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Dangerous Minds interviews John Lydon: Forty years of Public Image Ltd.
10.05.2018
07:24 am
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Photo by Paul Heartfield, courtesy Abramorama
 
Whatever else you can say about the dread year 2018, it is a sumptuous buffet for the PiL fan. The Public Image Is Rotten, the first officially sanctioned documentary on the group, tells its story with the help of Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Donut, Martin Atkins, Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds, John Rambo Stevens, Big Youth(!), Thurston Moore, Ad-Rock, Flea, Don Letts, and numerous other members of the band, its circle and its audience; the new box set The Public Image Is Rotten: Songs From The Heart collects singles, B-sides, 12-inch mixes, outtakes, alternate versions, videos, and TV appearances from four decades of high adventure; and PiL will embark on the U.S. leg of its ongoing tour next week, starting in New Orleans on October 9. I spoke with John Lydon on the phone one morning during the brief interval between PiL’s European and American dates.

How are you?

Not as mentally ill as Tom Arnold, but doing alright! I watched his show the night before. Two episodes. It’s hilarious! I highly recommend it, but by God, is he just out there. Oh, space cadet! But highly entertaining, highly entertaining. And I suppose that was the point of it anyway, I mean, what do you expect from a comedian but comedy? Alright, anyway, that’s an aside; I don’t know why I brought it up, but ignore me!

How was the European tour?

Oh, very, very demanding. That was something like 39 gigs in nearly as many days, with two weeks in the middle to attempt recording our third album, here, since our reformation. So a lot of hard work, and a lot of promo for the documentary, y’know, the film that’s gonna be doing the rounds, and various like press things that have to be done in advance of gigs. Very, very demanding, really exhausting, and not at all the happy holiday we were expecting. Harder than usual times three or four. And any one of the issues we’re involved with, really, should be a full-time job. But there you go, that’s PiL for you! Moments of relaxation in an intense industry!

Where are you recording?

We went back to the Cotswolds in England. A studio we like, ‘cause we like grabbing that on-the-road, live vibe.

I saw the movie last night. At the end, Lu Edmonds says this thing—he’s talking about the band with [Magazine/Siouxsie/PiL guitarist] John McGeoch, and how things have changed, and he says you’re different now than you were then. And he puts it down to [manager/lifelong friend John] Rambo [Stevens’] influence.

How very sweet of him! Doesn’t anybody ever give me credit? [Laughter] Well, that’s Lu’s opinion; you’d have to ask Lu. Everybody was given an opportunity—I mean everybody, friend and foe alike—to say what they felt, and there it is, and that’s the combination of all those juxtapositions. Of course the band’s very different from when McGeoch was in it. We were again, at that time, enduring record company pressure, which is never an easy thing to put up with, which is what created so much instability in us. The rumor-mongering, all of it, you know, and just the sense of chaos, and trying to maintain any grasp of control, was extremely difficult. And Lu should know that, ‘cause he was one of those difficult people at the time! [Laughter] But through all of that, these are my friends, and we argue all the time about everything. But now look at us: we have a stability, we’re into the making of the third album. Fantastic. And it’s all without record company pressure, or them controlling the purse strings, which is what leads to arguments in the first place.

Well, one thing about the movie, seeing so much time compressed into an hour and a half—

I know, it could quite easily have ended up like War and Peace, but what’d be the point of that?

You could do a whole movie just on the drummers that have gone through PiL. Tony Williams—

[Laughs] It’s a lot of members!

I don’t know if it’s because of the precarious money situation or not, but maybe that made it possible for an amazing group of people to pass through the band.

Yeah, and some of them sorely missed, others glad to be rid of, and then of course there were the blackmailers: “Oh, if you don’t pay me extra, I’m not going to go on tour.” Y’know, that brigade. Very, very difficult times when I look back at it now. It’s like, Jeezus, how did I have the perseverance? ‘Cause there were definite times in PiL history where I thought, I just couldn’t take much more of it. The continual ugly pressure of having to maintain some kind of sense of stability in all this, it does wear you down.

By the time I got to, say, making the album Album, and a very young band I was with, put together quite a lot of the songs on Album with, they just could not cope with the studio, and I couldn’t cope with the budget we had, so I couldn’t afford to keep them in New York until they… got up to par, shall we say. And so put out phone calls, really, not expecting anyone to be too eager, really take anything that said yes, and just absolutely stunned and shocked with the quality of people that were more than willing to help on this album, and no squeak about money or anything like that. I tell you, that really changed my mind, it was like an affirmation that I absolutely needed at that point in my life, and I hope that comes across in the documentary. I’m not sure it does too well.
 

Still from ‘The Public Image Is Rotten’
 
Well, then there’s that story about McGeoch getting hit in the face with a bottle—

Oh, all that stuff! That’s nothing to do what I’ve just said, is it?

Well, the adversity you were facing.

Yeah, the adversity I’m particularly pointing out is inter-band-members, right? Some being ridiculously spiteful for no reason, and just continuing a negative approach in the ranks, and spreading all manner of, like, stupid lies. That kind of adversity. I had that in the Pistols, and I did sort of presume that that’s just the way all bands were. Well, I’m finding out in the making of this third and the previous two albums that’s not the case at all. We’re very, very, very good friends with each other. We have a sense of empathy. And that was always missing in the past. It’s always what I was seeking. But I suppose you can’t have a major record label in there, interfering. Interfering in the thought processes and the purse strings. ‘Cause adversity and animosity is what you end up with.

This is the longest stable lineup of the band, right?

Yeah! Yeah. Very noted. The second we were able to declare independence from any label, we set up our own outlet, and here we are now today. Stable! Financially risky, but bloody hell, is it enjoyable to wake up and know that you’re responsible for your own downfall, and not somebody else. A reward.

Can you tell me about the set you’re playing?

It’s one mostly the band picked, numbers that they enjoy doing, so there it is. And they flow well with each other, they jump all over the place time-wise, career-wise, but that’s fine. They connect somehow. There’s a flow in them. There are lines that interconnect. The thought process is there; it’s really just about trying to understand emotions. And that’s what Public Image do: try to understand. Try to understand each other, y’know? And make a bloody good effort at the rest of the human race. And I don’t suppose there’s any other way but through music to share those experiences and learn from them. One of the greatest things about this tour is the small venues we picked, because I can see eye to eye with just about everybody in the building, and that really helps formulate and solidify the songs into the emotions that they’re trying to express. It’s very, very, very rewarding. You can see it in people’s eyes when you’re hitting the right tones emotionally with them. It’s not like—we don’t do cruise ships or bar mitzvahs, I’m not standing there waiting for requests. It’s done on an emotional level. It’s fantastic. And all shyness, gone. I feel so confident with the people I work with now. There’s no sense of the temporary about it, and that’s a wonderful sounding board. Three albums, now, it will be, when this one’s done. That’s an amazing achievement for PiL! ‘Cause rightly or wrongly, earned the reputation there of never the same people twice. Not through choice.

I know the gigs are selling out. You had to change venues in Los Angeles.

You have to up it when it sells out too much, but there’s a limit to us. We won’t go into the ten thousands or the five thousands, not really interested in that, because you lose that emotional response. Or you can, but it’s like a harder struggle, and this is a struggle enough! And if we want to be celebrating our year, this is the way we want to do it. As I say, up close and personal.
 

 
So this box looks really wonderful—

Yeah, very proud of that. Yeah.

I’ve always been especially fond of your singles and 12-inches; I feel like you put a lot of care into those.

A lot. A lot. And using the highest quality recording we can, and also the highest quality materials we can, and to try and keep the price down. It’s a thing of love. That’s 40 years of work, there. I don’t want it to go out in a brown paper bag. Although I could the novelty in that too! [Laughter]

But I meant specifically your singles, all along it seems like you’ve put a lot of work into the singles and preparing special mixes for the 12-inches—

Yeah. Well, listen, pop music is my centrifugal force. I’ve always loved pop music, always will. Sharp simplicity, straight to the point. Sometimes songs I do can be longer than a single would need to be, and involve a hell of a lot more words, because you’re involving yourself in a hell of a lot deeper way, but both ways work for me fine. I do like the simplicity of pop a lot. And always those are the singles, they’re made for that. Not specifically structured as a single, but they happen, chance, in the way we record. There’s no rule book with us. If we’re involving ourselves in an emotion, we’ll involve ourselves fully, and that’s what each song is about, really. Trying to understand ourselves as human beings, and thereby, like I said, deal with the rest.

And there’s a proper version of “Kashmir” on there, too.

Yeah, which I was supposed to sing live! But I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I thought it would be sacrilege! Go to all the effort of recording it… which is a glorious tune, it really is, and Led Zeppelin I adore! Physical Graffiti is one of my favorite albums, and “Kashmir” is one of my favorite songs, and I didn’t want to bugger it up. We were gonna start live sets with that, but I thought I’d be letting it down somehow. I really don’t need to be competing with Robert Plant, there, I think he did an excellent piece of work, and there you go. All accolades to.

There’s a few unheard things, too, on this box set, and a lot of film footage.

Yeah, the TV stuff, all the TV appearances.

Yeah, which I thought would be nice for people to have, in one lump sum. And forever; not down to the whims of YouTube.

And better quality.

Oh, by miles, I hope!
 

Photo by Duncan Bryceland, courtesy PiL Official
 
That reminds me of something else. Watching the documentary last night, I’d heard there was video shot of the famous Ritz show—

[signal breaks up] because we were in charge of the cameras. That show was supposed to be us experimenting with their new camera technology, and, hello, one thing led to another, and before you know it, the world’s best soft riot took place! [Laughter]

So no video survived?

Well, there’s bits and pieces, but nothing that would make any sense.

Oh, ‘cause it’s all from your points of view.

Yeah, you know, from where we are, we’re behind the canvas. So you just see a canvas ruffle. There’s not much you can make from that. Another one of those Public Image moments where fiasco becomes something adorable and memorable. You know, a negative becomes a positive. Just the way it is, I suppose; we’re brave enough to take the situation on, and thank you all for noticing.

Yeah, the American Bandstand appearance is one of those moments.

Oh, yeah. My God, asking us to mime! Ha ha! To a song we improvised in recording, it’s like, wow, where do we begin with that? So we just ran wild, and it worked out to the benefit of everybody. Made for a better TV show.

Oh, it’s wonderful TV.

Even Dick Clark said so!

He did? He knew good TV, right?

Oh yeah, he had a list of all-time greats, and we’re up there. We’re well up there. Of all-time greats on his show. Lovely. Us and a bunch of mime artists! Ah, ha, ha.

Is it true, John, that “Annalisa,” a song that’s as relevant today as it ever was—is it true you saw that on a TV show?

Yeah, it was a real story about a young girl, in her coming-of-age early teens, and the parents, like, being far too religious for their own good, assuming she was possessed by the devil. And so in came the exorcist, and the end result was she was starved to death, really. It’s a really, really sad story, a true story. They put a film out of it a couple of years back, you know; I was a bit annoyed they didn’t approach us, ‘cause it would’ve been a wonderful theme for it.

Like a dramatic movie, with actors?

Yeah, like a proper film release, it was quite astounding. And horrific! When I watched it, it just brought tears to my eyes. You could see that this girl just didn’t stand a chance with that zealotry. Cold, indifferent parents, much more into their crucifixes than they were the life of their own daughter.

Sexuality is a strange thing to the religious. For my making [?], that’s what the root core of the problem was.

I imagine you’ve been following the Catholic abuse story with interest.

Ha, ha! All my life! [Laughter] Spent most of my life deliberately avoiding priests. Right up to day one in the Pistols, never even considered singing! I just thought, “No no no, that’ll get me back closer to the priests. It’s not what I want.”

Wasn’t “Religion”—

In fact, wrote “Religion,” a PiL song, while I was in the Pistols, but I knew they couldn’t handle it. Just another reason, really, to have to move on. But PiL was well-adapted to that sort of focus.
 

 
What can we expect in the near future? How far are you on this new record?

Well, we’re quite a few tracks in, but have yet to put vocals on any of them. There are many issues going on that are slowing down the work, one of them being a domestic issue that’s really, really challenging and frightening to handle for me at the moment. And it is coming right in the middle of all of this workload, so it’s, like, it’s taking its toll on me. It’s 24/7 having to be alert, and I’m having to find ways of stopping that. It’s very, very, very punishing, that’s all I can tell you. The second half, the American half, I’ll have to do that alone.

Continues after the jump….

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.05.2018
07:24 am
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The story of the great Sex Pistols soundalikes swindle
08.02.2018
08:36 am
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Poster
 
Dave Goodman was a record producer, sound engineer, musician, and songwriter. He’s best known for his work with the Sex Pistols. Goodman first caught the band on April 3, 1976. That night, the Pistols opened for the 101ers, Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash group, at the Nashville, a pub in London. After the show, Goodman went backstage and offered to rent the band his PA. From that point on, Goodman mixed their live sound, right up until the Pistols left for their American tour in January 1978.

He also produced demo sessions for the group in July and October 1976, as well as January 1977. A couple of tracks Goodman was behind the board for ended up as B-sides, including “I Wanna Be Me,” which was the flip of “Anarchy in the U.K.” When it came time to choose who’d produce the Sex Pistols’ debut album, Goodman was passed over for Chris Thomas.
 
I Wanna Be Me
 
The 1977 Sex Pistols bootleg Spunk, consisting of Goodman’s studio recordings, surfaced just prior to the October 1977 release of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Many preferred Goodman’s raw production over the glossy Bollocks. It’s still a mystery as to who provided the tapes for Spunk, though Goodman has always been a suspect.
 
Spunk
 
In July 1978, the Dave Goodman and Friends 7-inch came out on Goodman’s own label (christened “The Label”). Both Paul Cook and Steve Jones—drummer and guitarist for the Sex Pistols—play on the A-Side, “Justifiable Homicide,” though they couldn’t be listed in the credits due to contractual reasons.
 
Just H
 
Cook and Jones also had a hand in writing the tune, which is sung by Goodman. Unsurprisingly, parts of the song sound very much like the Sex Pistols.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.02.2018
08:36 am
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The Ramones vs. the Sex Pistols: ‘These guys ripped us off!’
03.06.2018
08:44 pm
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On the very first day of recording sessions for their third album Rocket to Russia—August 21, 1977 to be exact—Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone showed up at the former Episcopalian Church that housed Media Sound Studios in Midtown Manhattan, bringing with him a copy of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” single. He was pissed off, complaining that his band had been “robbed” by the infamous British punk group’s ferocious buzzsaw sound. Johnny told Ed Stasium, their audio engineer, that the new Ramones album needed to have sharper production than the Sex Pistols.

“These guys ripped us off and I want to sound better than this,” he said.

Rocket to Russia was the group’s third album in less than two years, and came hot on the heels of Leave Home, released in January.  Both were produced by Tommy Ramone and Tony Bongiovi, the cousin of Jon Bon Jovi. Although Rocket to Russia was the band’s highest-charting album to date, reaching number 49 on the Billboard 200, its sales were still considered a disappointment as the album had been heavily hyped, there was a massive interest in this new thing called “punk rock” and the reviews were nearly unanimously positive for its hook-laden tunes. Although the group was an incredibly popular touring act—their appearances almost single handedly starting new punk scenes overnight in cities across America—one of their best songs, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” was only able to reach #81 in the Billboard singles chart.
 

 
The summer of 1977, when the “Sheena” single was released, was when the mainstream American media first started taking major notice of punk. Downtown New York bands were getting signed left and right by major record labels and Max’s Kansas City and CBGB were packed to the gills most nights. However, the punk stories that got the most airplay were obviously the most notorious, involving violence at shows, “gobbing,” rioting, hard drugs and so forth. Not only did the members of the Ramones see themselves as “robbed” by the Sex Pistols’ guitar sound, they even blamed the Sex Pistols for their own lack of record sales, believing the British group’s loutish behavior had caused the public to see punk as an alarming development, tanking Rocket to Russia‘s potential for breaking them in America. 

In Brian J. Bowe’s 2010 book, The Ramones: American Punk Rock Band, Punk magazine’s Legs McNeil seems to agree with this notion:

“Safety pins, razor blades, chopped haircuts, snarling, vomiting—everything that had nothing to do with the Ramones was suddenly in vogue, and it killed any chance Rocket to Russia had of getting any airplay.”

Rocket to Russia was the final Ramones album to be recorded with all four original members, as Tommy Ramone would depart his drum stool in 1978 to work with the band behind the scenes.
 

 

 

Ferocious live footage of the Ramones at the State Theatre in Minneapolis from ‘Wylde Rice,’ a super-hip Minnesota PBS show of the time. Backstage, the boys discuss the punk scene in England, dismiss the notion of punk “politics” and the reporting of violence at punk gigs as overblown. They start off with a great “Rockaway Beach” and later rip through “California Sun” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Shot on January 21, 1978 as they toured in support of ‘Rocket to Russia.’ None other than the Runaways were their opening act!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.06.2018
08:44 pm
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Filthy lucre: A Sex Pistols 7” has sold for about $15,000 USD
01.08.2018
11:57 am
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The Guardian once listed an unreleased Sex Pistols single as one of the rarest records in Britain. Discogs.com‘s online marketplace has verified the sale, in November, of one of those unreleased singles for $14,690 USD. This is far from the first time a copy of that record has fetched an exorbitant sum.

March of 1977 was an eventful month for the Sex Pistols. Founding bassist Glen Matlock had just quit at the end of February (reports that he’d been fired for being a Beatles fan were pretty hilarious, but were also total bullshit), and he was quickly “replaced” with non-bassist Sid Vicious. The band were signed to Herb Alpert’s A&M records after being dismissed from their previous contract with EMI “in view of the adverse publicity generated.” Recording of their first A&M single, “God Save the Queen,” had already begun while Vicious was still just beginning to learn how to play bass, so he wasn’t on the sessions, but it hardly mattered, as A&M would swiftly follow EMI in dropping the Sex Pistols, this time without even releasing a single song (the band got to keep all the money both times, a happenstance chronicled in their song “EMI” and The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle). 25,000 copies of the hastily recorded and manufactured 7” had been pressed, and almost all were destroyed.

Per John Scanlan, writing in Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine:

During the first week of March, as Vicious busied himself learning how to play bass guitar and play the Pistols set, the rest of the band continued recording. The main aim of these sessions was to nail ‘God Save the Queen,’ which was due to be rush-released as their first A&M single, but other songs—‘Did You No Wrong’ and ‘No Feelings’—were also recorded, with Steve Jones playing both bass and guitar. The following week, the Pistols signed with A&M at the offices of their music publishing arm, Rondor Music, so as not to send shockwaves through the regular A&M Records staff, who were located elsewhere in London…

In an attempt to generate early publicity for their forthcoming single ‘God Save the Queen,’ the signing was restaged the following day outside Buckingham Palace. The following week’s sounds, dated 19 March, carried a cover story on the signing in which [UK A&M chief] Derek Green stated his conviction that the Pistols would ‘effect some major changes in rock music,’ which A&M wexcited to be involved with. Unfortunately for all involved, but the time the magazine had hit the streets, the Pistols had once again been sacked by their record label.

The day after the restaged signing, Rotten, Vicious, and their friend Jah Wobble had appeared drunk and disorderly at The Speakeasy, the London club where music industry figures and musicians went to relax. Wobble and Vicious had confronted the Old Grey Whistle Test presenter Bob Harris and one of his studio crew, George Nicholson, about the absence of the Sex Pistols on their show. According to subsequent reports, Rotten stayed out of the ensuing violence, but Vicious and Wobble landed Harris and Nicholson in hospital, where they had to be treated for minor cuts and bruises. As soon as word of this latest spectacle reached Derek Green at A&M he quickly decided he was wrong to think that he could manage the chaos that seemed to follow the Pistols everywhere, and dropped the band immediately. The company then destroyed as many copies of ‘God Save the Queen’ as it could find (only a few hundred copies had been circulated prior to its official release).

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.08.2018
11:57 am
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Crucial punk doc ‘DOA: A Right of Passage’ FINALLY restored for a hi-def DVD release
11.08.2017
08:16 am
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If you’re anything like me—and since you clicked on this to begin with I’d expect there are decent enough odds that you’re more or less in the zone—chances are that if you saw DOA: A Right of Passage, your viewing lived up to its subtitle (disregarding the right/rite thing). It’s a 1980 documentary/celebration/post-mortem of Punk Rock’s first wave, and it centers around the Sex Pistols’ disastrous 1978 US tour, cut with interview and concert footage of other key and not-so-key UK bands.

Furthermore, there’s a good chance that even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve still seen bits and pieces of it. That famously sad Sid-and-Nancy-in-bed interview was culled from DOA, as is the footage you’ve probably seen of the Sex Pistols’ calamitous Texas gig, and the San Francisco performance at which they broke up—some of that footage later turned up in Julien Temple’s The Filth and the Fury. Some famous footage of X Ray Spex playing “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” is from DOA as well. But despite being one of the most important punk docs, it’s also sometimes been one of the most difficult to see; before the era of everything existing on YouTube, it was a hard-to-find videotape, and it went out of print so fast that legit copies today can be prohibitively priced. The one time I ever saw it all the way through in a sitting back in the day was on an nth-generation dubbed videotape full of sound drops and those acutely VHS-y tracking glitches that seem retro-charming now but were annoying as fuck back then. It made it to the art houses for screenings in the late ‘80s, but though it came to my town’s cinematheque, I missed it for reasons I can’t even remember anymore. Amazingly, there has never been a soundtrack album, nor has there been an authorized DVD, except for one almost a decade and a half ago, released and region-coded for Japan only.

That last bit—about the DVD, not the soundtrack album—is at long last being rectified. MVD Rewind is releasing a restored hi-def Blu-Ray/DVD set of the film bundled with a hefty booklet by Punk magazine’s John Holmstrom, and a making-of documentary. The value of a hi-def version of a doc shot on hand held 16mm shaky-cam is debatable, but I’m looking forward to seeing the thing both in its entirety AND with a semblance of visual and sonic clarity.

A terrific feature of the doc is the inclusion of vox-pop interviews with audience members at the Pistols’ shows—a valuable primary documentation of just how incredibly polarizing polarizing punk was when it was new. This clip, provided exclusively to Dangerous Minds by the American Genre Film Archive (thanks, Bret), collects some of the best of those moments:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.08.2017
08:16 am
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William S. Burroughs’ answer to the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’


The author at home
 
It’s the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” and you know what that means: it’s the 40th anniversary of the letter of support William S. Burroughs sent the band, along with his own all-purpose slogan and answer song, “Bugger the Queen.”

Victor Bockris writes that Burroughs’ piece predated the Sex Pistols’ single by three years, but even so, “God Save the Queen” was the occasion for its debut. As far as I can tell, Burroughs never mentioned “Bugger the Queen” without reference to the Sex Pistols. In October ‘77, writing from Naropa, Burroughs sent Brion Gysin a Rolling Stone feature on the Sex Pistols (presumably Charles M. Young’s contemporary cover story) along with the words to “Bugger the Queen,” which he referred to as a new song he might record with Patti Smith. Though the published letters haven’t yet caught up to the punk rock period, Ken Lopez Bookseller has made the typescript of this one available. Punctuation and spelling are WSB’s:

Dear Brion:

Enclose article from the Rolling Stone on the Sex Pistols and punk rock, in case you didnt see it. This explains the action in Paris. I guess we are classified with Mick Jaeger. I am writing some songs and may do a record with Patti Smith. Here’s one
My husband and I
The old school tie
Hyphonated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
With the restofthe sog
Pull the chain onBuckingham
The drain calls you MAM.
BUGGER THE QUEEN
Whole skit goes withit illustratting everything I dont like about England.

“Bugger the Queen” was still on Burroughs’ mind one year later when he told a writer for the San Francisco punk zine Search & Destroy about his letter to the Sex Pistols (as quoted by Victor Bockris):

I am not a punk and I don’t know why anybody would consider me the Godfather of Punk. How do you define punk? The only definition of the word is that it might refer to a young person who is simply called a punk because he is young, or some kind of petty criminal. In this sense some of my characters may be considered punks, but the word simply did not exist in the fifties. I suppose you could say James Dean epitomized it in Rebel Without a Cause, but still, what is it? I think the so-called punk movement is indeed a media creation. I did however send a letter of support to the Sex Pistols when they released “God Save the Queen” in England because I’ve always said that the country doesn’t stand a chance until you have 20,000 people saying BUGGER THE QUEEN! And I support the Sex Pistols because this is constructive, necessary criticism of a country which is bankrupt.

 

The cover (cropped) of ‘Little Caesar’ #9, the first publication of ‘Bugger the Queen’ (via dennis-cooper.net)
 
The “skit” Burroughs mentions in the letter to Gysin, or a later version of it, is one of the entries in the essay collection The Adding Machine. Burroughs read it toward the end of 1978 at the Nova Convention celebrating his work. It was first published in the ninth issue of Dennis Cooper’s zine Little Caesar, whose previous number featured an interview with Johnny Rotten; International Times ran it too. The gist: chants of “Bugger the Queen” lead to a spontaneous uprising that forces Her Maj to abdicate. From the opening, a few words of inspiration, and the annotated lyrics:

I guess you read about the trouble the Sex Pistols had in England over their song “God Save the Queen (It’s a Fascist Regime).” Johnny Rotten got hit with an iron bar wielded by HER Loyal Subjects. It’s almost treason in England to say anything against what they call “OUR Queen.” I don’t think of Reagan as OUR President, do you? He’s just the one we happen to be stuck with at the moment. So in memory of the years I spent in England—and in this connection I am reminded of a silly old Dwight Fisk song: “Thank you a lot, Mrs. Lousberry Goodberry, for an infinite weekend with you . . . (five years that weekend lasted) . . . For your cocktails that were hot and your baths that were not . . .”—so in fond memory of those five years I have composed this lyric which I hope someday someone will sing in England. It’s entitled: Bugger the Queen.

My husband and I (The Queen always starts her spiel that way)
The old school tie
Hyphenated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
(Bog is punk for W.C.)
With the rest of the sog
Pull the chain on Buckingham
The drain calls you, MA’AM
(Have to call the Queen “Ma’am” you know)
BUGGER THE QUEEN!

The audience takes up the refrain as they surge into the streets screaming “BUGGER THE QUEEN!”

Suddenly a retired major sticks his head out a window, showing his great yellow horse-teeth as he clips out: “Buggah the Queen!”

A vast dam has broken.

Alas, no one has stepped up to record “Bugger the Queen” during the intervening decades. I hold out hope Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye will set it to music. Below, for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in June 1977, the Pistols make themselves heard from a boat on the River Thames in what must surely be Sex Pistols Number 2.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.02.2017
09:30 am
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Oral: The mysterious all-girl heavy metal band and their (maybe) connection to Lemmy Kilmister
03.08.2017
09:18 am
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The cover for ‘Oral Sex,’ the only album from Oral, 1985.
 
Oral is a strange, all-female band that somehow found their way into the NWOBHM when they got together (or were put together perhaps) in 1985. The group was comprised of three girls—Monica, allegedly a former Penthouse model on guitar, a fifteen-year-old girl named Bev on vocals, a chick named Candy on bass and another member named Dee who isn’t pictured on the album cover. Which is a little weird, right? The back of the album only complicates the Dee-situation as it features four images of the girls—the first of which includes Monica, Bev, and Candy, but no Dee, mean-mugging together behind an iron fence. Anyway, all this makes it seem pretty likely that Dee probably is/was a dude which would have wrecked the girls-only vibe of the band. Though I’m only speculating because nobody really knows much about the history of Oral.

Produced by Ralph Jezzard (the bass player for UK band Blood and Roses and the producer behind the E.M.F. earwig “Unbelievable” among other things) Oral Sex was Oral’s debut/swan song and was comprised of just six songs, a few of which were unsurprising allusions to oral sex such as “Love Pole,” “Pearl Necklace,” and “Head.” I mean, what else would you expect from an album called Oral Sex? And as the title of this post indicates, there is some belief out there that the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is responsible for teaching Monica how to play guitar. And before you start virtually shouting at me that Lemmy was a bass player—while you’d be correct—back when he was just starting out with The Rockin’ Vicars in 1965 he was an axeman.

So could Monica’s claim be true? I don’t know but I will tell you this—the first song on Oral Sex, “Head,” sure has all the calling cards of divine Motörhead intervention. And you know what else? Oral Sex (the album) isn’t half bad once you set aside any preconceived notions that the album cover put in your, ahem, head. They even do a pretty kick-ass cover of “Black Leather” originally written and performed by former Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones and Paul Cook who recorded the Lydon-free song during sessions for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (the song never made it onto the soundtrack).

More Oral after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.08.2017
09:18 am
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‘Sex Pistols Number 1,’ the punk propaganda reel from 1977
02.16.2017
09:36 am
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Poster by Jamie Reid, via Recordmecca
 
Lordy, lordy, look who’s 40! Before The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle—before The Punk Rock Movie, D.O.A., Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Rude Boy, for that matter—there was Sex Pistols Number 1, a “show reel” of the Pistols’ TV appearances compiled in 1977.

Julien Temple reused much of this footage in his features about the Sex Pistols, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and The Filth and the Fury, but this is the movie that opened for the Pistols and the Slits at the Screen on the Green and was projected before the last show at Winterland. Russ Meyer signed on to direct Who Killed Bambi? after seeing it.

IMDB credits Temple and soundman John “Boogie” Tiberi as the film’s directors. In England’s Dreaming, Jon Savage sheds light on what that actually meant, and how Number 1 came to be:

After the EMI sacking, McLaren began to assemble news and performance footage of the Sex Pistols for a possible short film. ‘Malcolm asked me to get hold of these bits of footage from the Anarchy tour to make a show reel,’ says Tiberi. ‘He had this idea to sell the group as a visual act. We were very aware of the group’s potential to get fired from record companies, and TV was a new direction. That’s why I was there, knocking on the door.

Number 1 was all re-filmed. It was very early days in home video technology. The only place we could get the Grundy programme was from a Country and Western promoter whom Sophie [Richmond, Glitterbest secretary] had phoned up to record it. Julien Temple did the refilming, he shot the video image on to film and edited it into chronological order at film school, overnight, and we showed a cutting copy the next night. It was very stirring stuff, propaganda-oriented.’

The brilliance of Number 1 was in replaying the media’s curses with a mocking laugh. The twenty-five minute short tells the story of the scandals from the group’s side, cutting supercilious youth presenters, pompous chat-show guests, mealy-mouthed academics, with simple, stark footage of the group playing and talking. It closes with ‘God Save the Queen’ playing over speeded Pathé footage of Royal Circumstance Past. The final shot pans from the glittering coach to sweepers . . . shovelling horse shit.

Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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02.16.2017
09:36 am
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BASS IN YOUR FACE: Excellent footage of the Sex Pistols’ notorious San Antonio gig
08.17.2016
11:23 am
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When I read about the very recent incident wherein the estimable Mr. John Lydon shrugged off a bleeding head gash inflicted by a bottle-throwing audience member to continue performing as though nothing had happened (this at age 60, folks—a lot of MUCH younger performers have stopped shows for less) I couldn’t help but be reminded of the great moments in early punk lore—the time that the Sex Pistols, on the brief US tour that catalyzed their demise, played Randy’s Rodeo, a former bowling alley converted into a cowboy bar in San Antonio, TX.

Such an inappropriate booking was clearly a deliberate provocation—this was at a time in when civilians still found tales of routine onstage sex and vomiting at punk shows plausible. So a crowd made up of cowboys and heshers (plus some pilgrims from Austin) had come expecting to see the most preposterous rumors about punk made real, and they had no shortage of missiles to hurl at the band—the usual bottles, cans and cups, hot dogs and popcorn, someone even pelted Lydon with whipped cream, which not only doesn’t hurt, it’s surely more welcome than the more customary gobs of spit.
 

 
The Pistols did do a fair job of delivering on punk’s rumored promise—singer Lydon, wearing a gay cowboy t-shirt by Tom of Finland and baiting the presumably hostile audience as “cowboy faggots”, farmer-blew snot onto the stage and the fans in front. Bassist Sid Vicious, actually experiencing heroin withdrawal, removed his coat to reveal “GIMMIE A FIX” scrawled on his chest, and endeavored to silence a heckler by bludgeoning him with his bass.

This clip from the 1980 documentary D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage, of the song “New York” from that storied performance, shows pretty much all that’s described above, and it wasn’t even a third of the way through their set. There’s great audience footage as well—rural metalheads air-guitaring, a seemingly normal woman who’d pierced her nose with a safety pin, and at the end, the guy who Vicious hit with his bass admitting he’d deliberately provoked the musician in performance, still cryassing about his retaliation.

What would you give to be able to time-travel to attend this show?
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Filthy lucre ain’t nothin’ new: there are Sex Pistols credit cards now.
Punk: The Sex Pistols First TV Documentary from 1976
The Sex Pistols: ‘I Swear I Was There - The Gig that Changed the World’

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.17.2016
11:23 am
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DJ Johnny Rotten plays music from his own record collection on the radio, 1977
06.16.2016
03:15 pm
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“All the music that you will hear has been chosen by Johnny Rotten and is from his personal collection.” Thus begins a singular trip down radio history.

On July 16, 1977, the reigning target of ten thousand angry establishment “leaders”—Americans call them editorials—and the frontman for the Sex Pistols spent a couple of hours on Tommy Vance’s program on Capital Radio. It was a pivotal appearance for Johnny Rotten Lydon—in addition to being one of the first signs of a serious rift between Lydon and Malcolm McLaren, it has been argued that the incident represented the first true appearance of “John Lydon” to the public, a name that music fans would come to know extremely well in the decades to follow.

On the program, Lydon revealed himself to be an articulate spokesman for his ideals as well as a young man with uncommonly good taste. And he was only 20 years old! What were you listening to when you were 20? (Shit, maybe you are 20….) So much of the music here is today staples of a venue like Dangerous Minds. You’ve got your Beefheart, your Can, your Lou Reed and Nico and John Cale (er, playing separately), there’s Bowie and Neil Young and oodles of excellent ska….

Here’s Jon Savage in England’s Dreaming on the fallout between McLaren and Lydon:
 

Glitterbest [McLaren’s company] were even more furious when Capital Radio’s Tommy Vance show was broadcast on the 16th. Lydon had obviously had enough of McLaren’s public control and now made his own power move: “It’s fashionable to believe that Malcolm McLaren dictates to us but that’s just not true. What really amuses me about Malcolm is the way they say he controls the press: media manipulator. The point of it all is that he did nothing: he just sat back and let them garble out their own rubbish.”

Even worse for Glitterbest was the way in which “Johnny Rotten” came across: according to the Sunday Times, “a mild-mannered liberal chap with a streets of Islington accent.” Lydon had had enough of being dehumanized: just as earlier he had irritated McLaren by turning up to a photo session dressed as a Teddy Boy, he now chose records for the show by Neil Young, Peter Hamill, Doctor Alimentado and Captain Beefheart—McLaren still splutters about this one. “I like all sorts of music,” Lydon said disarmingly.

The interview—reported verbatim in the music press—enabled a wider audience to relate to Lydon and put him within some sort of recognizable Rock context. This was exactly what Glitterbest wanted least: McLaren had a Year-Zero approach to pop culture which, as the script he was working on displayed, was hardening. For him and for Reid, this was a “shit” interview, because it established Lydon as a “man of taste,” and thus “lost his and the band’s threat.”

 
It’s a little bit difficult getting a clean recording of this. There are two YouTube videos that present the first hour or so, and there’s a Soundcloud mix that presents almost all of it but is missing parts. The best tracklisting available, which I’m presenting here, also happens to be missing information (for instance, it seems that the Sex Pistols’ “Did You No Wrong” was played after Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” and before Lou Reed’s “Men of Good Fortune”), but it’s still an excellent summation of what Lydon played.
 

Track listing:
Tim Buckley – Sweet Surrender
The Creation – Life Is Just Beginning
David Bowie – Rebel Rebel
Jig a Jig
Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown
Gary Glitter – Doing Alright With The Boys
Fred Locks – Walls
Vivian Jackson and the Prophets – Fire in a Kingston
Culture – I’m Not Ashamed
Dr Alimantado & The Rebels – Born For A Purpose
Bobby Byrd – Back From The Dead
Neil Young – Revolution Blues
Lou Reed – Men Of Good Fortune
Kevin Coyne – Eastbourne Ladies
Peter Hammill – The Institute Of Mental Health, Burning
Peter Hammill – Nobody’s Business
Makka Bees – Nation Fiddler / Fire!
Captain Beefheart – The Blimp
Nico – Janitor Of Lunacy
Ken Boothe – Is It Because I’m Black
John Cale – Legs Larry At Television Centre
Third Ear Band – Fleance
Can – Halleluwah
Peter Tosh – Legalise It

 
Here are the two YouTube videos, followed by the Soundcloud playlist:
 

 

 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
This Is Radio Clash: Listen to 6 episodes of Joe Strummer’s glorious ‘London Calling’ BBC radio show

Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.16.2016
03:15 pm
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Hilariously angry NYC news editorial tells the ‘scummy’ Sex Pistols where to get off
05.19.2016
04:30 pm
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I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, so I remember the news coverage of WPIX channel 11 from the late 1970s and early 1980s quite well. For one thing, WPIX had the best sports roundup, hosted by the acerbic Jerry Gerard.

This fantastic clip dates from May 18, 1977, and made an appearance on WPIX’s own Facebook presence yesterday, which proves that they have a sense of humor. In the clip anchorwoman Pat Harper (I remember her) throws it to a lady named Doris Lilly (don’t remember her), who apparently was “previewing” an appearance by the Sex Pistols, to take place at the Elgin Theater, that never ended up happening.
 

 
Did the Sex Pistols have a gig scheduled for the Elgin in late May 1977? Lilly says “later this month.” Please do weigh in if you happen to remember this.

The Elgin Theater was on the intersection of 19th Street and Eighth Ave., and later became the Joyce Theater, a notable center for dance. Interestingly, the Elgin was located just a couple blocks south of the Hotel Chelsea, the site of the final days of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.

It’s well known that the classic lineup never did play New York City—in that sense, Lilly, who passed away in 1991, must have died a happy woman. The Sex Pistols would have to wait until 1996 before playing their first Manhattan show.

In any case, Lilly wants you to know that she’s had it up to here with these scummy punks and .... just watch it, it’s great.
 

 
h/t: Ned Raggett

Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.19.2016
04:30 pm
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Watch the Buzzcocks’ farewell concert before they split in 1981

0_1buzz3spjh.jpg
 
The story of the Buzzcocks begins with an ad on a college notice board in 1975. The ad was placed by a young musician named Howard Trafford at the Bolton Institute of Technology. Trafford was looking for like-minded musicians to form a band. A student called Peter McNeish replied and the band that was to become the Buzzcocks was born.

McNeish changed his name to Pete Shelley. Trafford changed his to Howard Devoto. A drummer and bass player were recruited and the foursome played their first gig in February 1976.

They had ideas, they had a sense of what they wanted to do, but it didn’t really all gel until Shelley and Devoto traveled to London to see the Sex Pistols play. This was the kind of music they wanted to play—fast, furious, with purpose and edge. Being enterprising young lads, they booked the Pistols to play a gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester—the venue Bob Dylan played in 1965 when he went electric and was called a “Judas.”

The Sex Pistols first appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall was in June 1976. It’s been well documented and fair to say it was one of those gigs that changed musical history.  Among the 35-40 people in attendance that night were Mark E. Smith who would form The Fall, Steven Patrick Morrissey who would go on to form The Smiths, Ian Curtis who became the lead singer of Joy Division, Paul Morley who would write for the NME before becoming involved with record label ZTT and the Art of Noise, and er…Mick Hucknall….which proves that not all revolutionary events end in change.
 
01_buzpost.jpg
He was there: Pete Shelley showing the poster for the Sex Pistols second appearance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall with support from the Buzzcocks.
 
The Buzzcocks were supposed to support the Pistols that night—but Shelley and Devoto couldn’t rally any musicians together. This led to a more professional attitude and a new more permanent line-up. Steve Diggle joined on bass guitarist with John Maher on drums. When the Pistols returned in July, the Buzzcocks did support them this time. The Buzzcocks name came from a magazine headline—a review of the Rock Follies TV show—containing the words “buzz” and “cock.” You can see how this Sex Pistols-inspired name appealed to a group of young guys.

The band formed a record label, New Hormones, to release their first EP (the third ever punk single in the UK) “Spiral Scratch.” Unexpectedly, Devoto quit the band. Shelley took over lead vocals and shared songwriting duties with Steve Diggle—who had moved from bass to guitar while Stephen Garvey eventually joined as new bass player.

Over the next four years, the Buzzcocks produced a selection of powerful, memorable and infectious songs (“What Do I Get?” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t've),” “Harmony In My Head” and “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” to name but four) that were sharp and clever and often lyrically as good as songs written by Ray Davies for the Kinks but with a more frenetic beat.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.10.2016
11:54 am
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‘Anarchy!’ Malcolm McLaren, punk rock’s Molotov cocktail


 
Phil Strongman’s new documentary Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang is a politically-fueled, fashion-conscious deeper look at how the English punk explosion was ignited—how the bomb was built and under what circumstances, in other words.

Coming in at almost two and a half hours with an incredible cast of characters, Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang traces Malcolm McClaren back to his birth with loads of never before seen films and photos, personal information and interviews with family members, friends and others, taking us into the all important mid-sixties where the real nucleus of the Sex Pistols concept begins to form within the Situationist movement, King Mob (the UK equivilent), art school and observing the tribal customs and costumes of rock ‘n roll fanaticism.

The 1968 the French student riots had a huge influence on McLaren, who travelled to Paris at the time, and there were key players from that era who played recurring roles in his life. Much of the concepts and ideas—art, slogans, everything really—originated there and then. The interviews with the people from this period were what I wanted to see most and there was no disappointment. The interviews with Malcolm himself indicate that he still was speaking in slogans right up to the very end.
 

 
If you’re looking for yet another love letter to punk rock (yawn) with the same old crap stories, then keep on pogoing as this is a very interesting (for the most part) tale of politics, sex, drugs, bombs, rock ‘n roll, and the all important fashion accessories to wear whilst bombing and rocking and rolling and fucking on drugs. If punk never really happened and this was just a wild tale of a bunch of crazed young people that tried to accomplish what punk wrought and failed, it would still be just as interesting. The fact that first an entire country and then the entire world sat up, noticed, listened and actually feared this tiny group of absurd-looking lunatics (some leading, most following) on their search and destroy mission is incredible to contemplate. Today they’d just be given their own reality TV show.

It’s a bit of a revelation for those who think a few drunk idiots formed a band and yelled and jumped around a lot while desperately trying to learn how to play their instruments. (Even at this late date it is still being said that these guys could not play or sing, which is ridiculous as is easily proven by any Sex Pistols live performance video from any period.) However, someone could have done enough homework to know to leave out Ben Westwood’s totally wrong assumption (stated as fact, of course) that Sid’s mom and girlfriend gave him heroin that he overdosed on (I personally was there that night and I and enough other people have done countless interviews stating what really happened). He even calls Methadone, Methadrone (good name for a band actually). Other than these two minor problems, and the rather large objection that for a film titled Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang it’s quite light on the Westwood side of things, this very long film goes by very quickly, and is really well made. Director Strongman was good friends with McLaren, having worked in the Glitterbest offices (the Sex Pistols management company) and was an actual eyewitness to much of what he is discussing here.
 

 
There lots of great interviews with everyone from Adam Ant to Don Letts to Tracey Emin to Boy George (who tells a great story about when he sang for Bow Wow Wow) to Sex Pistol Paul Cook (with amazing black and white footage of the Pistols hanging around at the Berlin wall). The music is honestly the least of the subjects focused on. In fact much of the film is framed with scenes of girls modeling Dame Westwood’s fashions (partially topless) to a modern soundtrack with an operatic vocal sung onscreen. (And thank god for that. I’m sick of these formulaic punk rock docs, aren’t you?)

There’s a lot to get out of this film, historically speaking. It’s intelligent and everything a documentary should be. It just may not be about what you thought it was going to be about. This is the history of European Anarchism as it helps beget the birth of the Sex Pistols. It’s also the story of a man who broke all the rules before that was fashionable, who ran blindly into the fire more than once and always came out the other side… many times with the prize. Or at least some money. I’ve already watched Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang three times and I’m not the type to really ever watch anything even twice, certainly not in the same day.

All Malcolm McLaren ever wanted was to be something akin to the “next Andy Warhol.” It’s an idiosyncratic aspiration to be sure, but one category that he (and perhaps he alone) truly belonged in.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Howie Pyro
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04.26.2016
02:37 pm
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Never mind the bollocks, here’s some unseen photos of the Sex Pistols in 1978
01.29.2016
09:01 am
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Sid Vicious, Nancy Spungen, John Lydon and Poly Styrene
 
Sadly this isn’t a photo essay with the images—you’ll have to watch the video to see the photographs of the Sex Pistols by French photographer Pierre Benain. Benain shot these back in the Spring of 1978 for a French magazine. A few of these you might have seen before, like the one image of Sid Vicious holding a knife to Nancy Spungen’s neck, but most should be new to you.

For some odd reason in the interview, Benain makes no mention of X-Ray Spex’s frontwoman Poly Styrene being there. She was, as you can see from another photo from that day, which you can see above.

 
h/t Declan O’Gallagher

Posted by Tara McGinley
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01.29.2016
09:01 am
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Converse unveils its ‘Sex Pistols’ line of Chuck Taylors
01.08.2016
02:12 pm
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Converse has unveiled a new line of Chuck Taylor sneakers with Sex Pistols iconography on them. There are four pairs of Chuck Taylor hightops available and two pairs of Chuck Taylor low tops. The sneakers are priced from $65 to $80. There is also a related line of shirts ($35 each) and a bomber jacket ($140).
 

 
The new products are available for purchase on the Converse website.

At this stage in history, it’s hard to get too outraged over yet another corporate appropriation of the original punk rock movement, but we thought you ought to know anyway. Back to your regular programming.
 

Chuck Taylor All Star Sex Pistols “Parchment” $70
 

Chuck Taylor All Star Sex Pistols “Thunder” $75
 

Chuck Taylor All Star Sex Pistols “White” $75
 
Much more Sex Pistols products from Converse after the jump…..

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.08.2016
02:12 pm
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