No Bollocks Just Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols

Photo by Ryan Olbrysh: Flickr

In 1977 Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols revolutionised Punk Rock in Britain

The Queen paraded through the streets of London towards St Paul’s Cathedral on the 7 June marking her Silver Jubilee with one million people in attendance, while simultaneously, four young, unkempt British men took charge of a boat sailing the River Thames. The foursome, better known as the Sex Pistols, performed their rendition of God Save the Queen outside the Palace of Westminster. This lionizing moment captured the attention of a disenfranchised youth whose fears and angst were never better vocalized than by the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

The Sex Pistols played a galvanizing role in the creation of a genre of alternative music that is still widely regarded as the first successful attempt at leaving musical escapism (such as progressive rock, heavy metal and glam-rock) for socially and politically pertinent issues, particularly regarding the youth of the United Kingdom. The album deals primarily with issues faced by the youth of the 1970s and 80s: an economy still unstable from exponential spending during the World War II, social unrest, Cold War-induced paranoia, but most significantly, the bleak and uncertain future of Britons across the country. The distinctly raw and fast-paced three chord style of the entire album departed from technical proficiency for pure emotion, a decision that would impact on and create a multitude of sub-genres from the splintering of punk rock.

Although the album was perceived as an outlet for youthful aggression, its main purpose was its highly confrontational nature. Songs such as Anarchy in the UK pose fierce lyrics as lead-singer Johnny Rotten speaks on behalf of the youth as “an anti-Christ” and an “anarchist” threatening to “destroy passer by’s”. Similarly, God Save the Queen bears a similar confrontational and anti-establishment sentiment with a direct attack at the monarchy’s “fascist regime” that has robbed the youth of their intellect and turned them into “the flowers in the dustbin”, “the poison in your human machine”,  a damaged youth that the Sex Pistols threaten will be “your future”, even though they have “no future”.  The general theme of the album is carried consistently; from Pretty Vacant discussing the indoctrinated youth, to the graphic description and judgement of an abortion through the jarring Bodies.

For all Never Mind the Bollocks historical significance in the music industry, it may not appeal to many sonically. It is, essentially, a purely punk performance of the highest denomination: as little production, practice and sensitivity as possible. The harsh and inharmonious vocals are not always easy to listen to, and the central themes of the album are typical of only British civil society in the 70s, however, the albums sheer impact on musical growth, the youth of its time and its bold and defiant message in a time where it was thought impossible, encourages the listener to continue listening and appreciate the efforts of the outspoken, unabashed Sex Pistols. Never Mind the Bollocks has to be treated primarily as a testament to the revolutionising Sex Pistols and the birth of true, gritty British Punk.

Links:

Sex Pistols Official Website: http://www.sexpistolsofficial.com/

Punk77 Online Magazine: http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/sex.htm

Sputnik Music: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/35195/Sex-Pistols-Never-Mind-the-Bollocks,-Heres-The-Sex-/

Bob Gruen, Rock n Roll Photographer: http://www.bobgruen.com/files/sexpistols.html

 

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