On Second Thought – Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols

Each week, we take a retrospective look on albums which we think are either criminally underrated or woefully overrated, and why they actually rock/suck.

Where were you when you first heard this record? For me it was stuck in a traffic jam just outside Reading, which was fairly apt because, in that fateful moment, I couldn’t decide what was boring me more – although it transpired it was definitely Never Mind The Bollocks.

Of all the stunning punk albums of the era, both British and American, it seems totally unfair that the Sex Pistols‘ derivative, lowest common denominator, ‘look at how controversial we are’ record is the one deemed the most iconic of all. Yes it has the ‘classic’ singles of ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Anarchy in the UK’, but the album starts to grate and feel repetitive after a few tracks, let alone 12. There’s barely a change in tempo across the whole album and about half the songs are musically inseparable. But that’s the problem when you cobble together a band for their image rather than their musical prowess. You have a near-rabid frontman told to rant about everything from abortions (‘Bodies’) to record labels (‘EMI’), a guitarist who’s just finished the first chapter of his ‘My First Chords’ book and a rhythm section with about as much creativity as the interior design of a retirement home.

To make 12 songs based around ‘God Save the Queen’ is insulting enough, but when the results are as offensively bad as ‘Liar’ and ‘No Feelings’ it gets ridiculous. And when I say ‘offensively bad’, I don’t mean the content might transgress or polarise, I mean that their neanderthal derivativeness is a two-finger salute to anyone blessed with the gift of hearing.

Bands like The Damned and The Ramones showed that your songs didn’t have to all sound the same and sometimes you can lighten up with your lyrics, so when Johnny Rotten and co released Never Mind The Bollocks to such commercial acclaim you can see why the general population had such a negative perception of punk. This wasn’t anarchy, it was mindless self-destruction.

Click here to listen to the album in full – nobody’s forcing you to though, seriously!