The Prodigious Pig Sees NO FUTURE

So! Guess which unbelievably cool little record just turned 40 (!!) Years Old the other day?  Nevertheless, via the true Spirit of ’77, allow me to celebrate by minding my own Bollocks with…

TEN REASONS WHY The SEX PISTOLS
DIDN’T  (or COULDN’T)  SAVE ROCK AND ROLL

  1. MALCOLM McLAREN

Never before in the long and illustrious annals of popular music history has a man been handed so much raw talent atop a potentially platinumous platter at such an opportune time and location as when Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, fresh from hiring a new frontperson named John Rotten, strolled into London’s cleverly named Sex shoppe circa 8/75 and asked its proprietor, suede-o bohemian entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, if he’d be interested in helping them invent punk rock, revolutionize – or, failing that, destroy – the music business, and earn a million pounds (of Dollars) in the process. And never before has a man so swiftly and slyly enacted his master plan and seen it bear fruit in greater abundances than even he, in his wildest Col. Ahmet Loog Epstein fantasies, would have believed possible (within a mere twenty-three months, the Pistols swept from crashing obscure British art college balls to bumping Linda Ronstadt’s face off the hallowed cover of the Rolling Stone)… and Never Before, and hopefully Never Again, has such a superfluity of potential and promise – not to mention profit – been so thoroughly and effectively botched, blundered, and bludgeoned. For, thanks to Malcolm McLaren’s brilliant mismanagement, the Sex Pistols, an act of unlimited wit, fire and socio-musical import, are recalled today as little more than the great rockin’ swindle Sid Vicious played in before he set his nightshirt on fire, sliced open his girlfriend, and joined Jimbo Morrison in that big mosh pit in the sky.

  1. GLEN MATLOCK

Unceremoniously hoofed from the band on the virtual eve of their anti-success for professing admiration toward the wrong people (Paul McCartney) in the wrong place (the pages of the NME) at the wrong time (1976), the Pistols, in one fool swipe, lost not only their most accomplished musician (well, not that that mattered much; after all, his replacement was Mr. Vicious, fresh from the Dee Dee Ramone hunt-and-plonk school of bass playing) but their one true resident songsmith (yes, it was GLEN who cooked up some of the Seventies’ catchiest guitar hooks; e.g.: “Pretty Vacant” and “God Save Whats’ername”). Relatively unperturbed, Glen took his talents elsewhere (Iggy Pop, and cult faves the Rich Kids) while the new and, um, improved Pistols resorted to dismembering old Eddie Cochran tunes and warbling cute li’l ditties about the Holocaust with some Great Train Robber.

  1. VIRGIN RECORDS

In refusing to press enough copies of “Anarchy In The UK” to allow the Pistols’ debut disc to creep any higher than #38 in the British charts, EMI Records actually (though probably unwittingly) helped establish the band at this most crucial stage of their tragically brief career as not only Euro-youth’s latest cause célèbre, but Fleet Street’s most potent front-page fodder since Beatlemania itself. Then, with characteristic ineptness, Malcolm trotted his cultural icons elsewhere: inanely into the open arms of Virgin Records, at the time widely known – and ridiculed – as the graveyard of such synthesized Seventies casualties as Mike “Tubular Balls” Oldfield. Under Virgin’s laughably feather-brained wings, the emphasis was quickly placed more on Amusement than Anarchy, and the band was now forced to shoot for the airwaves with such blanks as “Friggin’ in the Riggin’,” “Rock Around The Clock” and, in a rare display of Virgin forthrighteousness, Some Product. (NB: said discs now populate your local vinyl café’s delete zone… right alongside Mike Oldfield’s).

  1. WARNER BROS. RECORDS

No doubt experiencing sudden pangs of guilt in the midst of their post-Rumours coke’n’caviar indulgences, and in nostalgic remembrance of their label’s maverick infancy when record contracts were bravely being handed out to the likes of Wild Man Fischer and The Fugs, Warner Bros. decided to test out the new waves of 1977 by arranging a distribution deal with Seymour Stein’s legendary Sire label (who in turn had such bright hopes as the Ramones and Talking Heads under contract). However, soon growing discontent with simply marketing Seymour’s signings, Warners set out to land a punk act of their very own Stateside, and spent untold amounts of Fleetwood Mac royalties to graft Malcolm’s boys to the dotted line in October of ’77. No sooner had WB issued Never Mind The Bollocks, here’s John, Paul, Steve and Sid on their very doorstep as it were, about to embark on that ill-fated first – and last – American tour. Now, to say Warner Bros. had absolutely NO IDEA how to handle, let alone capitalize upon, the Pistols’ arrival on the U.S. scene is akin to accusing John Lydon of having certain flaws in his personality… to say nothing of his choice of diners (for example, it’s been alleged Warners hired former CIA goons to roadie the band’s tour). Nevertheless, despite a decade of non-promotion, Bollocks was finally awarded Gold Record status in, gulp, 1987 …and Warners went on to reap additional billions from Seymour Stein’s signings (remember Madonna, anyone??)

  1. ROGER EBERT

It’s a hitherto closely-guarded secret that ’way back in the Summer of Hate the esteemed Chicago Sun-Times film critic was, thanks to some inSidious twist of faith, hired by director Russ “Beyond The Valley Of” Meyer to script the Sex Pistols’ eagerly-awaited silver screen debut, Who Killed Bambi? (“Remember, without me, there wouldn’t be any mention of Bambi in this movie,” boasted Roger to Rolling Stone). Yet despite both a healthy budget (courtesy of Warners’ film division) and truly inspired casting (Marianne Faithfull as Sid’s mother), the movie never really made it past the screenplay stage, denying not only the Blank Generation of a Hard Day’s Night they could call their own, but theatre-goers the world over a larger-than-life Technipallor dose of charisma Rotten & Vicious-style. Bambi appeared years later in wholly bastardized form as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, while Meyer quickly high-tailed it onto the pages of Film Threat magazine …and Marianne Faithfull was, bless her great big heart, recently spotted sipping wine in a Paris hotel lobby with none other than her very own far-from-broken Englishman Keith Richards. See? Even this screenplay has a happy ending!

  1. THE I.N.S.

At 11:30 PM on the night of December 17, 1977 every North American who still believed rock ’n’ roll had some spit left in it was tuned to their local NBC-TV affiliate, anxiously awaiting the Sex Pistols’ long-rumored appearance on Saturday Night Live: a television event which promised to equal, if not surpass, Elvis and them Fabs’ Ed Sullivision barnstorms of decades previous. Alas, it was not to be. For several days before The Great Event That Couldn’t, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, lamely citing several Cook and Jones offenses (nothing serious, mind you… just the usual rockin’ roster of B and E’s, concealed weapon and assault-with-a-Fender-bass charges) ruthlessly denied both Malcolm and his anti-Beatles permission to enter the Big Apple. That is, until after the comparatively meek and mild Elvis Costello had replaced the Pistols on the SNL in question. Perchance it’s simply virtual paranoia running away with me again (excuse me, I think my mouse is tapped…), but this seems to me to be but the first of several high-level attempts to squash the horror known as p-u-n-k-r-o-c-k by the post-Watergate White House. Read on.

  1. JIMMY CARTER

Unlike British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who shrewdly rode to Downing Street beneath the coat-tails of four fellow Liverpudlians in 1964, POTUS 39 was not so willing to embrace the latest pop/rock peculiarities in order to secure a power base amongst his nation’s young. Quite to the contrary, at a closed-door pow-wow with the recording industry elite in 1977, J.C. reportedly suggested to a gaggle of America’s leading radio programmers and promo honchos, in a most sinisterly Agnewesque fashion, that, quote, “Boys, we really don’t want this new wave music now, DO WE.” As a sorrowful result, the Pistols’ stylus-shaking debut LP soon vanished from the airwaves and salesracks of the land, only to be replaced by the safe, sterile, sickly-slick sounds of, amongst far too many others…

  1. THE CARS

 

This late but wisely little-lamented combo epitomized America’s squeaky-clean response to the Pistols’ furor: They looked, and sounded about as menacing as Pat Boone had twenty years before (when he too helped rid the USA of “dangerous new sounds” by musically castrating the likes of “Tutti Frutti”). Ironically, it was Pat’s dippy daughter Debby whose thoroughly wretched “You Light Up My Life” held a 439-week stranglehold atop Billboard‘s Hot 100 at the very moment such classics as “Bodies” and “I’m A Lazy Sod” languished unheard in some obscure Greenwich Village import bin.

  1. THE BEE GEES

And while America was being force-fed such pablum as “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Heart of Glass” under the guise of NuWave, those Brothers Gibb, designer chest-wigs intact, were busy dominating both AM and FM dials with their eunuch blend of down-under falsettos and bubbleyum R’n’B. Glory days already far behind them, these once-imaginative chart-toppers pioneered the utterly detestable genre known and loved to this day as Soundtrack Rock, thanks to such full-length promotional vehicles as Saturday Night Fever and (actually, I’m getting to quite like this one) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The veritable upchuck of billion-sellers which resulted left precious little room in your home entertainment center for Messrs. Cook, Jones, Vicious, or even Rotten.

  1. JOHN SIMON RITCHIE, 1957 – 1979

 

R.I.P(unk): “No Future” indeed! 

=GPG=

Gary appears here whenever he wants

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com.

DBAWIS_ButtonGary Pig Gold may have grown up in Port Credit, run away to Hamilton to join his first rock ‘n’ roll group, hung out with Joe Strummer on his first-ever night in the UK, returned to T.O. to publish Canada’s first-ever rock ‘n’ roll (fan)zine, run away again gary pig gpld facong leftto Surf City to (almost) tour Australia with Jan & Dean, come home again to tour O Canada with that country’s first-ever (authorized!) Beach Boys tribute band …but STILL, he had to travel all the way back to the USSR to secure his first-ever recording contract www.GaryPigGold.com

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