Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols: Deluxe Edition

35 years on the Sex Pistol’s iconic debut gets the remaster/deluxe edition treatment to great effect.

I’m aware that 35 years after its initial release there may not be much point looking too critically at Never Mind The Bollocks as it has be assessed and re-assessed time after time over those three and a half decades.

But anyway here are my two cents, though I will try to focus on the remaster and deluxe edition more specifically.

Since I first heard the album, or in fact since I first heard single Pretty Vacant on TOTP2 sometime in the mid-90s, I have very much liked the sound the Pistols created in their heyday and, while they may not have put out the first punk records, or, arguably, been the ‘most punk’ of the first wave of British Punk bands, their debut remains probably the largest touchstone of the genre on this side of the atlantic.

Throughout the album is filled with a fast and harsh pop/rock ‘n’ roll hybrid over which the band’s real trademark, Johnny Rotten’s sneering vocals, give us an early version of the socially aware punk rock that was to be expanded upon in various directions (from street to anarcho) over the coming years.

What this remastered version of the album really does is bring out a lot of the sound that was lost, or was certainly largely inaudible, on the previous CD edition of the album. So we get to hear not only Rotten’s vocals, but also the music behind it, in a much clearer way than previously.

What it shows is the actual talent and songwriting that was at work behind the press coverage and controversy and shows why the album has endured long after many of its contemporaries have been forgotten.

On this edition, along with the original album we get the b-sides to the singles most of which sit well beside the rest of the record, though show why they are b-sides as they are generally the less memorable cuts.

One however stands out from the pack, the Pistol’s cover of The Stooges proto-punk classic No Fun. While the band remain their usual tight selves that they are across the rest of the record (including Glen Matlock on bass here), it is again Rotten that stands out as his vocal performance here, and the production of it, hints at what was to come after the Pistols as he went on to form Public Image Ltd.

The deluxe set also comes with a second disc containing a full live show, recorded in Stockholm in July 1977 and three songs from a show in Penzance in September ’77.

While the Penzance material is sonically poor, it does still give a sense of some of the chaos that followed the band on tour with Rotten telling the audience to stop spitting and announcing the band are playing Anarchy In The UK for a second time and not messing it up this time.

The Stockholm show is something of a slicker affair, despite it featuring Sid Vicious on bass, and, like the remastered album, shows that the band actually had a set of solid poppy rock ‘n’ roll songs behind the controversy and rhetoric.

While I’m sure many will already own a previous copy of Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, this remaster deluxe edition is none-the-less something of a must have as the sonically cleaned up versions of the original recordings sound great and give the songs a new vitality without losing any of the power they have always possessed.

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