Sex Pistols

The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle [DVD]

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When the Sex Pistols' movie was first released, an entire generation was shocked and delighted to see the legend played out precisely as history wanted it to be, as -- indeed -- a massive swindle that completely overthrew the established hegemony of the British music industry. Of course, the years since then have proved that almost every episode in the band's tumultuous career came about more by accident than design, with even the so-synchronistic release of "God Save the Queen," to coincide with the Royal Jubilee, revealed to have been a fluke of timing. Malcolm McLaren originally planned issuing it three months earlier. Viewed as an historical document, then, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle is itself a swindle. But the footage of the Sex Pistols in full flight makes it worthy from the outset, while there is much to be enjoyed from the material surrounding those clips, be it a bath-ridden McLaren outlining his "accomplishments," Ten Pole Tudor demanding to know "Who Killed Bambi," or even Steve Jones getting it on with actress Mary Millington in a seedy London cinema. And then, of course, there's Sid Vicious' immortal performance of "My Way," a clip that never loses its appeal, no matter how often it's viewed. The DVD packs a lot less bonuses than one might hope, but the commentary (by director Julian Temple and journalist Chris Salewicz) is definitely worth a listen, all the more so as it then carries over into an interview with the same pair. Other material, however, is conspicuous by its absence, meaning there is still room on the shelves for a full-length Sex Pistols documentary.

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