Never Mind Sex Pistol Sid (Vicious) Being Dead

Now you can find out for yourself why Johnny Rotten says Sid was a no talent. Photo by Michael Goldberg.

Some album titles are just timeless, inspiring endless permutations

and well-meaning rip-offs from artists paying homage to their heroes, or maybe

even trying to take them down a notch. The Butthole Surfer's tipped their hat

to psychedelic soul brother Jimi Hendrix with their last album,

Electrilarryland while Wilco got obscure on us by titling their latest,

Being There after a Jerzy Kosinski novella about Chance the Gardener

(later turned into a timeless Peter Sellers movie).

Which brings us to a

pair of recent indie releases, both of which take a stab at the title of the

lone Sex Pistols release, Never Mind the Bollocks (Here's the Sex

Pistols) as well as borrowing heavily from that album's classic ransom note

graphic look. The first is a horribly-recorded album of Sid Vicious "playing"

live at New York's Max's Kansas City in September of 1978, called Never Mind

the Reunion Here's Sid Vicious on Cleopatra Records, the second is a loving

punk tribute EP from the U.S. Bombs called Never Mind the Opened Minds

Here's the U.S. Bombs (Alive Records).

If you saw Alex Cox's dingy

1986 Sid biopic Sid and Nancy you'll recognize the sloppy noise on

Never Mind the Reunion as being from that fall-down post-Pistols era

when Vicious was fast becoming a nostalgia act with no act. Even though the

band that backs him on these 14 songs is a who's-who of punk, including Clash

member Mick Jones on a ripping rockabilly guitar, New York Dolls drummer Jerry

Nolan and bassist Arthur Kane and Steve Dior of the London Cowboys on guitar,

the muddy recordings have a lived-in feel worthy of Sid's final


Sid, never one too high up on the musical scale, sticks to

a motley assortment of covers, including two Stooges classics, "Search &

Destroy" and "I Wanna Be Your Dog," a Monkees cover, "Not Your Stepping Stone,"

his trademark slag of Sinatra's "My Way," a Sex Pistols outtake, "Belsen was a

Gas," Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" and a few other punk standards, four of

which are repeated later in alternate takes that sound much like the first

takes, i.e., a drunken garage band caught on a $10 Radio Shack tape recorder

with a blown speaker.

The other Pistols cover line scammer is the Orange

Country-based U.S. Bombs tribute to Mr. Sid, a six-song EP that manages to

raise the specter of the first wave of English punk bands (mainly courtesy of

singer Duane Peters' ragged Joe Strummer yelp), while infusing the songs with

an unmistakable SoCal punk spunk.

Even the look of the band (Duane

Peters/vocals, Chuck Briggs/guitar, Kerry Martinez/guitar, Wade Walston/bass

and Chip Hanna/drums) has the feel of a faded photo from 1977, with ripped

Union Jack t-shirts, combat boots and fright wig hair, but the sound isn't

retro or degenerated. In fact, their acoustic-strumming, touching song of Sid,

"Ballad of Sid," despite its pack-a-day vocals, is as moving a punk ballad as

you're likely to hear in the post-Clash era, while the other four smash mouth

songs ("Sex Machine," "Slow Down," "Neverland," "The Outside") might make you

forget for ten minutes that New Wave ever happened.