Glen Matlock, as everyone knows, was the original bass player for the Sex Pistols. Legend has it that the notorious punk impresario Malcolm McLaren orchestrated Matlock's ouster in favor of the much-more-punk Sid Vicious, who couldn't play a note but had the right look (dumb, damaged, drugged-up). Matlock himself is on the record as saying that he left the band in disgust but under his own steam. Ultimately, both stories probably have a certain amount of truth to them. What Matlock's subsequent career arc suggests is that the Pistols did indeed lose a major talent, and also that from a pure marketing perspective, Sid may have been the better choice. While Sid flamed out in a frenzy of homicidal self-destruction that helped secure the Pistols a permanent place in the rock & roll history books, and made McLaren a rich man, Matlock went on to work with a string of highly competent but not world-shakingly popular bands (punk supergroup the Rich Kids, the Damned, Robert Gordon), and to pursue a solo career that has garnered him lots of respect but not a ton of renown. Born Running may just change that. Is it punk? Not really. But it sure does reek of defiance, and it sure does blow by like a two-ton pickup driving way too fast on a gravel road, and the hooks are indelible: just try not to pump your fist to "Timebomb" or "Hard Work," or the euphorically powerful "Way to Go." Matlock's voice is perfect: plainspoken but just tuneful enough; it sounds like that of a less-adenoidal and less-splenetic Graham Parker. The band (which includes former Rich Kids guitarist Steve New, who died of cancer shortly after the Born Running sessions finished) is professional in absolutely the best sense of the term. Few musicians from the punk era have been more successful at making the question "Is it punk?" irrelevant than Glen Matlock, and this album is a genuine triumph, of hard work, passion, and talent over mere marketing and media manipulation.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson