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Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks… Here’s The Sex Pistols album review

Album Review

40th-anniversary edition. Start saving now for the 45th

Even 40 years later, this is a divisive album. The bottom half of the internet will light up at the merest suggestion of its name. There are still plenty who believe that the Sex Pistols were a mere construct, a prototype Take That fashioned simply to sell unfortunate trousers, and that their solitary album of original material was, well, just an album; unsophisticated, iconoclastic, raw, but a bit of a paper tiger.

They weren’t musical revolutionaries like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They were naughty boys with foul mouths and little talent. It was a widely held belief among affronted contemporary hippies that if you gave infinite working-class yobs infinite stolen guitars they’d eventually bang out Never Mind The Bollocks.

This is, however, an opinion that disregards all available evidence, because what we have here is not only the best punk album ever made, but it’s also one of the most powerful, enduringly influential and complete recorded statements crafted in any genre. Disagree? Go tell it to your religious fundamentalist flat-earth brethren, because you’re wrong.

In Chris Thomas, the Pistols found their Visconti. Their savant genius was already there – all they needed was an interpreter to translate passion into the language of vinyl, and here it is. A titanic wall of guitars, The Stooges Spectorised, the Dolls Anglicised and John Lydon distilling a lost, dismissed and disenfranchised generation’s directionless, nihilistic fury into succinct spitballs of vented spleen as intense, uncompromising and affecting as any dead poetry.

Here expanded with demos, live cuts, rough mixes and an interview the much-milked hardcore will probably already own, the original dozen tracks have lost none of their allure. Do they sound any better than they did at £2.99? No. Should you own them? Fuck yeah.

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