The Poetry in “Nevermind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols”

On November 12th, 1977 the influential Pistols album went No.1

The Poetry in “Nevermind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols”

Yes there was poetry on the Sex Pistols lyrics, “Nevermind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols” it’s not merely the biggest Punk album of all time that still serves as a mold for Punk bands and artists, it’s an album that gives you an imagery of what the organic and original Punk movement was through music and lyrics. When John Lyndon (or Johnny Rotten) sings “Don’t ask us to attend ‘cos we’re not all there / Oh don’t pretend ‘cos I don’t care / I don’t believe illusions ‘cos too much is real / So stop you’re cheap comment ‘cos we know what we feel” he’s not being just “Pretty Vacant”, he is making a social statement, there is contradiction on the lyrics, there is sometimes non sense, but everything is thought carefully, it’s the type of lyrics and poetry that gives you food for thought and forces you to think (for yourself). That is probably one of the main reasons that distinguishes the Sex Pistols from all the other Punk bands including their peers Buzzcocks or The Clash, the Pistols only made one album, their career was like a shooting star that left a trail of fire for years to come, a fire that still burns to this day. Forget all the iconic imagery of Sid Vicious or Johnny Rotten, forget all the Vivienne Westwood clothes, focus in the music and in the lyrics and you’ll understand why this is one of the greatest Rock albums ever made. On November 12th 1977, “Nevermind The Bollocks…” went No. 1 on the UK charts, something that wasn’t expected even by the band or Malcolm Mclaren, the mastermind that helped creating the Pistols. By late 1977, in England, the Punk wave had already generated much more commercially acceptable bands such as The Clash, but it was the Pistols with their poignant lyrics of social criticism and self affirmation that won the general appraise of the public, in a controversial run on the music charts that were completed with the release of their singles “Anarchy In The U.K” and “God Save The Queen”.



The album was produced by Chris Thomas (except for “Anarchy In The U.K” produced together with Bill Price), Thomas surprisingly connects The Beatles to the Sex Pistols as he engineered and produced some of the tracks in the 1968 “White Album” of the Beatles as well as “Abbey Road”. A clash between worlds? Maybe not, maybe here lies one of the reasons why the songs in “Nevermind The Bollocks…” have the power to remain strong and fresh 40 years after the original release, but this is only one of the reasons, wouldn’t be possible without the mentioned lyrics and music. The album opens with “Holidays in The Sun”, a song about “a cheap holiday in other peoples’ misery”, “Bodies” it’s the only song in the album that Sid Vicious played in, it’s a rare occasion to listen to what Vicious could had been as a bass player hadn’t he departed so early and tragically, “Bodies” it’s about “Pauline who was a no-one from Birmingham, lived in a tree and killed her baby”, but Pauline might had just been a poor girl in a poor England who needed to have an abortion. “God Save The Queen”, one of the Pistols signature songs, the Punk anthem of England, to the Queen and “her fascist regime”, she who “made you a moron, a potential H bomb” and this is where one of the most engaging genius and poignant poetry lines written by the Pistols shows up: “When there’s no future, how can there be sin? /We’re the flowers in the dustbin / We’re the poison in your human machine / We’re the future, your future”  but quickly we conclude that “there’s no future in England’s dreaming”.”Seventeen” it’s about someone who is 29, and a “lazy sod”, “Anarchy In The U.K”, perhaps the No.1 Punk song of all time it’s talks again about the future, the future that a whole society wishes for and that ironically still stands to this day: “Your future dream is a shopping scheme” but it also talks about politics..and deeper than any other Pistols song: “Is this the M.P.L.A /Or is this the U.D.A /Or is this the I.R.A /I thought it was the U.K” . The album closes with “E.M.I”, a wink to their first contract with the label EMI who let go of the Pistols shortly after they were signed. And maybe that was a good thing, because otherwise, “Nevermind The Bollocks…” might had been a different album. “And you thought that we were faking / That we were all just money making /You do not believe we’re for real /Or you would lose your cheap appeal?” And the Pistols were for real, too much for real. Less than one year after “Nevermind The Bollocks…” reaching No.1 they just quit, but left an impressive legacy unlike any other band, with only one album and 2 years of a fast career. And certainly they didn’t “made it because of the fame” like “E.M.I”.  There isn’t much to see on the album cover and no inner sleeve with lyrics to sing along when you’re listening to the record, but as Johnny Rotten sings:  “Don’t judge a book just by the cover /Unless you cover just another” . Yes, there is poetry on the Sex Pistols, and it’s one of a kind.



Side 1
1 “Holidays in the Sun” (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious)
2 “Bodies” (Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious)
3 “No Feelings” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
4 “Liar” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
5 “God Save the Queen” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
6 “Problems” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)

Side 2
7 “Seventeen” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
8 “Anarchy in the U.K.” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
9 “Submission” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
10 “Pretty Vacant” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
11 “New York” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)
12 “E.M.I.” (Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten)

Personell:
Johnny Rotten: lead vocals
Steve Jones: guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals
Sid Vicious: bass guitar on “Bodies”
Glen Matlock: bass guitar on “Anarchy in the UK”
Paul Cook: drums

Produced by: Chris Thomas and Bill Price
Recorded during: October 1976 – March–June 1977 – August 1977 at Wessex Sound Studios, London, England
Released: 28 October 1977
Label: Virgin

Singles:
“Anarchy in the U.K.” Released: 26 November 1976
“God Save the Queen” Released: 27 May 1977
“Pretty Vacant” Released: 1 July 1977
“Holidays in the Sun” Released: 14 October 1977

Strongest tracks:
All



Watch the music video for “Pretty Vacant” by the Sex Pistols





Listen to “Nevermind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols” on Spotify

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