I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol

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1976-1977 in 2021
In 2021, The Sex Pistols will release the box set 76-77 with outtakes, demos and other rarities. A television series based on a 2017 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol by Steve Jones is pending, under legal objections from John Lydon. 

Film director Julien Temple knew exactly what he was doing when he titled his 1980 feature film about the rise and fall of The Sex Pistols, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.

The band’s manager Malcolm McLaren knew exactly what he was doing when he put a snotty wannabe named John Lydon together with three aspiring musicians with more attitude than musical skill and named them The Sex Pistols.

It’s just the boys in the band – singer Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, bass player Glen Matlock and drummer Pal Cook – who didn’t realise that they were being swindled… until they did.

Glen Matlock and Paul Cook

“I was speaking to Paul Cook only this morning,” Glen Matlock told me back in October 1992 during a chat about his memoir, I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol, “and we were talking about Jon Savage’s book England’s Dreaming and Paul was moaning about it – ‘Have you read Jon’s book?’ he says. ‘I don’t know what it’s all on about. The first hundred pages are all about Malcolm! That weren’t nuffin’ to do wiv it!!’

“What I’ve tried to say in the book is there was two Sex Pistols,” he continued, “the one when I was in it and there was the one with Sid [Vicious] and I feel that when I was in it, it was a proper band and it counted for a bit more because it was a more truthful thing. It was a band of kids, for the kids. Playing kids music. That was why we initially shook things up.”

Sid Vicious and Malcolm McLaren

“Once Sid joined it became a media exercise and that’s when Malcolm really took the bull by the horns and came to his fore as this Svengali kind of character. But that was only after we’d already established ourselves and the weight of the band, with Malcolm’s assistance and his management capabilities, so all power to him for that. But then the media exercise became the message and that’s when I lost interest really.”

“I mean, Malcolm started sprouting off about heroes of his, people like Larry Parnes, who was an old school Tin Pan Alley-style manager for people like Billy Fury and Marty Wilde, Kim’s dad, in the late ‘50s early ‘60s. But then he started going on about Tom Patton and the Bay City Rollers and I thought, ‘Hold on, I don’t particularly want to go down that road!’”

Never Mind The Bollocks

Matlock reckons that if the band had been allowed to just get on with being a band, the Sex Pistols might have cut three or four albums. In the event they only managed one, the infamous Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, released in October 1977, by which time he’d been replaced by John Ritchie aka Sid Vicious.

Whether he left of his own volition or was ousted by Lydon, with whom Matlock was fighting, and McLaren, who was determined to inject as much chaos into the band and the image he had in mind for them – is still up for discussion. The album topped the UK chart, made it to #23 in Australia and a tepid #106 on the US Billboard 200.

The Sex Pistols in 2021

Sex Pistols 76-77, a whacking great 4CD set that’s also available digitally, released by Universal Music on September 24th 2021 will appear as Danny Boyle’s television series Pistol is under fire from John Lydon.

The Sex Pistols might have only released one official album, but they recorded more than enough demo versions of songs for Universal to pull together no less than 80 alternate versions of tracks recorded between May 1976 and September 1977, including eight that have never been previously released – along with a bonus disc featuring the infamous Spunk bootleg. Thirty of the tracks are available digitally for the first time.

The Pistols in 2021

Sex Pistols 76-77 – Track Listing

CD1
Chris Spedding – Majestic Studios Mixes, May 15th 1976
Problems
Pretty Vacant
No Feelings (Take 1)
No Feelings (Unreleased Take 2)
No Feelings (Unreleased Take 3)

Dave Goodman – Decibel Studios Mixes, July 30th 1976
Submission
Seventeen
Satellite
I Wanna Be Me
Pretty Vacant
Anarchy In The UK
No Feelings

Dave Goodman – Wessex Studios Sessions October 17th 1976
Anarchy In The UK
Substitute
(Don’t Give Me) No Lip
(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone
Johnny B Goode
Road Runner
Watcha Gonna Do About It?
Through My Eyes
No Fun (unedited 7 Minute Version)

CD2
Mike Thorne Manchester Square Studio Session Dec 11th 1976
Anarchy In The UK (Instrumental (Manchester Square backing track)
No Future (aka GSTQ)
Liar
Problems (Manchester Square Demos)
God Save The Queen (Instrumental)
Pretty Vacant (Instrumental)
No Feelings (Instrumental (EMI back tracks for TV))

Dave Goodman Eden Studio Mixes January 28th 1977 (recorded at Gooseberry Studios Jan 1977)
New York
Unlimited Edition (aka EMI)
Liar
Pretty Vacant
Problems
No Future (aka GSTQ)
God Save The Queen (Unreleased Instrumental)

Dave Goodman Riverside Studio Mixes 31/5/77 (Recorded at Denmark Street July 1976 but mixed 1977)
Pretty Vacant
Seventeen
Satellite
No Feelings
I Wanna Be Me
Submission
Anarchy In The UK

CD3
Wessex Studio – Chris Thomas mixes
Anarchy In The UK (Wessex Studios Rejected version Oct. 1976)
Did You No Wrong (Alternative Vocal March 3rd 1977)
17 (Alternative Vocal March April 21st 1977)
Satellite (Rough Mix April 22 1977)
Submission (Rough Mix April 22 1977)
Holidays In The Sun (Rough Mix April 22 1977)
EMI (Rough Mix April 22 1977)
17 (Rough Mix May 16 1977)
Holidays In The Sun (Alternative Mix June 11 1977)
Body (Demo & The Banter June 11 1977)
Submission (Alternative Mix August 12 1977)

Chris Thomas NMTB Sessions, Wessex Studios March – August 1977
EMI (Outtake – March 3rd 1977)
God Save The Queen (Outtake – March 3rd 1977)
Bodies (Outtake – Instrumental June 18th 1977)
EMI (Outtake – August 12th 1977)
Satellite (Outtake – August 12th 1977)
Submission (Version 1 – Alternative Mix – August 12th 1977)
EMI (Alternative Mix – April 22nd 1977)
Seventeen (Alternative Mix – April 21st 1977)
No Feelings (Alternative Mix – April 14th 1977)
Submission (Version 2 – Alternative Mix – August 12th 1977)

John Boogie Tiberi Denmark Street Rehearsal Room, London, Sept 20th 1977
Belsen Was A Gas (Demo)
Belsen Was A Gas (Demo 2)

CD4
Spunk – Bootleg – Bonus Disc
Seventeen (Spunk Version)
Satellite (Spunk Version)
Feelings (aka No Feelings) (Spunk Version)
Just Me (aka I Wanna Be Me) (Spunk Version)
Submission (Spunk Version)
Nookie (aka Anarchy In The UK) (Spunk Version)
No Future (aka God Save The Queen) (Spunk Version)
Problems (Spunk Version)
Lots Of Fun (aka Pretty Vacant) (Spunk Version)
Liar (Spunk Version)
Who Was It (aka EMI) (Spunk Version)
New York (aka Looking For A Kiss) (Spunk Version)
Anarchy In The UK (Denmark Street Demo July 76) (Spunk Version)
Pretty Vacant (Denmark Street Demo July 76) (Spunk Version)
No Fun (Unedited Version) (Spunk Version)

By Michael George Smith, former Associate and Contributing editor at The Drum Media and The Music, freelance music journalist for RAM, Juke, On The Street, JAMM, Sonics and way more, freelance book reviewer for Overland, Island and Quadrant, author of What’s Been Did (And What’s Been Hid): A Narrative History of Australian Pop and Rock, three volumes completed to date, Volume I covering the artists and acts that emerged between 1955 and 1963, Volume II those between 1964 and 1969, and Volume III those between 1970 and 1976. Bass player with Mushroom signing Scandal 1976-78, and legendary instrumental surf guitar band The Atlantics 2006-12.

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