friends, Tony Wilson (Factory Records boss / Hacienda supremo) & Glen got
together on the excellent radio station XFM Manchester for two hours of chat and
music in the sedate surroundings of Salford Quays on a blustery Sunday afternoon.
It was my pleasure to accompany Glen for the live broadcast.
show was a celebration of the Sex Pistols, Glen's contribution to the Pistols,
and a chance to hear some of Glen's favourite songs. Tony Wilson introduced his
guest: "Glen, who as a young man was one of four men who changed the world
we live in." Anarchy In The UK kicked off the show. "You've got to imagine
the sneer on Lydon's face as he closed that line" remarked Tony Wilson at
the song's conclusion.
led into discussion about the Pistols in Manchester, particularly their appearance
on Granada TV's So It Goes, the band's first ever TV appearance. It was Tony himself
who put the Pistols on So It Goes way back in August '76.The high esteem in which
he still holds Glen and the band was clear throughout today's show; the Sex Pistols
changed his life and the world. Glen revealed that the Vivienne Westwood shirt
he wore on So It Goes he later used to wash his car. He recalled Tony tying to
wind them up on the show, and also the Pistols playing Problems as a warm up,
which was not recorded. Tony believes this was the day the renowned TV journalist
and presenter Clive James became an old man. Clive, who was on the same edition
of So It Goes, had tried to pick a verbal fight with John Lydon, which proved
a mistake. John "had him on toast."
The Faces were common ground within the Pistols prior to John joining. The Faces
were the only band around who sounded like they were having a laugh. On record
they appeared to be only just holding it together. Glen chose the track Miss Judy's
Farm. Off air Glen remarked on the similarity of the guitar sound with Steve Jones'
formation of the Pistols was discussed. Glen recalled Steve and Paul coming into
Malcolm McLaren's shop, Let It Rock, and trying to get Malcolm to manage them.
He also spoke about his "audition" at Wally Nightingale's house. Steve
& Paul told him "that's not a bass, this is a bass" as they pulled
a brand new Fender Precision bass from under the bed. He also remembered with
mirth how he was sent to sell a guitar not knowing Steve had stolen it, and ended
up handcuffed by the police.
Shot By Both Sides, a favourite of Tony Wilson, was played. Glen recalled a meeting
with Howard Devoto (Magazine's lead singer and ex-Buzzcock) in Manchester at the
time he was putting the Rich Kids together, with the possibility of them forming
a band. Howard, however, proved too intense. Off air we discussed Magazine's guitarist
John McGeoch. I reminded Tony that he passed away a couple of years ago. This
led to a name check for myself on the show - thanks Anthony.
to the subject of the Pistols, Tony offered his opinion that Malcolm McLaren's
dream was to manage the "Bay City Rollers of outrage, who would be number
one purely because they were disgusting." His plan went wrong; "In fact,
art kicked his ass, because you were the most relevant band, the most exciting
band.... you were the leaders of one of the major youth movements of the 20th
Guest Careers Point song was next: The Israelites by Desmond Dekker. Hearing
this record for the first time was the moment Glen stopped listening to general
pop music. He recalled hearing it on Mike Raven's Rock, Folk & Blues show
aged 13/14 while travelling in the back of his Mum and Dad's car. Then followed
a discussion about the definition of Emo music, with all parties trying to put
a finger on what it actually is. "It's emotional", "power chords",
"intelligent teenage." Interestingly, Glen revealed his two sons have
said he was stunned to hear Steve Jones tell him when he had appeared on Jonesy's
Jukebox in LA, that Boston were his favourite band. Glen thinks Steve's not being
entirely serious. So whom did Steve really rate at the time? The Dave Clark Five
& The Shadows. Glen remembered how he & Steve liked the end of Queen's
Bohemian Rhapsody and thought the rest of the song was rubbish, but John Lydon
could not accept that you could just like a part of a song. Glen picked another
Faces track, Pool Hall Richard, which closes with the line, "you're breaking
my heart cos you're stealing my tart."
word "punk" came under the spotlight. Glen reaffirmed that the Pistols
were not a punk band, and they had hated the word. They associated the word with
its use in a James Cagney film as a male prostitute in prison. "The name
got applied to us by Jonh Ingham (Sounds journalist) & Caroline Coon from
the Melody Maker who both used the word punk simultaneously."
up was the Sex Pistols' Stepping Stone. Tony Wilson chose the track; the only
song at their Lesser Free Trade Hall 4th June 1976 gig that he knew, his only
point of reference for what he was witnessing, a song which when played by the
Pistols was "full of sound, fury & intensity."
Sensational Alex Harvey Band, with a song written by Jacques Brel about mobile
brothels and the French Foreign Legion, was Glen's next choice, the aptly titled
Next. Malcolm thought The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were tax inspectors when
they visited his shop back in the 70s and asked Glen to throw them out. A few
weeks later Glen took Malcolm & Bernie Rhodes to the Hammersmith Odeon to
see them, & Glen is convinced that was the day Malcolm realised there was
money to be made in rock & roll, and began to take the Pistols seriously.
Tony had never listened to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band before and loved what
Walker followed with another Jacques Brel song, If You Go Away. Glen cited Jacques
Brel as the "songwriter's songwriter", without the likes there would
have been no Anarchy In The UK. To illustrate the point, he remembered Caroline
Coon calling him up before she reviewed Anarchy & asked for Glen's thoughts.
He described it as a fanfare, based on his Sunday Night at The London Palladium
questions from listeners were sent in via text during the show, including:
did the Pistols not play in Belfast during the '96 Filthy Lucre Tour? They were
banned for being blasphemous.
were the Pistols so naïve with money? This brought back memories of signing
a management contract with McLaren. Steve & Paul: "Malcolm's our mate,
he wouldn't stitch us up". John (to Glen): "You've read the contract,
if there is anything wrong, it's your fault." A discussion followed about
song credits and publishing, a source of strife in many bands that often leads
to them splitting up. The motto: Sort out the publishing!
One Knows by Queens Of The Stone Age followed, which Glen chose for the skew-whiff
guitar riff and the groove. He saw them in LA with Steve Jones late last year,
and likens them in part to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
the two hours drew to a close, Glen reflected that as far as the Pistols were
concerned, "Everyone played their part, Malcolm included."
Vacant brought to a conclusion an absorbing two hours.
and photographs by Phil Singleton