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Music / Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

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

"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 passersby"
— "Anarchy in the U.K."

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols is the debut studio album by The Sex Pistols, released in 1977. Discounting the soundtrack The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle as well as their live albums, it is also their only album.note  Infamous, controversial and very influential, it's seen as a landmark album between the psychedelic and art rock era of the late 1960's and the back to basics simple rock sound of the punk and new wave era of the late 1970's. Today it's widely regarded as one of the best, most influential and most important rock/punk albums in music history.

The record collects four of the group's hit singles: "Anarchy in the UK", "God Save the Queen", "Holidays in the Sun" and "Pretty Vacant" and adds a handful of other songs. Guitarist Steve Jones played bass for the vast majority of the album, and the infamously incompetent Sid Vicious "plays" bass on only one song ("Bodies"). Former bassist Glen Matlock appears on "Anarchy in the UK".


A documentary about the creative process behind the making of this album can be seen in the Classic Albums TV documentary series.


Side One

  1. "Holidays in the Sun" (3:22)
  2. "Bodies" (3:03)
  3. "No Feelings" (2:51)
  4. "Liar" (2:41)
  5. "God Save the Queen" (3:20)
  6. "Problems" (4:11)

Side Two

  1. "Seventeen" (2:02)
  2. "Anarchy in the UK" (3:32)
  3. "Submission" (4:12)
  4. "Pretty Vacant" (3:18)
  5. "New York" (3:07)
  6. "EMI" (3:10)

Principal Members:

  • Paul Cook - drums
  • Steve Jones - guitar, bass, vocals
  • Glen Matlock - bass
  • Johnny Rotten - lead vocals
  • Sid Vicious - bass


We're so tropey, oh so tropey!:

  • Accentuate the Negative: "Bodies" sums it up best.
    Fuck this and fuck that!
  • Anarchy: "Anarchy in the U.K.", but also a theme on the entire album.
  • The Antichrist: Rotten claims to be an Antichrist in "Anarchy in the UK"
  • Anti-Love Song: "No Feelings"
    You better understand I'm in love with myself, my beautiful self
  • Anti-Role Model: "No Feelings"
    I look around your house/ you got nothing to steal/ I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel/ and pray, you pray to your god.
  • B-Movie: "Holidays in the Sun":
    This cheap B-Movie show
  • Being Watched: "Holidays in the Sun"
    I'm looking over the wall AND THEY'RE LOOKING AT ME!!!!!
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: "No Feelings"
    I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel
    And pray, pray to your god.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: "EMI", a jab against their former record company.
  • Black Comedy: It's cynical, but it's funny at the same time.
  • Born Unlucky: "God Save the Queen"
    There's no future, no future, no future for you
  • Brutal Honesty: Taboos weren't spared.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: In every song. The most infamous example is in "Bodies":
    Ah! Fuck this and fuck that
    Fuck it all the fuck out of the fucking brat
  • Country Matters:
    • Rotten puts very deliberate and gleeful emphasis on the last syllable of "Pretty Vacant."
    • And on the first syllable of "country" in "Anarchy in the UK".
  • Crapsack World: The Sex Pistols don't like the world as it is, but at the same they don't care either.
  • Darker and Edgier: Certainly at the time no album with such controversial lyrics had ever gotten so much mainstream publicity. The sound is far more raw, vulgar, confrontational, aggressive and political than any of the pop and rock bands that were popular at the time.
  • Evil Laugh: Rotten's demonic laughter at the start of "Anarchy in the UK"
  • Fartillery: The infamous fart that closes "EMI" (and the album).
  • The Future Will Be Better: Subverted in "God Save the Queen".
    There is no future, no future for you
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Guess which number?
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: "Bodies", a song about abortions for the sake of shock value. While it's been interpreted as an anti-abortion song, Word of God says it's neither anti-abortion nor pro-abortion, and Lydon is on record as saying, "It's immoral to bring a human being into this world and not give a toss about it".
  • Greatest Hits Album: In a sense it is. Most of the songs in the album had already been released as singles before, to the point that negative reviews actually did call the album a "greatest hits album" in a derisive manner, plus the whole thing about this being the band's only studio album.
  • Gross-Out Show: Many songs on this album could apply, but the closest is probably "Bodies" with a very graphic description of an abortion:
    Fucking bloody mess" (...) throbbing squirm, gurgling bloody mess.
  • Homage: The title of the British panel TV quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a dual homage to this album and, well, the Buzzcocks.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: "Submission" was intended as a bondage song on request of Malcolm McLaren, but the group took it literally and wrote a song about a submarine (on purpose).
  • Humans Are Bastards: Virtually every song depicts humans as hardly the best beings around.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
    • "Pretty Vacant": "We're pretty vacant", with a lot of emphasis on the final syllable.
    • "Submission" was born when manager Malcolm McLaren advised the group to write a song about submission in a sado-masochistic context. Just to annoy them the group took the title literally and wrote a song about a submarine mission. There's plenty of winking double entendres in the song to submission, but they're intentionally ridiculous exclusively to annoy McLaren.
    • There's also the line in "Anarchy in the UK" that can be understood as either "I use the enemy" or "I use the NME", the influential British music magazine.
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • "Pretty Vacant"
    • "Seventeen"
      I'm so laaaaaaaazy, I can't even be bothered
    • The entire lyrics of "No Feelings".
  • Last Note Hilarity: The whole album ends on a fart.
  • Lazy Bum: The narrator of "Seventeen" straight-up calls himself a "lazy sod."
    I'm so laaaaaaazy, I can't even be bothered
  • Least Rhymable Word: The words "anarchist" and "Anti-Christ" in "Anarchy in the U.K."
  • Location Song: "Holidays in the Sun", where the protagonist is near the Berlin Wall, though even they aren't sure why they are there in the first place. "Anarchy in the U.K." sings how anarchy came to the United Kingdom. "New York", a Pretender Diss at the New York Dolls.
  • Loony Fan: Pauline, the girl who inspired Johnny Rotten to write the song "Bodies".
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover is just the album title.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: "God Save the Queen" has "There is no future and England's dreaming!"
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: In "Seventeen" Rotten sings "we don't care about long hair!"
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Rotten's local accent isn't hidden.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Submission" was supposed to be this, but to piss off Malcolm McLaren the band took a literal interpretation and sang about a submarine mission.
  • Precision F-Strike: Every song!
  • Pretender Diss:
    • "New York" explains why groups like the New York Dolls are poseurs, according to Rotten.
    • The line "she's not what she seems" about the Queen in "God Save the Queen".
  • Protest Song: Each one, though in "Pretty Vacant" they also state: "We don't care!"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: It's a "The Reason You Suck" Album, as they rip everyone they can think of, including themselves.
  • Record Producer: Chris Thomas and Bill Price. The initial album has the credit "Produced by Chris Thomas or Bill Price" because Malcolm McLaren had tried to pull some shenanigans by having them both work on songs at various times to try and get away with not paying them for their work at all, but they caught on.
  • Red Scare: Subverted by the line "I was waiting for the communist call" in "Holidays in the Sun."
  • Refuge in Audacity: This is a band playing simplistic melodies about controversial topics with a lead singer who sounds horrible. During "Holidays in the Sun" Rotten declares he "was waiting for the Communist call". In "No Feelings" and "Pretty Vacant" the band sings about crime and violence and their lack of empathy. And they dare to address taboos such as abortion ("Bodies"), religion ("No Feelings"), English society ("Anarchy In The UK") and the Royal Family ("God Save the Queen").
  • Sarcastic Title: "God Save the Queen" doesn't praise Her Majesty at all. It criticizes people for give reverence to the Royal Family, while at the same time society is in ruins.
  • Self-Titled Album: The band is mentioned in the title.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The line "everybody knows Japan is a dishpan" in "New York" is a reference to Captain Beefheart's song "Japan in a Dishpan" from Lick My Decals Off, Baby.
    • The opening riff of "Pretty Vacant" was inspired by the opening riff of "S.O.S." by ABBA.
    • Considering that "New York" is a diss track on the New York Dolls, the constant references to "pills" and a "kiss" in the song are references to the New York Dolls songs "Pills" and "Looking for a Kiss".
  • Spiritual Successor: Nirvana's Nevermind album. The name was a Shout-Out to them and managed to have the same enormous and influential impact on the musical scene.
  • Take That!: Everyone!
    • "God Save the Queen" attacks the Royal Family and British society in general
    • "Anarchy in the UK"' criticizes the United Kingdom.
    • "New York" tackles the New York Dolls, which was answered with equal hatred by Johnny Thunders in his song "London Boys."
    • "EMI" is a scathing attack at their former record company.
    • "Seventeen" and "New York" fire at hippies.
  • Take That, Critics!: "Anarchy in the UK" takes a snipe at influential British music magazine NME, who, like most rock magazines at the time, were dismissive of Punk Rock:
    There are many ways to get what you want
    I use the best, I use the rest
    I use the NME
    I use ... ANARCHY!
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Almost the definition of this trope.
  • Time Marches On: As of November 9, 1989, there is no longer a Berlin Wall to go over.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Holidays in the Sun" is an odd example. On one hand the lyrics follow a clear story if you will, but it's never clear — not even to Rotten himself — what he is actually doing there next to the Berlin Wall.
    Gotta go over the Berlin Wall
    I don't understand it...
    I gotta go over the wall
    I don't understand this bit at all
    (...) It's no real reason to be waiting
    The Berlin Wall
  • World War III: Mentioned in "Holidays in the Sun".
    I didn't ask for sunshine and I got World War III