Various Artists

Never Mind the S*x P*stols, Here's The Bollocks, Vol. 1

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Before Miles Copeland turned R.E.M., the Go-Go's and his brother's band the Police into superstars, he was booking bands in the U.K. as punk was becoming the next big thing, and started the Step Forward Records label to commit some of more promising acts on the scene to vinyl. Step Forward soon evolved into Illegal Records and was a precursor to Copeland's successful new wave label IRS Records, and while it's not billed as such, Never Mind the Sex Pistols Here's the Bollocks could be subtitled "Step Forward/Illegal Records' Greatest Hits." Except for two tunes from Squeeze (released by the Copeland-associated Depford Fun City label), all 14 songs here were originally released on singles by Step Forward or Illegal, and while much of this is the work of bands regarded as also-rans, there's plenty of fun old-school punk noise on this disc. The Cortinas have energy and spunk to spare on "Fascist Dictator," "Right to Work" was Chelsea's one great moment on record, Sham 69's "I Don't Wanna" is similarly one of Jimmy Pursey and company's finest tracks ever, pre-gender reassignment Wayne County is impressive on "Stuck on You," Menace deliver a grand load of snot on "Screwed Up," and the Sods make "Copenhagen" sound every bit as sleazy as that city's dirtiest back alleys. While you can live without Kim Fowley's silly "Rubber Rainbow," and Brian James' "Why Why Why" is no match for his best work with the Damned, Never Mind the Sex Pistols Here's the Bollocks delivers as a set of quality vintage punk that's both satisfying and historically valuable.

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