No one seems to know exactly when or where this live disc of an energetic Glen Matlock-era Sex Pistols gig was recorded, but some have guessed it dates from the spring of 1976, and that sounds reasonable. Better Live Than Dead is certainly one of the better semi-official live Pistols albums to have emerged since the band's breakup; the recording quality is dodgy at best (and Johnny Rotten is barely audible much of the time), but the band sounds tight and enthusiastic, and when they whip through ten of their originals (along with four covers), they sound like a band rather than a cause celebre, which is when they were at their peak. However, while the performance is good enough to compensate for the sound quality, it manages this by the barest margin -- the audio suggests this was recorded on a cheap boom box, and the master tape has more than a few speed glitches. Obviously, there are plenty of folks who are willing to hear the Sex Pistols play the same songs over and over again on any number of albums, and Better Live Than Dead is a better place to hear them than most, but as with the bulk of the band's non-Virgin catalog, it's hard to get past the fact you're really better off with a copy of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Still, if you're an obsessive, Better Live Than Dead won't give you the feeling you've been cheated.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming