Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols Music Poster Image
Profane early punk still offends -- and inspires.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

When British punk band the Sex Pistols took punk by the throat in 1977, their message of fury and rebellion shocked their parents' generation and thrilled the kids. Unlike The Clash, for example, whose albums were not only more musically complex but also more socially conscious, the Sex Pistols put out pure power and attack. They still sound fantastic, but there's nothing "teachable" in their songs unless it's that music is a really good outlet for anger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Love him or hate him, Sex Pistols lead singer Johnny Rotten (whose real name is John Lydon) was, and is, an outspoken individual whose ideas are often appreciated for their for shock value as much as for their substance. He may not be working to end world hunger (or maybe he is), but it's certain that the world needs people who say what they mean and don't care what others think.

Violence

One song includes brutal descriptions of an abortion ("Bodies"). The lyrics to "No Feelings" mentions someone being beaten and kicked. "E.M.I." has the line, "Sir and friends are crucified."

Sex

"Sub-Mission" makes a couple of vague reference to sexual feelings ("You've got me pretty deep baby / I can't figure out your watery love"), and "New York" mentions kissing and homosexuality -- all with the utmost disdain.

Language

Never Mind the Bollocks is brimming with curse words, and the language used to describe an aborted baby in "Bodies" is very disturbing ("Die little baby screaming / Body screaming f---ing bloody mess / Not an animal / It's an abortion"). Also, in "New York," a "gay boy" is called a homophobic slur. "Bollocks" literally means "balls" (as in male genitalia) but is equivalent to "bulls--t" in British slang, which is how it's meant in the album's title.

Consumerism

"E.M.I.' is an anti-record-label tirade.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There is one verse about pills in the song "New York": "Still oh out on those pills / Cheap thrills anadins / Aspros anything you're condemned."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Sex Pistols were not the first punk band, but they were the first punk band to fully capture public interest. The music is aggressive and calculated to be offensive, with liberal use of profanity in songs that rail through topics like anarchy, abortion, apathy, and hopelessness. The group was only together for a couple of years, but they made a huge impact on music at the time, provoking a generation of bands to sneer at their fans as well as their detractors, and scaring the heck out of the grownups.The band disbanded in 1978, and John Lydon later formed another successful group, Public Image Limited. The Sex Pistols reunited for a tour and live album in 1996, making no secret that the effort was a money-grab. They have also since performed occasionally together in Europe.

User Reviews

Adult Written byshawn c. May 22, 2017

Bad name

F** in the lyrics and "Bollocks" in the name. In the name the word "Sex" is also featured. No violence. No crude humor.
Adult Written byHarold Cheese April 10, 2016

A classic album. Still has the power to shock and inspire today.

One of the best albums i've ever heard. However I would not say this is for kids under 15 due to the language in songs like Bodies (Although Bodies has a s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMalifee February 19, 2016

Ready, Steady, Go.

I'm not a big fan of the Pistols: they were engineered by McLaren and I don't think I need to go into the Sid and Nancy debacle. However, there is a r... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byComixMetal January 28, 2017

Classic Punk, Still Offending

This album is great for introducing your kid to punk, or to good music in general, for that matter. Bad langauge abounds (Johnny Rotten literrally sings "... Continue reading

What's the story?

NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS HERE'S THE SEX PISTOLS is the only official studio album released by one of punk's most influential bands. The members of the Sex Pistols were brought together by fashion arbiter/manager Malcolm MacLaren, who had seen the Ramones and other punk bands in New York and wanted to bring their style and music to the United Kingdom. The original bandmembers -- guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, bassist Glen Matlock, and singer Johnny Rotten -- met in a boutique owned by MacLaren. When they formed the Sex Pistols, the musicians had more attitude than skill, but their aggressive approach didn't call for virtuosic playing. Matlock is the bassist of record on all but one of the songs on Never Mind the Bollocks, but he was dropped by the band some time between the release of the group's first single, \"Anarchy in the UK,\" and the second one, \"God Save the Queen\"; he was replaced by the musically untrained Sid Vicious, who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. The original four members of the Sex Pistols reunited for a tour and live album in 1996, and have since occasionally played together in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Is it any good?

The Sex Pistols played some aggressive, rocking punk music, driven by Steve Jones and Paul Cook's powerful playing, but their sound is most defined by Johnny Rotten's sneering delivery, unique phrasing, and compelling voice. This music isn't meant to be "good" even in the same sense as a great old rock 'n' roll song. It's meant to offend, and it's successful at that, but it also sounds fantastic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the Sex Pistols were perceived in the 1970s, when many adults in the UK felt this group actually threatened the fabric of society. Do you find this music threatening now? Why do you think people were afraid of them?

  • What kind of picture does "God Save the Queen" paint of England?

  • Do you think a band today could have the kind of impact that the Sex Pistols did?

Music details

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