Another Sex Pistols compilation, another exercise in commercial cynicism

Looking for the ultimate Sex Pistols collection? You’d be better off ignoring The Original Recordings and buying Bollocks

Sex Pistols - The Original Recordings cover art
(Image: © UMC)

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Released to coincide with Pistol, the predictably controversial six-part Disney+ mini-series based on Steve Jones’s autobiography Lonely Boy, here again – collected together “for the first time in over 20 years”, apparently – are the Sex Pistols’ finest recordings. 

Possibly the most straightforward job of compilation available to modern man, considering the fact that the band only released 15 self-penned songs during their brief tenure as a John Lydon-fronted quartet. 

And yet UMC have still managed to overlook EMI, Liar and Seventeen (aka I’m A Lazy Sod) in favour of the band’s admittedly raucous, if hardly essential, live-in-the-studio covers of The Monkees’ (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone and The Who’s Substitute, originally hiked from the file marked ‘trash’ to make up numbers on The Great Rock ’N’ Roll Swindle

But, hey, it’s on double vinyl. And transparent green vinyl. And yellow vinyl. And CD. And digital. And even cassettes – five different cassettes with individual artwork. And ours is not to reason why, ours is simply to consume. Oh, and this proudly touted individual artwork – can you guess what it looks like? Yes, it’s that bad. Somewhere Jamie Reid is wincing. Maybe even as he’s pocketing a large cheque. Well, one can only hope. 

Lydon-channelling gripes aside, what’s actually good about it? Sonically speaking, almost everything. Kicking off with Pretty Vacant (the enduringly irresistible hook that upon its July ’77 release finally silenced the loudly doubting, music press letters page-haunting hippies of yore) and closing with doomed human circus Sid Vicious’s My Way swan song, it’s a 20-track object lesson in punk attitude. And commercial cynicism. ’Twas always thus.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.