Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sex Pistols Spunk review



Sex Pistols
SPUNK
Sanctuary Records/Castle Music

Before the Sex Pistols career defining debut release NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, there was SPUNK. Well, unofficially there was SPUNK. SPUNK has been heavily bootlegged over the years in various configurations and titles. Some official releases have included some of the SPUNK tracks, but none have captured all the songs that made up the first recordings ever made of the Sex Pistols.
The 15 tracks that appear on SPUNK all were originally recorded in 1976. 12 of the tracks are demos that were taken from recording sessions that captured the Pistols for the first time in the studio. The remaining 3 tracks "Anarchy in the UK" "Pretty Vacant" and "No Fun" were also recorded in 1976.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the pure rawness of the tracks. SPUNK is a good representation of the Sex Pistols live sound from back then. NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS was cleaned up and it really stands out when comparing it to SPUNK. I'm not sure if the songs on SPUNK were in the early stages or if the band was just ripping through the songs in the studio - playing like they didn't have a care in the world. At any rate, this is as close to being raw as you can get with the Pistols. Most of the songs you will know - "Submission" "Nookie ( which is an early version of "Anarchy in the UK")" and "No Future (which would later be re-named "God Save the Queen"). It is pretty neat to see these songs in the early stages of what they would eventually morph into. I'm not sure exactly what was going on with the last 3 tracks that were recorded in seperate sessions from the first 12 tracks on SPUNK. "Anarchy in the UK" is not even listenable. The tempo is slowed waaaay down and it just ruins the song. "Pretty Vacant" is just bland. The last track "No Fun" is kind of interesting just because you get to hear exactly how crazy Johnny Rotten actually is. He sounds possessed out of his mind on this track.

SPUNK is not for your average fan or someone who is just discovering the Sex Pistols - you're better off starting with NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS. SPUNK could scare you away if you're a first time listener. This is meant more for the big Sex Pistols fan who has to have everything. As a historical document of the band at the time, it is priceless and worth it to have in your collection. Anything beyond the historical factor is irrelevent. It's not their best material, but then again it wasn't meant to be trim and proper. Isn't that pure rawness what made the Sex Pistols who they are anyways? This is really raw and sloppy. So be warned. Personally, I'll take the first 12 tracks. The last 3 tracks are throw aways

1 comment:

Joe Public said...

Personally I think 'Spunk' showcases a somewhat weaker (or tamer) side to the band. Sure the material wasn't professionally produced, but overall it's let down by a very clean and tame guitar sound (apart from 'I Wanna Be Me'!). Matlock's melodic bass style, while perfectly competent, lacks the primal driving rhythm of the incredibly basic style Jones later added to the finished album (in case anyone's not aware, though after Matlcock's sacking Sid Vicious was in the band when NMTB was recorded, he didn't play on the album). Quite simply, though an interesting listen, the 'Spunk' demos simply don't punch the listener in the face in the same fashion as 'Never Mind The Bollocks'.

I think it's a shame none of Wessex Studio out-takes from the 'Bollocks' sessions have been given an official release like 'Spunk' - even as a bonus disc with the proper album would be a good idea. I have a bootleg featuring a number of those NMTB out-takes, and they are definitely less polished than the material on the finished album, but WAY punchier and more powerful than anything on 'Spunk'.