POPT Blog #3 Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks pressing chaos

The pressing history of the Sex Pistols sole LP (Swindle doesn’t count) is as complicated as their singles history, not to mention the band’s relationship with record companies…Dropped by E.M.I after 1 single, dropped by A&M (nothing released -apart from a £10K+ withdrawn single) …and eventually signed to Virgin for an LP and 3 singles.

McLaren, for all his faults as a manager, was clever enough to sign the band to different record labels in separate territories. Amidst the chaos the first release of Never Mind the Bollocks was NOT in the UK but Belgium and France. Barclay, the French distributor, was quick to heavily import copies to the UK.

 

To retaliate Virgin pressed an 11-track version of the LP in late October. However, this omitted the 12th track Submission, the tracks were also in a different running order to the agreed (& licensed) UK version. While some sources claim this was intended as a promo, it retailed in the UK and was exported to France and even the USA. To add to the chaos McLaren anarchically bootlegged the band’s demos as Spunk, before Virgin’s UK release date of 4th November. While Virgin defended their territory they also didn’t want to miss a single Pistols related sale and one ex-Virgin employee told me he was bulk ordering Spunk directly from McLaren to sell in their retail shops. Anarchy in the UK- total chaos more like

The UK 11-track version was available for a short period before the LP was remastered and recut with 12 tracks – in the correct running order. Although the 12 version is now regarded as the official running, the 11-track original remains an intriguing collector’s item given the importance of Pistols sole LP as a cultural artefact of the period, if not one of the most important LPs ever released in the UK.  I’ll happily drink anyone under the table, at their expense, who wants to argue otherwise.

  • Never Mind the Bollocks: 1st Issue: Sex Pistols Records # 940 553, 940553 ℗ 1977 Glitterbest (McLaren’s management company & distributed by Barclay). 11 tracks, Belgium and French copies appear to have little/no distinguishing differences. Some pressings incorrectly state “It’s the Sex Pistols” instead of “Here’s the Sex Pistols” also track 1 is misspelt “Holydays in The Sun”. Back covers list 11 tracks & “A” tax code on white sticker (not printed) top right corner.
  • Never Mind the Bollocks: 1st UK Issues: Any combination of the A1/A2 with B1/B2/B3 stampers (in the run out) are rare early issues. These came housed in either a blank back cover or 11 tracks listed.
  • These contemporary with the A3/B1 stampers which are associated (but not exclusive to) the so-called Spots issue, which was shrunk wrapped with Submission 7 inch & a 100 cm x 65 cm folded poster. Most importantly to collector’s is the sticker and the shrink wrap. The hype sticker came in red, orange & green. While the red stickers are sharp, by the green printing, the stampers are dulled and they look blurred.

11 Track Side 1: Holidays in the Sun, Liar, No Feelings, God Save the Queen, Problems

12 Track Side 1: Holidays in the Sun, Bodies, No Feelings, Liar, God Save the Queen, Problems

11 Track Side 2: Seventeen, Anarchy in the UK, Bodies, Pretty Vacant, New York, E.M.I

12 Track Side 2: Seventeen, Anarchy in the UK, Submission, Pretty Vacant, New York, E.M.I

        

 

  • Spunk was original released in October 1977 on the aptly titled “Blank” label BLA-169 and pressed by Lyntone Records (best known as manufacturers of flexi discs). Original pressings are identifiable by the info “LYN 4732-111” scribed into the run-out and were issued in plain white covers in the rush to beat the official LP in to the shops. These were replaced with printed covers depicting the label artwork of a hand pointing a pistol. While Spunk contains early demos, the official LP rips it to shreds
  • .

Side 1: Seventeen, Satelite (sic), (No) Feelings, Just Me, Submission, Nookie

Side 2: No Future (original title of God Save the Queen), Problems, Lots of Fun (Pretty Vacant), Liar, Who Was It (E.M.I), New York (Looking for a Kiss)

Side 1 are July 1976 demos recorded with Dave Goodman. Nookie: Anarchy in the UK is the rejected version of their 1st single recorded in October 1976 (replaced with a new recording with Chris Thomas). Side 2 is more Dave Goodman demos from January 1977.

To complicate the matter further there’s all the different packaging….Firstly, there were covers with plain pink backs and versions with a Jamie Reid designed back cover depicting 11 songs titles. Both versions are considered “original”.

Then came the Spots issue which would now be considered a “super deluxe” package. This came with a Jamie Reid designed poster (also sent to record shops for display) plus a one sided 7-inch single of the omitted track Submission. Despite also being sold in Virgin retail shops in generic Virgin Union Jack sleeves, the 7 inch of Submission is not considered as one of the band’s singles releases.

Virgin generic retail singles bag : Name of artist to be written in blank square
Back of the 1977 generic Virgin singles bag

There are plenty more collectable variants of the original UK issue and international pressings of this LP – but POPT will stop here.

 

 

 

 

1978 Picture Disc

 

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