Sex Pistols, “The Original Recordings”

There’s a reedy feeling on these B-sides, covers, and primal versions of familiar attacks on aristocracy that highlight Johnny Rotten’s role as the last great rebellious frontman.
Reviews

Sex Pistols, The Original Recordings

There’s a reedy feeling on these B-sides, covers, and primal versions of familiar attacks on aristocracy that highlight Johnny Rotten’s role as the last great rebellious frontman.

Words: AD Amorosi

June 01, 2022

‘SEX PISTOLS: THE ORIGINAL RECORDINGS’ – 20 tracks from the world’s most controversial band. RELEASE DATE: May 27th on UMe

Sex Pistols
The Original Recordings
UME

Never mind the bollocks that is the new Danny Boyle FX series Pistol. Save for Maisie Williams’ performance as the Brit-punk avatar and muse Jordan, the six-episode miniseries (based on Steve Jones’ memoir Lonely Boy) produced and directed by a man who all but made you hate The Beatles back in 2019 makes a mess out of even the most fictitious history with clean-faced, clear-eyed actors who could be modeling for King & Tuckfield. Instead, luxuriate in the raw glory of the pimply faced, rotted-teeth sonic smirk-and-seeth of the Sex Pistols in their most primal form: their earliest 45 recordings of “Pretty Vacant,” “God Save the Queen,” and “Anarchy in the UK.”

It’s not as if producers Chris Thomas and Bill Price did anything different on Never Mind the Bollocks (save for fashioning a unified heft and thickness in the songs’ sonic quality) that wasn’t already executed through the Pistols’ initial 45s. There is, however, a reedy, weedy sick feeling on the singles’ versions of these scabrous, melodic attacks on aristocracy and a willfulness to nihilism’s call that gives the original tracks a necessary menace. Johnny Rotten’s lit-witty words of woe and revolt, the way each smarmy syllable rolls off his tongue—they just cut a little deeper on the original singles. That said, the inclusion of the densely pulsating and direly lyrical “Bodies” and “No Feelings” from Bollocks on this new collection speaks volumes to the Thomas/Price tone in league with Jones’ full-blooded guitar sound and Rotten’s phlegmy disdain.

The two-LP collection (find the transparent green vinyl version for aptly colored display) features music from The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle’s soundtrack, prescient B-sides (“I Wanna Be Me” and its frightening “gimme World War III” call to action), inspired covers (The Who’s “Substitute,” The Monkees’ “(I'm Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”), and Sid Vicious’ goofy but effectively coarse take on Sinatra’s “My Way.” Still, Rotten is this crusty compilation’s star. In his refusal to take part in or pay heed to the mess that is Pistol, Rotten’s role as the last great rebellious frontman with significant, sniping vocal signatures is even-more heightened on The Original Records. God save Johnny Rotten.