There’s no question that the Sex Pistols’ only studio album Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols is one of the best, most influential punk rock records of all time. And its influence didn’t end with punk. The album was also embraced by many members of the metal community and had an undeniable impact on the genre. Never Mind the Bollocks, which came out on Oct. 28, 1977, captured a raw, rebellious energy, aggression and attitude and transformed it into scathing blasts of combustive guitar and snotty vocals that inspired Motorhead, Metallica, Megadeth, Guns N’ Roses and countless others.

There are several factors that make Never Mind the Bollocks exceptional: songwriting, musicianship, biting production, confrontational lyrics. And unlike many punk albums, Bollocks isn’t built for speed, driving its riffs, rants and battering beats home at an even pace throughout. Strangely, the song tempos have been a bone of contention for some in the punk community.

“What came first, the Sex Pistols or the word 'punk'?” guitarist Steve Jones said to MusicRadar.com. “We were at the beginning. That’s how we did it, and then bands came along and said, ‘That’s not punk, that’s too slow.’ We were just doing our thing; we weren’t trying to be anything. Most people still get that wrong even 30 years on from that original concept.”

Also of interest, few tracks on Never Mind the Bollocks adhere to traditional verse / chorus / verse constructs. There are gripping middle-eighths, unexpected bridges and unconventional flourishes. And guitarist Steve Jones augments many of his guitar passages with bluesy fills, ripping string scrapes and unconventional cord structures. In addition, the tone of his guitar is razor-sharp and the palm-muting he employs during many of the verses chugs with the intensity of vintage Priest. While Jones acknowledges he had a unique approach for the still-unformed punk genre, he downplays the quality of his timeless performance.

"My upbringing [was] on guitar [rock and], all that music was in my head growing up — The Faces, Bowie with Mick Ronson, Mott The Hoople – my influences were those,” he told MusicRadar.com. “So anything that comes out of ...Bollocks is owed to those bands. But I couldn’t play that good, so it came out the way it came out.”

Over the years, the Sex Pistols have been criticized by elitists as being an untalented batch of miscreants that Malcolm McLaren exploited for marketing purposes. Even if the latter is true, with the exception of bassist Sid Vicious – who only played on “Bodies” – the Sex Pistols could play and had the kind of chemistry in the studio most bands strive for but never achieve. Jones, who tracked most of the bass parts and all the guitars locked in perfectly with drummer Paul Cook, whose cracking fills, emphatic cymbal crashes and insistent beats lay a foundation for vocalist Johnny Rotten. And while Rotten is never shy in interviews when it comes to self-praise, on the album he half-shouts, half-sings without sounding like he gives a damn that he’s literally changing the game as he goes along.

Jones talked about how the band constructed most of the songs. "Me and Cookie would lay down a backing track, sometimes John would be in there singing or sometimes not, then I’d put the bass down and build the track up with a few guitars here and there,” he said. “I’m just playing eighth notes on the bass [on the whole album] with a couple of little riffs here and there – it was pretty simple.”

As classic as songs like “God Save the Queen,” “Anarchy in the UK” and “Pretty Vacant” are, the controversy surrounding the creation of Never Mind the Bollocks have resonated almost as strongly as the music. By the time Virgin Records released the album, the Sex Pistols had been dropped from two record labels, EMI and A&M, and were banned from playing concerts in most of England. They had endorsed chaos, attacked the monarchy used the word “f--k” on an album and written a graphic song about abortion.

The Sex Pistols started recording at Wessex Sound Studios in October 1976. Producer Chris Thomas and engineer Bill Price worked hard to keep the turbulent two-day session productive. Vicious, who replaced ex-bassist Glen Matlock, tried to perform with the band but couldn’t keep up musically with the other members so McLaren asked Matlock to return. The bassist agreed, but only if he was paid in advance. When that didn’t happen, he failed to show up and Jones had to double on bass and guitar.

Although chaos abounded, in a relatively short period the band recorded four tracks, “God Save the Queen,” “Pretty Vacant,” “EMI” and “Did You Wrong.” The Sex Pistols returned to the studio in March 1977 and worked until June. Price produced most of the sessions since Thomas left partway through to deal with other commitments. Soon after, Virgin Records signed the Sex Pistols and released the single “God Save the Queen.” The Sex Pistols returned to Wessex Studio one last time in August 1977 to record “Bodies.”

After poring through several versions of each track for the mix, Never Mind the Bollocks was completed on September 20, just five weeks before the album’s release date. Partially because of the strength of the singles that had been released and partially because of the press hype that surrounded the band, the public was eager to hear the finished album and there were advance orders for 125,000 copies, which contributed to its No. 1 debut on the English rock charts. In the U.S. where the promotion was not as great, Never Mind the Bollocks only reached No. 106.

On Nov. 17, the album went Gold in the UK and on Jan. 15, 1988, it was certified Platinum. It took a little longer for Never Mind the Bollocks to reach such heights in the States. On Dec. 2, 1987 it was certified Gold and on March 26, 1992, it went Platinum.

Since its original release, Never Mind the Bollocks has been reissued several times. In 1996, Virgin put it out as a double album that included the controversial Spunk bootleg called Spunk/This is Crap. The original version of Spunk came out around the same time as Never Mind the Bollocks on the label Blank and featured high-quality recordings of Sex Pistols demos and sessions tracked with Dave Goodman.

In 2007, Virgin issued a 30th anniversary edition of the album on 180-gram vinyl. Then, in September 2012 they put out a four-disc set that featured a digital remaster of the album, B-sides, outtakes and demos, including the previously unreleased "Belsen Was A Gas" demo. The set also included two live recordings from 1977 and a DVD of live and studio material.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen.

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