A new book has just been published featuring the album artwork, posters, photographs and other images from the short-lived but dazzling career of the Sex Pistols. You can see some of the images of the book in this Guardian feature today. The timing is perfect, coming on the back of a naughty inclusion of footage of the Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ over the closing titles of BBC’s Newsnight last week.
I was in my early to mid-teens when Punk reached its zenith in the 1970s. Looking back, I hugely regret that I was so bloody middle-aged at 14! I am more of a punk now (on the wrong side of 50) than ever I was as a teenager – in mentality and outlook at least. I’m still not sure that I’d go for the safety-pin piercings and Mohican hair style (and yes, I know a Mohican is now well past what my receding hairline will support!). But I do regret that the anger and rebelliousness that was so prominent in a lot of the music of the 1970s and 1980s seems to be completely absent in 2016. Bands and solo performers are much more likely to be banned from mainstream media now because of mysogynist or racist lyrics, than because they are seeking to stick it to the Establishment. And God knows, there has never been a more fruitful time for popular culture to rail against the politics and systems that have produced Farage in the UK and Trump in the US.
It’s a sign of the moral malaise that we have slipped into when (even now) people get more offended by a tongue-in-cheek playing of a Punk standard at the end of a late-night news magazine show, than by the narrow-minded xenophobia and abusive personal attacks that characterise so much of our political discourse. Perhaps we all need to get a bit more punk.