Part Two of our series in which writers reassess critically adored albums.

Released in 1977, the Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind The Bollocks…’ is regarded as one of punk’s foundation stones. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it as the 41st greatest album ever. In 2006, NME voted it the 4th greatest British album of all time.

Alan Wodehouse begs to differ…

I don’t hate ‘Never Mind The Bollocks…’ I just find it difficult to understand the reverence bestowed upon it. Other than the immortal quartet of singles on the record (‘Anarchy In The UK’, ‘God Save The Queen’, ‘Pretty Vacant’ and ‘Holidays In The Sun’), the rest is barely worth bothering with. Put it this way, when was the last time you put ‘Bodies’, ‘Liar’ or ‘E.M.I.’ on one of your Spotify playlists?

At the time, the album was deemed a breath of fresh air, a blowing away of the cobwebs after what was viewed as a particularly turgid time for rock music. But that was marketing spin, nothing more. ‘Never Mind The Bollocks…’ was presented as something shocking and new when in reality, it was a relatively conventional, slickly-produced guitar record (the co-producer, Chris Thomas, had previously worked with The Beatles, Roxy Music and Pink Floyd).

The imagery and iconography surrounding the group skewed the picture and led people to believe they were witnessing something fresh, when in reality the look (and much of the sound) was simply stolen from the New York Dolls.

Let’s be honest – the Pistols’ music really wasn’t that far removed from the likes of The Stooges, or indeed the pub rock scene that existed before them.

It’s just that, thanks to Malcolm McLaren – who, it should be remembered, was the Dolls’ manager shortly before he took on the Pistols – and Vivienne Westwood, the band had a look and a story that could shock and titillate what, it must be remembered, was still an extremely conservative country.

Even today, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks…’ remains the subject of mass critical delusions. Take, for example, the current consensus that the Pistols and punk-rock ‘swept away’ the bloated rock monsters of the 70s. Really? A lot of them are still here, some more popular than ever, and still making shitloads of money. The likes of The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and even prog icons like Keith Emerson are these days admired, not hated, for their longevity.

The Pistols are still here too, of course, their ever-more embarrassing reunions exposing what a pitiful back catalogue they actually have, as opposed to reinforcing a watertight legacy. Yet each time, the media colludes in the absurd fantasy that their paper-thin debut album ‘changed everything’.

As befits a manufactured band, the Sex Pistols looked great, gave good quote, and made an occasionally thrilling racket. But let’s not pretend they were anything more. After all, as grunge proved 15 years later, there’s always a new way of selling rebellion.