The 2012 boxset undergoes a revamp in the guise of a new
robust package from Universal.
The first item to
greet you on removing the lid is a 48 page hardback book:
a smart looking miniaturised 7" square version of the 100 page "1977
Diaries" which adds a touch of quality
to the set. As well as taking you on a
whirlwind visual and fact filled
trip though 1977, it also contains all the information on the tracks
included in the set.
Disc 1: Never Mind
The Bollocks, Here’s The
A true re-mastering, and it
shows. The album has always sounded like a Chieftain Tank, and now you
can hear the inner workings in action as it roars into view. Try listening
both with and without headphones - both are spectacular. The backing
vocals benefit as well as the guitars and drum sound, with subtleties
detectable like never before. Same goes for John’s vocals. Submission
and New York particularly caught my imagination.
It is important to remember
that this is not a re-recording, nothing
has been tampered with. What we have here is the best possible sound
gleaned from the master tapes. It still sounds like NMTB should – and
it is essential that it does. What is
certain is that it will never sound better than it does here.
2: Studio Rarities / Dave Goodman Demos / Chris Thomas Demos &
/ Studio Rarities & B Sides
The jewel in the crown. The
start proceedings and have been given the same treatment as NMTB. No
Feeling, the flip side of the junked A&M GSTQ sounds
like it should – it’s never been quite right on any earlier outing –
other than on the original A&M.
Dave Goodman demos from January 1977 follow. Dave was known for
tinkering with his demos. Lord knows why. They are punchy and direct,
and feature some expert musicianship and inventiveness from Steve,
Glen, and Paul, much of which was lost on previous “versions” of the
demos. Once again, New York was a highlight for me. Proof positive that
untouched original classics should not be messed with.
Two cranks up yet another gear with the Chris Thomas demos and
outtakes. Mind blowing stuff. Presented in chronological order of
recording (EMI recorded in April finishing with “Goodbye A&M”),
this disc shows the band’s use of the studio developing as they hone
their sound to perfection. From the alternative vocal tracks of Did You
No Wrong (“my wet head”), Seventeen (“tell me your secrets do”) and
Satellite, through the rough mixes on show, it’s all terrific.
Essential for the Pistols
fanatic are the two mixes of Holidays In The Sun, one a
rough – but stunning - take, with the song clearly in an early stage of
development. Same goes for Body. The lyrics differ but are just
as scary as the NMTB version; "it was killed for a minor fee". A band
argument also follows the track!
surprising thing is that the recordings are good enough to release as
the Pistols debut LP. Most bands would have settled for this. Not the
Pistols. Funny that. For a group not supposed to care – they did when
it came to creating a musical legacy built to last. Forward thinking
from the boys. Also nice to see the original song titles from the time
of the demos retained: Unlimited Edition, No Future and Body – nice
attention to detail. Everyone
has had an opinion on the take of Belsen
Was A Gas since it emerged in 2012. The
main disappointment is the
vocal track which is
almost inaudible. Sid does a good job with his bass performance,
following Steve note for note, almost. Anyway, there it is, make of it
what you wish. It’s certainly better to have it than not.
Disc 2 is a fan’s dream.
Trondheim, StudentersamfuNdet, Norway
House, Stockholm, Sweden
Two soundboard recordings
from summer ‘77, the ideal
time to capture the band during such a turbulent year. Sid is at his
peak in terms of performance, pounding away – it leads to a very
compact sound. Although too rudimentary for the studio, it works in
claustrophobic club surroundings; brutal, intense, and at times
disconcerting. Wasn’t that the Sex Pistols in 1977?
week later - 28th July - the band was captured in Stockholm. This
recording brings back so many memories for old time bootleg collectors.
Released incomplete many times over the years, here we have the full
concert which includes No Feelings and No Fun, (both missing from the
vinyl bootlegs). The gig serves as reminder that away from the mayhem
back in the UK, the Sex Pistols could breathe and show what a
tremendous live rock and roll band they were, notwithstanding Sid who
doesn’t let his band mates down.
Disc 4 / DVD:
Riverboat Party, River Thames London 1977 / Happy
Stockholm, Sweden 1977 / Winter
Gardens, Penzance, Cornwall, 1977 / Promo
Videos / Radio 1
On Interview (audio)
First up: the Riverboat
Party footage in perfect
condition. If it was an event taking place in recent times, the full
show would have been recorded from multiple angles and so forth. But
the filming we do have captures the spirit of the day, from the
paranoia, the blistering performances in cramped confines, through to
the police bringing it all to an end. Doesn’t it just show how loathed
the band were at this time? Don’t the police overreact to a band
playing music on a river? Perhaps that is what makes it all so
encapsulating and poignant. Everything the Pistols stood for, and the
threat they posed, is here in this film.
in perfect condition, is film of the Pistols in Stockholm. The six
songs caught on film from 28th July have been around for decades in
various Nth generation bootleg copies. It will forever remain the best
of the Vicious line-up delivering the goods in 1977. Close-up -
excitingly filmed - with great sound, it just had to be
included in the box set.
real treat are the three songs recorded at the Winter Gardens,
Penzance, during the SPOTS tour. Again it’s hard to fault the
performance of the Pistols, it is epic stuff. By late ’77 the audience
were well and truly acting like Daily Mirror Punk Rockers, flicking
endless V-signs at the camera. Much more importantly, the band is
The Holidays In The Sun video compiled in 2012 is
expertly edited together
from late ’77 footage, making it an authentic addition to the
established videos for GSTQ and Pretty Vacant. Watching this on TV with
the sound turned up makes your hair stand on end. Another triumph.
The DVD disc also pulls
together audio only interviews conducted during
1977. So why choose these particular interviews? The Heyday
Interviews conducted by Judy Vermorel in August 1977 are important for
many reasons. They were recorded to form the basis for Fred & Judy
Vermorel’s authorised book on the Sex Pistols, originally called simply
Sex Pistols (Star Books 1978). It was the
only biography put
together during the band’s short career, and consequently the
questioning is not provocative, but seeks to delve beneath the surface
for all the right reasons – to let us know the truth behind their story.
The famous BBC Radio 1,
Rock On, December ‘77 John Tobler interview with John and Sid is here
as well in a full, uncensored form. If you’ve never heard it, this review will
remain spoiler free, just bear in mind that a month later the band was
no more. The
intereview has more recently been included in the More Product Box Set
NMTB from the master
tapes is what we always wanted; now it's available for all to enjoy.
The appearance of the demos and mixes on Disc 2 lifts this
collection into the stratosphere. Even
the Dave Goodman ’77 recordings sound fab now. The live audio and
videos have been presented in the best possible condition; in as
complete a form as is (now) known to exist. Let’s not forget the
Holidays In The Sun video either.
you missed out on the 2012 super deluxe edition or thought it too
expensive, then this revamped re-release is for you. The ultimate Pistols audio experience
awaits - find out for yourself what the Sex Pistols were all about.
Their musical legacy is simply second to none.
by Phil Singleton