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.