Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten and Glen Matlock break down every track on ‘Never Mind the Bollocks,’ as the album turns 40.
For almost a year, the Sex Pistols had been the focus of sensationalist media coverage. The on Thames Television’s tea-time Today programme stoked a moral panic at the end of 1976, precipitating the cancellation of gigs, the band’s expulsion from their EMI record deal, and lurid tabloid tales of punk’s ‘.
The release of God Save the Queen in May 1977, issued to and wrapped in a Jamie Reid-designed sleeve that defaced the Queen, further upped the ante. Faux-moral outrage now gave way to faux-patriotic outrage, as the record nevertheless pushed towards the top of the charts. So the story goes, it was only prevented from reaching the number one spot by the .
In its wake, the band’s promotional jaunt up the Thames was stopped by police, while Johnny Rotten and Reid were attacked in the street. In punk and the Pistols, the media had found a cultural expression that seemingly embodied the language of crisis and decline that was shaping perceptions of the 1970s. The ‘no future’ that Rotten warned of at the end of God Save the Queen as he surveyed the ‘mad parade’ of jubilee pomp amid ongoing fears of economic collapse and social decay, had the air of prophecy.
And yet, just a few months later, the Sex Pistols in the US and punk’s cultural form – always a jumble of clashing symbols and contested meanings – would splinter into various subsects.
Shock! Horror! Outrage!
Left behind, in the case of the Pistols, were just four singles and an album, before the processes of commodification were revealed and exploited in the post-Pistols packaging of what became ‘. Looking back, therefore, Never Mind the Bollocks perhaps serves best as a testament: an artefact that affirms the Sex Pistols existence and the cultural ruptures they provoked. Continue reading
Background: After a long hiatus of being out of print, Alex Cox’s punk-rock cult hit Sid & Nancy (Spine #20) returns to the Criterion Collection. The film was Cox’s first to be included in the main collection, preceding Walker (Spine #423) and Repo Man (Spine #654).Story: After a fateful meeting, Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and American junkie Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) begin a star-crossed, mutually destructive romance [ . . . ]
Read full review: Criterion Discovery: Sid and Nancy
In the mid-’80s, John Lydon was a man without a band. He still carried the moniker of Public Image Ltd. – the group he had formed once the Sex Pistols imploded – but had ditched all of the band’s other members due to control issues and drug addiction. After making 1986’s Album, a solo album in all but name, Lydon started to assemble a new band to fly the PiL flag [ . . . ] More: 30 Years Ago: Public Image Ltd. Find Stability on ‘Happy?’