The Sex Pistols are a band who have been treated by record companies with contempt and thoughtlessness, with over 200 albums out there. Nonetheless the debut “Nevermind the Bollocks, Heres the Sex Pistols” made the kind of impact on the then scene which Its impossible to understate, and difficult to understand; not unlike Nirvana or Oasis did, only with more notoriety, venom ,and focused undiluted hate.
So comes the latest repackage: a 3-CD box set from a band whose output covered here is one solitary 38 minute album. It starts with the opening sound of marching jackboots (that heralds in “Holidays in The Sun”); and the first CD is comprised of the debut album “Nevermind the Bollocks” in its entirety, and various collected b-sides. Simply put, If it’s a revolution in music, packaged in CD form, and sounds as fresh and vital today as it did 25 years ago, if not more so: its an album totally devoid of bullshit, and still sounds like someone’s trying to incite a riot in your living room.It certainly puts revivalists like the Strokes or Hives into perspective . ( And yes, I know that’s saying that is gonna make me unpopular…).
The rest of the box set is comprised of demo tracks and live versions. The rest of the first CD has the original B-sides, such as “No Fun”, (falsely billed as a ‘unreleased’ track), and various demo sessions, continued on the second CD. From the original May 1976 demos to the final Jan 1977 demos, it’s more of a historical curio than a musical document. It comes across as scrappy and amateurish, especially the first (July 1976) attempt at “Anarchy in the UK”.The rest of that session comprises of a series of bad cover versions and seems more like a rehearsal bunged onto tape than anything else. (Later overdubbed extensively for inclusion on “Great Rock n ‘ Roll Swindle” ). When Johnny Rotten starts berating the band he sings “….oh, fuck off… its awful”; well, you get the idea. With the same tracks (these covers excepted) recorded over and over again, its an exercise in either pointless duplication for the listener, and fascination for the diehard fan; who porbably has all these already (like me).
On the third CD, the Live Cd, is the infamous “screen on the green” show from Islington Cinema Aug 29 1976 ipresented in full, rounded out with a selection of tracks the Pistols never played in the studio; a version of the Small Faces “Understanding”, two versions of the cacophonus improvisation “Flowers of Romance” and the quite tasteless notorious and atonal “Belsen was a Gas”.
This is nothing like a comprehensive and complete set: With so many sessions where the Sex Pistols recorded much the same tracks, it means that any box set was going to be filled with extensive, possibly even exhaustive, duplication of songs, enough to put off all but the most dedicated. Given that this isn’t a box set for the novice, but for the hardened collector, that makes any such omissions inexcusable; Surely the point of doing a box set like this is to compile everything but this doesn’t: why the hell not?
If you don’t have anything by the Sex Pistols, go out and get either
i)“ Nevermind the Bollocks”
ii) “kiss This” ( which is "Bollocks" + some b-sides resequenced)or
iii) The “This is Crap (Bollocks/Spunk)” doublepack, which contains the majority of demos contained here. The core of the music contained here, which is “Nevermind The Bollocks” is a record that everyone should own and play at excessive volume frequently. The rest of the demos are an expensive curio for the hardcore or the unwary, and with the omission of many tracks makes this a pointless exercise.
However brilliant and lifechanging the music is, why should we support another thoughtless, ill-conceieved cash-in from moneygrabbing major labels…? For if we do, then to quote Johnny Rotten, our “blind acceptance is a sign of stupid fools who stand in line”.
And that surely goes against everything punk ever stood for.
8Graham Reed's Score