Classic albums A-Z: The Sex Pistols – Never mind the Bollocks (1977)

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They couldn’t play their instruments very well, they certainly couldn’t sing, they were loud, obnoxious, looked unwell most of the time, used the F word on early evening BBC television and stood up for the angst of a new generation desperate to turn its back on the fading glam of the 1970s and forge a new identity that would upset parents and particularly Mary Whitehouse all over again. They could only be The Sex Pistols and the album could only really be called ‘Never Mind the Bollocks‘.

The album came out a month after I started at art college and therefore featured big time at most parties and all student discos. Problem was that I was a hippy slightly out of time – all long hair, patched jeans, patchouli, beads and bells; a million miles away from safety pins and dustbin liners and bondage trousers. And yet, despite that minor setback, I still saw something instantly brilliant in their music. From the opening (and so typically) punk anthem of ‘Holidays in the sun’, through ‘God save the Queen’, ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and of course ‘Pretty Vacant’. It was – and there was simply no denying this – exciting. It was a statement – maybe one slightly at odds with my ‘hey man’ idealism, but still something I had something of an affiliation with.

Never mind the Bollocks is a timeless piece of British pop culture – as fresh today almost 40 years later as it was in those spit ladled days of 1977. Admittedly the angst has turned to middle age, wealth and conservatism for its lead ‘singer’ (I use the term loosely) and (sadly) demise for its bassist, but the statement remains. Rock n roll!

Full track listing
  1. Holidays in the sun
  2. Bodies
  3. No feelings
  4. Liar
  5. God save the queen
  6. Problems
  7. Seventeen
  8. Anarchy in the UK
  9. Submission
  10. Pretty Vacant
  11. New York
  12. EMI
Lineup
  • Johnny Rotten (lead vocals)
  • Steve Jones (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Sid Vicious/Glen Matlock (bass)
  • Paul Cook (drums)

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