four members of the band the Sex Pistols
© Bob Gruen

Revolutions: Sex Pistols "Never Mind the Bollocks"

REVOLUTIONS EXPLORES SOME OF THE RECORDS THAT HAVE ALTERED AND INFLUENCED THE MUSIC WORLD.

The Rock Hall and Klipsch Audio take fans deep inside these albums to showcase their significance and impact. In 1977, punk rock went mainstream when the Sex Pistols released their debut LP, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, bring their inciting songs to the willing masses. 

In 1977, British punks the Sex Pistols dropkicked punk rock into the mainstream with their confrontational debut LP, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

Building on the band's penchant for agitation, the record captured the dark moods of England's disaffected youth, who were angered by the country's high unemployment rate and political grandstanding.

The Sex Pistols mirrored social turmoil with their album. Menacing and abrasive guitars lurched around punishing drums, leading to the desperate-sounding song "Bodies" and the accusatory "Liar."

At the center of this sonic turmoil was vocalist John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten.

He raged against record labels and the royal family, sneering at authority figures in a howl that was often drenched with bratty vibrato. His voice oozing scorn and frustration, Rotten served as a snarling beacon for the burgeoning punk scene.

He also ensured that Never Mind The Bollocks' lyrics always courted controversy.

"God Save The Queen"—which had been banned by the BBC earlier in 1977—condemned "the fascist regime" in power—and was a scathing indictment of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

Yet Never Mind The Bollocks took its rabble-rousing chaos seriously.

The Sex Pistols worked with producers Chris Thomas and Bill Price. Thomas was known for mixing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and Price had also worked with some of England's biggest names.

Self-taught guitarist Steve Jones, who also played bass on most of the album, favored bruising, locomotive riffs that paired violent energy with more traditional nods to '50s rock 'n' roll hotrodding.

The in-your-face cuts "Pretty Vacant" and "No Feelings" were aggressive but melodic, while "Anarchy In the U.K." had a surprisingly tuneful guitar solo.

And the churning pub rock anthem "Seventeen" served as a manifesto for both the band and England's new ruling musical class:

Never Mind the Bollocks was banned by multiple stores in the U.K., although it still landed at No. 1 on the album charts upon release. The Sex Pistols followed the album's release with a disastrous U.S. tour that ultimately broke up the band.

Forty years later, Never Mind The Bollocks hasn’t lost its edge. The group still sounds dangerous, violent and incorrigible.

Never Mind The Bollocks smashed open the door for punk bands to bring their message of subversion and revolution to the willing masses.

 

Get More Artist Stories

To the top