1977, Music

Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)

This record should have come out a lot earlier. “Anarchy in the UK” was released 11 months prior to this record. A lot had changed in a year.

The Sex Pistols were the original UK punk band – or very close to it – but, by the time they released their debut album, most of their contemporaries had already put out full length records. Maybe it was the punk thing to do to be so difficult that nobody could get your album completed but, for anyone looking at this record through the lens of history, this record feels less significant for all its delays. It should have been the opening salvo in English punk’s assault on the world, instead it is yet another punk record in a year full of punk records. And the problem with that is that the Sex Pistols are not really the equal of their peers in most respects.

The only way in which the Pistols are really excellent is their sheer aggression, which was unknown in music in 1976 and still pretty damn rare a year later. (The Dead Boys certainly compare, but nobody knew who they were in comparison.)

  • The Clash wrote better songs and performed them better,
  • the Damned had a sense of humour, in addition to writing better songs,
  • and The Jam, if you could even consider them punk, also wrote way better songs.

The appeal of the Pistols is the sheer mayhem of these loud, simple songs; it’s the initial appeal of punk, before punk turned into so many other different things.

But thinking about this album as an autumn 1977 record, instead of an autumn 1976 record, it feels practically regressive (or, perhaps, as a dry run at hardcore) because everyone else was already more ambitious.

All that being said, this is still pretty damn seminal, for all its brevity and its lack of good songs.The single that started it all may stand as more influential, but this is still an extremely important record, even if it doesn’t hold up as well as some of the other major releases of the year.

9/10

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