Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back when it all meant something...

Here's the Sex Pistols in their full entropic glory from their 1976 television debut on the short-lived British music show So It Goes. All the spark and spunk and Filth and Fury that would be their legend is probably most accurately captured here. (Their promotional film for God Save the Queen, despite its much elevated Westwood fashion, doesn't even begin to record what goes on here.) According to Wiki, this essence was, as one critic descirbed, "the last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium." This is the essence of raw performance in blood red: The E. coli practically airborne. The attitude is not just edgy, it's serrated. You'll never hear pitchy vocals used to such excellent affect. It's nearly inconceivable that an act could come along and rage such happy destruction today; That culture is long dead.

Not long after Sid joined, the band's quality would precipitously wane. (Original bassist Glen Matlock would be asked back to play on the album, a point Herr Rotten abuses him for in The Filth and the Fury.) The album later to come, as we all know, would be amazing. (A point lavished with effusive praise by the critics of the time.) But as a political and cultural moment, there would be none to equal to the early singles, most particularly God Save the Queen. The Pistols were a blinding supernova with a very limited shelf life. That character gave them more in common with The New York Dolls (an acknowledged influence) than contemporaries like The Clash. Often, though, it's the thumbnail that renders far more magic than the final drawing ever does. Here, definitely, was such the case.

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