Tag Archives: sex pistols

“Cutting ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ out of the market just as it was reaching its audience, EMI, the Sex Pistols’ first label, dropped them after the televised ‘fuck’ that made Declan McManus’ day, recalled the records, and melted them down. … The press contrived a moral panic to sell papers, but the panic seemed real soon enough: the Sex Pistols were denounced in Parliament as a threat to the British way of life, by socialists as fascist, by fascists as communist. … The group itself had become contraband. In late 1975, when the Sex Pistols first appeared, crashing another band’s concert and impersonating the opening act, the plug was pulled after ten minutes; now to play in public they were forced to turn up in secret, under a false name. The very emptiness of the terrain they had cleared — the multiplication of new voices from below, the intensification of abuse from above, both sides fighting for possession of that suddenly cleared ground — had pushed them toward self-destruction, into the silence of all nihilist noise.”

Greil Marcus, discussing the Sex Pistols in his 1989 book, “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century”

Greil Marcus – Sex Pistols

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“Yeah. It was all uphill. And he still couldn’t play bass when he died, I mean, fucking hell.”

Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, on attempting to teach Sid Vicious how to play bass when they lived in the same flat prior to Sid joining the Sex Pistols

Motorhead – Sid Vicious

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“The Sex Pistols show was the most fun show I ever played. We did a 45 minute set in 28 minutes. Everything imaginable was thrown at us. I got hit with liver. Winterland was sold out, 7-8,000 people, but only a few hundred knew who the Sex Pistols were. The rest were curious onlookers and they were told to throw things and spit. They got this from the mass media who sensationalized the event. I loved it because it was immortal, the last show, which made it even more special.”

Jeff Olener, member of San Francisco band The Nuns, discussing the Pistols’ show at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1978, at which Johnny Rotten would fire off his “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” soliloquoy and quit the band (from “Punk ’77” by James Stark).

Sex Pistols final show

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The 101’ers, “Motor Boys Motor”

“Five seconds into their first song, I knew we were like yesterday’s paper; we were over.”

Joe Strummer, on the Sex Pistols opening for his band, The 101’ers, on April 3, 1976, from the 2000 film retrospective, “The Clash: Westway to the World.”

After witnessing the Pistols, Strummer left the pub band and helped form The Clash. But at least one 101’ers song is as good as anything coming out at the time — between 1974 and early 1976 — by the likes of New York Dolls, Television or Eddie and the Hot Rods. I’m convinced Strummer was a major influence on Tom Verlaine’s sound. 101’ers’ “Keys to Your Heart” at times sounds eerily similar to Television’s “Love Come in Spurts” (Neon Boys’ original version of “Spurts,” recorded about 1972 before Strummer was in his first band the Vultures, sounded nothing like the later version).


Photo caption: Joe Strummer in Newport, Wales, in 1973 by Richard Frame

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The Saints, “Wild About You”

It’s a long way from “(I’m) Stranded” to “Just Like Fire Would.”

For starters, the first one’s punk; the latter’s maybe cowpunk. “Stranded,” The Saints’ first single in September 1976, will be forever known to have dropped before The Sex Pistols had any product to show for its trouble — as well as the fact The Saints had been playing out in unskilled, fast and loud fashion since 1973.

This is because The Saints hail from Australia, which translates to “penal colony” in British. It just doesn’t do to have an island seeded by convicts beat you at what you think is your own game. In America, these sorts of things are not a concern: A) because The Ramones won the race to acetate by a long shot, and B) many of our most revered musicians are or have been in jail. It’s called street cred.

The latter song, “Just Like Fire Would,” was off 1987’s “All Fools Day,” Saints’ attempt to cross into the mainstream by dabbling in what is now referred to as “jangle pop.” To say it sounds like an R.E.M. rip-off is too harsh, because singer/songwriter Chris Bailey, snarl dialed down, exhibited a soulful voice that carried the album. It really deserves to have done better in the States — at least better than the BoDeans.

It’s not surprising that The Saints’ sound was so much changed nine years after “Stranded” (“Fools” was recorded in 1985). Its roster of former members could fill a Greyhound — which is still nothing compared to Aztec Camera. According to Wikipedia, everybody but your mom did time in that band.

When they write the obit on The Saints, it will be remembered as The Punk Band That Beat The Sex Pistols Into The Studio. Which is fine, but does it really matter anymore? When I hear a song like The Stooges’ “T.V. Eye” off 1970’s “Fun House,” I see no real difference between that and anything in the traditional punk realm until you get to something that’s almost thrash, like Black Flag or Youth of Today.

In any case, back in 1976 The Saints were just dipping their toes in the punk stream. Within two years, it was playing blues, and had shed much of its audience. The band was probably sick of all that gobbing anyway. After guitarist Ed Kuepper left in 1979, the band moved into folk and jazz territory.

But about that original crew — the three lads who started out as Kid Galahad and the Eternals in 1973, later joined by Kym Bradshaw on bass — and the best song they ever created (and the point to all this pontification), “Wild About You.” The song, off its 1977 debut album, is a cover of a song by The Missing Links, an Australian R&B band from the mid-1960s.

Bailey’s sneer is in evidence, but the star is Kuepper on guitar, particularly the breakdown in the last minute (basically, half the song) that I would argue was more fierce than anything else on record up to that time. And it matters, because it still sounds dangerous — just like young Iggy.

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The kids back then were following fashion and not the music. … I mean, “Anarchy In The U.K.,” it was the biggest pisstaking record ever made and people took it serious. Anarchy is impossible; you need some kind of law and order to keep us from eating each other. “God Save the Queen”? Fucking great record, but the biggest pisstaker. People took it seriously. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.”

Pete “Dee” Davidson, guitarist for The Adicts, in a July 2012 interview with AMP Magazine

Pete “Dee” Davidson – The Adicts

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