I was aiming to do one of these Classic Album posts every month. This is February’s… These posts are dedicated to the timeless, irreplaceable classics of my music collection.
2. Sex Pistols – “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols”
By 1988 I was looking for something new, music wise. I had trawled through loads of heavy metal, thrash metal and hardcore, and a lot of it was getting somewhat stale. The next step to explore was looking like Motley Crue and WASP. Luckily, something else came along instead.
I’d heard a Sex Pistols song on a late night rock show on the radio. I’ve never been one to listen to the radio much. However, when I heard “Anarchy in the UK”, I thought – that sounds great! Guitars right up front screaming in your face and tons of energy. The song stayed in my head and I considered saving up a few quid and making the Sex Pistols album my next purchase. It would be quite a departure from a great deal of my other music; but with punk rock all over Thrasher magazine and skateboarding generally, it seemed the obvious choice.
So I went into Penny Lane Records in Chester a couple of weeks later, and I bought the cassette. The cassette! Unbelievable. One advantage was I had my Sony Walkman with me and could listen to it straight away. What should I expect though? My research had yielded a huge amount of scorn for the group – they couldn’t play, couldn’t sing, they were offensive. Would the tape just be a horrid cacophony of unlistenable noise? I pressed play.
I heard the jackboot march intro of first track “Holidays in the Sun” and then the music began. Far from the despicable noise I’d been warned about, I found (much like “Anarchy…”) a sound that was thrilling, exciting, new. It was rock music, but it was fast and intense and I knew this was what I had been looking for.
“Bodies” followed, and that song is even more exhilarating than the first. A few rude words though, so don’t play this without headphones. “God Save the Queen” was a total revelation – anti-establishment hatred wrapped up in the greatest rock riff ever. Pure genius. I’d never heard sentiments like that expressed in any form of popular culture before, and I loved it. “Pretty Vacant” was actually very catchy, not in the least bit talentless noise. And “Submission” was a change of pace – showing again that the Pistols were not one trick conmen.
Not all of “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is perfect. I’ve never been a huge fan of “Seventeen”, for example. Still that song is better than most bands manage in an entire career.
The music doesn’t sound shocking in this day and age, but lyrically we’re dealing with some raw stuff. What a joy to behold in a Simon Cowell possessed world.
I ended up getting rid of the cassette and buying the album on vinyl later on. I’ve still got it. Of course, I then had the CD also. I listened to it recently on my iPod and it still sounds fantastic. Quite simply, every home should have a copy of this record. “Never Mind the Bollocks…” is still, quite possibly, my favourite album of all time. It opened my eyes (as well as ears) to something different. It taught me that exploring music, even music that you might be concerned isn’t for you, will provide great results.
Don’t be afraid, try something new. And listen to the Sex Pistols with the sound cranked up. Because we still need to think differently, develop our own opinions, and be open minded. That, ladies and gentlemen, is punk rock.
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
- Holidays in the Sun
- No Feelings
- God Save the Queen
- Anarchy in the UK
- Pretty Vacant
- New York
Best tracks: God Save the Queen, Pretty Vacant, Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, Submission, Anarchy in the UK
Other cool points: one of the most iconic album covers of all time.
Buy this classic album here.