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As told by the Sex Pistols

Publisher: Octopus Books / Cassell Illustrated
Published 26th October 2017

1977 The Bollocks Diaries was originally a part of the now deleted 2012 Never Mind The Bollocks deluxe box set. Five years later it's a stand alone luxury item available to everyone. The 12" x 12" heavyweight tome is designed in the style of the American LP sleeve and is lavish in both look and content.

Focusing solely on 1977, bar a scene setting reference to the Bill Grundy show in December '76, it's apparent from the off that this would be a year in rock music like no other. It begins with the band getting fired by the most prestigious label in the world, EMI, and never lets up. Those reading this review will be familiar with the story, but where the Bollocks Diaries scores highly is in the visual and accessible way the proceedings are brought to life.

The book is awash with photographs, newspaper cuttings, sleeve and poster graphics - all printed on high quality paper. It contains famous iconic photographs and artwork but mixes in many visual rarities. The master tape boxes are of particular note as they serve as a reminder that in amongst the mayhem incredible music was being recorded, which is the ultimate focus of the book.

A key strength is the inclusion of the recording, mixing, and mastering dates presented alongside anecdotes from all those involved in the process of bringing the music to life and ultimately to the public. The development, delays, boredom and excitement are revealed, giving life to the album's gestation. It may have taken time to arrive, but as John Lydon remarks "Other groups were like 'We've put out a record ahead of you.' I don't care! I was glad that bands got up and did something. But they were doing it for themselves, they wanted to be us and were jealous that we were showing the way."

Diary 1977The desire to place the reader back in 1977 is done by allowing the band and other contemporary personalities to retell the story incident by incident in bite size quotations. It gives the book an energy, free from retrospective analysis, and to its credit, it doesn't shy away from the tensions within the camp as they build up throughout the year. It is very much a diary, but the very nature of the events means it comes across as an unfolding epic, serving as a reminder that for all the vitriol the band were subjected to and the contempt in which they were held, it was those dishing it out who ought to hang their heads in shame. Step forward the press, punk bashing thugs, and politicians.

1977: The Bollocks Diaries shines a light on the true nature of the Sex Pistols. A group of young men creating something extraordinary in the face of overwhelming odds. It took its toll and would soon be over, but for one brief year, 1977, the Sex Pistols fought through and Never Mind The Bollocks was the life changing result. For someone new to the band, this must come across as breath taking. Yes, it really was that crazy back in 1977.

If you were there or just wish to experience a glimpse into a fabulous era long gone, this is the book that brings it all back to life - a time capsule that warrants a place on any rock music bookshelf. It also sits perfectly next to your vinyl copy of the album.

Review by Phil Singleton (November 2017)

Photograph ©Barry Plummer


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