Album Review – Sex Pistols (re-issue)

Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ (USM/UMC)
It seems slightly odd that for a band who snarled ‘No Future’ that forty years after their one and only studio album they should be still be constantly examined and written about. Or maybe it was deeply prophetic: that pop is so obsessed with its past that it repackages it constantly and there is a lot less of a future because it can’t shake off its’ past.
The reality is that Never Mind The Bollocks remains one hell of a thrilling ride. This issue is itself a re-issue of what has become regarded as the definitive issue which was first issued as a limited edition in 2012.
It opens – rather provocatively, being the Pistols – with what sounds like jackboots marching, and straight into ‘Holidays In The Sun.’ While it and the three other singles ‘Anarchy In The UK’ ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’ may well be the strongest things here, it is worth noting that they are classics, and essential entries in the rock canon.
Some songs may seem rather slight on their own – ‘Seventeen’ with its chorus of ‘I’m a lazy sod’ could be a lesser band, but all tracks together combine the yobbishness and art school, the very filth and fury (as a newspaper heading about the band had it) to make up a package that was repellant to some and irresistible to others.
‘Bodies’ – supposedly the only song Sid Vicious actually played on on the album – still terrifies, all the more so, given that it was reportedly written about a real Sex Pistols fan. ‘EMI’ which closes the album was the riposte to the label which had dumped the band after they’d sworn on live TV (oooh! Controversial for 1976) gives the album a fabulous close.
The b-sides (as they do at their best) stand-up for themselves. Their version of The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ matches the Pistols musical snarl, yet opens with hints of the dub reggae that John Lydon loved and would explore with his next (and arguably more interesting and adventurous) Public Image Ltd. ‘Satellite’ and ‘Did You No Wrong’ are strong songs in themselves.
I probably am not the only one who still cringes at ‘Belsen Was A Gas.’ The Wikipedia entry acknowledges that it’s a highly controversial song. It’s a demo version that appears here – while it may have been written more to shock the older generation than to offend, Lydon is amongst those who have acknowledged that it crosses into bad taste. I could live without it reappearing.
For a band who supposedly couldn’t play, the demos and live material may show some sign that they were in need of polishing, but that they were probably more competent than they may have wanted some to believe. It’s perhaps telling that on the Norwegian gig on the third disc after ‘New York’ Lydon can be heard telling the crowd ‘Alright? Just stop the fucking spitting, I don’t like being spat at.’ It may have been perceived as part of the ritual – yet (totally understandably) something he didn’t wish to be part of.
Whether there will be more re-issues of the album remains to be seen. But Never Mind stands as a fantastic blast of anger and fun that has not withered over four decades.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is re-issued and out now on

Born in the Seventies…


Driving into work this morning, there was a discussion on the local radio about which decade would you most have liked to have lived through.

The fifties were winning -but more to do with people’s perception of fifties America which has been shaped by Grease and Back To The Future, apparently; and absolutely sod all to do with living in a Britain where rationing was still in place, and austerity was the name of the game (don’t laugh folks, cos all cliches turn full circle).

I on the other hand, rang in -and got to hear my dulcet tones on air (apparently I sound much more scottish on air than in real life, according to my friend Keith who heard me) -and said the seventies.

Now, I’m well aware that the seventies had their downsides – and I don’t mean fashion either – but for music it would have been awesome.

Well, not Tony Orlando and Dawn or Peters and Lee or Demis Roussos (like duh) but this would have been awesome to see.

Sex Pistols -‘Anarchy In The UK.’ mp3

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3

Dead Kennedys -‘California Uber Alles.’ mp3

Bob Marley -‘Waiting In Vain.’ mp3

Chic -‘Good Times.’ mp3

Slits -‘Typical Girls.’ mp3

Cure -’10:15 Saturday Night.’ mp3

Clash -‘Complete Control.’ mp3

Cramps -‘Human Fly.’ mp3

Television -‘Marquee Moon.’ mp3

Mind you, there’s younger folk who are envious of me seeing Radiohead and Pulp at Glastonbury in the nineties, and Jeff Buckley…

33 1/3 Part 7


Sex Pistols -Never Mind The Bollocks (Virgin, 1977)

It’s funny, but I think I fell in love with the idea of the Sex Pistols, even before I knowingly heard a note of their music. As a twelve year old, I had a folder splattered with band names with the Psitols writ large. There were the names -Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious. To a nice middle-class kid from a nice home, it offered something other.

So I asked for -and got – the album for my fourteenth birthday. My long-suffering Mum bought it for me, along with Cut The Crap by The Clash (again, a band I loved the idea of and hadn’t heard a note of their music, hence why I started with that album!) Poor Mum. Like a lot of things she probably thought it was a phase I’d grow out of (see also: vegetarianism, socialism, wearing black, listening to The Cure etc..)

And it proved the soundtrack to my surviving one miserable year at a boaring school in the Midlands that shall remain nameless. It was hell. In Decline and Fall Evelyn Waugh wrote: “Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison”. I haven’t ended up in prison -yet – although being couped up with a load of materialist, racist, Tory voting bigots, many of whom supported hunting, had snide views of people who went to state schools…you get the picture.

This wasn’t the soundtrack to my misery per se (though I also discovered The Cure, Nick Cave and The Smiths around this time), but when really upset I would listen to ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and it would calm me down. And there was always the comfort from the fact that some people found the lyrics to ‘God save the Queen’ a bit shocking, a mere…ooh, fourteen years after it came out. It was a loud, angry album, nihilistic and full of (cartoon, in retrospect) anti-establishment themes.

I had a poster on the wall that bore the legendary Sid Vicious and featured the immortal:“Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you ALIVE” quote. I remember one teacher looking at it in horror and saying “I’m surprised at you.” I was in the school choir, after all. She would probably have been even more amazed to note that I was with my dad when I bought it.

So did the Sex Pistols soundtrack my youthful rebellion? Did they hell. They soundtracked my survival, and the slowly realisation that rebellion wasn’t necessarily just against authority but against your peers. As the years have gone by, I’ve come to the realisation that punk was perhaps more important as a catalyst for what happened afterwards, that Johnny Rotten’s defining statement is Metal Box, and that Sid Vicious might have been a hero briefly, but Robert Smith and George Orwell would make a far longer, lasting impact on me. But they helped me through.

Oh, and if the Labour Party would like to do away with private schools*, I might even consider voting for them again.

Sex Pistols -‘Anarchy In The UK.’ mp3

Sex Pistols -‘EMI.’ mp3

* See the Labour Party’s 1983 manifesto. Often dubbed the longest suicide note in history, and the one with the best ideas in it. Then again, when the opposition have engineered a war to gain support, it does get rather difficult…

1976…and all that

Hello folks,

am currently on holiday with Mrs. 17 Seconds in Cornwall and two of our friends, while 17 Seconds Towers is looked after by our two cats and a legendary scots bassist. Therefore posts may not be as regular as they have been over the last wee while, but keep checking up.

The other day I was notified by the Fades in Slowly blogspot that they are doing a feature on 1976 and the tracks that could have made the Festive Fifty for that year. The significance being that a) that year as an all-time Festive Fifty, b) the following year was just John Peel’s favourite tracks, and it was only c) 1982 where the votes were just the publics, based on that year.

I’m still trying to work out which three tracks to vote for. I was only born in mid-November of that year, and am coming ot the conclusion that whilst it was the year punk broke in the UK, that there was good non-punk music released that year. This list gives an idea. After all, it was the year of Dylan’s Desire LP, which may well be my favourite Dylan album (yes, even above Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood On The Tracks) and Bowie’s Station To Station, as the man moved to Berlin, listened to Kraftwerk who were about to invent the eighties a few years before they happened, and prepared for being involved in no less than four key LPs of 1977. Bob Marley continued his rise as Roxy went on hiatus. In Ireland and the UK, Thin Lizzy hit the big time. Disco and Punk were not being mixed in at this point, but they were happening and it’s probably quite accurate that this was the year was the quiet before the storm. I may only have been there for the last six weeks of it, but galvanised by punk, this was the year that The Clash, U2, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees played their first gigs, and my world is still reverberating from that and the aftershock that followed over the next thirty years. Of course, Madonna was still in high school, as presumably were The Slits, and MTV and Hip-Hop were some years off.

Here’s five tracks from that year…

David Bowie -Station To Station

Donna Summer – Love To Love You Baby

The Damned -New Rose

The Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK

Thin Lizzy -The Boys Are Back In Town