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Considering that the world's most notorious punks lasted all of 3 years and released only one proper album, it's amazing that a 3 CD set could make it to the shelves at all. But here it is, dripping with snotty attitude, even after 25 years. Don't be fooled, just because John Lydon seems to have swapped irony for greed, this three chord blast still sounds as angry as ever.
Of course the usual suspects are here again: the Never Mind The Bollocks tracks, the superb Spunk bootleg demos (step forward and take a bow Chris Spedding!) and the entire legendary Screen On The Green gig. They're all presented in glorious new digital garb and remind some of us of a certain age that simply jumping up and down on the spot was once considered dancing. Let's just not remember what else we did at gigs back then, eh? Added to this are the b-sides, outtakes and cover versions essential to any disciple of the un-fab four. It does the heart good to hear the wondrously dishevelled intro to the Stooges "No Fun", with Rottens snarled "Rrrrright, ere we go naaaooww..." A sociology lecture, indeed.
The only sour notes are struck by the inclusion of some completely unrecognizable versions of "The Flowers Of Romance" which bear absolutely no resemblance to the later PIL track and the relentlessly grim closing number from the last gig at the Winterland Ballroom, "Belsen Was A Gas". At least their singer knew that the days of Malcolm McLaren's situationist media provocation were well and truly over. If only the other three had had the sense to walk away. Their later (mis)adventures are thankfully omitted here.
So, a tasteful (whoever would have linked that word to the Pistols in 1977?) footnote to this unholy Jubilee and a worthy excuse to fill that gap in your record collection. Chris Thomas' productions (i.e. the singles and first album) still stand as some of the most visceral, thrilling, older generation-hating music of all time. If you're a first time buyer, the legend still holds true; if you're an ageing punk re-living those glory days, crank it up to 11 and annoy your kids for a change. Destroy!! --Chris Jones
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