September 17, 2023

Sex Pistols - The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle (1979)

*U.K. first pressing.
Contains 24 tracks total.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Punk Rock
Label Number: CDVD 2510

© 1979-1985 Virgin Records
When first approaching The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, it's best not to think of it as a Sex Pistols album; rather, keep in mind that it's the soundtrack to a movie that was mostly about Malcolm McLaren and only tangentially concerned the great band he managed. Only eight of the twenty-four songs on The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle feature the same band as on Never Mind the Bollocks, and most of those capture them stomping through covers in the studio, sometimes to impressive effect (Johnny Rotten sounds positively feral on the Who's "Substitute" and the whole band tears into "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" with malicious glee) and sometimes not (Rotten reveals he doesn't know the words to either Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" or Jonathan Richman's "Roadrunner," and the band's familiarity isn't much greater). A live take of the Pistols roaring through "Belsen Was a Gas" is exciting, but sounds as if Rotten and the rest of the band were traveling in very different directions, and it's not hard to imagine why he quit the group after the show. Steve Jones and Paul Cook offer up a few tunes of their own, which lack the danger of the cuts with Rotten but confirm they were the backbone of a solid, scrappy rock band, and if Tenpole Tudor isn't much of a singer, on his numbers he delivers an impressive degree of sheer eccentricity. But a large percentage of the album is devoted to jokey material tied into the movie -- orchestral versions of "EMI" and "God Save the Queen," a French busker performing "Anarchy in the UK" en Fran├žais, train robber Ronnie Biggs attempting to sing, and Malcolm McLaren ascending to show biz heaven with a cover of Max Bygraves' "You Need Hands." And while Sid Vicious sounds like a good if unexceptional rock & roll shouter on a pair of Eddie Cochran covers, his inarguably remarkable version of "My Way" shows the man was incapable of comprehending the irony of his situation, and sadly sounds like the work of a kid destined to die young. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was the sound of a hydrogen bomb being dropped on your head, and The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle collects some of the debris left after the explosion; parts are brilliant, but it's ultimately a padded and slightly depressing look at a great band in collapse.

 tags: sex pistols, the great rock n roll swindle, 1979, flac,

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