The problem is the legacy. Boiled down to its essentials, it's not even one album -- it's a series of singles, buttressed by a handful of songs scattered among the lone album, singles and demos. It's enough to help support the legend, or at least keep the myth alive, but as music, it can sound bloated and tedious, hardly sounding like the epochal music it allegedly is. That's largely because the Sex Pistols were only partially about music. Sure, Johnny Rotten's snarl and the bludgeoning chords (despite their reputation, the Pistols never really played fast, it just occasionally sounded that way) counted for something, but so did the attitude, the appearance, and the timing. Appearing at the silver jubilee of the Queen, the Sex Pistols pissed all over that celebration with their scabrous "God Save the Queen," causing something truly dangerous, if only for a minute. A moment later, Johnny Rotten left the band, manager Malcolm McLaren brought in former train-robber Ronnie Biggs for a series of awful singles, Sid Vicious allegedly killed his girlfriend and then offed himself, and the Sex Pistols' story ended, only to be turned into farce and vaudeville through countless bios, bad stories, bad reissues, tacky T-shirts, and an ill-advised reunion or two, the second of which happened in 2002, on the Golden Jubilee. To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Pistols and, of course, 50 years of the Queen, a new round of reissues was hauled out, with the three-disc The Box Set being the figurative crown jewel, and the single-disc Jubilee being the hits collection. Theoretically, both are good ideas -- a box containing everything, a disc containing the essentials -- yet they're both executed poorly. Of the two, Jubilee is the worse, because it is saddled with a bunch of Biggs material and solo recordings, all of which are technically singles, yet aren't part of the legacy that includes "No Feelings," "Bodies," and "Problems," all absent here (don't worry -- there are three versions of "Pretty Vacant" instead, including a live cut from 1996! Hooray!). Even if you're an advocate of Sid's "My Way" or "Something Else" -- and even if you take some pleasure out of the Tenpole Tudor-esque goofiness of "Friggin' in the Riggin'" -- you'll have to admit that this ain't the essentials, nor a celebration of the Sex Pistols at their peak, even if technically has the singles. There are a couple of songs not on Bollocks that would work well on a compilation with the highlights from that album, but that compilation still hasn't been made -- and Jubilee could have been that disc, which makes its failure all the more disappointing.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine