Showing posts with label Sex Pistols. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sex Pistols. Show all posts

Monday, April 06, 2020

The records that made me (some of 'em):
Never Mind the Bollocks

OK, back to the coal mine -- with my ghetto blaster.

The weekend intruded upon my recounting of 10 influential albums in my life. We resume the recounting with No. 6 in the series . . . the Sex Pistols' 1977 bombshell, "Never Mind the Bollocks."

I got stories about the Sex Pistols. I'll draw upon a 2006 blog entry to tell you about that anew.

But that story starts in the summer of 1977, when my Aunt Ailsa, an English war bride, flew home to Southampton to visit family. By that time, befuddled American foreign correspondents were sending back dispatches about this British phenomenon called "punk rock" and its antihero leaders, the Sex Pistols.

The current single by Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Paul Cook and Steve Jones was "God Save the Queen." It had been banned by the BBC. I was 16. Naturally, I had to have it.

And when Aunt Ailsa got back to Baton Rouge, I did. As far as I knew, I had the only Sex Pistols record in town. Maybe one of the few in the United States. You certainly didn't hear the Sex Pistols anywhere on local radio.

I preferred to think my aunt had to go in the back door of a Southhampton record shop and ask a cannabis-toking clerk "I say, do you have the stuff?" And then, in my teenage imagination, the clerk put down his bag of chips, slipped the 45 into a brown paper bag, and handed it to her. She then would have put a pound note into his resin- and grease-tainted hand, immediately lit a cigarette to mask the smell of second-hand marijuana smoke clinging to her clothes and slipped back out the back door.

MORE LIKE IT, she went in the front door of HMV, grabbed "God Save the Queen" off the rack and paid the teenage clerk at the front counter.

I like my 16-year-old imagination's version better.

Anyway . . . the fine folks in Red Stick thought the Beatles were dangerous and the Rolling Stones were spawns of Satan. Little did they know.

For example:
God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
A potential H-bomb

God save the queen
She's not a human being
and There's no future
And England's dreaming

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
There's no future
No future
No future for you

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
'Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid
Oh when there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers
In the dustbin
We're the poison
In your human machine
We're the future. . . .
MAN, I WAS a blue-collar kid in the Deep South. I was, for the first time in my life, at a school where ideas mattered and, like, thinking was encouraged and not reason to label you a weirdo or a "n****r-lover" -- or maybe "queer."

I mean, in the redneck corners of Louisiana, one did not lightly refer to thespians while among people who thought a thespian was other than what he or she actually was.

No, being at Baton Rouge Magnet High School blew a blue-collar kid's mind wide open in a Technicolor frenzy of Dreaming Big. Such was life at the Maggot School.

"The Maggot School" is what White Trash Nation called Baton Rouge High throughout my tenure there -- 1976-79. It was the place where all the geeks, brainiacs, musicians and thespians could be weirdos together in relative harmony and contentment. Hey, at BRHS, it was good to be a thespian.

If Student X had admitted to being a thespian at Broadmoor Junior High, I garon-damn-tee you someone would have beat him (or her) up and administered an enthusiastic version of the Toilet Water Taste Test. And the boys would have been even more vicious.

You just as well had put on an ascot and admitted to being a Homo sapiens. Or, better yet, called Junior Martinez (pronounced MART'un-ez) a Homo sapiens.

Anyway, Baton Rouge High, by the 1975-76 school year, was a struggling inner-city school whose halcyon days had gone the way of poodle skirts, B-52s (the hairdo, not the band) and "separate but equal." Then someone had an idea -- a magnet school for academics and the performing arts.

My parents were leery of this thing (I'll bet you can guess why), but I got to go. Miracle of miracles!

Well, Baton Rouge High had -- and still has -- a radio station. A real, honest-to-God, student-operated, over-the-air FM radio station -- WBRH. And thus, in high school, your Mighty Favog learned everything he needed to know.

The college education was for my liver.

ANYWAY . . . let me tell you about when WBRH introduced Baton Rouge to punk rock in 1977.

I found out about the Sex Pistols on Weekend, the NBC newsmagazine that preempted Saturday Night Live once a month back in the day. In this case, "back in the day" was, I reckon, spring 1977. Anyway, it seemed that the Pistols were about as pissed at the world as my teenage self, they could rock and -- best of all -- they terrified polite society as much as anything I had seen in my young life.

The fall of '77, I was enrolled in Radio I. I wasn't allowed an air shift yet; back then you first had to get a federal license -- by passing an exam. But I knew bunches of people in Radio II who had their third tickets (radio operator's licenses). Soon, the Sex Pistols were on the Baton Rouge airwaves, via the 20-watt blowtorch signal at 90.1 FM.

One fall afternoon, I was sitting in with Charles, a junior, during the afternoon rock show. He was skeptical of the Sex Pistols, but played it and asked for listener feedback. What feedback you get from a high-school FM blowtorch (that is, not a bunch) was decidedly mixed.

AFTER A WEEK or so of playing Baton Rouge's one copy of a Sex Pistols record, we did get some strong feedback. It was from the licensee of WBRH, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. And it went something like this: We don't know what the hell that is you've been playing on the radio station, but we want you to cut it out. NOW!

The radio instructor and general manager, John Dobbs, liked his teaching gig. The 45 was confiscated, and the Sex Pistols faced the same fate at WBRH that the lads did at the BBC. Banned.

I did retrieve my record from The Iron Fist of the Oppressor, but only after I agreed never to bring it back. It sits, carefully preserved in its famous picture sleeve, in a plastic file box, along with all my other 45s from Back in the Day.

Now, Charles was -- is? -- an interesting guy. Think of Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties a good five years before there was a Family Ties. Only African-American.

It probably was in the spring of '78 that I was again hanging out with Charles in the radio control room, playing the likes of David Gilmour, The Fabulous Poodles, Toto, the Cars, Journey and Queen. Maybe some Commodores -- Brick House, baby! -- and Parliament/Funkadelic.

Well, that day, obviously not enough "Brick House" or "P-Funk."

(Flash. Flash. Flash. Hey, radio-studio phones flash; they don't ring. OK?)

Charles: WBRH!

Caller: Hey, man, why don't you play some n****r music, man! ("N****r" = Not Polite, Racist and Offensive Term for African-American -- then, now or ever.)

Charles: Uhhhhh, excuse me, but I happen to be black.

Caller: Oh, uhhh, oh . . . oh, I'm sorry, man! How about playin' some BLACK music for me, man!

Charles: I'll see what I can do. (Slams phone down.) Redneck son of a bitch!
I DON'T THINK the guy got his "n****r music" played, man.

Now, I think there was a point to this post when I started it. I'll see whether I can get back to it.

When the Sex Pistols' first LP, "Never Mind the Bollocks" -- you know, the point of this whole missive -- came out in November 1977, I made it to the Musicland at Cortana Mall in the manner of someone whose head was on fire and his ass was catchin'.

Is what I'm sayin'.

And it did not disappoint when I got it on the stereo. I was dangerous, too -- in both 45 and 33⅓.

I'd like to think I still am at age 59. My wife of almost 37 years might disagree.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Simply '70s: Punk in England in '76

From 1976, London Weekend Television takes a look at the British punk scene, in which we see the Sex Pistols before Sid Vicious, Clash before the "The" and Siouxsie before the Banshees.

We also see Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Topper Headon making some sense about why there had to be punk at that moment in musical history. And we see a calculatingly bored Johnny Rotten unable to grasp the contradictions of condemning bands like the Rolling Stones as "a business" while immersed in The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle -- the real one, not the mockumentary -- up to one's spiky hairdo.

The mod, hip, now and happenin' --
or should that be "mawd, 'ip, now 'n' 'appenin' "? -- Janet Street-Porter presided over all of this, despite being nearly 40 at the time and well-ensconced in the establishment the punks so loathed.

Well, at least Rotten didn't spit on her.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Satan goes by 'Anonymous'

Click on E-mails to read.

Satan never sleeps.

That's because he's too busy leaving anonymous comments on blogs and websites.

If you're one of those people inclined to doubt the existence of hell and the devil , look at these comments I got today on what I thought was a fairly whimsical post on the Sex Pistols and the state of the Establishment, circa January 1978.

IT'S A HELL of a thing, no?

Obviously, "Anonymous" is one disturbed individual, and an angry one, too. Obviously, this is why I moderate comments to Revolution 21's Blog for the People. Obviously, these got deleted.

And -- obviously -- I'm now making an example of them . . . and the sick soul who has nothing better to say than this.

Where does such rage come from? How do you explain such an all-consuming, intense hatred of all humanity? And can anyone deny this poor soul exists in some very real, albeit private (for now), manifestation of hell?

Mental illness or some manner of deviant socialization can get you most of the way to an explanation, but not all the way to one. It doesn't -- at least not in my opinion -- get you all the way to that degree of nihilism, that level of hatred of the human race itself. Mental illness or sociological deficits can explain the brokenness, but neither can explain the phenomenon of evil.

What we have here is evil -- and all sociology or psychology can shed light upon are the fissures that allow evil to penetrate the soul and do what it will. This is what Satan looks like when he thinks the cameras aren't rolling; this is what he sounds like when he's at a loss for words.

I SUPPOSE my disturbed correspondent is some sort of punk who -- again, obviously -- takes issue with the aforementioned post. He, she or it is a cautionary tale of what can happen when one takes this punk thing entirely too seriously.

Especially that "I am an antichrist" part in the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." Not the Antichrist, mind you, but an antichrist.

The real Antichrist will be a much better writer with a much larger vocabulary.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Simply '70s: The fascist regime strikes back

This must have been from 1978, this Today show report by Jack Perkins on NBC. The Sex Pistols were embarking on their first American tour, amid copious Establishment wailing and cultural gnashing of teeth.

My God, what if they cursed on stage? Spat on the audience? Trashed a hotel room?

Next thing you know, they'd be shooting the telly. What? Elvis did that years before?


STILL, THE ADULT self, some 33 years removed from his teenage hormones, suspects that Establishment Jack was pretty much on target. The Pistols were boorish, dissipated louts of limited technical ability who probably did coarsen the culture, for what that's worth anymore.

I know this; you know this. Jack Perkins certainly knew this, and wasn't shy about telling his horrified TV audience -- the one sitting at the breakfast table putting a little nip of something in the morning coffee, smoking cigarettes and plotting out how to screw that little s*** at the office.

And then that young little thing after work, being that the missus was visiting the mother-in-law.

In your heart, you know I'm right. Somewhere in my cynical, cynical heart, I know Perkins was right.

THAT SAID, how about we throw the old fascist out of a moving limo on the way to the show?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Your Daily '80s: A bitter PiL

John Lydon of Public Image, Ltd., possessed many skills in 1980. Lip syncing was not among them.

Come to think of it, remembering the lyrics most of the time wasn't part of his skill set, either.

And Dick Clark thought things would go according to plan when the former Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and his new band, PiL, came for a May 1980 visit . . .
why, exactly? Like, dude, this ain't no Fabian or Frankie Avalon you're dealing with here.

WELL, Dick, it doesn't have much of a beat, and you can't do The Hustle to it, so I'll give it a . . . 275 out of 100.

The Man totally had it stuck to him that day.

IN JUNE of 1980, on the other hand, the great Tom Snyder of the Tomorrow show wasn't taking any of that s***.

If Lydon was gonna throw curve balls -- or a googlies, if you want to be cricket about it -- Snyder was gonna grab his bat and take his cuts.
And not necessarily at the ball.

I've featured the
Tomorrow interview before, but it's well worth another look.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Musical youth

Just sittin' here thinkin' early on a Sunday morning. And for no particular reason, here's a brief timeline . . . of my musical youth.

"Dem goddamn Beatles say dey bigger den Jesus Christ. Dey muss be a bunch a commerniss."

I am 5 and easily bullied by parental units. Original copy of "Meet the Beatles' given to me by Aunt Sybil ends up busted up and pitched into the garbage as some sort of religious act. As opposed to . . . going to church?

1966-67: Take to playing the phonograph in the 1949 Silvertone console, cutting musical teeth on old 78s by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five, Ivory Joe Hunter, Hank Williams and (yes) Elvis Presley (quite rare, as it turns out). Burn through vintage 45s by the Everly Brothers, Elvis (again), Jerry Lee Lewis, The Kingston Trio, et al.

Unfamiliar enough with the concept of "irony" not to appreciate it in the context of what I've just been listening to from my folks' 1940s and '50s records as compared to their rants about "n****r music."

1971: "C'mon Mama, it's the Carpenters. The Carpenters ain't hippie music."

"Oh, all right."

1971: Out at camp in Head of Island, stay awake half the night under the covers, earphone in ear, listening to acid rock on the "Chad Noga Choo-Choo" on Rampart 102 in New Orleans.

1972: Score 45s by Joe Tex, Dr. Hook, Edgar Winter Group and Gallery, among others, at Howard Bros.

1973: Score 45s by George Harrison, Paul Simon, Billy Preston, Wings, Clarence Carter, Dobie Gray, Elton John and Three Dog Night, among others, at TG&Y.

Have a knack for winning stuff on the phone from

1975: Divide listening time between WLCS and Loose Radio.

1976: Skip lunch a lot to spend lunch money on LPs. All "hippie music."

Regular midnight announcement from parents' bedroom -- "CUT THAT S*** OFF!"

SUMMER 1977: "It's the Sex Pistols. So what?"

FALL 1977: Radio teacher John Dobbs bans from the WBRH airwaves (and confiscates) the copy of "God Save the Queen" my Aunt Ailsa brought back from London that summer -- just as I begged her to. I get my 45 back after promising never to bring it to school again.

Thus ends the last time ever that Baton Rouge was a trendsetter.

Special trek to Musicland at Cortana Mall to buy "Never Mind the Bollocks." Lustily sing the chorus to Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands" while playing air guitar.
For the ones who had a notion, a notion deep inside
That it aint no sin to be glad you're alive
I wanna find one face that aint looking through me
I wanna find one place, I wanna spit in the face of these Badlands
You got to live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you got to pay
We'll keep pushing till it's understood
And these badlands start treating us good

1979: Find now-rare "fire cover" of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Street Survivors" (complete with concert-schedule insert) hiding in the bins of the little-visited Sears record department. Also find "Let It Be" with a rare red-apple label.

Finally get around to replacing that copy of "Meet the Beatles."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Sex Pistols were right

If EMI couldn't promote the Sex Pistols back when record labels were record labels, music was music and no one knew what "downloading" was, except that it sounded vaguely dirty, is it any surprise the company didn't know what to do with the latest OK Go video?

Back in 1977, the Sex Pistols
had the last laugh on EMI, and now OK Go is ready to do a little giggling itself. All the way to the bank, now that the group gets to keep all the profits.

YOU HEARD it first on NPR and All Things Considered:
Since the advent of streaming Internet video outlets such as YouTube, bands and record labels have repeatedly been at odds over how to address the issue that, when a user watches a video online, no money is generated for the label or the band. In an interview with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, OK Go singer-songwriter-guitarist Damian Kulash says that he — and the rest of the band — view videos not as a potential source of income, but rather as another creative outlet.

"This is all sort of part of the creative project for us," he says. "I mean, the animating passion for us is to get up and chase down our craziest ideas, and sometimes those are filmic, and sometimes they're purely sounds."

The band's label, EMI, didn't see things the same way. In an effort to maintain some control over the dissemination of the music video, EMI denied listeners the ability to embed it on their own Web sites and blogs. After receiving a deluge of complaints, the band eventually persuaded EMI to enable embedding. Soon afterward, however, OK Go parted ways with EMI to start its own record label, Paracadute.

WHAT ESCAPES bloated corporate collections of shortsighted moneygrubbers like EMI is this: The OK Go video isn't a revenue stream, it's free advertising.

The cost for putting it on YouTube? Zero.

The cost of producing it for the band? I'll bet it wasn't much, considering they got State Farm to sponsor it.

The promotional dividends from having it embedded on websites and blogs (like this one) everywhere? Limitless.

YOU WANT to know what's priceless, though? From now on, OK Go doesn't have to get nickeled-and-dimed by a record label that didn't know what to do with the Sex Pistols back in the day, and hasn't learned a damned thing in the intervening 33 years.

P.S.: One more thing. . . . Because of the promotional value of the video and the All Things Considered piece, I'm going to iTunes and buying the album. And the only credit EMI can take for that is indirectly, via the law of unintended consequences.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, November 27, 2008

3 Chords & the Truth: Real. Good. Real good.

This is the Sex Pistols, back in the glory days. Only on 3 Chords & the Truth could the Sex Pistols somehow coexist with Ernest Tubb.

BOTH ARE REAL. Both are good. As far as we're concerned on 3 Chords & the Truth, both are real good.

I think that tells you all you need to know about this week's episode of the Big Show. In fact, I think that tells you all you need to know about any episode of our little program.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fat, drunk and dentally-challenged . . .

. . . is no way for a country to go through life.

Who knew that the Brits' famed stiff upper lip got that way from trying to make it to the 'loo before blowing chunks?

FROM THE DAILY MAIL in London, we get this depressing account of the Big Night in the U.K.:
Binge-drinking revellers fuelled a chaotic start to 2008 as over-stretched ambulance workers battled to cope with emergency calls flooding in at a peak of one every eight seconds.

In the capital alone the London Ambulance Service had to deal with its highest number of emergency calls since the Millennium - the majority related to excess alcohol.

As midnight came and went there was mayhem as scores of drunken partygoers around the country tumbled into the streets, some wearing little more than their underwear.

Fights erupted and a string of dishevelled young men and women collapsed on benches and in doorways, too inebriated to remember or care that the night was supposed to be a celebration.

There to mop up the mess were thousands of emergency workers drafted in to provide cover on the busiest night of the year.

In the first four hours of 2008, London Ambulance Service (LAS) dealt with an astonishing 1,825 calls alone, peaking at over 500 calls an hour between 2am and 4am. The volume of 999 calls was up 17 per cent on last year' and four times worse than a normal night.

Meanwhile in the West Midlands the ambulance service fielded 1,400 calls in just five hours - a rate of one every 12 seconds. It was mirrored by the North East Ambulance Service which received 1,860 calls between 11pm and 5am.

Last night the astonishing number of calls to deal with booze-fuelled illness of injury prompted accusations that lives of those in real emergencies were being put at risk and demands for partygoers to wake up the costs of binge-drinking.

LAS spokeswoman Gemma Gidley said: "These calls put the Service under increased pressure to manage demand when we have to ensure we respond quickly to other patients with potentially life-threatening emergencies.

"People need to think about the real consequences of drinking so much that they require treatment."

In the south, the South Central Ambulance Service dealt with three times more incidents that normal.

OR, IN THE WORDS of that English prophet, Johnny Rotten:
God save the queen,
The fascist regime,
They made you a moron,
Potential H-bomb.

God save the queen,
She ain't no human being.
There is no future,
In England's dreaming.

Don't be told what you want,
Don't be told what you need,
There's no future no future,
No future for you!

God save the queen,
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves.

God save the queen,
'Cos tourists are money
Our figure's head
Is not what she seems.

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh lord god have mercy
All claims are paid

When there's no future
How can there be sin?
We're the flowers in the dustbin,
We're the poison in your human machine,
We're the future; your future.

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves.

God save the queen
We mean it man
And there is no future
In England's dreaming.

No future no future
No future for you
No future no future
No future for me.

No future no future
No future for you
No future no future
No future for you
No future no future for you.