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Front Cover


1st Issue One-Sided Submission Single

Tracks:
11 Track First Issue


SIDE 1
Holidays In The Sun
Liar
No Feelings
God save The Queen
Problems

SIDE 2
Seventeen
Anarchy In The UK
Bodies
Pretty Vacant
New York
E.M.I.

Tracks:
12 Track Second Issue

SIDE 1
Holidays In The Sun
Bodies
No Feelings
Liar
God save The Queen
Problems

SIDE 2
Seventeen
Anarchy In The UK
Submission
Pretty Vacant
New York
E.M.I.


Back Cover


1st Issue Blank Back Cover


SEX PISTOLS - ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

A few years ago, a music magazine published a list of what it considered to be the fifty most influential albums of all time. At the number one spot was Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ which, as we all know, is complete bollocks! Now I’ve already given you two clues as to what the most influential album of all time really is… Without the Sex Pistols, Nirvana would not even have existed and Kurt Cobain would now be remembered by a few friends for being the miserable little smack-head he truly was.

John, Paul, Steve & Sid

Maybe you’re thinking that if you work with that theory, then the first album to inspire someone to pick up an electric guitar and make their own music must have been the most influential. Not so. The fact remains that the Sex Pistols were inspired by all that came before. It is undeniable that there was nothing unique about the Pistols musically. Their roots can be traced directly back to the Mod groups of the sixties such as the Who and the Small Faces. But it was their singer Johnny Rotten who twisted the sound with his vocals, his lyrics, and visually in a way that had never been done before. Through Rotten the Sex Pistols became the last Rock’n’Roll band on this planet to use their inspirations to create something that was fresh, exciting, threatening, and totally original in the way it expressed itself. On the day it was released, 28 th October 1977, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ became the benchmark for every album that would follow. Unfortunately no album since has reached that pinnacle, let alone surpassed it, and that is why it is still the most influential album of all time… It is the last original influence that still inspires every Rock’n’Roll band whether it be Nirvana or Slipknot or even Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John or Sir Paul McCartney, they’ve all been fucked by the Sex Pistols at some point in their career!

More than twenty-seven years on, it’s hard for me to imagine that the world of music once existed without ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’. This is perhaps due to the fact that I don’t actually remember the album being released. I had just turned nine years old and unfortunately was still listening to ABBA and Showaddywaddy. In today’s terms that’s the same as the Spice Girls and Boyzone being your favourite bands! In fact, the music scene was in a very similar state of decline to how it is currently. The mass market was being strangled by the disco beat in much the same way as the rave drum beat dictates every pop record today. The charts were awash with safe, manufactured, corporate record company bands.

My first memories of the Sex Pistols are from 1979, a year after the band had collapsed in San Francisco after the final show of their first American tour. Johnny Rotten, or John Lydon as he was calling himself by then, appeared on BBC1’s Juke Box Jury hosted by the then oh so hip Radio 1 DJ Noel Edmonds (now better known for Mr. Blobby and Noel’s House Party). The show’s format was to play forthcoming single releases and the guests would vote whether they thought the song would be a HIT or a MISS in the pop charts. Rotten rightfully and honestly slagged every single record that was played and by the end of the show Noel Edmonds was visibly and verbally pissed off with him. I, on the other hand, physically craved for a copy of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and eventually, after much pleading with my parents for the money, became immediately besotted by the Sex Pistols. It was the first LP I had bought that sounded complete, and not like a few singles padded out with a bunch of second rate album tracks. This was the real thing that at the time made anyone over the age of twenty-one feel old because they just didn’t understand it. To them it was a noise, but to me it was the musical equivalent of Picasso… musical modern art. It spoke my language, annoyed my parents and just speaking the name Sex Pistols at school would get you a detention!

Despite the fact that the Sex Pistols had been the first ‘Punk Rock’ band on the fast exploding London scene, their first and only album turned out to be one of the last true ‘Punk Rock’ records ever to be released. By the time ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ was finally released all of the bands who had initially been inspired by the Pistols such as the Clash and the Damned had already released debuts and were working towards their second album. This is due more than anything to the bans and restrictions that were imposed upon the group by local councils and the entire record industry as well as numerous record companies’ inability to deal with four bored, angry, twenty year old kids.

French import sleeve with safety pin for that added PUNK effect!

The tension and animosity that their attitude to music caused saw their first single ‘Anarchy In The UK’ abruptly withdrawn in December 1976 due to the band’s sacking by EMI, leaving the Pistols searching for a new label who were more in tune with the new order. A&M records were the next to get their fingers burnt holding on to the band for less than two weeks. The Pistols finally settled with Virgin Records who eventually proved they could keep their nerve under pressure. The Sex Pistols released their second single ‘God Save The Queen’ right in the middle of the Queen’s silver jubilee. The national uproar was enormous and resulted in some quite gruesome knife attacks on Rotten which literally put him in fear for his life. The Sex Pistols were being assaulted from every side by the so-called moral majority, yet ‘God Save The Queen’ sold more copies than any other record in its first week of release in advance orders alone, even though most record shops refused to stock it. Despite this it was decided by the people who administer the charts to pull it from the hit parade resulting in there being no number one chart single that week!

Two singles, ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Holidays In The Sun’ followed. The latter became the opening track on the album and one of only two songs that the Pistols wrote after they had sacked their bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock’s sacking occurred around the time that the band had left EMI and came about in part due to Rotten’s inability to get along with him. It was also Rotten who instigated his immediate replacement with the Sex Pistols’ biggest fan and one of Rotten’s best mates John Ritchie (Sid Vicious). The other new track that also made it onto the album was ‘Bodies’, which was put together in the studio and inspired by a real fan-letter. Although Sid Vicious is credited on these two songs, along with the other three band members, it is very doubtful whether he had much - if any - input, to the point where it is questionable whether he even played on the any of the recordings that made it onto ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’. It is documented by Steve Jones, the Pistols’ guitarist, in John Lydon’s autobiography ‘Rotten’: “Sid wanted to come down and play on the album, and we tried as hard as possible not to let him anywhere near the studio. Luckily he had hepatitis at the time. He had to stay in the hospital, and that was really good. He actually came down a couple of times and played on ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Bodies’. He played this farty old bass part, and we just let him do it. When he left I dubbed another part on, leaving Sid’s down low. I think it might be barely audible on the track.” The only other fresh song to appear in the Pistols’ live set after Matlock’s sacking (although Matlock is acknowledged on the album sleeve credits as a contributor) was a song that had been written in response to their first sacking, called simply ‘EMI’.

Poster that came with initial release

It had been announced that the Sex Pistols’ album would be released as far back as June, and similar artwork to the final sleeve was produced with the title ‘God Save Sex Pistols’ instead of ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. But the chaos that surrounded the band had seen the process drag on. Arguments between the group and Virgin as to which songs should be included further assisted in its delay, with the Pistols insisting that Virgin add the song ‘Submission’ to the eleven tracks already pressed. Eventually a semi-official bootleg called ‘No Future UK’ under the fictional band name of ‘Spunk’ appeared which consisted of demo recordings done with Dave Goodman during July 1976 and January 1977. Then to make things worse Richard Branson, head of Virgin records at the time, learned that McLaren was intending to import copies of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ from France ahead of its Virgin release date, leaving a furious Branson with no option but to rush release the album, with or without ‘Submission’. In the event, the original copies of ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ were delivered to UK record shops as an eleven track album containing a free one-sided 7” single of ‘Submission’. These initial copies also included a poster depicting artwork for every track on the album, some of which had previously appeared as single sleeves. The cover artwork of the album, as with the previous three singles, was done by Jamie Reid, the simple concept coming from standard blackmail letter style, with a crude finish reminiscent of a screen-print. This was laid down on a dayglo yellow sleeve with the black newsprint title ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, a phrase supplied by Steve Jones amidst the disorder of the Sex Pistols’ summer: “Oh, fuck it, never mind the bollocks of it all”. And there was to be no mistaking the perpetrators of this piece of musical history, the Sex Pistols’ by now familiar logo being emblazoned across the bottom in a sharply contrasting fluorescent pink box. The back of the sleeve was produced in the same colours and style with all the song titles, with the exception of Submission which was eventually included on the second and all subsequent pressings of the album although never listed on the outer sleeve until years later, chaotically spread across it.

Unsurprisingly with such a provocative title the Sex Pistols were at the centre of the nation’s attention once again, resulting in Richard Branson defending the group’s right, in court, to use the word ‘bollocks’. The Pistols won their case proving the word to be a valid Anglo-Saxon term for testicles that is contained in the English dictionary. But this wasn’t before the cover had been forcibly removed by one of our local WPCs from Nottingham’s Virgin record store window display as she found the sleeve offensive! As with the singles, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ was banned by all the chain outlets such as Boots, Woolworths and W.H. Smith, but with advance orders in excess of 150,000 the album went straight into the UK charts at number one.

Picture Disc Front Cover
PoGo A Go Go

‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ had mirrored the release of ‘God Save The Queen’, but this time they couldn’t deny its chart position. However, unlike the previous May, the album’s release signalled the beginning of the end for the Sex Pistols. It was suggested that the Rotten / Vicious collaboration from 1976, ‘Belsen Was A Gas’, would be recorded and released as the next UK single in the new year. But the band’s ill-fated American tour of January 1978 divided an already fragile group into three opposing factions who would never record together again.

In 1979 Virgin released a picture disc LP version with the same picture of the group on both sides of the disc taken from the ‘Pretty Vacant’ video session. Virgin also released a CD of the album in 1985 before Richard Branson eventually sold Virgin Records to EMI in order to gain capital to support his struggling airline. Kind of ironic… as Johnny Rotten put it: “Isn’t it funny? After sacking the Pistols, EMI ends up with them fifteen years later”.

Scotty Ramone

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ARTICLES | CONTACTS | LINKS & CREDITS | GUESTBOOK | POGO A GO GO