George Starostin's Reviews

SEX PISTOLS

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Introduction

Morten Felgenhauer <Morten.Felgenhauer@kvaerner.com> (17.01.2001)

I have to agree with you here, George. And which sane person wouldn't? The only thing they are remembered for is their IMAGE. Apart for some OK songs (the singles) I really can't understand what the fuss is all about. I can also, when confronted with it, admit that they were ONE of the groups that pointed out that rock was starting to take itself too seriously, but I will NEVER admit that they were RESPONSIBLE for bringing back basic values to rock'n'roll (guitars, short songs etc.), with New Wave and all. Never mind the Sex Pistols, get a life.

Palash Ghosh <palash7@hotmail.com> (07.03.2001)

Musically, the Sex Pistols were not important at all - but they are of great historical significance. Yes, it's a matter of image over substance, but the 'message' behind the group's formation (if you can even call it that) was overwhelmingly profound: the star-making commercial pop music industry is bloated, ugly, cheap, vulgar and most pop stars are garbage. I'm not sure if Sid and Johnny were the right messengers, but it was a message that had to be delivered to the masses!

In 1977, the Pistols simply SHATTERED everyone -- they were the inevitable response to the grotesque excesses of 1970's rock music. I'm glad they came along when they did and shook things up, although, I must say that they were ultimately hypocrites and their message was soon lost and drowned out.

<robert_watson@birmingham.gov.uk> (17.08.2001)

To appreciate the Pistols, you had to have been living in England at the time. You ever heard of Leo Sayer, The Brotherhood of Man, Pilot? No? Go out and find their albums and listen to them, because that was what we had to listen to before the Pistols. That, and huge bloated fatuous monstrosities like Yes and Genesis.

The Pistols came along and reminded everybody that music is not the god-given preserve of a few public-school intellectuals or the marketing departments of major record labels, and for that alone Johnny, Sid & co. deserve our eternal gratitude.

That's not the end of the story. It may be an English thing, but I don't think there's a duff song on the album. Every track "rocks", has "attitude" and "kicks ass". Perhaps if you're missing a lot of the cultural references then it does just devolve to 4 lagered-up louts thrashing away at three chords. But, you see, given the time and the context, that was the Pistol's real glory.

BTW, did you know Johnny Rotten roadied for Hawkwind? Oh yes.

dave <lingle@qwest.net> (08.08.2001)

dude, the clash, the damned, the jam, etc., were all pistols rip offs. Dozens of bands that sound nothing like the pistols(Clash,Joy Division, Buzzcocks) formed after seeing the pistols play. Claiming that other bands may have pointed out the pomposity of 70s rock before them may be technically true, but no band from the NY scene even cracked the charts. Punk would have never amounted to anything without the pistols because no one else could get any press on the new music to change anything, and lets face it, the NY bands were either to arty or too poppy to have the same effect. and what is that about no force? The Pistols were all force.

Tim Van der Mensbrugghe <tevedm@hotmail.com> (23.12.2001)

The Pistols were a very, very fake band. George already said they were one of the most marketed bands of the seventies but that is not all. What about the 'I hate Pink Floyd'-shirts? Fake, my dear. Mister Rotten later admitted he actually was a huge Pink Floyd fan. Johnny Rotten also claimed to be a big fan op Peter Hammill's Nadir's Big Chance. Had a listen to one of PH's records yet? Of the hundreds and hundreds of songs Hammill penned, three, maybe four, sound punkish if you listen hard enough. Pointing out the pomposity of 70's rock? I beg to differ. The Pistols are an embarrasing paradox: claiming one has not have to be an intellectual to be succesful, but at the same being marketed like an ordinary can of soup. And if you ask me, they also sound like soup.

Frank Mitchell <fam@allnet.com.br> (17.10.2002)

I don't care if they were a marketed band, all bands ARE MARKETED, you should know. I like their songs and that's it. You all just keep writing things as if you didn't care, all though it is obvious that they really impressed you, for you all seem to know everything about them ,know all songs, probably read a lot about it and bothered to make a homepage about this! so I don't know what's your point !!??

One of you say that maybe Malcom has a slight bit of intelligence. Can't be so "slight bit" if he got you to stop and think about the pistols 30 years after everything happened!!!!! so.... that's it ! tchau!

Mark (07.11.2003)

It has been my practice while having fun on this site to stay clear of artists that I don't like. I have to make an exception in this case as I feel the need to offer my opinion and maybe some clarification on the whole punk thing. I see way too many comments about punk rock changing music or revilalizing music. Now you're hearing it from someone who lived through and was a part of the punk era...in my opinion it changed nothing. Mainstream pop and AOR suffered nada as a result of the punk movement. I was in the record store at the time. I saw the sales. Nothing. I remember double platinum albums by artists like Boston, The Cars, ELO, Ted Nugent, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, and even Al Stewart during those times. Crosby Stills and Nash had their biggest selling album of their career during the punk era. Lest we also forget those multi platinum three little words...Saturday Night Fever. I'm sorry, I just did not see it. The punk movement was all about rebeling against the dinosaur rock bands of the day. So to see The Clash sharing the stage with The Who kind of defeated the purpose did it not? I liked The Ramones a lot, but their albums didn't sell. The Clash, Blondie, and the Talking Heads all did sell...out. To great commercial mainstream success. The Sex Pistols? Whatever. Not impressed. They couldn't play, they couldn't sing, so to compensate for lack of talent they went for the shock value. Not so surprising, it was over before it started. Waiting in the wings was Eddie Van Halen who would soon blow talentless slop like this off the face of the earth. If you want to give credit to someone for changing music, give it where it is due. Nirvana burst on the scene and rock as we know it ceased to exist somewhere in the 90's. There hasn't been a musical revolution like that since The Beatles. Even the superstar bands ran the white flag up after that. Punk was a fad. Was it fun? Sure. Absolutely. I have Ramones with me usually all the time. But please, let's quit saying the punk rock movement changed music. When in truthful fact, it didn't.

BILL SLOCUM <slokes@optonline.net> (26.11.2003)

Thanks for putting it down like it is, George. The most annoying thing about rock criticism is the ridiculous worship accorded this stumbling pack of ne'er do wells. You can't accuse the Pistols of pretension, they were just trying to have a good time, but their fans are another matter. Call me a shallow pop lover, but when the biggest hit your band ever had was the one the bassist put on his girlfriend, you've achieved something less than greatness, my friend.

Jonathon Rondel <jrondel@email.com> (06.12.2003)

Firstly, DebNMarkW@aol.com makes a number of totally incorrect points:

1] They couldn't play, they couldn't sing, so to compensate for lack of talent they went for the shock value.

They could play. Maybe not to the standard of Jimi Hendrix or Ginger Baker, but the could play their instruments nonetheless. If they had to rely on shock value alone, we wouldn't be having this conversation. No-one would care about them. As things stands, people are still buying their album today for the MUSIC. If they couldn't play their instruments and had no knack for writing songs, people wouldn't buy the album. Simple.

2] If you want to give credit to someone for changing music, give it where it is due. Nirvana burst on the scene and rock as we know it ceased to exist somewhere in the 90's. There hasn't been a musical revolution like that since The Beatles. . Punk was a fad. Was it fun? Sure. Absolutely. I have Ramones with me usually all the time. But please, let's quit saying the punk rock movement changed music. When in truthful fact, it didn't.

Erm, you appear to be exposing one HUGE chunk of ingnorance here. Exactly WHICH band was one of Nirvana's biggest influence? Here's a clue from an album title Nevermind. No Sex Pistols, no Nirvana. Cobain said so himself a number of times. The same can actaully be applied to a number of bands, from Green Day to (believe it or not)Duran Duran. Kills your theory somewhat don't it?

And now onto the main review. By saying the Pistols were a 'created' band you're totally incorrect. Guitarist and Drummer Steve Jones and Paul Cook had been messing around in a number of bands for 3 years previously. Jones wanted to find a Manager and heard that McClaren had worked with the New York Dolls, so pestered him to manage them. Malcom owned a clothing shop, one of his employees, Geln Matlock happened to be a bass player at a point when Jone's band were looking for a bass player. Mclaren suggested him for the job. That's hardly a 'Monkees' type scenario is it? When the Pistols imploded McClaren re-wrote their History with the Great Rock And Roll Swindle film, claiming it was all one huge plan on his part. The only people that actaully buy this line are those who don't actually know anything about the Pistols or Punk history.

[Special author note: there must be a reason you've omitted Johnny Rotten, right? Presenting the facts this way I can totally make the Monkees a non-manufactured band as well.]

Jonathon Rondel <jrondel@email.com> (14.12.2003)

Firstly, I think you're over-exagerrating somewhat. The Monkees each had to attend various heats of casting interviews/auditions held by a TV company looking to purposely manufacture a band. Exactly the same kind of process we see in todays 'Pop Idol' TV show, but without the phone-in vote or fame for the non-achievers. It also has to be pointed out that in the finest 'Pop Idol' winner style, The Monkees had their clothing, attitude and songs created specifically for them (and these songs extensively featured session musicians).

Now, the Sex Pistols? Basically the situation was thus: 50% of the band had already existed as a musical unit for 3 years prior to the Sex Pistols (Cook and Jones). That 50% asked Mclaren to manage them. They needed a bass player, one worked in McClarens shop (Matlock). They needed a singer, a customer in the shop looked the part (Lydon). The band wrote all their own material, played all their own instruments in the studio, and arrived with their own peculiar sense of attitude and style. At times Rotten wore a shirt or trousers from McClarens shop, but be honest, this can hardly be construed as, or equated with, a Monkees scenario by any intelligent being!

[Special author note: I still fail to see the crucial difference - McLaren still remains the guy who put all but two Pistols together, performing the exact same function that the TV company performed for the Monkees. I might agree that the Monkees were somewhat less independent in the beginning, but, unlike the Sex Pistols, they had at least a two year (1967-68) period of total self-control, playing their own instruments, writing their own songs, and having a specific attitude. Not that I mind, really. What matters to me is that I think the Monkees' material was, overall, better than the Pistols' - I'm not holding any specific grudges on behalf of the Pistols for their being a "controlled" band.]

Mark (11.12.2003)

So my esteemed fellow reviewer Mr. Rondel offers a different opinion and takes exception to my comments. One quick note...dude, use spell check when you're done. Either that or take one hand out of your ass when you're typing. It makes it that much easier for the rest of us to clearly understand your thoughts. If you didn't like my comments, surely you didn't like good Mr. Slocum's right below mine. I thought he nailed it far better than George or myself did. No shock value? I guess singing (yelling) about abortion, vicious attacks on the queen, spitting on the audience, and Johnny Rotten wearing a shirt with F**k Your Mother on it had absolutely nothing to do with shock value. And the Monkees paid their dues playing together in clubs for ten years before they were discovered too. I'm also quite sure the main reason Kiss was so popular was for their stunning display of expert musicianship. No shock value. Believe me, Kiss will take that recognition any day of the week and not complain about it. Sid Vicious COULD NOT PLAY THE BASS!!!!! It's a known fact that Steve Jones is the one playing the bass throughout this album. From a technical standpoint of being pitch correct...Johnny Rotten...oh hell, forget it. I'm not even going there. By the way, if you weren't such a gullible schmuck, you would've gotten the "rebellion joke" a long time ago. Fact is Johnny Rotten was a closet Beatles fan, and I know for a fact Steve Jones loved Keith Richards. Pardon me for saying so, but your statement about people still buying the album now for it's music is extremely laughable. People didn't buy it back then. It influenced Duran Duran? Funny, when they did the cover album a few years back called Thank You which paid tribute to their influences, I didn't see any Sex Pistols on it. Huge chunks of ignorance indeed. The only chunks here are the ones you're blowing with your musical knowledge. What else? Oh yes, Nirvana. Oh boy, the stupid indicator light is flashing red now. Kurt Cobain and the boys were in touch with the youth. They also knew how to craft a good hook. I guarantee you they didn't pick that up from listening to The Sex Pistols. Kurt loved all kinds of music. His first concert was Sammy Hagar. He was also a huge fan of REM. Nirvana changed music. The Sex Pistols came and went. The only impact they did make on the music industry was to teach bands how to market themselves. Independent labels all over sprang up shortly after. Personally, I'll take Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Eddie Van Halen to do my guitar playing thank you very much. I respect the fact that you like your favorite album so much. You go right now and play it about a thousand times in a row, then do whatever it inspires you to do. Vomit in public, spit on your parents...whatever. Just remember a wise old saying: "better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and relieve all doubt." George, keep up the good work. As usually you do...you got it right.

<Fgmansell@aol.com> (18.01.2004)

Oooh! Controversy! Mark, calm down.

Sid couldn't play the bass, Steve Jones played all the bass on the album - absolutely true, and I also would agree with anyone that said (sad) Sid was brought in purely for image purposes - he looked great but was completely talentless. But all the important stuff happened before he was recruited, when Glen Matlock was still in the band (oh, and he was the closet Beatles fan, not Rotten) - they only came up with 2 or 3 songs after that, none among their best. Lot of stuff done for shock value - also true, though it seems to me that they didn't actually start out so calculatingly determined to shock - to a large extent they discovered the value of shock tactics when they were interviewed on teatime tv by Bill Grundy and were pretty much goaded into swearing (no, I don't think they went on the show planning to do that) and the papers were full of it the next day. Plus a fair number of the grosser things they're supposed to have said or done were greatly exaggerated by the UK tabloid press that propelled them to notoriety in the wake of the Grundy interview.

'God Save The Queen' purely done for shock value? I don't think so. I think they meant it maaaan. Though it's fair to say that was a shocking sentiment in the year of the Queen's silver jubilee, that's no argument against them expressing it, it was not a frivolous song. To a considerable extent the British public has caught up with them in the ensuing 26 years - the monarchy is far less popular than it was in 1977, and a small part of that welcome development is probably down to the Pistols having the guts to put out 'God Save The Queen' when they did.

Manufactured band? Well, up to a point. But what's a manufactured band? Any band is manufactured to a certain degree the moment they cease being a gang of kids who grew up together and have to recruit a new member out of people they don't know, perhaps with the help of a manager. But unlike McLaren's later creation, Bow Wow Wow, he made no contribution to their music or lyrics. And without going hugely into the comparisons with The Monkees - they made good records both before and after they started playing on them ...

The Pistols couldn't play? Well, certainly Sid couldn't - but Cook, Jones and Matlock could. No, they weren't virtuosi, but a listen to pre-Sid live recordings kills any notion that they were incompetent fumblers, certainly by the time they were signed to EMI anyhow. McLaren hired them a rehearsal space in their early days, some of them virtually lived there through much of 1976 and they became a perfectly competent rock band through that unfashionable thing (among punks), practice. The thing that's always got me about the Pistols is how little most other punk bands resembled them musically - they were never mindless thrash merchants, they were in all aspects except the vocals quite a trad rock band, albeit a viciously powerful one.

Johnny Rotten: ok, we're getting into more contentious territory here - the human voice is a very personal thing and I can totally understand if for many people his voice is just plain unpleasant. But I always remind myself of my reaction on first hearing Anarchy In The UK in early 1977: what blew me away was the sheer venom and angry power of the vocals, I'd never heard anything like that before, you absolutely could not ignore it. Sure, his pitching ain't great (though this isn't particularly obvious on their official records) and more than that, he's one of those unusual singers who sings sharp instead of flat, but for a non-singer he had bags of presence and attitude and often good rhythmic sense, and for me that makes him way better than great swathes of people who can sing but have no obvious personality.

"Poorly written, poorly performed and don't even have enough convincing force"? You what, George? Not very nice, for sure, but they've mostly got something to say and say it pretty succinctly, even if the sentiments expressed are pretty vitriolic. They have hooks. They have tunes - again, not pretty melodies but we are talking punk rock here. And they have power, both from the band's genuine ability, and from the excellent production.

And then, Mark, we come to Kiss: "the main reason Kiss was so popular was due to their stunning display of expert musicianship. No shock value." Well, of course Kiss are more than competent musicians, but I wouldn't use them as an example of a band whose chops are WAY above those of the Pistols - their chops are no better than many other rock bands, and inferior to some - I would say that what made Kiss successful was a stage show that involved very eye-catching black and white make-up, explosions, fake blood, ludicrously over the top costumes, huge platform boots etc. etc. etc., i.e. spectacle. For sure, none of that would have been enough if they couldn't play well, but you can bet your life the Sex Pistols wouldn't have had 3 UK top 10 singles if they were incompetent, tuneless fumblers either. In fact it's fair to say that all the punk bands that actually sold sizeable amounts of records were at least competent musicians, despite the fact that being able to play well was so denigrated as selling out by the hardcore punks.

Oh, and by all accounts Gene Simmons was so fascinated by the Sex Pistols that he called one of Kiss's albums Love Gun.

So the Sex Pistols were, for me, one of the great rock'n'roll bands: great songs, bags of attitude, great image, didn't stick around long enough to evolve into a boring travesty. Shame about all the bollocks that surrounded them, shame they sacked Glen Matlock and recruited Sid Vicious, shame he became a junkie, shame they were managed by such a manipulative scumbag - but it doesn't matter - the reason we're still arguing about them nearly 30 years later is because they made such a strong impression at the time that people still care. That wasn't all hype, it would never have happened if they were the talentless incompetents that the "Urrgggh! Horrible rude punk rock!" people who don't get it paint them as.


ALBUMS
NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS... HERE'S THE SEX PISTOLS!

Philip Maddox <slurmsmckenzie@hotmail.com> (17.01.2001)

I'm one of the few people out around these sites that's still willing to come up to bat for this album. I don't really give a damn about its historical significance or whether or not they were marketed or not. All I care about is how well this album works. And, in my opinion, it works extremely well, worth the full 5 stars on the MP3 scale, and I'd personally give it a 13/15 on your overall scale. The reason is that, despite all that people say against them, these songs all all so mind-numbingly CATCHY! The riffs here blast themselves into your head with a jackhammer. Some of my all time favorite riffs are on here ("Holidays In The Sun", "God Save The Queen", and "Anarchy In The UK" in particular), and Johnny Rotten's vocal delivery fits the mood of the album. The album is certainly musical - if they wanted to destroy rock and roll, they failed miserably - and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd have to remove points for the fact that the album is a little samey, and a couple of the tunes are a little weaker, but I think that this holds up to repeated listening surprsingly well, just as well as The Ramones and The Clash in my opinion.

Colin Hughes <colin_hughes83@hotmail.com> (17.01.2001)

I remember when this album was released also, and it was featured on National Public Radio (an excerpt) as an example of "what today's youth are listening to". Of course that was about as accurate as most of the other opinions spouted on NPR radio because virtually no one was listening to this at all outside of a few of the dedicated-followers-of-fashion at the time. It was, as George said, vastly over-rated, and mainly because it was louder and more vulgar than anything else. The name of the band itself was just another example of the crudeness that had passed for witticism for so long already. Apparently, some thought it was all about sex (as most rock music is) but this time it was just adolescent anger without any artistry to make it palatable.

There was one innovative tune on the album, "Bodies" -- the first rock song ever to portray abortion as something hateful (and in that case Lydon's anger is a good match for the subject matter of the tune). The rest of it is just silly nonsense.

It's true that punk rock did express a certain mood of the time -- perhaps as T.S. Eliot might have said "spiritual bankrupcy". A glimpse at the life of Sid Viscious is enough to explain, but it wasn't the Pistols that invented this -- they were just the inheritors of a bankrupt art-form that had died in 1975 (or so) as George correctly argues elsewhere on this site. Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Alice Cooper and one could even say the hollow-metal of Blue Oyster Cult were early progenitors of the bankrupt soul of rock & roll. The Pistols and Clash just added a little more urgency to the message. The only reason this is of interest is that one can see, in the history of classic rock as so nicely portrayed on this site, several examples in contrast to the music of childish despair (essentially a good metaphor for Western culture choked on materialism and ego). The punk bands bragged about how that had no answers -- and in fact they didn't even know what the questions were. There was really no room for exploration, but only the most primative human emotions. Prior to this, since 1975 and the disco-glam movements, spiritual depth was counterfieted by sex music of various kinds (disco being nothing but the most degraded kind of sexual music), but obviously that becomes very boring, and it is especially not interesting for young lads who want a little more out of life than continual sex romps. So, the Clash and the Pistols were anti-sex music of a sort -- and that gave it a refreshing appeal. But there was never any philosophical depth to any of it, even though Lydon did try to produce something substantial later with Public Image (truly horrible music). There was a little humor here and that lifts this above anything the Clash ever did, in my opinion. 3 is about right. 2 for the Clash's first. None of this shows any sign of intelligence either except perhaps a slight bit for Malcolm McLaren.

Bryan Boyd Jackson Jr. <bjackson@brandywine.net> (16.06.2001)

I don't know what to say about this Sex Pistols album. It sure has its moments. But to me, all these songs sound alike. Take any one of these songs, and play it separately, and I wouldn't know the difference. You could probably play it 10 times in a row and then play the album in it entirety, and I still couldn't pick out that one song you just played for me 10 times. I do pay attention! Well, in school I didn't, but when it comes to music, I do! This album as a whole isn't really bad, but once again, nothing really stands out as magnificent or fantastic. Just a basic, punk album. But I do dig the Ramose more. They had a catchier, more varied punk style, which is much more enjoyable. So I like all these songs about the same, and a final rating would be an 11 out of 15. I would recommend buying it if you dig punk. If not, well, pick it up and throw it at somebody!!!!!

Jeremy Olson <jolson02@postoffice.providence.edu> (12.02.2002)

I finally had a really good chance to listen to this album, and I was quite unimpressed. For all the hype that's built into it, it's not that good. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's really bad, but I'll take The Clash's debut over this one anyday. My main problem is that is it far too "generic punk"; that is, it's loud, angry, sloppy, and fast (at times)...but there are scores of other punk albums that have these same qualities, but are better. Far better. There's exactly three songs on here that do anything for me: "Pretty Vacant", "God Save the Queen", and, of course, "Anarchy in the U.K.". All the rest I can do without. On music alone (not taking into account any historical importance), I'd give this an 7/8, possibly a 8/9 (I'd give them Sex Pistols a one-star rating, barely).

Ginge Evans <ginge_evans@hotmail.com> (03.11.2002)

Oh Dear! What has been the point in reviewing this band and album?  Is it to downgrade a historically important band to a mere bunch of chancers who were able to ride out their luck for one album? No-one has ever said that musically it is the best album or band ever, but so many bands after may not have made it without inspiration from this album. Sid Vicious could hardly play (but most songs were played by Glen Matlock) and that's why he was turned down in the mix. Johnny Rotten couldn't sing, but this band werent about sining, it was about saying what you felt in a troubled society and diction was used over vocal melody. However, the raw power and tight playing of Jones & Cook has inspired countless musicians after and it could be argued that grunge may never have happened if it wasn't for the influence of the Pistols. This is not a band that couldn't play. In the live mayhem that Pistols shows were, whilst Rotten and Vicio! us were taunting the crowd, Jones & Cook were keeping it together with proffesional playing in dire circumstances. OK, they may have been lucky to be "in the right place at the right time", but so what? I am sure there are many artists out there who are far more talented than the beatles and Jimi Hendrix put together, but that's the way it goes. And as for marketing, McLaren was absolutely incompetent at the time which caried on through to The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle which was NOT a Sex Pistols album. Who knows what could have happend if Glen had stayed in the band and Rotten hadn't left. The band may have matured in a number of ways, but we will never know. The Sex Pistols were more than a band and HAVE to be appreciated in this light. However, Bollocks is a great album which served the time in which it was born majestically.

David Dickson <ddickson@rice.edu> (10.11.2002)

The Sex Pistols have gotten an extraordinarily bad rap, in my opinion. Johnny Rotten sure can't sing, true--but that's not the point. His purpose in life seems to be catchy in a snotty sort of way, and if he accomplishes that, with or without actually singing, then hats off to him. Jones is a fairly damn good guitarist, by punk standards--here's where I think you're dead wrong, George. I actually listened to Ramones BEFORE I heard Never Mind the Bollocks, and I just can't STAND those guys' endlessly monotonous riffage. And it's not even really riffage--it's just whacking away in eighth notes. . . for thirty minutes straight. Not only that, but their singing, which is off-key and snotty enough to be actually entertaining, is buried so far back in the mix that IT sounds just monotonous too. With the Pistols, I hear some guitar fills, harmonic inversions, and full sound from all six strings, all slammed into the speakers by the relentless crashing of the rhythm section (and Rotten's yapping), which adds immense amounts of excitement to the songs. Plus, you've got the production itself that, while still rough, puts all the sound up FRONT, rather than far back in the distance. That's the main reason why people hold the Pistols in higher esteem than the Ramones--they're just so much more dynamic and exciting to listen to. Personally, I don't think they're completely awesome at songwriting--"Seventeen," "EMI," "No Feelings," and "Problems," are only saved by the energy of the performances, and "Liar" and "New York" aren't saved at all; they just plain suck. However, that leaves six great songs, "Holiday in the Sun," "Bodies," "Sub-Mission", "God Save the Queen," "Anarchy in the UK," and "Pretty Vacant," that stand as punk classics. Not only that, but not only is this the only LP that the Pistols ever cut (whoops, lots of "only's" in that sentence), it's also their debut. For any band to have that many great songs on their very first album is damn impressive, to say the least.

Now for the bad news: I actually can't stand to hear all twelve songs in a row, in their standard order--it blows. Any half-brained producer knows that you don't put two filler songs at the end back to back, as What's-his-name-that-produced-this-album did with "New York" and "EMI". But never fear: that's why we've got the magic of CD programming! Here's the optimal song order for Never Mind the Bollocks, in my opinion: 1.) "Holiday," 2.) "Bodies," 3.) "Problems," 4.) "Seventeen," 5.) "Submission," 6.) "God Save," 7.) "Anarchy," 8.) "No Feelings," 9.) "Liar," 10.) "New York," 11.) "P. Vacant," 12.) "EMI". If you do that, you WILL think of the Pistols as the best punk band ever afterwards. Trust me, you will. Never Mind the Ramones.

Max Tomlinson <mtomlins@pacbell.net> (27.10.2003)

I couldn't disagree with you more here--IMHO NMTB is one of the best rock albums ever made and the Pistols were musically one of the most underrated bands of all time. The hype and marketing may have made them famous but it ruined any chance of getting people to listen to them. They certainly knew how to play (except for Sid who was inserted as part of Malcolm's circus act but never mind, Glen Matlock who was kicked out had already penned most of their riffs) and played the way they played for a reason. Listen again to the intro to 'Pretty Vacant'. They blew people away with their sound and the album still holds up today. Steve Jones continues to be one of the most underestimated guitarists of the last 25 years with his distinct wall-of-sound not-too-punk guitar and if you listen, the production on NMTB is quite clean compared to other 'punk' records of the day that now sound dated and cliché. This album is and was unique and transcends punk. It continues to breathe fire. I saw the Pistols last month and they still blow the audience away. No gimmicks or clothes or stagecraft, just four geezers playing one powerful song after the other--Rock and Roll the way it was meant to be!

Scott Zwey <visceralcreature@msn.com> (09.02.2004)

I love this album. Consider song titles, chord progressions, the rthym mix & vocal style. the ethics of punk (excepting D.I.Y.) were always the pretentions of young people but this album is great primal rock. Just the humour in 'No Feelings'. The irony and anti-romanticism is great.

Pinchas Rubin <prub24@yahoo.com> (13.10.2006)

I, for the most part agree with your review of Nevermind the Bollocks. However, in your review you state that Nevermind... was released before The Clash. According to the AllMusicGuide The Clash [UK] was released on April 8, 1977 whereas Nevermind... was released in October 1977. But the version you reviewed, The Clash [US], was released July 1979. So, although The Clash was released six months prior to Nevermind..., the first exposure American audiences had to The Clash came to years later with the US version. Other than that great review.


THE GREAT ROCK'N'ROLL SWINDLE

Jonathon Rondel <jrondel@email.com> (06.12.2003)

I had to comment after reading your utterly flawed review. You're in no position to be judging the allbum when you're not even aware of the facts.

The double album was not a result of the film. It was a collection of demos and out-takes scraped together with a handful of tracks from the film. In actuality very little of it was 'the Sex Pistols', being a misture of session musicians and other bands work. The Great Rock And Roll Swindle is truly the only section of the Sex Pistols career that Malcom McClaren actually piloted...because at that stage there was no longer a band in existance.

'Substitute' was a demo recording from 1976. Hence it's 'sloppiness'.

'Anarchie Pour Le UK' - from the film, was just a French guy singing and playing the accordion - no Sex Pistols involvement atall.

Belsen Was A Gas? McClarens gift to the band? The lyrics were written in 1976 by Vicious, the track itself was worked out during the end of the sessions for Never Mind The Bollocks.

To compare this cash-in heap of throwaway junk in ANY way only goes to show true ignorance of the Pistols and Punk.


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