Tuesday 31 May 2011

Sex Pistols Day

More difficult than Beatles Day, as there is only one (official) album.  But what an album it is!

Holidays In The Sun - Album starts with the sound of marching and then a single chord, and the riff kicks in.  A simple yet effective 4 chord riff not dis-similar to The Jam's In The City.  Written after a visit to the Berlin Wall.

Bodies - Despite popular belief that the Pistols songs were "full of swearing", this is the only Sex Pistols song to contain the word "Fuck" (apart from 'Friggin In The Riggin').  Based on a true story of a fan visiting John carrying an aborted phoetus in a carrier bag

No Feelings - Another fantastic 4 chord riff, and a lyric which sounds extremely self-centred "I've got No Feelings, for anyone else, except for myself" (see also 'Problems').  Sid Vicious actually plays on this track, but his bass playing is so low in the mix you'd never know.

Liar - Is this McLaren again?  I don't think the band got on with their manager too well.  Great lyrics and a great vocal performance, but not a truly great song

God Save The Queen - Written in October 1976 and originally called "No Future".  The fact it was released in June 1977 under this title is purely coincidental (or more McLaren scullduggery?)
Contains the most powerful opening riff I have heard - Rock at it's best.

Problems - This turns the attention onto the listening audience.  To sum up: You've got a problem? So what - sort it out yourself ("Sex Pistols as a force for inspiration").  Memorable for the hypnotic chanting of "Problem" at the end of the song.  You hear it and you WILL remember it.

Seventeen - One of the bands early original songs, lyrically changed to have a pop at Malcolm McLaren ("You're only 29, got a lot to learn, but when your business dies, it will not return").
The chorus is "I'm a Lazy Sod" which some have suggested is my theme tune

Anarchy In The UK - First single, perfect introduction to the band and what they're about.  The fist version (produced by Dave Goodman) contains the opening statement "Vinyl Quotation Number 1", and (to me) is a better production than the album version.
Is it a manifesto? Is it a statement of intent? Is it a political comment?  No - its just a bloody good rock song.
Fancy a laugh? Listen to the lyrically confused Megadeth cover version

Submission - Another McLaren-baiting song.  Malcolm suggested the band write a song about bondage, John & Glen respond with "I'm on a submarine mission ..."
Not on the original pressing of the album, but later versions came with Submission on a one-sided 7" single insert.

Pretty Vacant - The most commercial Sex Pistols song.  The main riff is so simple, even I can play it.  Got mthe band shown on Top Of The Pops merely a month after the BCC banning of 'God Save The Queen'

New York - McLaren again - "An imitation from New York", "Four years on, You still look the same, I think its about time, You changed your brain, You're just a pile of shit, You're coming to this" - I'm sure they didn't get on with him that much at all.  Or is it a statement to The New York Dolls?  The lyrics fit equally as well.
New York Dolls/Sex Pistols trivia time: the white Les Paul played by Steve Jones once belonged to Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, and was given to Steve Jones (by Malcolm McLaren) in 1976.  Interestingly, ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders later recorded a response to this song entitled "London Boys" with Paul Cook on Drums and Steve Jones on guitar.  Its a funny old cyclical world isn't it.

EMI - Self-referential story of the bands tenure with the institution that is (was?) EMI Records.
Last sound you hear is John blowing a raspberry - a memorable finish to a fantastic 40 minutes

As far as debut albums go, this is one of the best.
As far as all-time classic albums are concerned, this is a permanent member of the Top 10

The only other "official" release is the soundtrack to the Malcolm McLaren vanity-project that is 'The Great Rock n Roll Swindle'
The album does contain some original tracks, the best being Silly Thing, Lonely Boy, No One Is Innocent and the title track.  Tenpole Tudors' contribution (Who Killed Bambi & Rock Around The Clock) are enjoyable, yet equally disposable), but the rest is a collection of stuff just to fill up space.  Far too much filler, overdubbed demo recordings and alternative versions.

To continue the Pistols journey further, next stop is the solo/new band releases:

Public Image Limited are by far the most successful post-Pistols band, and are also a different proposition, not just an extension of the Pistols sound.
Its hard to listen to this album straight after NMTB.  Its much more experimental, and probably more influenced by the stuff John Lydon used to listen to than the Pistols (obvious example: Can) .  In fact when you play the first track, the immediate response after NMTB is "what the kin-ell is this?".  Persevere & listen again, it is a brilliant album.
Johnny Rotten is dead, Long live John Lydon

Rich Kids: The band Glen Matlock put together after his ousting from the Pistols.  The songs on their only album (Ghosts Of Princes In Towers) are great, just compromised by an extremely muddy production job by Mick Ronson

Professionals: Cook & Jones post-Pistols band and a continuation of the sound from 1978 onwards.  Their first album (due for release in 1979) remained unreleased due to royalty payment disputes with bassist Andy Allen.
It wasn't until 1981 that a Professionals album was released, and by this time their moment had gone.  Shame, because this album (I Didn't See It Coming) does contain some  truly great songs (The Magnificent, Kick Down The Doors, Just Another Dream & 123 being the best)

Sid Vicious: Sid Sings - Bloody awful!

1 comment:

  1. Fab NMTB summary - it's no overstatement to say that record changed my life 'in oh so many ways' as The Beatles sang - and yes The Professioals is a lost gem. Dig about for the out-take Action Man and the team up with Chrissie Hynde both are worth bagging..