Classic Albums: Sex Pistols –
Never Mind the Bollocks
Here’s the Sex Pistols
Sound: B Extras: B-
When people talk about the British Invasion, bands like
The Who, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, et al, are usually the focus. And sure those are—were?—all influential
groups of musicians that affects music for decades to come, but the British
Invasion that concerns the now is the one that happened in the late 1970s led
by the Sex Pistols.
Take a listen around the music landscape right now, and
what you’ll hear is The Killers, The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand and new
up-and-comers like Stellastarr*, Bloc Party and Kaiser Chiefs. This Nu-Wave has
its direct influence from groups like The Smiths—and, indeed, Morrissey—Joy
Division, New Order—who is currently mixing it up with the new crop of
synth-lovers—and Talking Heads. But
trace those bands back one generation further—or, more precisely, to the
beginning of that generation—and you’ll find Sex Pistols.
Of course, the influence of Sex Pistols reaches further
than the New Wave of the early 1980s; the grunge movement and its figurehead,
Nirvana, was highly influenced by Johnny Rotten and Co.
With such a long, illustrious list of followers, it’s
inconceivable that the Sex Pistols lasted on two years as a band and released
only one proper album, Never Mind
The Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols. But what an album. It’s
raw, almost unnerving energy and sentiment pounds away at both the conscious
and subconscious until you have no choice but to submit to the (what Rotten
would call) hilarious critiques on British society circa-1976. Once you give yourself to Never Mind the Bollocks…, there’s
no going back. You crave more Pistols and desire more of that energy.
But, alas, you’re left without a chaser—even if there are
enough live albums to keep the Pistols vibe going.
Classic Albums’ presentation of the making of
the Sex Pistols’ one album goes a ways to filling that void, though. With a fairly in-depth look at the making of
many of the tracks on the album, and indeed the band itself—chronicling its
days of building a reputation as a loud live act and foul-mouthed TV guest to
the pressure that their following put on the band to release an album—this
behind-the-scenes look at Bollocks
gives the album and band the respect they deserve.
The program itself is roughly 45 minutes of interviews
intercut with amazingly clean live footage from various live performances and
television appearances on the beginnings of the band, how songs were conceived—from
the first workings of a riff to Rotten sitting in the corner writing lyrics—and
how the band felt about their reputation in the UK.
For a novice Pistols fan, this DVD is perfect; a primer on
the band and a wonderful introduction to their music. (I would also suggest Michael Winterbottom’s
fantastic 24 Hour Party People
as a means to see how the Pistols influenced the whole Manchester/Factory
Records movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s that led to the rise of Joy Division, New
Order and The Happy Mondays, among others.)
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is fine, with a
wealth of clips and stills added to all the newly taped footage. Aurally, this DVD is nearly flawless. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic
surround sound has good sound quality.
Every bit of music, live or studio, is clear and crisp. And the same can be said for the video—as
mentioned earlier, the live footage shows grain and dirt but looks much, much
better than many DVDs put out by bands who are barely 10 years old let alone
30. Extras-wise, there are 13 extended
interviews on everything from “Anarchy Bassics” and Sid Vicious to the
end of the band. Included in those 13
bonus tracks are two live cuts from Sweden, “New York” and “Seventeen.”
All in all, you can’t do much better to get the full-on
Pistols experience other than hopping in a time machine, traveling back to 1976
England and seeing them live. Classic
Albums did a bang-up job with its presentation of the making of Bollocks and will be the toast of
Pistols fans far and wide.
- Dante A.