Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks - Classic Albums
Warner Vision/Warner Vision .
R4 . COLOR . 50 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Punk and the Sex Pistols, it was all gob, garbage bags, safety pins - just some silly, ugly fashion movement, right? Well, that’s what many blithely ignorant knobheads would have you believe.
Hardly the lone purveyors of the sound, the Sex Pistols did quite inadvertently end up the tabloid face of punk – more than simply a reaction against the horrid state mid-‘70s London found itself in, it was a call to arms – a defiant declaration - that there was something fetid taking over the music industry at the time that had to be put in its place; bland, soulless, wank-laden, dope-stinking progressive rock. And if it weren’t for the likes of the Pistols and their cronies you wouldn’t be chowing down on your treasured Pixies or Nirvana discs today kiddies, oh no…
In but two years the Pistols rose and fell; amazingly only pumping out one original album. That album was, of course, Never Mind the Bollocks, and here we have the story behind its creation – a masterpiece often overshadowed by all the media hoopla surrounding the band - along with plenty more Pistols history in an episode of one of the more fascinating music series’ to have graced our screens in recent years, Classic Albums.
Who said old punks never dye?
Featuring latter day interviews with the four original Pistols, including Mr F*cking Beatles Chords himself Glen Matlock – that Vicious lad was but a headline-attracting Sidney-come-lately who, sadly, was infinitely better wielding a needle than a bass – along with those who helmed the album’s recording, their artwork designer Jamie Reid, the odd journalist and that arrogant, clueless, wannabe Swami of Subversion who masqueraded as a manager, Malcolm McLaren, even those who have read all the books and digested the many films and docos will find new insights into Bollocks, and the band, here.
With spatterings of rare live footage and demos, this deftly edited ode to the Lords of Major Chords also features that which has helped make this series so fascinating – the engineer behind the recording digging up the original master tapes and guiding us track by track through many of the catchiest, funniest, most energetic little pop ditties ever to have graced a single, got pulled from sale, only to be re-released, just to be pulled again and finally unleashed for good.
Leaping from the screen in a 16:9 enhanced, 1.78:1 ratio, while some of the old footage is rather aptly shoddy, the new stuff is all pristinely spiffy and decidedly un-punk – still, you can always gob on your telly for a more realistic effect. Due to the use of the widescreen format all the archival stuff has the tops and bottoms cropped, but never to any overly annoying effect.
Meanwhile, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is effective enough for what it needs to convey – interviews scarcely require audio flashiness and the ‘70s footage dotted throughout was for the most part recorded in mono anyway. More importantly the bulk of it is well synched, with only the odd hint of it drifting out a tad on some of the older and less well-loved inclusions.
Pistols aficionados will be pogoing in delight at the 13 additional bits and pieces that have been included. These include three warts and all live performances (EMI Unlimited Edition, New York and Seventeen), a whole pile of unused interview footage and even a fairly complete ‘How to Play the Pistols’ for budding punk guitarists courtesy of Mr Jones. This leftover stuff is a magnificent inclusion, marred by some daft twat not including a ‘play all’ function, which can make things a lot frustrating to navigate through.
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks - Classic Albums is a perfect accompaniment to the magnificent Julien Temple documentary film The Filth and the Fury, superbly capturing the unbridled spirit of the Pistols’ brief but influential holiday in the sun. A mere fad? Come on, who else but John ‘Rotten’ Lydon could have gotten away with rhyming ‘antichrist’ and ‘anarchist’? As Mr Ronnie Biggs once so deftly declared, “God bless the Sex Pistols”.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "