Which is more disgusting:
a) Mick Jagger singing “Black girls just wanna get fucked all night”?
b) Alvaro’s “Drinkin’ My Own Sperm”?
c) Boney M’s disco version of the Melodians’ “Rivers of Babylon”?
d) The new Sex Pistols single?
The clear winner is (c), and I find that very disappointing: with Johnny Rotten on the lam, the Pistols tried real hard. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook made it down to Rio and got Ronnie Biggs, the fugitive Great Train Robber, to do them up a new tune and even sing it. If one is to believe the sleeve of the disc (one isn’t), Nazi kingpin Martin Bormann, according to good reports also a resident of South America, fills in for Sid Vicious on bass. Steve Jones wears most of an SS uniform and is shown blowing his nose. Since a new book claims that the Great Train Robbery was in fact merely a bag job for ODESSA—the secret society of Nazi war criminals—the Pistols would seem to have all bases covered
But the outrageousness, of course, is utterly fake—and no matter what Cook and Jones may say now (Biggs’ interview with them turns up as an extra track), it didn’t start out that way. I’d almost like to be incensed by Biggs’ celebration of his Nazi soul brothers in “The Biggest Blow,” but though the line in the U K. pop press is that Biggs isn’t half bad, he’s awful, and his song is witless mush. It’s impossible to care one way or the other, or to laugh.
Sid Vicious, back—for the moment—from the dead, handles the flip; his I-sound-great-in-the-shower massacre of “My Way” is just too obvious, and his meanest line, “I killed a cat,” too cowardly. Why doesn’t he mention the rock critic he beat with a chain? Vicious tries to seem tough, but at his best he only calls up memories of Rotten: those memories strip Vicious right down to his pose.
It’s a waste, because Cook and Jones sound terrific. They’re still a great band, and if they had a singer worth their time, they could still be dangerous. Try as they might—slagging off their assault on the doldrums of this decade in their interview with Biggs—they can’t fully snuff their power. All they can do, really, is pour down the beer, and piss it away.
Ah, well. No matter how many Nazis Cook and Jones might have piled onto this sad swan song, the truth is there’s no way they could have made the most disgusting record in rock today. Not when the Bee Gees are on the air with their version of “A Day in the Life.”
Rolling Stone, September 7, 1978