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

Youth explosion for dads and granddads – The Jam 1977

THE JAM ‘1977’
40th Anniversary Box Set

Includes remastered albums, unreleased demos and live tracks, photos and memorabilia from 1977. Scheduled for release on 20th October.

The Jam 1977
The Jam 1977

The passions of youth cast a long shadow, which helps explain both my excitement about this comprehensive collection of everything the Jam did in 1977, and why there is still a big market out there for anything to do with the Woking wonders.  Of course its not just  nostalgia for the music, which apart from the extras, most will have anyway , Its also the jolting back into life of the old habit of being a collector and completist.  The search for seven inch picture sleeves, limited editions and imports  –  icons and status goods for the smart, semi articulate and hard. For many it all started with the Jam   So yeah, this presses lots of old buttons and many of the Jam dad and granddad brigade will certainly have this on their Christmas lists.

For the initiated its sure to elicit a wistful smile.  The two albums that the Jam released in 1977 and remastered here are great to listen to again.  In the City, the debut, now has that big fat analogue and warm valve warmth that you get with the better remasters – while still retaining the spikiness and abrasiveness that was its original hallmark.  Apart from anything else this shows the songs in a new light.  The teenage Paul Weller who penned the half or dozen or so classics here was already displaying an unerring ability to connect with working class youth in a way that would later land him, much to his intense unease, with the reputation as spokesman for a generation.  But why not? Away from the Numbers is pure working class existential crisis for all the kids who felt like factory fodder, with Weller opining against the purist punk mod surf cool:  ‘I was the type who’d knocked at old men, who together at tables sit and drink beer. Til I realised I was really the same. So this means breaking away from the chain.’ For many like me who’d hardly read a book, this was a wake-up call to self reflection and new ways of thinking.

Paul Weller in punk fanzine, Sniffin' Glue in 1977

Other lyrical themes here (and across the rest of the box set) include the lure of London (In the City, Sounds from the Street), police violence (Time for Truth) and love/friendship (I Got By in Time).  But what recurs most is the sheer brilliance of being young and having something to say.  On In the City, for example, Weller sings that he wants to tell you about the young ideas of the golden faces all under 25.  On All Around the World the guitar break begins with a the boisterous shout ‘youth explosion’. As Paolo Hewitt says in his book The Changing Man, Paul Weller was constantly worrying about age.  He’s quoted as saying ‘all the bands I love made their great records when they were eighteen, nineteen and then they turned shit’.  If he didn’t make his mark by eighteen, he felt he would have to seriously consider packing it in and returning to playing pubs and working mens clubs in Surrey.  In The City single made the top 40 just before he turned 19.  The irony he is that whilst the Jam material is superb, the very best of Paul Weller, in terms of classic timeless songs, comes years later, when he learns to relax a bit.

And indeed, if this obsession with youth helps explain what’s going on here with this young man in a hurry, it also points to its limitations.  However brilliant this might sound there is a limit to how much time you can spend with an opinionated mid 70s teenager.

The Modern World is billed in the press release as the surprise of the package, the slightly unloved Jam album that time has been rather kind to.  There is some truth in this.  The remastering partly addresses some of the earlier justified criticisms that this album sounded like a rush job (putting out two full albums of mostly original material in the same year for Christ’s sake!).  Of course, the rush job accusations were also based on a feeling that some of the songs sounded like outtakes (Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane) b-sides (London Traffic), or frustratingly unfinished ideas (Life From a Window).  But whilst remastering can only go so far, what does stand out to the good, is the sense of musical progression.  The Jam were clearly on a musical journey, Songs such as the Combine and Tonight at Noon, the latter featuring an acoustic guitar and an Adrian Henri poem as lyrics, are a clear move away from the mainstream of punk/new wave towards 1978’s classic All Mod Cons.

Of the extras the In the City demos in particular nicely show off the musical chemistry that clearly existed between Weller, Foxton and Buckler in their early days.  Weller was always the star, but without this added ingredient they’d have been stuck in Woking.  These recordings also show the clear influence of Wilko Johnson on Weller’s guitar style. Writing year’s later one of Weller’s best mates Steve Brookes talked about seeing Dr Feelgood at Guilford Civic Hall in 1975.  Whilst much has been made of the importance to the Jam of seeing the Sex Pistols at the Lyceum, it is in fact this Feelgood’s gig that was far more important in the development of the Jam. Weller, apparently, falling for Wilko instantly.  ‘For anyone who hadn’t seen Wilko’s stage persona’ Brookes wrote, ‘it was like a mod killer zombie on crack. I rated the Feelgoods but Wilko had a really big effect on Paul – the clothes, the hair, the way he moved’. And here is the living proof.

The film clips are worth a special mention too.  The performance of All Around The World from Marc Bolan’s show on children’s TV will always be special for me.  It’s the first time I saw and heard the Jam.  Nothing was ever the same again.

The Jam 1977 tracklisting
Full tracklisting here:

Disc 1 – ‘In The City’ (original album remastered)
1. Art School
2. I’ve Changed My Address
3. Slow Down
4. I Got By In Time
5. Away From The Numbers
6. Batman Theme
7. In The City
8. Sounds From The Street
9. Non-Stop Dancing
10. Time For Truth
11. Takin’ My Love
12. Bricks & Mortar
+ single & B-side extras
13. All Around The World
14. Carnaby Street

Disc 2 – ‘The Polydor Demos: February 1977’
1. Art School (demo) #
2. In The City (demo)
3. I Got By In Time (demo) #
4. I’ve Changed My Address (demo) #
5. Time For Truth (demo)
6. Sounds From The Street (demo)
7. Non Stop Dancing (demo) #
8. Bricks And Mortar (demo) #
9. Takin’ My Love (demo)
10. So Sad About Us (demo)
11. Slowdown (demo) #
# = previously unreleased

Disc 3 – ‘This Is The Modern World’ (original album remastered)
1. The Modern World
2. London Traffic
3. Standards
4. Life From A Window
5. The Combine
6. Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane
7. In The Street Today
8. London Girl
9. I Need You (For Someone)
10. Here Comes The Weekend
11. Tonight At Noon
12. In The Midnight Hour

Disc 4 – ‘Live 1977’
John Peel sessions:
1. In The City
2. Art School
3. I’ve Changed My Address
4. The Modern World

Recorded 26.4.1977 – Transmitted 2.5.1977

5. All Around The World
6. London Girl
7. Bricks & Mortar
8. Carnaby Street

Recorded 19.7.1977 – Transmitted 25.7.1977

Live at the ‘Nashville’ – September 10th 1977 (previously unreleased):
9. Carnaby Street
10. The Modern World
11. Time For Truth
12. So Sad About Us
13. London Girl
14. In the Street Today
15. All Around The World
16. London Traffic
17. Sweet Soul Music
18. Bricks & Mortar
19. In The City
20. Art School
21. In The Midnight Hour
22. Sounds From The Street
23. Slowdown

Disc 5 – DVD
1. In The City (Polydor promo – May 1977)
2. Art School (Polydor promo – May 1977)
3. In The City (Top Of The Pops – Date: 19/05/1977)
4. All Around The World (Top Of The Pops – Date: 18/08/1977)
5. All Around The World (‘Marc’ – Granada TV)
6. The Modern World (Top Of The Pops Top Of The Pops – Date: 03/11/1977)
7. Bricks and Mortar (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
8. Carnaby Street (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
9. In The City (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
10. Slowdown (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
11. All Around The World (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)

Brutalism – the wonderful debut album from IDLES

Brutalism - debut album by IDLES
Brutalism – debut album by IDLES

Following five years and two EPs, IDLES release their excellent 13 track debut album, ‘Brutalism‘ on Balley Records.

With a scream and spasmodic drum machine, Brutalism jumps into your face with the spitting angst of ‘Heel / Heal‘, quickly followed by the singles, ‘Well Done‘ and ‘Mother‘.  Three tracks in and I’m already thinking ‘Brutalism’ is going to one of my favourite albums of the year.

Idles have found their own path.  Their output has changed from whence they began.  It would be too simplistic to say they now fall somewhere between Sleaford Mods and original punk bands like The Lurkers, but that wouldn’t be too far from the truth; even though they sound much better than either of those bands. The musicanship is tight.  Like IDLES locked themselves away and practised until they bled in sync and reappeared last year to unleash their Frankenstein monster of a sound upon a deserving audience.

While the music is hard, fast and living somewhere in the darkness on the edge of town, lead singer Joe Talbot delivers his words with a snarling menace, spitting angst and equal measures of wit and political commentary. Shouty rap comparisons with Sleaford Mods are unavoidable, but that’s not to take anything away from Talbot and his sincerity.

The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich.

I know nothing, I’m just sitting here looking at pretty colours.

Mother. Fucker. Mother. Fucker.

 

Steeped in great music history, Idles hail from Bristol – home to Massive Attack, Tricky and trip hop; and equally as important The Pop Group, Adrian Sherwood and the On-U Sound label. Now Idles have taken up the baton as they offer something special from one of the most exciting cities in the UK.

Did you see that painting that Rothko did.

Looks like it was done by a two year old kid.

Did you see that selfie that Francis Bacon did.

Don’t look anything like him, what a fucking div!

If the music doesn’t give clarity, the videos show IDLES are having a great time and not taking themselves too seriously.

‘Brutalism’ is a wonderful album. IDLES are destined for bigger things.

IDLES, Colchester Arts Centre, Live Review

IDLESIDLES, Colchester Arts Centre, 9th March

Sincerity is once again the currency of UK punk; politics has displaced posturing in this new wave of young, English bands spearheaded by the likes of ‘Sleaford Mods’, ‘Fat White Family’ and now, Bristol‘s own ‘IDLES‘.

First full-length effort ‘Brutalism‘, out March 10th, fulfils much of the promise of their earlier material. Post-punk in the original sense, the songs brim with righteous indignation and savage, barked vocals, underpinned by a throbbing rhythm section and crushing riffs – this isn’t the same old three chord stuff; these guys can play.

The venue seems appropriate, now an arts centre, once a church. Lead singer Joe Talbot sermonises on what outrages him about today’s Britain (rather a long list), giving no quarter to government ministers and celebrity chefs alike. You get the impression that he’s saying all this with a wry smile, and there is certainly a strong sense of the absurd running through his lyrics. But don’t mistake this flippancy for insincerity; it’s funny, but it’s not a joke.

This is a band who still have a very strong idea of where they come from. All have been familiar faces in the Bristol indie scene for years now, grafting to get gigs and put records out. ‘Exeter’, Talbot’s heartfelt paean to his hometown, opines how “nothing ever happens” there and, after five years languishing in relative obscurity in the South-West prior to the release of this new album, you can forgive him for thinking that. But now, riding the wave of their breakout record, all those feelings of being trapped and frustrated are let loose and the songs are all the better for it.

Best title of the night goes to ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ (a sort of panic attack upon viewing great art), a song about the line between high and low art, a line the band themselves seem content to straddle.

New single ‘Mother’ is the standout number, bitterness and resentment turned anthemic. Belting out lyrics about overworked mothers and book-shy tories you are utterly convinced by their sincerity. This isn’t punk as window dressing, this is the real deal.

They’re only onstage for about an hour but that seems plenty – being so outraged about everything seems exhausting and they never slow down for a minute. Not ones to bother with the artifice of an encore, they instead come down and join the crowd – a class move and utterly in character.

With the level of airplay and exposure the band are getting at the minute it surely won’t be long before they reach the wider audience they deserve. This is punk that is accomplished, funny and political for all the right reasons and it deserves to be heard live.

Cyanide Pills – Sliced and Diced – the spirit of 1978!

Cyanide PillsBy 1978 The Sex Pistols had imploded and with them, the original wave of punk rock had become moribund.  Media and politicians shockand horror was quickly replaced with acceptability and a new punk ‘uniform’ of brightly coloured mohicans and bondage trousers which helped manufacture the death of the DIY ethos.

Bridging a gap between New Wave and post-punk were a second wave of punk-influenced groups like The Lurkers, 999 and UK Subs alongside The Clash and Buzzcocks, and from the previous pub rock R n B scene the likes of Eddie & The Hotrods – all playing fast, angst-beating three-chord ‘back to basics’ rock n roll bands. No more shock value and publicity seeking pranks or Kings Road designer clothes.  1978 saw punk being taken over by the working class.

In 2017 Cyanide Pills pay homage to the spirit of 1978 with their new album, Sliced and Diced. These songs sound more akin to football chants and Saturday night boot-boy dancing than anything too political and serious. This is unashamed power chord rock n roll played through a punk filter from a band more interesting in having a good time, than worrying whether their Vivian Westwood designer shirts should be worn tucked in or hanging loose!

Alone Tonight‘ is a homage to The Ramones, while the first of 18 tracks,’I Don’t Remember‘ wouldn’t sound out of place on the very underrated and frequently overlooked second Clash album, Give ’em Enough Rope from 1978.  ‘Stop and Search’ lends its raw power from ‘Police Car‘ by the Cockney Rejects and ‘Cut Me Loose‘ is very reminiscent of Johnny Thunder & The Heartbreakers. While other tracks find kinship with Black Flag (‘Stop And Search’) and Toy Dolls (Under The Knife).

Cyanide Pills 3rd album Sliced and Diced is scheduled for release on 10th March on Damaged Goods Records as a limited edition pink vinyl LP and CD digipack with 20 page lyric booklet.  The album was recorded at The Billiard Room in Leeds by Wedding Present producer Carl Rosamond.