What better way to commemorate the post number 77 of MusicKO than reviewing this compilation album? As you know, the Pistols were to release only one “true” album during their turbulent career, and a soundtrack that had mostly farcical appeal. What this compilation does is to take the entire “Never Mind The Bollocks” album, add the best tracks from the “Great Rock & Roll Swindle” OST and throw in a couple of studio tracks that are found in neither album.
The sequencing of the disc is flawless – my hat off to the one who took care of that. The first 4 tracks are the singles from “Never Mind The Bollocks”, and they are followed by the studio rarities “Did You No Wrong”, “Satellite” and “No Fun”, along with some of the best tracks from the soundtrack album (“I Wanna Be Me”, “No Lip” and “Stepping Stone”). Then, you have the remaining “Bollocks” tracks in the order that they appeared on the original record if you were to take away the singles (which here are placed at the very beginning). This means that “Bodies” is followed by “No Feelings”, “Liar”, “Problems” and so on. Once this section ends, you have Vicious’ “My Way”, and the album closes with an alternate take of “Silly Thing”. This time, Steve Jones handles the lead.
No person who is keen on the Pistols could have devised a better running order. The 20 tracks are the best of the best, and ending the album with “Silly Thing” was the right thing to do. Remember, the song deals with their breakup and as such it has special poignancy and relevance.
There is a difference in sound quality between some of the “Bollocks” and “Swindle” material. That was only to be expected. The songs from “Bollocks” were recorded by Chris Thomas. And as regards the “Swindle” contingent: “I Wanna Be Me” was a demo – it could not be spruced beyond a certain point. And “No Lip” and “Stepping Stone” were recorded live on the studio. Incidentally, “Substitute” is conspicuous by its absence here. I mourn such a fact, as it was the song that made me discover The Who, and I feel it equals both covers and even surpasses them. I would have included it at the expense of “No Lip” or “Stepping Stone” without ever thinking twice. And I would also have added “Belsen Was A Gas” – after all, the song is a Pistols’ original.
I must mention the artwork, as thorough track-by-track analysis is provided by the Pistols, and if you unfold the whole booklet you will have a poster to show your allegiance and rile your parents in the process. Again, kudos to the ones who took care of the overall presentation of the album.
You would think that assembling a retrospective of a band that was to release just two albums was to be a piece of cake, but endless compilations later (like “Jubilee” and the boxed set that surfaced in 2002) we all know better. I feel this is a truly harmless way of getting the most notable tracks from the Pistols’ short career, without ever losing sight of how the band evolved, fissured itself and cracked when it moved just a millimeter from the eye of the storm. I do recommend purchasing it – casual listeners get every single significant track, while fans get a sort of entire career overview with a rarity thrown in for good measure.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into their catalog after listening to it: Yes (even when there is little left to listen to!) ; )