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Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols is the only studio album by the English punk rock band the Sex Pistols, released on 28 October 1977 by Virgin Records.

At the time of its release, the band was already extremely controversial, having sworn on live TV, been fired from two record labels and been banned from playing live in most parts of England. The album's title added to that controversy, with some people finding the word "bollocks" offensive. Many record stores refused to carry the album and some record charts refused to list the album, showing just a blank space instead.


Close to completing a deal with A&M Records, in March 1977 Sex Pistols entered Wessex Sound Studios to record with producer Chris Thomas and engineer Bill Price. New bassist Sid Vicious played on the track "Bodies",[1] but his performing skills were not considered fit enough to record the full album, so the band asked manager Malcolm McLaren to convince previous bassist Glen Matlock to perform the instrument for the sessions.[2] Matlock agreed on the condition that he was paid beforehand. When payment was not received, he declined to show up. As a result, Thomas asked guitarist Steve Jones to play bass so work could begin on the basic tracks. Jones' playing was so satisfactory that Thomas had him play the bass tracks for all the remaining songs recorded during the sessions.[3] Four tracks—-Clinton Heylin suspected they were "God Save the Queen" (Thomas stated he and Price "gave up" trying to use Vicious' bass track[1]), "Pretty Vacant", "EMI" and possibly "Did You No Wrong"—were recorded during the two days at Wessex, with "God Save the Queen" and "Pretty Vacant" receiving vocal tracking from Johnny Rotten and final mixing during the period. As a result of these sessions, Thomas and Price began work in earnest on what would become Sex Pistols' full-length album.[4] Four days after recording was completed, Sex Pistols signed with A&M, yet on 16 March the label terminated the contract, and several thousand pressed copies of the forthcoming "God Save the Queen" single were destroyed.[5]

Despite being dropped by A&M, McLaren instructed Sex Pistols to continue work on the album. While McLaren pondered whether or not to sign the offer presented by Virgin Records, he signed a French deal for the group with Barclay Records in early May 1977. At the same time, the group resumed work with Thomas and Price.[6] Thomas temporarily departed the session partway through (a timeframe Heylin places as sometime in late April and early May), leaving Price to produce what Thomas estimated as five songs. Heylin narrowed down the potential Bollocks tracks Price may have produced to "Liar", "New York", "No Feelings", "Problems", "Seventeen" and "Submission", in addition to the non-album track "Satellite".[7]

Meanwhile, the band had been rejected by several potential labels, including CBS, Decca, Pye and Polydor. Eventually Virgin's offer was the only one that remained. McLaren still hoped to sign with a major label, and posited issuing a one-off single with Virgin to increase the band's appeal to the larger record companies. Virgin owner Richard Branson refused, so on 18 May Sex Pistols finally signed with Virgin. Two weeks later, the label rush-released "God Save the Queen" as a single.[8] During promotion of the single, Rotten stated that work on the album was ongoing, and, obscuring Jones's assumption of bass duties, insisted that the bass performances on the in-progress album were split between Matlock "on the Chris Thomas tracks" and Vicious.[9]

The band returned to the studio with Thomas and Price on 18 June to record "Holidays in the Sun", the first song they had written without Matlock. That night after visiting a nearby pub, Rotten, Thomas and Price were attacked by a large group of men, and the incident made newspaper headlines the following Tuesday.[10] That month an eleven-track preview of the album began circulating, first reviewed in the fanzine 48 Thrills. At this point, Rotten maintained that the forthcoming album would include no cover songs, and none of the Sex Pistols's previously released singles bar "Anarchy in the U.K.", which was out of print. With "Pretty Vacant's" release as a single, it was due to be replaced on the track list.[11] Sex Pistols returned to Wessex once more that August to record a brand new song, "Bodies".[12] It was on this track Vicious recorded his only bass part for the album.[13]


With the completion of "Bodies", the time came to finalise the album's track list. Though Jon Savage claimed there were three versions of each track available, Heylin states that alternate versions for only five tracks ("EMI", "No Feelings", "Seventeen" and "Submission", plus an "album" mix of "Satellite") existed.[14] It was not until 20 September that the track list was finalised, which Heylin said "suggests just how bogged down by the process they had become".[15] Richard Branson spent the night deciding the track list and which versions to use, and included all the hits on the record, despite the objections of the band, McLaren's management company Glitterbest and most of Virgin.[16] Due to the album's long completion time, Sex Pistols and McLaren decided to release "Holidays in the Sun" backed with "Satellite" as the band's fourth single. "Holidays in the Sun" was not as successful as past singles—it charted at number eight and dropped out of the top 20 after four weeks—which Heylin attributed to the group's announcement that their album would be released on 4 November and that the single would be included on the LP, despite previous statements to the contrary. In an attempt to stem criticism over the decision to include all four previously released Sex Pistols singles on the forthcoming LP, Virgin indicated the possibility of an "alternative album" being issued simultaneously, featuring a new title and two new songs replacing "two of the former hit singles". A label spokesman stated, "We've put the singles on the LP because most people wanted it that way. But the alternative set would enable us to overcome the multiple stores' ban". A ten-song test pressing was made, though no new cuts were included, with "Satellite" and "Submission" instead being added as bonus tracks.[15]

Sex Pistols' contract with Virgin stated that its music would be distributed by Virgin in the United States provided Branson matched any competing offers McLaren received. However, McLaren wanted to negotiate separate deals in every territory, regardless of what the contract stipulated, which angered Branson, as the clause for American distribution was an important one he had fought for. Branson knew he had been outmanoeuvred by McLaren, for he could not sue to enforce the contract or else be perceived as acting like EMI or A&M. Competition for the band in the United States narrowed down to Warner Bros., Arista, Columbia and Casablanca Records, with Warner Bros. signing the band on 10 October for £22,000.[17]

Before Virgin could release Never Mind the Bollocks, Richard Branson discovered that two other Sex Pistols albums were competing with his label's.[18] In October, a bootleg named Spunk featuring high-quality recordings of Sex Pistols demos and recording sessions with Dave Goodman was released on a label called Blank. Among the rumours of who was behind the release of the tapes included Goodman, Glen Matlock and McLaren, who has always considered Goodman's versions to be a more accurate representation of the band.[19] Meanwhile, the French pressing of Never Mind the Bollocks on Barclay had added "Submission" to the slated 11-song track list, and was due for release a week before the Virgin's edition. As McLaren's separate deal with Barclay meant that the French release could not be halted and given the Virgin head was aware of how easy it was for import records to arrive in Britain, Branson rushed production of Never Mind the Bollocks to ensure it would come out a week earlier than intended. Nevertheless, the Barclay version was already available in the UK at the time Virgin had its version ready. Ten thousand copies of Virgin's pressing erroneously only listed 11 tracks on the sleeve yet contained 12 on the actual record.[18]

Even with the availability of Spunk, the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was eagerly awaited in the United Kingdom. With advance orders of 125,000 copies, Never Mind the Bollocks debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts the week after its release.[20] A ban of the album enacted by major retailers resulted in the record selling well through independent vendors instead.[21]

Packaging, title and obscenity case[]

The album was originally going to be titled God Save Sex Pistols. Jamie Reid's cover concept refrained from including a picture of the group and instead was dayglo red and yellow in colour with cutout lettering and a finish resembling crude screen-prints. The album's title changed in mid-1977, based on a phrase supplied by Steve Jones.[16] Jones said he picked up the phrase "Never mind the bollocks" from two fans who would always say it to one another. Johnny Rotten explained its meaning as a working-class expression to "stop talking rubbish".[1]

In the United Kingdom, the album was subject to what Heylin described as "blatant acts of censorship exercised by media and retail outlets alike". London police visited the city's Virgin record store branches and told them they faced prosecution for indecency as stipulated by the 1899 Indecent Advertisements Act if they continued to display posters of the album cover in their windows. The displays were either toned down or removed. However, on 9 November 1977 the London Evening Standard announced on its front page headline "Police Move in on Punk Disc Shops", and reported how a Virgin Records shop manager in Nottingham was arrested for displaying the record after being warned to cover up the word "bollocks".[22] Chris Seale, the shop's manager, "it would appear, willingly set himself up as a target, possibly at Branson's behest", according to Heylin, who noted that he had been visited by the police on four separate occasions and resumed displaying copies of the record in the store windows after they had left on each occasion. After Seale's arrest, Branson announced that he would cover the manager's legal costs and hired Queen's Counsel John Mortimer as defence. Meanwhile, advertisements for Never Mind the Bollocks appearing in music papers attempted to politicise the issue, showing newspaper headlines about Sex Pistols controversies that were underlined with the message "THE ALBUM WILL LAST. THE SLEEVE MAY NOT."[23]

The obscenity case was heard at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on 24 November.[23] Mortimer presented the case as a matter of police discrimination. During his cross-examination of the arresting officer, he asked why the newspapers The Guardian and Evening Standard (which had referred to the album's name) had not been charged under the same act. When the overseeing magistrate inquired about his line of questioning, Mortimer stated that a double-standard was apparently at play, and that "bollocks" was only considered obscene when it appeared on the cover of a Sex Pistols album. The prosecutor conducted his cross-examination "as if the album itself, and not its lurid visage, was on trial for indecency", according to Heylin.[24] Mortimer produced expert witnesses who were able to successfully demonstrate that the word "bollocks" was not obscene, and was actually a legitimate Old English term originally used to refer to a priest,[25] and which, in the context of the title, meant "nonsense". The chairman of the hearing was forced to conclude:

Much as my colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for the purchases of commercial profits by both you and your company, we must reluctantly find you not guilty of each of the four charges.[26]


Template:Album reviews

In 1985, NME writers voted Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols the thirteenth greatest album of all time.[27] In 1993, NME writers voted the album the third greatest of all time.[28]

In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine named it the second best album of the previous 20 years, behind only The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The same magazine named it 41st on their list of the five-hundred greatest albums ever in 2003.[29] In an interview during 2002, Rolling Stone journalist Charles M. Young stated:

Never Mind the Bollocks changed everything. There had never been anything like it before and really there's never been anything quite like it since. The closest was probably Nirvana, a band very heavily influenced by the Sex Pistols.[30]

Kurt Cobain from Nirvana listed the album on his Top 50 favourite albums.[31]

In his 1995 book, The Alternative Music Almanac, Alan Cross placed the album in the number 6 spot on his 10 Classic Alternative Albums list. In 1997, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols was named the 24th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the United Kingdom by HMV Group, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM.[32]

In 2005, the album was ranked No. 276 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[33] In 2006, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest albums ever,[34] and in the same year NME voted the album the fourth greatest British album.[35]

Noel Gallagher was interviewed for a television program called When Albums Ruled the World for the BBC, aired in early 2013. He said, of the album's opening with "Holidays in the Sun", "That is extremely provocative, what we can only assume is jackboots", which he followed by saying, "As soon at that starts, everything that has gone on before is now deemed fucking irrelevant, as soon as he (John Lydon) starts anti singing." He then said of "Pretty Vacant", "One of the 1st things you learn when you pick up the electric guitar is that riff." He then further commented, "I made 10 albums and in my mind they don't match up to that, and I'm an arrogant bastard. I'd give them all up to have written that, I truly would."[36]


'Liar' appears to have been influenced by part of 'Puss 'n' Boots' by New York Dolls (1:52–2:05).[37]

Track listing[]

11-track version[]

Note: "Submission" was included with most copies as a one-sided seven-inch single.

12-track version (UK edition)[]


12-track version (US edition)[]


2012 remastered edition (Japan release)[]

Disc 1 – the original album & B-sides
1."Holidays in the Sun"Cook/Jones/Rotten/Vicious3:22
3."No Feelings"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten2:53
5."God Save the Queen"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:20
8."Anarchy in the U.K."Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:32
10."Pretty Vacant"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:18
11."New York"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:07
13."No Feeling" (B-Side from A&M God Save the Queen)Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten2:46
14."Did You No Wrong" (B-Side from Virgin God Save the Queen)Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:11
15."No Fun" (B-Side from Pretty Vacant)The Stooges6:25
16."Satellite" (B-Side from Holidays in the Sun)Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten4:00
Total length:51:17
Disc 2 – live 1977
1."Anarchy in the U.K."Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:51
2."I Wanna Be Me"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:05
4."New York"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:24
7."No Feelings"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:05
9."God Save the Queen"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten4:31
10."Pretty Vacant"Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten4:14
11."No Fun"The Stooges5:29
13."No Fun"The Stooges5:32
14."Anarchy in the U.K."Cook/Jones/Matlock/Rotten3:33
Total length:51:22
1–11 live at Stockholm, Happy House, Sweden, July 28th 1977
12–14 live at Penzance, Winter Gardens, Cornwall, September 1st 1977


  • Johnny Rotten – lead vocals
  • Steve Jones – guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Sid Vicious – bass guitar on "Bodies"
  • Glen Matlock – bass guitar on "Anarchy in the UK"
  • Paul Cook – drums
  • Chris Thomas – production



Year Chart Position
1977 UK Albums Chart 1[20]
1978 US Billboard 200 106
2015 UK The Top 40 Vinyl Album 7[38]


Organization Level Date
BPI – UK Gold 17 November 1977
BPI – UK Platinum 15 January 1988
RIAA – US Gold 2 December 1987[39]
RIAA – US Platinum 26 March 1992[39]
NVPI – Netherlands Gold 1990


In 1996, Virgin reissued Never Mind the Bollocks as a double CD with the original 'Spunk' bootleg album as Spunk/This Is Crap.[40]

On 29 October 2007, Virgin released a special 30th-anniversary edition of the album in 180-gram vinyl LP format. The set included a 7-inch insert of "Submission" and poster, as originally released on 28 October 1977. Virgin also reissued the group's four singles, "Anarchy in the U.K.", "God Save the Queen", "Pretty Vacant" and "Holidays in the Sun", on 7-inch vinyl, before the album reissue.

In the US and Canada, these re-releases were handled by Warner Bros., who continue to own the North American rights to this album to this day.

A four-disc boxed set reissue occurred on 24 September 2012. The set includes the original album, which for the first time was digitally remastered from the original master tapes by Tim Young at Metropolis. The remastering process was overseen by original producer Chris Thomas. The sound quality of this remaster is a significant improvement over all other reissues because of Chris Thomas' involvement and UMG's access to the original masters. The second disc comprises the officially released B-sides (The Bsides were also remastered however it omits "I Wanna Be Me" the B-Side of their first single for EMI). This disc also includes outtakes and demos from the recording sessions for 'NMTB', most notably the recently discovered studio demo of "Belsen Was A Gas" which was previously thought lost forever. The 3rd disc contains two live recordings from 1977 (Including the previously unrleased complete soundboard recording of their performance at the Happy House in Stockholm, Sweden on 28 June 1977) The fourth and final disc is a DVD of live and studio videos - as well as audio interviews from 1977. Also included is a full size 100 page hard cover, full color coffee table book which contains rare pictures, articles, and interviews that provides a timelime of the band throughout 1977. Additionally the set includes a full size replica "subway" promotional 'NMTB' poster, replicas of original promo stickers, a re-print of John Lydon's original hand written lyrics to "God Save The Queen", and a replica of the original A&M copy of the "God Save the Queen" single. This UMG box set (SEXPISSBOX1977) and the 2002 Virgin box set (SEXBOX1) together contain almost the entire Sex Pistols studio/demo sessions - omitting only three of the June 1976 Dave Goodman demos which can be found on the 2006 officially released remaster of the "Spunk" bootleg.[41]

In 2015, as part of Record Store Day, the album was re-issued as a picture disc, reaching number 7 in the UK'S Top 40 Vinyl Album Chart.[38]

Cover versions[]

In 1983, The Bollock Brothers released a track-by track-cover version of the album, called Never Mind the Bollocks 1983.

South Korean band No Brain also released a track-by-track cover version of the album in 2001, under the Cujo Entertainment label, entitled Never Mind The Sex Pistols, Here's The No Brain.[42]

The Irish folk punk band Mr. Irish Bastard has worked on a cover version of the entire album, calling it Never Mind the Bastards, Here's Mr. Irish Bollocks. While the full album is not yet released, their version of "God Save the Queen" was featured on a compilation in February 2012.[43]

In 2006, Artichoke released a track-by-track cover version of the album, performing acoustic versions of all songs.[44]


  • Classic Albums—Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks [DVD]. Isis Productions, 2002.
  • Heylin, Clinton. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Schirmer Books, 1998. ISBN 0-02-864726-2.
  • Savage, Jon. England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock. Revised edition. Faber and Faber Limited, 2001. ISBN 0-571-20744-8.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Classic Albums—Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks [DVD]. Isis Productions, 2002.
  2. Heylin, p. 64
  3. Heylin, p. 66
  4. Heylin, p. 67
  5. Heylin, p. 70
  6. Heylin, p. 72
  7. Heylin, p. 75, 77
  8. Heylin, p. 78
  9. Heylin, p. 81
  10. Heylin, p. 81–82
  11. Heylin, p. 87–90
  12. Heylin, p. 92, 131
  13. Heylin, p. 92
  14. Heylin, p. 94
  15. 15.0 15.1 Heylin, p. 97
  16. 16.0 16.1 Savage, p. 409
  17. Savage, p. 408
  18. 18.0 18.1 Heylin, p. 98
  19. Heylin, p. 99
  20. 20.0 20.1 Heylin, p. 105
  21. Heylin, p. 109
  22. Heylin, p. 112
  23. 23.0 23.1 Heylin, p. 113
  24. Heylin, p. 114
  25. Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet TED interview (Mar 2007, posted in Oct 2007), in which Richard Branson discusses the Never mind the Bollocks... court case (at 18:30 minutes). Retrieved Dec 2012.
  26. Patterson, Sylvia (27 October 2007). "Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here's to 30 Years of Bollocks". The Herald (Glasgow). Glasgow, Scotland. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  27. "New Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums". NME. 30 November 1985.
  28. "New Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums". NME. 2 October 1993.
  29. "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Sex Pistols, 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  30. Young, Charles M. (2002). Classic Albums: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Isis/Eagle Rock Entertainment.
  31. Keeble, Edward (22 January 2014). "Hand-Written List of Kurt Cobain's Favourite Albums is Revealed Online".
  32. "BBC News – UK – The Music of the Millennium". 24 January 1998. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  33. [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 103. ISBN 3-89880-517-4.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  34. Tyrangiel, Josh (2 November 2006). "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols | All-Time 100 Albums | Entertainment |". Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  35. "New Musical Express Writers Top 100 Albums". NME. 28 January 2006.
  36. 'When albums ruled the world', BBC4, 22:45, 9 Feb 2013
  37. Prindle, Mark. "New York Dolls". Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  38. 38.0 38.1 "The Top 40 Vinyl Album Chart". XFM. 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015.
  39. 39.0 39.1 "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – October 6, 2012". Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  40. Heylin, p. 155
  41. "'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols' Gets 35th Anniversary Box Set". Rolling Stone. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  42. No Brain – Never Mind The Sex Pistols, Here's The No Brain at Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  43. Heinrichs, Dominik (2012). "Mr. Irish Bastard: Verbeugung vor den Sex Pistols". Zillo Medieval (in German) (2): 37.
  44. Artichoke – Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols at Retrieved 24 October 2016.

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