Sex Pistols – Destroy (Live at the 76club)
Rock and Roll has never produced a band that has generated as much analysis, mythologising and brow-furrowing as the Sex Pistols.
Weighty tomes connecting the Sex Pistols and the punk movement to high theories of Cultural Revolution compete with trash paperbacks about Sid Vicious. But captured like a rare venomous spider in a jar, this recording contains an insight into why the Sex Pistols had the impact they did.
They played rock and roll and they played it with an inarticulate primal anger that has never been matched. All you need to do is put the CD in your stereo, forget the myths, and let the music reveal the truth.
Imagine the scene at the 76 Club, Burton-on-Trent on Friday, September 24, 1976. The preceding week had seen the British tabloid press engage in its first Sex Pistols fuelled frenzy. Only days earlier (September 20), McLaren’s ‘Punk Rock Festival’ at Club 100 had ended in violence. A glass thrown into the audience, allegedly by Sid Vicious, had shattered, blinding a young fan.
Despite his retrospective protestations that it was all a part of his ‘swindle’, McLaren was in a state of panic. The self-proclaimed prophet of chaos was terrified that the ‘theatrical violence’ that he had encouraged was about to cause the early end of ‘his movement’. Suddenly the angst of an empire in decline had been harnessed and the scapegoat given name – ‘Punk Rock”.
As a member of the audience you are probably young, unemployed and burdened by a generalised anger at the world around you. You may have seen the Sex Pistols written up in the NME and heard the increasing ‘buzz’ about this revolutionary new band. Certainly, you know that they are adored by the cutting-edge in London and that a carefully crafted sense of menace surrounds the band.
Almost certainly the first thing to come to your attention will be the presence of the notorious ‘Bromley Contingent’. These guerrilla poseurs, cultivated by McLaren and dressed by Vivienne Westwood were the most loyal of the early Sex Pistols fans.
Siouxsie Sioux had blonde hair and was wearing swastikas that night. The marvellous Jordan, always willing to do whatever was needed to create an outrage, was probably wearing something that exposed her breasts. If she wasn’t, Little Debbie the Dominatrix almost certainly was.
Mingling amidst the crowd you may have met a young Adam Ant. History shows that Billy Idol was in the audience that night. Sid Vicious, clearly audible on this recording taunting Rotten may well have sneered at you.
The intimacy of this performance distinguishes it from previous Sex Pistols live recordings. We can hear that there are only a few hundred people in the room and that a direct relationship exists between the band and its audience.
We are privileged to hear a recording of the Sex Pistols while they were still a functional band. McLaren’s assertion that the band couldn’t play is absolutely disproven. This is one of the last gigs that the Sex Pistols would play before they became so engulfed in chaos that it would become all but impossible to play.
Compare this to the shambolic recording, Live in Trondheim July 1977 with Vicious now on bass and the impact of the madness surrounding the band is all too clear.
The musical highlights to be found are sometimes surprising, always revealing. We hear one of the first public performances of Anarchy In The UK, well before it became an anthem. Steppin’ Stone appears in this set intended as a joke about disposable pop. One can already hear Rotten taunting the wannabes in the crowd with his words.
Of course we know what happened but this recording preserves the Sex Pistols at their best, the legendary band that so few people see but so many adore.
This is a must have addition to any serious rock collector’s shelves, certainly not just more product.
Listen to it and bounce around your living room – seldom is music so powerful, so raw, and despite the sneering veneer of nihilism, so passionate.
1. Anarchy In The UK (3:42) – This song starts off with a simple 1 2 3 4 followed by Rotten really getting into the vocals with Vicious with backing in the chorus. You can really hear a unique guitar song on the song, along with all the songs on the record. At the end of the song you can hear one member of the audience cheering like he has won the lotto. I love this song, my second favourite on the Record. 5/5
2. Pretty Vacant (3:41) – A bit of microphone feedback at the start of the song, which leads into the song where you cant really hear the vocals much and also when you listen to this song especially in headphones the right side cuts off in volume and the volume is on the left for the rest of the song. At the end of the song you can hear Vicious yelling over the top of Rotten “Pretty, Pretty Vacant”. This is a not bad song I think and its one of the songs I listen to every now and then. 4/5
3. I Wanna Be Me (2:59) – Nice guitar intro, it’s a pretty average song, sounds basically the same most of the way through. 2/5
4. Liar (3:09) – “Liar Liar Liar” love the way those words are sung or yelled depends on you I suppose, this is an ok song better the “I Wanna Be Me” but still not much to talk about here. 2.5/5
5. (Dolls) New York (3:05) – Another ok song, nothing to brag about. 2/5
6. No Feelings (2:55) – Hard to understand what Rotten is singing at first but it doesn’t really matter cause its pretty catchy tune. The chorus is not that bad either with a nice bridge unlike most Sex Pistols songs a little bass solo in there somewhere at the end. The song end with Rotten or Vicious I can’t tell saying “What a wonderful set” with the crowd cheering and clapping. 3/5
7. Don’t Give Me No Lip – Child (3:33) – Sik bass intro here, you just wanna rewind the song and play that part again. Don’t really like the guitar riff in this song, sounds off key. The rest of the song is a let down though. 2.5/5 just because of the bass intro
8. Problems (4:27) – Nice intro to bang your hear to if your into that kinda thing, which I’m sure you all are. The verses and chorus’ sound basically the same but good all the same. 3/5
9. Satellite (4:03) – Another good intro, as most Sex Pistols songs are. It’s another ok song; don’t really like it all that much. Little bit of guitar mucking around at the end of this song also. 3/5
10. I’m A Lazy Sod (2:05) – Don’t like this song much at all. 1.5/5
11. (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone (3:23) – I love this song so much, Rotten really singing this song with meaning, and the way they sing the second verse as the first and second verse and put the first third makes this song just so enjoying for. “I I I I I, Stepping Stone!!” With Vicious pointing out at the end of the song that they are all out of tune, you hear him tunning up his bass and someone yelling Substitute! 5/5
12. Submission (4:14) – This song reminds me of the Ramones for some reason. Its another fair dinkum song. 3/5
13. Substitute (3:21) – Ok here we are second last song on the record, again you cant really hear the vocals on this song. Another nice guitar solo in the song, but by this time you do wonder how much longer the record has left. “Play Some More!” 2.5/5
14. No Fun (4:58) – Drum solo at the start, then guitar, bass and finally Rotten on the vocals. I hadn’t really listened to this song before I started this review, but I find it to be a pretty good song overall, nice and catchy. 3/5
Overall: This is an album with a few good songs and a few bad songs, probably wont get any new Fans, though it did me, but it is a must get for fans of the band as you really get to hear the feeling they put into their music and see why they were talked about and still are so much today.
Anarchy In The UK
(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
You get to hear the Sex Pistols in their best while hearing them live.
It’s hard to understand the lyrics in some songs.
Review by Elias Allanby firstname.lastname@example.org www.thenumlocks.com