Sex Pistols Never mind the Bollocks Cover

The Sex Pistols’ only official album was released October 28th, 1977 on Virgin Records. By mid-January 1978, they had broken up, Johnny Rotten quitting at the end of a concert in the US, saying “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” as he walked offstage.

Given the fact that their two and a half year career was the most spectacular PR stunt in music history, semi-controlled by one of it’s most nauseating self-publicists, Malcolm McClaren, maybe there was a little cheating going on. But not by the suitably anarchic artist who designed the cover for “Never Mind The Bollocks” – Jamie Reid.

Reid was working on a radical political magazine called Suburban Press at the time, so really did believe in some of the things McClaren and the Pistols sang and said (they didn’t!). He also believed punk was a legitimate art movement ‘ a movement it turns out, he helped define.

Work on the covers for the first Sex Pistols singles let Reid develop the powerful ransom note and newspaper clipping style that became iconic. First up “Anarchy in the UK” ripped up the sacred British flag on it’s sleeve, then “God Save the Queen” defaced Her Royalness’ likeness just in time for her Silver Jubilee.

God Save The Queen

The image for which Jamie Reid is best known is this one ‘ covering a monochromatic Queen’s eyes and mouth with slashed newspaper clippings was very naughty at the time, and very clever. It perfectly captured the “fascist regime” sentiments of the song, and pushed an outraged public over the edge.

A couple of singles later, and finally the full album of bollocks landed ‘ a pink and yellow canary on heroin that defined punk visually ever after. Like the music, the design is incredibly simple to the point of being moronic, but before you realise it, you’re staring and dribbling like the rest of them. My own copy of this wonderful record can be seen sideways from 15 feet across the room, a bright sliver of garish light between browns and grays and blacks of covers each side.

Like the Pistols, Jamie’s serious contributions to art and music ended pretty soon after this album came out – now 60 years old and living in Liverpool, he recently said “All that I’ve been doing is re-adapting my work from the late 60′s and early 70′s into different contexts and continuing with the same themes and messages.”

http://www.jamiereid.uk.net/