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Spunk
Format: Audio CDChange
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2008
If you're after THE album to own as a Classic either of The Pistol's themselves, or Punk music as an era in our rock history, then look no further than this.
Down here in what many would regard as 'sleepy old Dorset,' we were as on the ball in 1977 as the rest of the UK with this album. Word went around about the bootleg record stall at Wimborne Market having copies of 'Spunk,' so nipping out from work 5 minutes early one lunch hour on market day to get one was the order of the day.
The sleeve notes in the booklet with this 'official' CD release say it was going for a fiver, but the stall-holder at the market sold his for a tenner, and with the buzz going around about it, it was the 'must-have' LP of the day and if he'd asked fifteen you'd have paid it. It was THE vinyl album to own and have as part of your collection, and when you hear it you will understand the reasons why. It blows the NMTBollocks album right out of the water, The Pistols were wired to the effing mains when they recorded these far superior and crunchy versions of the tracks you have come to know and love.
Now with 3 extra bonus tracks from the sessions and a slip cover fascimile of the original bootleg LP sleeve, the booklet gives an excellent account of the history behind the making of the tracks, which must see it as one of the few, or maybe THE only Classic Bootleg LP of all time!
Every serious rock and / or punk collector needs this one!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2011
I'll cut to the chase by starting with a couple of quick comments about the mastering of this CD.

Firstly, it carries a certain irony that the material on this "official bootleg" was not sourced from the mastertapes. It was copied from a previous digital issue, which itself was copied from a partially off-speed vinyl album.

The main giveaway is some tracks running slightly too slow, the same as on previous semi-offical/bootleg releases. Yet the CDs of this material I've heard taken from tape sources - Early Daze and Mini Album - play entirely at the correct speed.

The lesser obvious giveaway is the occasional presence on this CD of vinyl clicks and pops, although these are really only noticeable through headphones.

In common with many modern masterings this disc is loud. Pushed to the limit. That said, it does remain just under "the point of no return", so suffers no clipping or digital distortion. Speaking as someone who has an almost natural aversion to loud modern digital masterings, it's actually quite good for what it is. Normally with loud masterings I'm lucky to make it through an album once before losing interest. The other night I played this one 4 times in a row - which speaks for itself.

So enough about the mastering, what about the music?

This material on this CD consists of 15 demos recorded at three sessions in July and October 1976 and January 1977. They were taped in a cramped rehearsal room on portable 4-track equipment by the band's live soundman, Dave Goodman. A few overdubs were added later in a professional 8-track studio.

The first 12 tracks comprise the original Spunk bootleg, released in late 1977. The final 3 tracks, recorded at the same sessions, are a modern bonus.

Don't let the relatively primitive nature of the recording set-up fool you into assuming this is a scrappy low quality affair. Sure, it lacks the polished professional sound of Never Mind The Bollocks, but the sound quality is for the most part excellent. Very clean and very clear. Unfortunately the weak link during these sesssions was the man who's equipment captured that sound, Dave Goodman.

It's obvious from these recordings that Goodman didn't have a clue how to record drums. Paul Cook plays perfectly well, but he's let down by a very lightweight recorded sound, almost at times like he's bashing on cardboard boxes or biscuit tins.

Goodman also made some odd production choices with Steve Jones' guitar. On a number of songs he buried the lead solos in the mix to the point of being barely audible. Very strange. As regards Jones himself, at this early stage in the band's career he was playing with a surprisingly clean guitar tone. You wont find the signature Les Paul crunch of NMTB on these tracks - and some of the songs even feature flanged or phased effects.

And how about John Lydon? I get the impression that Goodman, despite during this period being at the epicentre of the birth of Punk, to some extent initially harboured dated Pop production sensibilities which viewed the band as being the vehicle for the vocalist. Consequently Lydon tends with these recordings to be mixed quite prominently to the fore, noticeably moreso than on NMTB. And much like Jones, Lydon at this stage was still not quite fully evolved into the performer we'd hear on NMTB. These demos find him vocalising in a relatively measured and well mannered style, the manic snarl is yet to arrive.

Bass duties are taken by Glen Matlock, who does a superb job. He really could play and adds a great dynamic to the tracks, a nice driving groove which is missing with the "wall of sound" of NMTB (bass there being provided by Steve Jones in the most rudimentary style). The Sex Pistols ceased to exist as a real band the day Matlock left and Sid Vicious joined, that's for sure.

So, to conclude. These are essential recordings for any fan of the band. But aside from the rather ferocious sound on a couple of the bonus tracks, you may find them somewhat "polite" in comparison to Never Mind The Bollocks. I know it took me at least 10 years to appreciate these Goodman recordings after having written them off as weak alternatives to the "real deal". Today I actually prefer them to NMTB.

So how will I grade it? Four stars out of five.

Why minus one star? Partly because the record company didn't get hold of the mastertapes for this album, and partly because they didn't think to correct the speed issue where neccessary.

As things stand, this official release of Spunk is something of a missed opportunity, because to hear these Goodman sessions on CD in the best possible sound quality you still need to look earlier CDs such as the aforementioned Mini Album, The [JP-Import] or Early Daze - The Studio Collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The vitriol captured, bottled and then spat out with venom. The music blasts a New York Dolls groove, involving this time, the bass. The Virgin release has the wall of sound, fast and focused. Spunk is more ramshackle but with excess effort and energy.

The tracks still crawl up and down the spine leaving their indelible mark. All the forbidden fruits were let out of the hidden closets; Submission dealing with S/M sex, Bodies with abortion, God Save the Queen and Anarchy the odes to freedom, Liar a paen to authority/education, No Feelings=alienation, Seventeen, an anti hope song, New York anti drugs/America/Hippies/Dolls, Pretty Vacant, ironic understatement, I wanne be me, self evident, EMI attack on corporate rock. For alledged clothes horses, the Pistols had a unique intellectual legacy.

This was the looking glass mirage to the 60's/70's free love, disco and escapist Tolkein rock "loons in pants." Rooted in the hidden elements of everyday life, the vocal expression of concepts and emotions not previously named, now for the first time vocalised by white working class lads from London. Prior to this, everyone inhabited a partial world where detrimental events occured but were never questionned.

Pre 77 authority always knew best. Suddenly post 77 it became OK to admit to feeling nothing, having no connection to the world around, believing nothing you were being told was true, laughing at mass hysteria/belief and most importantly not wanting to join in.

The Pistols unleashed a tidal wave, no one could have predicted at the time. The initial problem was whether this energy would go for cultural reform or year zero eradication. Whilst eradicate of history was one option another Bowie influenced section wanted to emulate the Old Guard. The Pistols ended up on the losing side, for now, of this cultural struggle. Inferior Bowie clothes horses reinstated their brand of the Sound of Music. This eventually ushered in the meaningless 80's pop.

The Pistols stock has risen over 30 plus years as the architects of an era. This was one album of pure sonic platinum semtex. Malcolm's situationist idealism coupled with making money from rags, was crucial to the initial success. The music became linked to events detonating cultural explosions in an uptight rigid society. The boat trip during the Jubilee, signing on outside Buck Palace, swearing at Bill Grundy, the iconography of Jamie Reid, newspaper hysteria, having the guts to stand up and stick up a finger at untouchable icons, unleashed more than just music; it was psychological repression finding a voice. The clothes enshrined with Malcolm and Vivienne's slogans, overpriced, paraded a vision of the future; live within the present. The Pistols musical palette was relentlessly copied, whilst the Situationist genius of McClaren has been pushed aside. Mclaren squandered the money, but he was the catalyst for creating icons and fuelling a legacy with his joint vision.

The musical power is in its conduit to envisage another world. The Pistols marked a change in perception of the old order; affecting art, literature, music, fashion and politics. It was the starting flare, firing high into the sky, igniting young people's energy. The past was putsched into a bin.

The songs work best placed within a framework of unrest, as distortion, underming pomp and circumstance. There have been enough copies of the chords, 99% an inferior pastiche. What has been missing is the connection between the filth and the fury to make everything currently held sacred shudder within a human earthquake.

Nothing has ever remotely come close since to making the world judder.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I bought this on "Glitterbest" bootleg when it first came out for a Pound, I was 13 at the time, as then I still think it is the best thing they ever did, you can hear the difference Glen Matlock made.
This is the "Orginal" Sex Pistols and it does not get much better than this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2009
This album is one of the most important album of the Sex Pistols. Everything that could have been and this shows what Glen Matlock brought to the band. This is well worth the money to see the Sex Pistols Demo Album titled "Spunk" everything you wanted to know of what they sounded like. Nevermind the B******!?! was a polished album and this shows the raw sound that the band created. Are they as good on the album well i can't really say because it is so different to the final versions which were on the album.
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on 7 April 2011
This is an amazing album to have, albeit a bootleg originaly. This is far better than their offical studio album "Never mind the bollocks here's The Sex Pistols" it shows that they weren't as musically incompitant as they seemed, with of course Glen Matlock who was either fired or just left the band. The sound produced by Steve Jones is how it should have been in NMTB it sounds alot cleaner than in NMTB, even Lydon's voice is cleaner and sound alot better, I mean I know that sounding rough was the idea of 70's punk however how he sings in theis album is just amazing.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2007
forget "never mind" that was an over polished studio production.Listen to the real pistols who don't fire blanks on this record..they have loads of spunk!! I'm grinning like a cheshire cat marvelling at the sound created by mr jones.The music might be 30 years old but that dosn't mean you shouldn't crank it up and have fun[however old you are!]
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on 15 June 2013
This is how the pistols actually sound, as the original album never mind the bollocks was said to have to much production.
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on 27 February 2015
A must for all pistols fan who have never mind the bollocks on vinyl as I have bought when originally released
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2011
Almost as good as Never Mind The Bollocks Heres the Sex Pistols. Only let down by the sound quality which for it origins as studio demos is excellent. Steve Jones did a fantastic job on NMTB but Glenn Matlock is a much better Bass player and his Bass playing give the songs on spunk an extra edge that would have made NMTB an even better album that it is. Still well worth buying and 1000 times better than a lot of the junk out now days. A bargain at twice the price.
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