Filthy Lucre Live

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Filthy Lucre Live by The Sex Pistols

“Bodies”

“Seventeen”

“New York”

“No Feelings”

“Did You No Wrong”

“God Save The Queen”

“Liar!”

“Satellite”

“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”

“Holidays In The Sun”

“Submission”

“Pretty Vacant”

“E.M.I.”

“Anarchy In The UK”

“Problems”

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle

NOTE: We’re looking for a knowledgeable Sex Pistols nerd! A review for The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle hasn’t been published — yet. We need someone who can write a full track-by-track review of this album (at least a couple paragraphs per song); if you know the music, you can submit a review. You’ll be compensated when visitors make purchases through vendor links on their pages — for as long as your review remains on the site. Get more details in the FAQ.

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle by The Sex Pistols

“God Save The Queen (Symphony)”

“Rock Around The Clock”

“Johnny B Goode”

“Road Runner”

“Black Arabs”

“Anarchy In The UK”

“Watcha Gonna Do About It”

“Who Killed Bambi? – Tenpole Tudor”

“Silly Thing”

“Substitute”

“Don’t Gimme No Lip Child”

“I’m Not Your Stepping Stone”

“Lonely Boy”

“Something Else – Sid Vicious”

“L’Anarchie Pour Le UK”

“Einmal War Belsen Bortrefflich”

“Einmal War Belsen Wirflich Bortrefflich”

“No One Is Innocent”

“My Way – Sid Vicious”

“C’Mon Everybody”

“EMI (Orchestral)”

“The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle”

“You Need Hands”

“Friggin’ In The Riggin'”

Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols

Even though Elvis Presley and Marc Bolan both died in 1977, that year would ultimately be remembered as the birth date of punk, an inspired search for utopia led by dissatisfied youngsters during a time of high unemployment rates and repressive laws against going out at night and having fun.

The intended reaction against the establishment was to destroy everything and build a new order; punks considered answers more important than questions. Provocation was the way of getting their message across, and musically that implied unusual performances, daring lyrics, and a trashy dress code. And nobody could do it better than the Sex Pistols.

Guided by manager/svengali Malcolm McLaren and his girlfriend, the clothes designer Vivienne Westwood, the Pistols turned bad manners and scandals into art. Playing music well was not important at all; attitude was the deal, and they had plenty.

If the Sex Pistols were the apostles of this new religion, Never Mind The Bollocks was its bible. Although the group was banned by several radio stations, and the vast majority of their concerts were cancelled (not to mention EMI and A&M; both annulling their contracts, and only the trust of Virgin making the record’s release possible), they reached stardom and a place in music history.

Bassist Sid Vicious, an icon of modern culture, wouldn’t actually join until 1978. His wuthering love story with the groupie Nancy Spungen, and their dramatic deaths from an explosive combination of heroin abuse and self-destruction, added to the struggle between singer Johnny Rotten and McLaren, leading to the end of the group. One day after the death of Vicious, Rotten would release the debut album from his new band, PIL (Public Image Limited).

The Sex Pistols would come back in 1997, with the original line up (featuring Glen Matlock on bass), and stating that they were just in it for the money. Indeed, the magic from this album never came back.

The Sex Pistols — Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols: Track-by-track review

1. “Holidays In The Sun”
Stomping boots open the album and this song. Punks were accused of promoting Nazism, because they wore swastikas, but it was just a provocation, to cause commotion.

This line sums up the topic of the song:

Holidays in the sun
A cheap holiday
In other people’s misery

In the Pistols’ native England, where the climate is usually cold and dark, travelling abroad to beautiful places seems the natural thing to do. But here, the group remarks that in fact there are tragedies happening all over the world that you can’t turn your back on. They say “there are too many closets.” meaning there is too much hypocrisy.

It was a time when the Berlin Wall still stood (it wouldn’t fall until 1989) and Germany was divided in two, with strict entrance policies. Rotten suggests he’s stuck behind the wall but wants to join the communists, who offer a different way of living.

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2. “Bodies”
This song pierces you like a machine gun, the best example of the album’s accelerated rhythms. It goes so fast that by the end, Rotten seems to not know what he’s singing, even stuttering.

“Bodies” the story of a misguided girl who has had an abortion and the baby that is speaking to her:

“I’m not a discharge
I’m not a loss in protein
I’m not a throbbing squirm,”

the baby complains.

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3. “No Feelings”
“No feelings for anybody else except for myself, my beautiful self,” Johnny Rotten sings. The snotty, narcissistic notion set a precedent for punk music.

For example, Spanish group Parálisis Permanente, formed by ex-members of Los Pegamoides, were a punk/gothic band that in 1983 sang “Autosuficiencia,” a chant to loving oneself above all:

Me miro en el espejo
Y soy feliz
Y no pienso en nadie más que en mí

(“I look at myself in the mirror
And I’m happy
And I don’t think of anybody but me”)

In this context, “love” is only a way of achieving ones goals:

Your brains are locked away but I love your company
I only ever leave you when you got no money

Punks were selfish because they considered egotism a way of improving the world: if everybody just lives for achieving their own goals, they will change the world.

The guitars on “No Feelings” would fit in with classic rock, but the voice is clearly punk.

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4. “Liar”
“Liar” is catchy in a punky way.

Punks are sometimes combative, so it’s not surprising they could be haughty and would ask to be looked in the eye.

I wanna know why you never
Look me in the face

They can’t stand lies because lying is synonymous with evil. They even consider the Queen a liar:

I know where you go
Everybody you know
I know everything that you do or say
So when you tell lies
I’ll always be in your way

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5. “Problems”
You won’t find me working nine to five

Punks are not known for having tidy lifestyles; they don’t work in offices and they wouldn’t want to. Their only slogan is anarchy.

Don’t give me any orders
For people like me
There is no order

They are accused of being disturbers of the peace, but on the contrary, they consider common, traditional people the disturbers because they all just do what is expected of them, and that’s the real problem: “You don’t do what you want, then you’ll fade away.”

There are two options, doing nothing or making a decision, and the first one leads to turning into a robot. Rotten ends the song repeating “problem” over and over like a machine might: cold, humorless, monotonous, endless.

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6. “God Save The Queen”
For just one week, “God Save the Queen” wasn’t the first punk song to be released. That was “New Rose” by The Damned.

But this song’s release was closer to the perfect date for a perfect promotion: the 50th Anniversary (Silver Jubilee) of Elizabeth II of England, 7 June 1977. To celebrate it, the Pistols played a concert in a boat on the Thames, following the same route as the Queen’s boat; as a result, fans fought with police, and everyone ended up in the police station.

The song was a punch in the nose to Monarchy, which they considered the biggest problem in England. They used the traditional song title “God Save The Queen” in an ironic way:

God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron

There’s “no future” for her, because punks are the future — people who don’t put up with being puppets.

Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need

“God Save The Queen” hit number one in its first week, and remained number two for two months.

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7. “Seventeen”
A definition of what can be expected from punks: they do not work and want to live fast; they hate hippies, and adore noise.

They congratulate themselves on being “lazy sods.” Not working is also a way of fighting the establishment and its rules.

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8. “Anarchy In The U.K.”
Was punk music born in the UK or the US? Even now punks don’t agree. Mötley Crüe recorded a cover of this song in 1991 and, in the chorus, Vince Neil sang “anarchy in the USA” instead of “anarchy in the UK.”

I am an Antichrist
I am an anarchist
Don’t know what I want
But I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passerby

(The TV show The Young Ones (broadcast from 1982 to 1984) would mock this tendency of punks to destroy, with the character of Vivian always demolishing everything in sight.)

Punks were often described as nihilists, but they did believe in something, and just defined themselves by the things they were not.

Sung with haughtiness and violence, “Anarchy In The U.K.” sounds like a warning, as if the bogey man was coming to undermine society.

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9. “Sub-Mission”
Here the Sex Pistols employ a play on words, contrasting “submission” and a sub(marine) mission. The song even sounds aquatic, with Rotten on a mission through the body of a girl.

The bass lines are pretty sticky, and its soul is pop; this would be the type of punk that the band Towers of London would follow in the 2000’s.

Submission going down down
Dragging me down submission
I can’t tell you what I’ve found
For there’s a mystery
Under the sea in the water
Come and share it

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10. “Pretty Vacant”
The Pistols’ was a strategy more focused on impulse than on following a plan. Their apparent idleness comes from their exhausting facing of reality and of their own illusions. Warriors need to rest from time to time.

Don’t ask us to attend ‘cos we’re not all there
Oh don’t pretend ‘cos I don’t care

Sid Vicious ended up as the role model for this idea: he was in his own universe, and everything was fine as long as he had enough money to get high and enjoy the lifestyle he wanted.

For the movie The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle by Julien Temple, he would record a punk cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” that would set the standard for covering classics in a rock way; his way of singing would equal him with Rotten.

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11. “New York”
Here, Rotten enumerates some of what he reckons are useless ghosts, such as hippies (“you’re hippie tarts hero”), drugs (“still out of those pills”), and capitalism (“You’re just a pile of shit / You’re coming to this / Ya poor little faggot”).

As a metaphor of everything he hates, Rotten uses the city of New York, the capital of sex and perversion.

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12. “EMI”
Dedicated (unsurprisingly) to EMI, the record company that dropped the Sex Pistols after a scandal on Bill Grundy’s television program. Taking their cues from the hostile provocation of the presenter, the Pistols used all the bad words in their vocabulary — on live TV. The band’s mothers apologized in the press, saying they just spoke in a way that was usual on the streets.

So, EMI not only dropped them, but removed the single “Anarchy In The U.K.” from record shops, although it was selling well. This was December 1976; the preparation of their album was postponed while they looked for another record company. They wouldn’t issue another release until May 1977.

And you thought that we were faking
That we were all just money making
You do not believe we’re for real
Or you would lose your cheap appeal

The great punk bands, like The Clash, were signing with major record companies, which their fans considered a betrayal. But the record companies understood that they could make money and just went after punk bands.

To laugh about it, the Sex Pistols includes bubble-gum choruses on “EMI,” merrily chanting the company’s name. The last line states “goodbye A&M;,” which had been the second company to quickly drop them.