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Punk's lost recordings finally resurface in original packaging
on November 5, 2006
To my mind, there are four landmark recordings that characterise and embody '70s punk - The Ramones first album, The Clash first album (UK version), The Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP and Spunk, the Sex Pistols demos. And what a stormin' powerhouse of a record this is!
To those unfamiliar with the story, The Pistols recorded a series of demos in late '76 / early '77 while Glen Matlock was still in the band. These were issued as a bootleg called Spunk several weeks before the Never Mind The Bollocks LP and then promptly withdrawn. To this day there is still a mystery as to who put it out in the first place but it was obviously someone well-placed because the sound quality was extremely good. The recordings have re-surfaced here and there over the past 30 years but now finally, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of these recordings, here are those magical nuggets once again, re-issued in exactly the same packaging as the original.
Perception of the Pistols has often suffered due to their iconic status. It's often been very hard for people (myself, at least) to separate the myth from the music, to able to appreciate the band's recordings without being aware of the phenomenon behind it. No such dilemmas with Spunk. On this record, you'll get to hear what a sledgehammer of a Rock 'n' Roll band they really were. They didn't need all the negative publicity or the cachet of being 'iconic'. These demos are as powerful as anything in Rock 'n' Roll's history.
Although most of the tracks later surfaced in re-recorded form on ..Bollocks, the re-recorded versions suffered from a slickness and polish that did not truthfully represent the band. On Spunk, we get the unadulterated action - raw and snarling. So compact and basic are these recordings that they all sound as though they were recorded in mono even though they were cut in stereo. Steve Jones' axe sounds ferocious throughout and you just have to appreciate the contribution that Glen Matlock made to the band - his wonderful bass playing evidenced here gives The Pistols both a musciality and a muscularity missing on their legit record. The rhythm section as a whole is totally pumping! And this is all before John Lydon/Rotten opens his mouth, spewing venemous attitude in a way that makes his lyrics seem all the more necessary and pointed. With the recordings on Spunk, you get to really understand the Pistols and what they were trying to achieve. And you get to rock out to the boys with wild abandon.
Take God Save The Queen for example. Although to less cultured ears the version here may sound distinctly similar to the Bollocks version, there's something tighter and more focused about this performance. It's one of numerous subtle revelations. My personal fave has to be Submission - a slower, grinding, sleazeball performance complete with swampy underwater effects. And this is just one of the many delights on show here.
The Sex Pistols were a great Rock 'n' Roll band as well as a social force to be reckoned with. This record will appeal to anyone who wants to discover that former quality of the band that changed the world we all live in.