Never Mind the Bollocks is Rated About Right


I don't know what John Lydon is angling for here since his work with Public Image Limited has been just as influential, if not more so, than his work with the Sex Pistols:

John Lydon has said the Sex Pistols' seminal album 'Never Mind The Bollocks' is underrated and that he's always felt misunderstood as an artist.
In the new issue of NME, which is on newsstands now and available digitally, Lydon said the music press have failed to recognise just how subversive the Pistols were in their prime.
It amazes me when I see these all-time top albums lists, and 'Never Mind The Bollocks' is hovering around Number 10, 15 or even 20," he said. "This is a band that pushed it so far we were discussed in Parliament under the Treason Act, you know?"


He's not entirely wrong, but he's biased against the work of others, specifically the Clash, who were more successful and more influential. 

As we look back on that era, one thing stands out to me--Joy Division have been vastly underappreciated and that's an absolute shame. When you put the artistry of Closer up against the shot to the throat that was Never Mind the Bollocks, how do you compare them? Do you even try?

I think that Lydon may have a problem with The Smiths and with The Stone Roses as well, since their best records always rate higher than the Sex Pistols. It doesn't need to be like this--the lists themselves, being subjective, don't mean anything more than a critical consensus that could be argued into submission if you look at how many people started a band after hearing so-and-so's band and whatever else. 

It would also be easy to argue that importing dance music and rap into Great Britain transformed music in the 70s and 80s to a degree that eclipses the influence of punk. We have a ethno-centric view of rock and roll being at the top--the blues driven music of Clapton, Led Zeppelin, et al, having the top status over everyone else while genres like punk and new wave come in for less respect or acclaim. This gives short shrift to black artists, and that's how it has always been. Are the biggest stars in England rappers or not? Are they straight pop artists? Lydon himself is a lover of reggae and it would be hard not to argue that reggae drove the music of his era in directions that were more lasting and influential than power chords and sneering.

But, really, there are reasons to look at everything that went on and list the Sex Pistols about where they are--they were shocking, incredible, and exciting but they were only around for a few years. Everything they started was taken over by bands that went on to define the era.