The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks 40 years ago (28th October 1977 to be exact), Never Mind The Bollocks was originally released.  It was and is, one of the most influential albums of all-time; and a true classic album in every sense of the word.

Between the Spring of 1976 and the end of 1977 The Sex Pistols changed rock n roll, music, and with the help of Jamie Reid and Vivienne Westwood, fashion and design forever.

Malcolm McLaren and graphic artist Jamie Reid were influenced by the Anarcho-Situationist movement in the 1960s, blurring art with politics. McLaren had previously unsuccessfully managed glam rock proto-punk band, the New York Dolls.  Returning to London he was able to learn from the experience and recycle some of the ideas for The Sex Pistols. Steve Jones also took a lead from the New York Dolls by aping Johnny Thunders every rock guitar stance; and with young clothes designer Vivienne Westwood and a Kings Road shop that attracted young outsiders from all over London and beyond, a scene began to blossom.

Anarchy In The UK was The Sex Pistols’ debut single released on 26 November 1976. But it was a week later when they appeared as a last minute replacement for record label buddies Queen on ITV’s 6pm Today Show that their meteoric rise to fame began.  Even before releasing the mighty singles Pretty Vacant and the crowning glory of God Save The Queen amidst the Queen’s Jubilee that shocked and excited young and old in equal measures, did they find themselves on top of the world. In fact, for everything that has followed, it’s quite easy to forget just how shocked, scared and horrified people were of them, and just how exciting it was to see The Sex Pistols perform on Top Of The Pops amongst the Bee Gees, Leo Sayer, David soul and Rod Stewart in spandex leggings!

A group of spotty, rude working class kids took on everything and everyone that was stale and moribund; and in the process changed the world.

The album cover was provocative. Not only was the use of the word ‘bollocks’ deemed too offensive for shop window promotional displays, the track list wasn’t so much written as produced in the style of a kidnappers’ ransom note. The design was perfect, as was the loud and abrasively powerful, solid production by Chris Thomas.

Times have changed.  Music, fashion and politics have moved on.  The Sex Pistols and Never Mind The Bollocks are no longer threatening, shocking or particularly offensive.  But their only studio album still sounds as powerful today as it did 40 years ago.  That is the sign of a true classic album; and in my opinion, Never Mind The Bollocks  is one of the best debut albums of all-time.  The Sex Pistols didn’t start punk.  They were the final rock n roll encore.

This latest edition of Never Mind The Bollocks includes the 2012 digitally re-mastered original studio album on Disc 1.  While Disc 2 is a compilation of 1977 b-sides, demos and studio out-takes recorded with Dave Goodman and Chris Thomas.

Disc 3 includes 2 live shows from Trondheim, StudentersamfuNdet in Norway and Happy House in Stockholm, Sweden. While the performances aren’t note perfect, they distil the myth that Johnny Rotten couldn’t sing in tune and the Sex Pistols couldn’t play a note.  Apart from Sid Vicious, that is!

Disc 4 is a DVD featuring 1977 footage of the band playing live from the infamous boat party held on the River Thames, the Winter Gardens, Penzance in Cornwall and the Happy House, Stockholm, Sweden show.  The box set comes with a 48-page hardback book with narrative from music journalist Pat Gilbert plus rare photos from Bob Gruen, Barry Plummer, John Tiberi and Dave Wainwright.

The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)The Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) will be released in various formats including 4 Disc box set on 1st December.

Disc 1 – Never Mind The Bollocks

1. Holidays In The Sun
2. Bodies
3. No Feelings
4. Liar
5. God Save The Queen
6. Problems
7. Seventeen
8. Anarchy In The UK
9. Submission
10. Pretty Vacant
11. New York
12. EMI

Disc 2 – Studio Rarities / Dave Goodman Demos / Chris Thomas Demos & Outtakes

Studio Rarities & B Sides:
1. No Feeling (B side of withdrawn God Save The Queen On A&M Records)
2. Did You No Wrong (B side of God Save The Queen)
3. No Fun (B side of Pretty Vacant)
4. Satellite (B side of Holidays In The Sun)
Dave Goodman Demos:
5. New York (Demo Version)
6. Unlimited Edition (Demo Version of EMI)
7. Liar (Demo Version)
8. Pretty Vacant (Demo Version)
9. Problems (Demo Version)
10. No Future (Demo Version of God Save The Queen)
Chris Thomas Demos & Outtakes:
11. Did You No Wrong (Alternative Vocal)
12. Seventeen (Alternative Vocal)
13. Satellite (Rough Mix)
14. Submission (Rough Mix)
15. Holidays In The Sun (Rough Mix)
16. EMI (Rough Mix)
17. Seventeen (Rough Mix)
18. Holidays In The Sun (Alternative Mix)
19. Body (Demo Version Of Bodies)
20. Submission (Alternative Mix)
21. Belsen Was A Gas (Demo Version)

Disc 3 – 1977 Live

Trondheim – StudentersamfuNdet – Norway:
1. Anarchy In The UK
2. I Wanna Be Me
3. Seventeen
4. New York
5. EMI
6. No Fun
7. No Feelings
8. Problems
9. God Save The Queen
Happy House – Stockholm – Sweden:
10. Anarchy In The UK
11. I Wanna Be Me
12. Seventeen
13. New York
14. EMI
15. Submission
16. No Feelings
17. Problems
18. God Save The Queen
19. Pretty Vacant
20. No Fun

Disc 4 – DVD 1977 footage

Riverboat Party – River Thames London 1977:
1. Pretty Vacant
2. Anarchy In The UK
3. Problems
Happy House Stockholm – Sweden 1977:
4. Anarchy In The UK
5. I Wanna Be Me
6 Seventeen
7. New York
8. Problems
9. No Fun
Winter Gardens – Penzance – Cornwall – 1977:
10. Problems
11. No Fun
12. Anarchy In The UK
Promo Videos:
13. Good Save The Queen
14. Pretty Vacant
15. Holidays In The Sun
Radio 1 Rock On Interview:
16. John And Sid Interview

The Vietnam War – Soundtrack & Original Score

The Vietnam War - Soundtrack & Original ScoreThe Vietnam War is a new 10-part series currently showing on the BBC and available on the BBC iPlayer. This engrossing, disturbing documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick tells the epic story of the Vietnam War includes graphic footage of the war, tape recordings between the various U.S. presidents and their advisors, and first-hand accountants from nearly 80 witnesses including Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

Two soundtracks have been released. The Soundtrack is a great collection of accompanying hits from the era. In total, 38 of the 120 songs used in the documentary are collected in what could be seen as nothing more than a great excuse to compile such heavyweights as The Beatles; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Rolling Stones; Bob Dylan; Jimi Hendrix; Buffalo Springfield; Simon & Garfunkel; Janis Joplin; The Temptations; Barry McGuire; The Byrds; Otis Redding; The Animals; Santana; Marvin Gaye; Nina Simone; The Temptations; Booker T. and the M.G.s; Pete Seeger and more. The other release is the Original Score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

“The Vietnam War era produced some of the greatest, most impactful music ever recorded. We are grateful that so many artists from the period wanted to be part of the film and now the soundtrack. We were equally fortunate to have had the tremendous honour to work with Trent and Atticus. Their original score beautifully complements the music from the time. And we are absolutely thrilled that our audiences will now have the chance to own the original score along with some of the best music from the film,” said Ken Burns and Lynn Novick in a joint statement.

The Vietnam War Original Score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross features over 90 minutes of new, original music on 2CD and 3LP. The original score music is poignant, beautiful, chilling, and at times chaotic and dark. As such, it is a perfect accompaniment for a film about the war that couldn’t be won. “This is war. This is what we do” one marine recounts he was told on questioning the barbaric behaviour of his compatriots.

Over the course of several years, Burns, Novick and producer Sarah Botstein shared with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross raw interview footage and scenes from rough cuts of the film, and suggested a range of feelings they hoped the music would evoke — rage, courage, sadness, fear, chaos, loss, love, sacrifice, aggression, loneliness, anxiety. They also provided a collection of sound effects from the era for the composers to work with.

Ten years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe; photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.

“The sheer scale of the project combined with the magnitude of the subject matter was initially daunting for us, but the commitment, care and reverence they displayed made the experience deeply satisfying on many levels,” said Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross in a joint statement.

The Vietnam War Original Score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

CD 1

1. Less Likely
2. Four Enclosed Walls
3. The Forever Rain
4. Remnants
5. Other Ways To Get To The Same Place
6. Torn Polaroid
7. Before Dawn
8. What Comes Back
9. Justified Response
10. Counting Ticks

CD 2

1. A World Away
2. The Right Things
3. Passing The Point
4. Strangers In Lockstep
5. Before And After Faith
6. The Same Dream
7. Haunted

The Vietnam War Soundtrack

CD 1

1. A HARD RAIN’S A-GONNA FALL – Bob Dylan
2. HELLO VIETNAM – Johnnie Wright
3. IT’S MY LIFE – The Animals
4. EVE OF DESTRUCTION – Barry McGuire
5. TURN! TURN! TURN! (TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON) – The
Byrds
6. MASTERS OF WAR – The Staple Singers
7. MUSTANG SALLY – Wilson Pickett
8. SMOKESTACK LIGHTNIN’ – Howlin’ Wolf
9. BACKLASH BLUES – Nina Simone
10. THE SOUND OF SILENCE – Simon & Garfunkel
11. ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS – Bob Dylan
12. AIN’T TOO PROUD TO BEG – The Temptations
13. ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
14. I’M A MAN – The Spencer Davis Group
15. GREEN ONIONS – Booker T and The MG’s
16. STRANGE BREW – Cream
17. WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY (Live) – Pete Seeger
18. A WHITER SHADE OF PALE – Procol Harum
19. THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE – Fairport Convention
20. FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – Buffalo Springfield

CD 2

1. DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALL RIGHT – Bob Dylan
2. PIECE OF MY HEART – Big Brother & The Holding Company
3. MAGIC CARPET RIDE – Steppenwolf
4. THE LETTER – The Box Tops
5. BAD MOON RISING – Creedence Clearwater Revival
6. SOUL SACRIFICE – Santana
7. TELL THE TRUTH – Otis Redding
8. OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE – Merle Haggard
9. THE THRILL IS GONE – B.B. King
10. PSYCHEDELIC SHACK – The Temptations
11. OHIO – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
12. GET TOGETHER – The Youngbloods
13. GIMME SHELTER – The Rolling Stones
14. TAIL DRAGGER – Link Wray
15. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL – Ray Charles
16. WHAT’S GOING ON – Marvin Gaye
17. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER – Simon & Garfunkel
18. LET IT BE – The Beatles

Autobahn Live @ The Lexington, London

Autobahn  @ The Lexington, Pentonville Road, London
Thursday 16th November, 2017

Autobahn are making a name for themselves in the current wave of post-punk revivalists with their increasingly experimental studio work and dynamic live performances. Their chosen moniker suggests a desire to identify themselves with the generation of weirdos and outsiders that thought Kraftwerk were the coolest band in the world; a generation that produced post-punk heavyweights The Fall, Durutti Column and Joy Division. Today they are a generation vindicated. In the music press Kraftwerk are being lauded as more influential than the Beatles and at gigs up and down the country that Unknown Pleasures t-shirt is omnipresent. In this new landscape then, does touting yourself as a post-punk band look somewhat like siding with the winners?

They draw a respectable crowd for a Thursday night. The string of EPs released and debut album thus far have seen the band perhaps play things too safely, refusing to stray too far from the tried and tested formula of their influences. That being said, they have evidently forged enough of an identity for themselves to get people out to this gig. The predominance of new material early on is a bold and welcome choice, and elicits murmurs of appreciation from those in the room.

This would seem to be a crucial juncture for the band, where they decide either to continue in the shadow of their predecessors, or to start forging their own identity. The evidence of the newly released second album, The Moral Crossing is encouraging and would suggest that they have started taking influence from further afield. Particularly noticeable is the influence of post-rock outfits like Trans-Am and Tortoise. Irregular time signatures and erratic drum patterns form the backbone of the new material tonight, and imbue older tracks with a new energy. The post-punk affectations are still there but underneath there is a real desire to experiment and break new ground.

Synths play a greater part in almost every song than before, and are a welcome expansion of the band’s sound. Going beyond the confines of guitar, bass, drums and vocals opens up new avenues of experimentation for the band and gives them greater scope for doing something that is original and fresh. The more they stray from the post-punk formula, the more the crowd warms up and engages with the music on stage.

The original post-punk bands were so great and are still proving influential today because they were brave enough to forge their own musical identity. If Autobahn continue on this experimental bent and are able to keep on growing in confidence, their own influence could be felt for years to come.

Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society – Scowl album review

Scowl by Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES).Scowl is a book for small children by Steve Smallman about an owl called Scowl. Scowl was only happy when he was grumpy, perched upon his grumpy branch, screaming ‘Flap off!’ at the other woodland creatures, who tried in vain to cheer him up.

Scowl is also the fifth album by Medway‘s very own Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES).

The album cover adorns stern Victorian wetplate images of each band member, courtesy of the talented and esteemed photographer Rikard Osterlund, that make Peaky Blinders look like The Nolans.

Scowl introduces a much harder, more alt rock than folk edge to the effervescent, ever-changing sound of STFES.  The harder gritted sound may have been sparked by Stuart Turner dropping the acoustic guitar for a Gretsch or the departure of multi folk instrumentalist Rob Shepherd, who left the band part-way through recording the album.

But STFES has always been a vehicle for other members to bring songs to the table, and this policy gives the band the ability to change direction or sound as a matter of course, rather than a progression or out of any fad or passing style.  A good example of this is the uptempo indie pop overtones of Stoic.  A wonderful pop song driven by the unmistakable guitar sound of Bob Collins.

The other stand out track for me is Nothing.  The song grew out of an original idea by Shepherd, and is a slow burner that builds into something very special.  A song about lost control, lost innocence and lost life. This should remain in the STFES live set for many years to come.

Turner’s distinctive growling blues vocal style is perfectly matched with Rachel Lowrie on tracks When, Crash and Solitary.  While David Read of The Claim provides guest vocals on Helen – a song that is surprisingly not a cover version as it couldn’t sound more like The Claim if it tried!

The evolution of the STFES “sound” is completely natural.  Water, with its banjo-picking, alt folk acoustic-driven sound reminds me more of previous albums, but sits perfectly well among the 9 great songs that together, make Scowl a great album.  For me, the best STFES album so far.

Scowl by Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES) will be released on 10th November on Vacilando 68 records.

Between Joy Division & The Horrors… Autobahn – The Moral Crossing

Autobahn - The Moral CrossingSomewhere on an A road equidistant between the contemporary gothic pop of The Horrors and the intensity and mood of Joy Division there is a band driving on a journey of love.

There are elements of Tubeway Army, too.  The gothic pop of UK Decay, Bauhaus and Danse Society; and the caged angst and noise of The Birthday Party.  At the wheel is a five-piece band from Leeds called Autobahn.

Their second album, The Moral Crossing, released this month and portrays a band in love with post-industrial Northern landscapes and awash with a post-punk sound of intense power and darkness.

Frontman Craig Johnson says:

“Actually, as a band, we’re more optimists,” explains Johnson. “I don’t find talking about this stuff ‘dark’, but it’s stuff people don’t usually want to talk about—execution, rising from the dead, depression, feeling utterly lost and unsure where to go. To understand the moral crossing, to go one way or the other, and how it can change your life. For me, saying this stuff out loud gives the feeling that there’s a future.”

The album is available on Tough Love Records as a CD, a red vinyl pressing for indie stores, 100 red vinyl pressing with a poster available exclusively through Bandcamp / Tough Love Records and, finally, a 100 grey vinyl pressing only available for their hometown through Leeds record stores.

Following the praise awarded to their debut album, The Moral Crossing sees lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton deciding to build their own studio space – on their own terms, all on their own.

“The first album hinted at emotion and feeling, but this record encapsulates that from the offset. The melancholic aspect of our music is often offset by an aggressive dissonance, but to me there’s also a romantic side to what we do, which isn’t always clear because of the 100mph drive of the band. That’s what we are exploring with this new album.” – Craig Johnson

They found a former double-glazing firm, under a disused bridge, in Holbeck (Leeds’ red light district), and despite having no experience of such a job, they undertook this feat. It took a year from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album – which was then mixed in New York by Ben Greenberg, known for his work with the Sacred Bones label.

On top, Johnson taught himself how to make a record after the studio was built. “I was down there nearly every night,” Johnson recalls. “It was pretty horrible at times, but worth the pain to have control over everything. We’ve had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it’s more melancholic, and romantic.”

Autobahn
Autobahn

Autobahn – The Moral Crossing Track listing:

  1. Prologue
  2. Obituary
  3. Future
  4. The Moral Crossing
  5. Torment
  6. Low/High
  7. Execution/Rise
  8. Creation
  9. Fallen
  10. Vessel

Autobahn UK Dates: 

4-November: O2 – Oxford
5-November: Brudenell Social Club – Leeds
8-November: Louisiana – Bristol
9-November: The Lexington – London
10-November: The Joker – Brighton
11-November: Heartbreakers – Southampton
16-November: The Cookie – Leicester
17-November: Record Junkee – Sheffield
18-November: Undegun – Wrexham
22-November: Broadcast – Glasgow
23-November: Sneaky Pete – Edinburgh
24-November: Ku Bar – Stockton-on-Tees
25-November: The White Hotel – Manchester