Never Mind The Flaming Here's The Classic Or Dud

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Or, "Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols": Classic Or Dud?

Tom, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Absolute dud. I don't I've ever heard the entire thing. No scratch that, I don't think I've ever even made it all the way trough "Anarchy In The UK". It may have defined a genre/the public face of punk and been a touchstone for many bands I've since come to love, but whenever I've heard it it's come across a plie of untalented, aimless toss.

Dan Perry, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Never understood the appeal of the sex pistols, it's just one of those Virgin Megastores 3 CD's for 20 quid records. Sure, they had attitude but not much talent and songs that sound okay, but soon lose their impact. Dud.

james e l, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

THE SOUND OF WORKING CLASS ENGLAND. CLASSIC.

TY@HOTMAIL.COM, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Holy sweet godamn it's a classic...

JM, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I've had it for about 4 years and only listened to it right through about 3 times. I can imagine it being THE BEST THING EVER if you were the right age in 1976/7, but now I dunno. It sounded good to me when I bought it (I felt really naughty), but now I can't get excited about it either way. Classic for its importance and Johnny Rotten/Lydon, dud for the amount of filler on it and Sid Vicious.

DG, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

All the complaints about their lack of talent is missing the whole point of the Pistols. They were meant as a rebellion against the whole idea that you needed to be funded by a corporation to be considered a musician (or, all of the other big label bands that produced soulless overproduced gloss). Even with that in mind, I think Bollocks shows a ton of talent, albeit in exceptionally raw form...of course, a lot of that is because Sid's not on the album.

Never Mind the Bollocks is a pure, undeniable classic, and I don't even believe that there's any filler on that piece o'work. It may not have been the most accomplished piece of work, but it was engaging, emotionally, intellectually (even if you didn't agree with Rotten's snide and snotty opinions, it made you think about the state of the world), and bodily...the heart, head and hips all. When I hear it, it still moves me, in all of these ways.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Beyond Classic or Dud. Pretty much for the same reasons offered by DG. It had its time in the sun, and left an indelible mark on music, bla bla bla. But damn if I can't find a good reason to actually buy the thing, or (better) want to listen to it.

I feel the same way about the Ramones - their influence is so pervasive & universal, it's not worth trying to reassess their actual output. What's there to reassess? Stick / Pull your head out the window / of your ass & you'll hear it EVERYWHERE. (& often, it sounds much better than the original.) The fact that Malcolm McLaren (from what I know) buggered the fashion & pose of NYC punk (specifically, the Ramones & Richard Hell) to create the Sex Pistols should be considered IF you are to reassess, though.

In light of that assertion, I'd like to change my vote:

Bollocks = Societal Classic, Musical Dud.

(Hell, if it weren't for the British Powers that Be over-reacting to the brouhaha created by the Sex Pistols, would they be so damn iconical? Garage bands have come & gone with equal portions of ineptitude & spite, yet they're relegated to Rhino box-sets & Goldmine magazine. And the Sex Pistols crap gold ingots. Heh.)

David Raposa, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Let me reassure you, DG, that some of us who found ourselves at an incorrect age in 197? had no problem thrilling to NMB when the time was right. Of course we missed the media synchrony y'all had in Britain at the time. We missed the hype. it's a little like the KLF - the phenom happens, it's a moment of a real National identification. You feel connected to the whole. But unlike the KLF, the vitriol and trangression that the SPs encoded onto those cheap white cassettes that seemed never to have cases - somehow it survived temporal and national translations with some part of itself intact. I am still shocked by how nasty Lydon sounds.

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

All the complaints about their lack of talent is missing the whole point of the Pistols. They were meant as a rebellion against the whole idea that you needed to be funded by a corporation to be considered a musician (or, all of the other big label bands that produced soulless overproduced gloss).

I see that you've tried to cover yourself, but the fact that they were on EMI, A&M and Virgin at various points in their career make it really hard for me to buy that.

Dan Perry, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I honestly can't think of another record that lives up to its hype as well as "Nevermind". Ooops, I meant "Nevermind the Bollocks..."

History has proven that the Pistols were slight copyists at the time, dubunking the myth that they somehow "started punk", but their single album seriously bested anything that their contemporaries produced, and you'd be hard pressed to convince me that anyone in the same vein has topped it since. While some of the lyrical topics have been played into the ground since, that's no fault of theirs. I've been listening to it consistently since 1983 when I was 11 years old and its never lost any edge. The bands that consistently copy them are the ones who look daft. Talentless? Maybe they couldn't play their instruments that great (that's what "punk" is/was about, eh?), but the songs are inspiring, laying the foundations for topics and deliveries of bands for years to come. Still though, Steve Jones was no slacker on the record as he throws in some really interesting doubling and lead lines that are often overlooked by those who are too concerned with figuring the album's historical place rather than just enjoying the music. If you haven't seen the recent movie "The Filth and the Fury", I would highly suggest renting it. Those who don't like the Pistols can maybe gain an appreciation for their craft.

In case you didn't feel like reading the above - in summary: absolute, unadorned, CLASSIC of the highest order.

Tim Baier, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

For all of what they were meant to be, Sean, they actually were on a big corporate label and they got produced in part by Chris Thomas -- whose work with Roxy Music I don't consider soulless gloss, but it's pretty damn sparkly. The whole thing is a contradictory mess when you look at it from a distance, which is one reason I tend to avoid getting caught up in the ideology around it, entertaining and instructive though the contradictions are.

Meanwhile, down the road, Nick Lowe recorded the Damned quick and dirty, and first, actually. I've listened to _Damned Damned Damned_ a lot more over time.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Oh, the bomb naturally. Was there a better Punk Rock album? IMO only 'Pink Flag' comes close. Sad, 14 years on and England is still dreaming. What I'd give for a similar injection of such anger, energy and malevolence in todays Pop Culture.

Stevo, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

You should never ask this question of people. It leads to bad thinking. DOn't think about this. Just accept that the album occured.

Mike Hanley, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

what better way to form a riposte to the grandstanding and bombast of 70s rock then to issue what is, in form, a great 60s pop album? that is to say that never mind the bollocks features great singles and is padded out with mind-numbing filler. should've pulled a buzzcocks and have put out an album of singles a's & b's...instead of leaving virgin to do it for them several years later on the all-too- appropriately-named flogging a dead horse album. still, worth it for the glam-punk snarl of "anarchy in the uk" and "holidays in the sun" ("i wanna see some HIST-orrrrreeee").

fred solinger, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Stevo"Sad, 14 years on and England is still dreaming. What I'd give for a similar injection of such anger, energy and malevolence in todays Pop Culture. "

That should be 24 years.

anger, energy and malevolence - it exists today but not in pop culture but the underground.. Botch, Neurosis, Dillinger Escape Plan, Drowningman, Shora, Minus, Zyklon, Red Harvest.

DJ Martian, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

You should never ask this question of people. It leads to bad thinking

Indubitably. But on whose part?

For the record, I certainly can't deny that that album resonated with a ton of people. I just cannot understand why. I think my brain is hard-wired against it or something. Had I been a contemporary to the punk scene rather than riding its fallout, I probably wouldn't have liked a good 75% of the groups who helped me make it through high school.

Dan Perry, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Dr Martian. Blimey I've just lost 10 years, more proof that rave culture is bad for the memory.

Stevo, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I like it a lot in theory--meaning, I own it, I play it, oh, once in a blue moon, and it feels good when I do--but I really don't listen to it very often at all. I listen to Second Edition (Metal Box) quite a bit more, actually--it doesn't feel as dated.

Clarke B., Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

True, true...the Pistols were also on a lot of major labels. That can't be denied. The fact that it was also a blatant cash grab can also not be denied. Why do you think they never stayed on any of the labels for very long? I don't think it was particularly a contradiction. I think it was, in fact, a rather delicious irony.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I see that you've tried to cover yourself, but the fact that they were on EMI, A&M and Virgin at various points in their career make it really hard for me to buy that.

In 1976/1977 A&M and Virgin were indie labels.

Warner Bros. on the other hand...

Vic Funk, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I can imagine it being THE BEST THING EVER if you were the right age in 1976/7, but now I dunno. (DG)

Well I was the right age at the time and I remember being disappointed by it. Although I respected them as 'leaders' of the Punk scene the music seemed to me, and I suspect many others, too slow and closer to competent mainstream rock than what punk rock was 'supposed to be'. So I was, for some time, a Clash obsessive (yet now the Clash seem crude and ugly, and bizarrely the Pistols stuff sounds like 'classic 70's rock' if that makes sense to anyone.... probably not).

David, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Makes sense for *me*, though. What I like about the Pistols' singles, especially, is how they take ideas from the Stones, Who, US punk and 70s heavy rock and *take them further*, make them as full-on as they could possibly get. And that dates better than very obvious sloganeering and "voice of a generation" self-importance (I'm with Tom and David on the Clash).

Robin Carmody, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

"no talent", holy steamin' CRAP i can't believe anyone still wheels out that wheezy old poop. compared to who? the new york dolls? emerson lake and palmer? britney spears?
only solid reason to hate this album is if you go to a party & there's like a bunch a jocks there & someone puts it on as "good-time party music", then you should kick it the fuck off the box & put on the manic street preachers or some shit. word to yr dad.

duane zarakov, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

To think they (well, 3/4) worked with Ronnie Biggs as well!

DG, Tuesday, 5 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Hmmmm. Although I wore out about 3 separate copies when I was about 16, I have to say that I haven't listened to it in years. The last time I tried was about 4 or 5 years ago, and I couldn't make it all the way through- it no longer spoke to me, and it was like running into an ex-boyfriend you'd like to forget the existence of.

I'd still afford it a classic status, simply because of its cultural significance and lasting influence, and *nothing* quite captures the impotent rage and boredom of being 16 and hopeless. But musically, it just hasn't held up and continued to be interesting into my adulthood the way other "punk classics" (hah hah hah) like The Clash, Buzzcocks and Wire have.

masonic boom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Was the idea of disposability / not becoming classic actually wired into punk ideas from the start, though? I.e. were they trying to replace rock or end it? I suppose this is the central 'punk' qn really.

NMTB is a classic, incidentally. It's kind of like an undie rap album - the deliberately basic backing exists to compliment the flow. In this case it works.

Tom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

There is no discussion. It's a classic. If you don't agree, well, I'm sorry, but you're incredibly wrong. So wrong, in fact, that every other argument you could ever hope to make in your life is rendered thoroughly, utterly and irrefutably MOOT.

No future!

alex in nyc, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

No one can cogently argue that _NMTB_ isn't an influential or important album in rock history. You can certainly say whether it's a steamy pile of poo or not, though.

Dan Perry, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Sex Pistols = Punk Bubblegum???

Dunno if this is as revelatory as it seemed to me whilst I was in the potty, but - McLaren gets inspired by the NYC punk scene (whose stalwarts were, in a sense, borrowing / taking inspiration from the pop music of the '50s & early '60s), & assembles this group of musicians to project this image of danger & rebellion to, in essence, sell merchandise (i.e. his Sex shop wares). Not hard to draw parallels between McLaren & Lou Perlman, is it?

Someone else could take this ball & bounce it, if you'd like - I'm trying to do work over here (sorta).

David Raposa, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, totally they're intended as a boy band. You could make a good case for the Pistols as an ultimate boy band/pop band/manufactured group/whatever. They only wrote their own songs by accident, it strikes me, but a happy accident.

Tom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Like the Fanny Adams thing, I thought *everybody* knew that? That's why it always amuses me when punky kids waffle on about 'manufactured' pop groups.

DG, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

I'd wager that some -- if not most -- of the greatest songs ever recorded were written "by accident."

alex in nyc, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Not to mention — as Simon Price first pointed out — one of the Three Greatest Bands of All Time, all of which happen to come from the UK: viz Beatles/Pistols/Visage

mark s, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Or to put it another way:

A POST WHICH IS CALLED “SHADOW BEHIND THE HEART”

People up-thread have veered towards the Thing, then just swerved past it [OK, OK, so remember this is a record that mattered so much to me that I probably didn’t play it ONCE from c.1979-92: oh yes, an impossible unfaceable disappointment on first arrival, but already by then I *wanted* to be disappointed; by then betrayal was already the best we had to look forward to anyway] and the Thing is this. The centre of the core of the essence of the Thing: that if Sex Pistols gave us (“us”) the territory in which to live out our so-called adult lives, if that was the word, it was because they alone seemed to know that contradiction was: All. That. Mattered. Their heart, their motor, their hook, their end.

[You know, I read England’s Dreaming seven times straight through when it first came out: the compulsion only broke when I realised I was trying to _make the ending come out another, a nicer way_]

And I’m tempted just to talk about ‘Bodies’: after all, there’s a thread over there somewhere which says (to me) that this song — of all their hits and misses, deep projects and silly-thing throwaways — is the one that *hasn’t* yet been hoovered up into mere CD- collectable classicness. The *really* difficult one. Not Holidays, not Belsen. The * really* ugly one. The *really* scary one. The one that tricks you (= me) into stepping back from what they are, into, like, questions about — oh — guitar layering and song sequencing. Into scholarship. Objectivity. Somewhere safe, where I needn’t listen *and* think *and* hear. Because the contradictions are written right through that song: through words, delivery, even there in the peculiar anti-pop intro, a surging hostile undecided pure-music [dunno].

The first four lines of ‘God Save the Queen’ could furnish a punk William Empson with a perfect new project: Four [hey, Forty!] Types of Sarcasm. Every one delivered at a different level and/or setting of “irony” (too weak a word, obviously). But you can read the claim and you can read JR’s attitude to it, each time. In ‘Bodies’, what’s he saying, who’s he being? Who the *hell*? Himself, her, the infant, the watching world? All? None? In the interviews on Ltd Edn 2-CD set, they all just blabber abt Pauline, some poor mad early stalker-fan, doomed self- mutilator attracted by the spooky punk dog- whistle that all the insane and the now-long- dead also heard. Answer given to: “What made you write the song” Answer NOT given to: “WHERE DID YOU GO WITH THE SONG...”

…“‘When that Indian spoke to us,’ went on Brown in a conversational undertone, ‘I had a sort of vision, a vision of him and all his universe. Yet he only said the same thing three times. When first he said, ‘I want nothing,’ it only meant that he was impenetrable, that Asia does not give itself away. Then he said, ‘I want nothing,’ and I knew he meant he was sufficient unto himself, like a cosmos, that he needed no God, nor admitted any sins. And when he said the third time, ‘I want nothing,’ he said it with blazing eyes. And I knew that he meant literally what he said; that nothing was his desire and his home; that he was weary for nothing as for wine; that annihilation, the mere destruction of everything or anything—’”…

So, just some of those contradictions: here’s a song — a hard song, a song that’s a vortex of irresponsible, irrecuperable nastiness — which sits with both sides. Yes with nasty- child gross-out facepulling , deliberate fake-thoughtless adolescent pigtail-pulling, and Yes with righteous rage at such jerky capering. A song which sits with both sides. Not mediating, though: EXACTLY not mediating. More like dragging each impossibly opposed side through the guts of the other. You say either/or, you imagine some nice you-choose consumer ambiguity: this is more like, whichever you wanted, you get the *other* one. Punk = feeling SO MUCH you have to pretend that nothing touches you, that the worst is a joke like all the rest. Punk = feeling SO LITTLE that you’ve no problem pretending you care about everything and anything. Both. The good * and* the horrible. The invaluable *and* the worthless. Begin there (which the stupid Clash stupid didn’t).

The guitars and rhythm section are fantastic YET the production is amateur and rubbish, murkily mastered, arbitrarily sequenced: a careless maybe-deliberate assault on the very idea of the LP as desirable item, repeatable proposition, nice-thing-to-grow- old-with. The package is amazing YET the sleeve was chucked together, designed to seem to be random rubbish non-design. The death of rock intended YET this was the sought-for apotheosis of all rock culture, to date, when the unspoken promise was called in. Malice, yes: venom, rage, yes yes, all that blah blah ho-hum. YET also Lydon’s incredible *wide-openness* as performer and songwriter, never so mobile, so unguarded, so daring. Manufactured boyband mindgames: of course — all the time. Lydon is the second most manipulative man in all pop culture; McLaren the third (or vice versa/ doesn’t matter). YET the people they fooled most of all — themselves and one another — they tricked into a zone from which even retreat was just another kind of weary advance, because it meant working through so many otherwise unspoken things, especially compared to [insert anything you like or hate here].

Rage and deeper rage: rage for, and rage against life. He hurls himself down into the dank well of his disgust — imagine singing this song, night after night after night after night — and finds, what? You looking back at him. Me looking back at him. I don’t know how to end this bit. (You know Sex Pistols briefly had a notion to tour with Henry Cow ...)

Lydon: “I regard myself as working class, but I know damn well working class doesn’t regard me that way” *YET* Lydon: “Why are the working class so angry, lazy and scared of education? Why are they so scared of learning and stepping outside their clearly defined class barriers?”

Jesus: imagine listening to the hideous churning fucker for casual pleasure! For DIVERSION!!

McLaren : “Of course, the *real* fans aren’t buying it”

mark s, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Fucking hell, Mark! I've never owned this album yet every second of it is hard-wired into my DNA.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Yes.

Tom, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Thank you, Tom, for forcing me to read that. Hrm, I have nothing to really add to it besides it's true. The contradiction is the best part of rock 'n' roll, incidentally, and I hate people who point it out as if it's a bad thing.

Ally, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

A song which sits with both sides. Not mediating, though: EXACTLY not mediating. More like dragging each impossibly opposed side through the guts of the other. You say either/or, you imagine some nice you-choose consumer ambiguity: this is more like, whichever you wanted, you get the *other* one.

Trying to think of others who disallow a critical position in the grandstands from which to safely appreciate. Eminem comes quite close, doesn't he? Still thinking. I am curious: who's the #1 manipulator?

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

#1 = Lars von Trier (to see this, you have to have seen/read him being interviewed in print or on film: it's almost like his movies are just the pretext for mindfuck w.the actors, press etc, and for just this amazing game in the *surrounding* media)

But yes, Eminem: something not dissimilar to what you said. But he lacks the absolute spark of amoral spiteful glee, tho.

mark s, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Eminem has tasted a bit of his cake I think; it's not just the media-friendly Grammy circus or the glossy videos, both of which could serve an irreducible polarization if he wanted. Not sure what it is. I'm going to wait till I know.

Amazing, Mark.

Tracer Hand, Wednesday, 6 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Pistols: overrated, musically pretty dull, as far as I can make out. I never listen to them.

the pinefox, Thursday, 7 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

oh god. too obviously classic. every self-evident classic is being questioned and i've been turning into everything i hate about greil marcus to try to defend. bite, bile, joy, violence, yes. rolled r's, smart buzzing riffs, sneers, yes. rock.

sundar subramanian, Saturday, 9 June 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...
wish you could see me yawn ... Like sitting on big dish in the nevada desert with a can of fanta in my hand blurping : 'BOOORING' .

olly 360, Sunday, 10 March 2002 01:00 (12 years ago) Permalink


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