, dragging her down
Submission, I can’t tell you what I’ve found.”

Smack? Geeks? What’s the mystery and who grew up on New York Dolls? Dogs yelp as the drill continues. Most unhealthy and ya like it like that? Well, it grows on you. A bit like a cancer.

Great songs like ‘No Feelings’

“I got no emotion for anybody else
Y
ou better understand I’m in love with myself
Myself, my beautiful self.”

Ah, solipsism rules, as Tony parsons used to say before he got wise. Good dance tune, anyway, while ‘Problems’ says it all:

“Bet you thought you had it all worked out
Bet you thought you knew what I was about
Bet you thought you’d solved all your problems
But YOU are the problem.”

Whatcha gonna do? Vegetate? Listen to The Sex Pistols album? Great songs gone, ineffectual flicks of the wrist like ‘New York’, which probably has David Johansen quaking in his heels, and ‘E.M.I’. You guessed it, they’re bitching .

“You’re only twenty-nine
You gotta lot to learn.”

In spite of this inspired opening, ‘Seventeen’ rambles a little and the guitars do go on a bit.

“I just speed, that’s all I need.”

Whaddya think of it so far? Well, I’ve saved the best bit for you to linger over. You’ve already heard two songs the band co-wrote with Sid Vicious (as apposed to Glen Matlock, The True Pop Kid): ‘E.M.I’ and ‘Holidays In The Sun’. Here’s the third. It’s called ‘Bodies’.

“She was a girl from Birmingham
She had just had an abortion.
She was a case of obscenity
her name was Pauline.
She lived in a tree
She was a no-one who killed her baby
She was an animal, she was a bloody disgrace
Bodies, I’m not an animal
Dragged on a table in a factory
An illegitimate place to be
In a packet in a lavatory
Died in a baby screaming, bodies
Screaming fucking bloody mad
Not an animal, it’s an abortion
Bodies, I’m not an animal
Look at it squirm, gurgling bloody mess
I’m not a discharge
She don’t want who likes that
I don’t want a baby who looks like that
I’m not an animal, I’m not an animal
I’m not an animal, Mummy”.

What/ Good God? Was I shocked! Did I jump! Is that what they wanted, to shock people? Do they mean it? Is it satire of the most dubious kind? Did John’s Catholic schooling leave its mark?

I don’t know where ‘Bodies’ is coming from and it scares me. It’s obviously a gutter view of sex / dirt / blood / reproduction and if the song is an attack on such a mentality it’s admirable.

But, as with ‘Holidays In The Sun’, Rotten never allows himself to make a moral judgement and, going by things he’s said, he seems refreshingly capable of making them. I wish The Sex Pistols had said in ‘Bodies’ the woman should not be forced to undergo such savagery, especially with a “Welfare” State.

iconic cover

I’m sick of unlimited tolerance and objectivity, because it leads to annihilation. I wish everyone would quit sitting on the fence in the middle of the road. I think ‘Bodies’ will be open to much misinterpretation and that to issue it was grossly irresponsible.

mental retard

I don’t really know anything about music but The Sex Pistols seem to play as well as anyone I’ve heard, and I’ve heard Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend records. I never knew what was meant by “guitar hero” – it sounds like the kind of phrase a mental retard might mouth. “Guitar hero” – you mean as in “war hero”, that kind of thing?

Why should anyone wish to play more usefully than Steve Jones, or drum more elaborately than Paul Cook, or play better bass than Sid Vicious? What purpose could it serve to outdo them?

So what are The Sex Pistols? For the tabloids a welcome rest from nubiles; for the dilettantes, a new diversion (Ritz has a monthly punk column); for the promoters, a new product to push; for the parents, a new excuse; for the kids, a new way (in the tradition of the Boy Scouts, the terraces and One-Up-Man-Ship) in which to dissipate their precious energy.

Johhny Rotten, Oliver Twist of this generation: “I wanna some MORE, Malcolm!” (NME)


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