40 years on and, for good or ill, the Sex Pistols remain the band that we think of first when we think of the '70s punk revolution that continues to resonate. They were the band largely responsible for kicking against the established rock order and establishing a new attitude and DIY aesthetic. Although they would quite naturally balk at the idea of being called a ‘punk' outfit, it does on a certain level appear very timely that Universal celebrated the 40th Anniversary of punk with this fantastic 4LP live collection.
It was the summer of ‘76 and the Sex Pistols were causing havoc up and down the country. It has been noted that this series of gigs inspired a generation to make their own music and arguably turned the musical world on its head - such was the power and influence the band had. This collection, with the concerts released in full and correctly sequenced for the very first time also comes complete with stunning related photographs and an original facsimile press kit including articles from Melody Maker, Sounds, Rock Star and Rock New. The 4LP-set comprises four revolutionary live recordings – all officially sanctioned by the Sex Pistols and professionally mastered at Abbey Rd Studios and released in full for the first time.
LP1 features the truly legendary Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester concert, which took place on June 4, 1976, arguably one of the most important music concerts ever. Set up by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto (who were inspired to form Buzzcocks after traveling to Welwyn Garden City to watch the Pistols), the show was witnessed by people including future Joy Division/New Order members, Morrissey, Mark E. Smith (The Fall) and Tony Wilson, changing the course of music history, with the Pistols inspiring a generation of musical mavericks.
Closer to the band's London roots, the second LP comprises the ‘Midnight Special' concert, which was recorded on August 29, 1976 at Screen on the Green, Islington – more widely known for its cult cinema screenings. This famous gig saw the Pistols supported by The Clash and Buzzcocks. Legend has it that journalists and record company staff attempting to gain entry were reported to have been barred entry.
LP3 is the live show that took place at Chelmsford Maximum Security Prison on September 17, 1976. Of the four recordings that make up this collection, this was the only one ‘officially' recorded on 4 track ¼ inch tape, by the band's live soundman Dave Goodman. Reportedly the idea of the band's manager Malcolm McLaren, who claimed it was part of his strategy to have the band play more interesting, unusual non rock ‘n' roll places, no doubt in an attempt to create controversy. John Rotten Lydon rose to the occasion by being his provocative best, as can be heard on the between songs banter.
The collection is completed with a concert that originally made its way around as a fans bootleg, recorded on September 25, 1976: 76 Club, Burton on Trent. It's officially released in full for the first time.