Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks [Pure Audio]

by Bob Coyne Rating:9 Release Date:2014-02-03

Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!
Re-evaluate the songs
Double-pack with a photograph
Extra track (and a tacky badge)

How many times can a classic album be re-issued and how many times will the lyrics from the Smiths’ 'Paint a Vulgar Picture' be used to describe it?

To be fair to Universal, there’s a reason for this re-issue and they’ve done a fine job of bumping it up with b-sides and live tracks. The reason, of course, is that it’s part of their High Fidelity Pure Audio series. If you haven’t heard, this is a new format that looks like a CD or DVD but can only be played on a Blu-Ray player. The larger capacity discs allow the audio to be uncompressed, which is great for those of us that like a bit of quality and not some rough mp3 or stream. Even a CD contains compressed audio.

The question, of course, is how much more quality can you get from an album that was released in 1977? I’d like to see some of the new releases on this format, to really hear the difference in quality.

Regardless of the age of Never Mind the Bollocks, if you don’t own it, then this is your chance to not only get it with all the extras but to start your Pure Audio collection. After a quick search online, I can’t find any other format that has what this re-issue offers.

After the initial album we get a clutch of b-Sides, including 'No Feeling' (b-side to original, withdrawn 'God Save the Queen'), 'Did You No Wrong' (b-side of 'God Save the Queeen'), 'No Fun' (b-side of 'Pretty Vacant') and 'Satellite' (b-side of 'Holidays in the Sun'). 'No Feeling' is just a different version of 'No Feelings' from the album, while 'Did You No Wrong' is one of the oldest Pistols tracks, which might explain why it’s a bit pub rock.

Fortunately, 'No Fun' is a great version of the classic Stooges track and it's interesting to hear the difference from the proto-punk original. The best of the b-sides, though, is 'Satellite', a live favourite which is better than half the songs on the original album and possibly a sign of what might have followed had Lydon not left the band.

Then it’s on to the live stuff: 10 tracks from Stockholm’s Happy House which show the ferocity of the band. The recording is great quality. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the final three tracks. Recorded at The Winter Gardens in Penzance, the quality is awful, possibly recorded in a toilet, and a pointless addition to a re-issue that’s all about sound quality.

I suppose I should mention the original album but what can be said that hasn’t already in countless reviews over the years? It has 'God Save the Queen', 'Pretty Vacant' and 'Anarchy in the UK' for a start. It’s the definitive statement for the UK punk era. Sure, there are albums which have aged better but when you think of punk, you think of Johnny Rotten and Malcolm McLaren. It’s simply 12 tracks of filth and fury that changed the world forever.

The last three tracks aside, this is well worth your money. OK, so it’s double the price of a CD at £19/$31/€23, but you get the original album, b-sides, a great live album and an excellent booklet all in one. So if you’re curious about the new Pure Audio format, this is a great introduction.

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