photo & text by nacrowe
it hard to overstate the cultural impact of NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE'S THE SEX PISTOLS (WARNER BROS, 1977) by the legendary ENGLISH PUNK ROCK band the SEX PISTOLS. the record more than lives up to the decades of adoration and hype surrounding it.
no it wasnt the first PUNK ROCK record by any stretch of the imagination (that went to THE RAMONES followed by THE DAMNED), nor were the SEX PISTOLS the first PUNK ROCK band (NEW YORK DOLLS, THE DICTATORS or even THE STOOGES may take claim for that). but in terms of sheer cultural and artistic impact NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS is a singular achievement with few peers in the 20th century. it was their ferocious example in a criminally short period of time in the late 1970s that inspired the later POST PUNK scenes in ENGLAND (think JOY DIVISION, BAUHAUS and THE SMITHS) and basically every iteration PUNK ROCK has evolved into (HARDCORE, LOS ANGELES PUNK ROCK, POP PUNK, NYHC, ALTERNATIVE ROCK, etc) over the last four decades and counting.
and that legacy is funny because the band started out as a marketing gimmick for a LONDON shop that sold bondage gear by entrepreneur MALCOLM MCLAREN and his designer wife VIVIENNE WESTWOOD. the initially was supported and curated in very much the same fashion as a 1990s ORLANDO boy band. to me the whole DIY ETHIC that marks the later AMERICAN HARDCORE and INDIE ROCK scenes that traces its roots to the original PUNK ROCK scene is hilarious given this fact, but make no mistake it was the SEX PISTOLS as managed by MCLAREN (and his knack for publicity stunts) that got the ball rolling on a movement that brought along THE CLASH and THE DAMNED among others to the mainstream.
but back to the actual record. i remember being a teenager and being gifted NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS and just being annihilated by the opening track "HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN." just the bile in JOHNNY ROTTEN's voice. and that machine gun descending STEVE JONES riff. i was hooked and felt a sense of kinship on the spot. no CLASH record ever spoke to me on that level, ever. other legendary standout tracks include "PRETTY VACANT," "ANARCHY IN THE UK," "BODIES" and "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN." this is the type of record that just ceases to release you from its grasp, only other classic records like SLAYER's REIGN IN BLOOD (DEF JAM, 1986) and NIRVANA's NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991) had a similar impact on me as a teenager.
there is so much to mention about this record, from the fact the dismissed original bassist GLEN MATLOCK essentially wrote it to its complicated birth of being dropped by two major labels (EMI, A&M) before being finally released domestically in ENGLAND by VIRGIN (and WARNER BROS stateside). there is also that whole fracas surrounding the queen's silver jubilee celebration and the deteriorating BRITISH political and economic situation at the time under the weight of THATCHERISM and a staunchly conservative government.
ultimately it is a great album with minimalist yet punchy, transcendent songs, which i could not recommend more highly. there is also the fact that most of my favorite bands of later periods were either directly or indirectly influenced by the SEX PISTOLS' example, and for that i am truly thankful for their resolute intransigence and vulgar authenticity in shaking up ROCK N ROLL.
feels like we need that now more than ever several decades later. THATCHERISM has given birth to TRUMPISM and shit looks mighty bleak.