The 1977 album, “The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks”
was the only release by the influential British Punk Rock band,
and the subject of yet another DVD I recently watched
in the Classic Albums series.
Although “Never Mind the Bollocks” perhaps remains the
most famous and influential album in the history of Punk Rock,
the Sex Pistols began as a band whose members could barely
play their instruments. In addition, their manager Malcolm
McLaren encouraged a more or less “archaic” approach to
both making music and marketing. When interviewed for this
DVD, McLaren admits his errors, referring to himself as more
of a “mismanager” than anything else.
Band members Paul Cook on drums, guitarist Steve Jones,
John Lydon a.k.a., “Johnny Rotten” on vocals, and bassist
Glen Matlock are interviewed throughout this disc, each
providing their own recollections. Just as important are the
contributions of their producer/engineer Bill Price, the man
at the mixing console and the man most responsible for
corralling all of this “anarchy” in the studio, and making
sense of it all. Jamie Reid, their artist and graphic designer
was also interviewed, along with producer Chris Thomas, and
other journalists and “A & R” people.
In order to appreciate their significance, I believe you have
to understand the times in which the Sex Pistols flourished.
They were viewed as the antithesis, and a sort of “antidote” to
the progressive “Pomp Rock” bands, like Emerson, Lake & Palmer,
Yes and others. The time seemed ripe for rebellion, and the
basic three-chord, angry style of the Sex Pistols was just
what the doctor ordered. Of course, the band quickly imploded,
barely lasting for two years. With such prevailing anarchy
within the ranks, it couldn’t have lasted for long.
Needless to say, the replacement of Glen Matlock with
Sid Vicious on bass guitar was also discussed. It was
revealed that Matlock only played on one song, “Anarchy,”
and it’s somewhat ironic that he left the band relatively early,
since he was probably the best musician of the lot. By the
time Vicious joined the band, all of the other songs were
basically already written.
All of the narrative in this 48-minute film is interspersed with
live concert footage, and there are roughly 38 minutes of bonus
features, which are every bit as informative as the main film.
Steve Jones is featured more than once, and during the
bonus features with guitar in hand, he recalls how he came
up with the riffs for each song.
Although I personally don’t care for this type of music, it
was nonetheless interesting to watch this DVD and
“get inside” this album, which is considered to be so
important. It’s funny to consider the course that Rock
music history often takes!