The Sex Pistols — A Cheap Holiday in Other People's Misery

The Pistols were awful and so is Never Mind the Bollocks...

A bullet of AURAL TERRORISM. The sound of ANGER and DISILLUSIONMENT. A HAND GRENADE thrown at the MUSIC ESTABLISHMENT.

Wait a second. This is just bad rock ‘n’ roll. You lied to me through the medium of canon.

Never Mind the Bollocks is not a meaningful album. Hell, it’s not even a good one. Some Sex Pistols critics would compare them to the Monkees. But that is churlish and unfair. Because the Sex Pistols never wrote a song as earthshakingly awesome as "Randy Scouse Git." Instead, they gave us Never Mind the Bollocks. Which is arm gnawingly tedious.

The problem is, the Pistols have got away with it. Mostly because their main critics attack them for the wrong reasons.

"They can’t play their instruments. It’s not real music."

 This is an argument used by people tiresome muso Steve Vai liking wankers. It doesn’t count as an ad hominem if the person making the argument genuinely is the problem with it.

"They were manufactured."

Yeah, like every damn record ever made. Did you think they spontaneously formed in your record collection, placed there by the music fairy?

"They’ve sold out."

Of course. They lost the purity of those early days when they were set up to help Malcolm McLaren sell t-shirts.

What important message did the Sex Pistols have to impart to us?

That girls who have abortions are "slags." ("Bodies") That being stupid is something to strive for ("Pretty Vacant"), which obviously makes Insane Clown Posse the most significant band ever to have put clown rap to record. That they used to be on one record label then they weren’t. Or something. ("E.M.I."). That we should all get drunk and smash shit up. ("Anarchy in the UK") The only vaguely worthwhile statement is that the monarchy is an anachronistic relic of a past that never existed. ("God Save the Queen") And that just seems a bit quaint with the benefit of hindsight, when Prince Harry has done more to undermine monarchism than punk ever managed.

Oh, enough of this. I could go on, track by track, but why bother? How did anybody ever seriously believe this twaddle was important?

But I’m being unfair. You can’t judge the Sex Pistols on the music, maaaan. You have to see them as a cultural product of their time. That’s the contribution they made.

Economic crisis. Drought. Strikes and riots. And what did the Sex Pistols give us as a response to this upheaval?

The popularisation of the swastika as a fashion statement. Yeah, thanks for that one. As a hint, if you ever find that you are behaving in a way that allows Jimmy Pursey to take the moral high ground, you should take the opportunity to completely reevaluate your worthless life.

There are still some morons who talk about Sid Vicious walking through the Jewish Quarter of Paris in a swastika t-shirt as if it was the height of cool. As opposed to the actions of an utter prick. What would Sid do? Get off his face on skag and murder his girlfriend. So really not someone you should be taking your behavioural cues from.

So why do some people still insist on the promotion of Never Mind the Bollocks as a "vital" album? Because they are tired and lazy and the future scares them. And instead of facing up to that, they want to inflict their nostalgia for the bad old days on you, to make you repeat their mistakes instead of finding mistakes of your own. So they can, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, pretend they’re still cool and relevant.

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Sam Flintlock
Sam Flintlock

Despite rumours to the contrary, I am not in fact William of Malmesbury. I like music, video games, history and cats. Not necessarily in that order.

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The Sex Pistols — A Cheap Holiday in Other People's Misery