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Topic: The Punk Rock Album That Got Censored Post Reply | Post New Topic
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Robbie Parry
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Joined: 17 June 2007
Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 02 August 2017 at 5:58pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I was listening to "Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols" by, well, The Sex Pistols. I hadn't listened in a while. The album was released in 1977.

It was not without controversy. The word "bollocks" was deemed offensive. Some stores refused to carry the album. One police officer approached a store owner to ask that the album be taken off the shelves. 

Various stores and the media censored it. 

Eventually, the controversy surrounding the censorship of this album led to a court case (a store owner was arrested for displaying it). I don't know what act of parliament led to it being tried in court, but the defence team did ascertain that the word "bollocks" actually referred to a priest (Old English). The magistrate's court eventually found the store owner not guilty. 

The court case surrounding this album probably helped it sell a few more copies - but that aside, it is a good album in its own right. 

Anyway, on to my point: I'd like a non-UK perspective on this. Do you think a US store owner (to name one nation) would have been prosecuted ever? 

Did the album sell over there? Does anyone not in the UK have any memories of the album and the controversy?

It's worth a listen, anyway. And it's stood the test of time, in my view.
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David Miller
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Posted: 02 August 2017 at 10:07pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I've read about the controversy but I was too young to witness it first hand if it even manifested stateside. (Elvis's Presley's death made an impression on 4 year old me but Punk didn't get me for a decade.) 

I thought The Bullocks were some old fashioned dad music swing or big band act the Pistols were ripping on.

I think it's a great album. I was surprised by how pop the music is -- if it were just a bit wimpier it'd be power pop like the Buzzcocks. And the musicianship is incredible. Maybe Sid couldn't play, but that was beside the point because he didn't play on the record.

Coincidentally yesterday I picked up "Spunk," the leaked (possibly by the band) demos for Never Mind the Bullocks. It's an interesting take on the record. The tracks are considerably fleshed out for demos, but the production values are raw and lack Bullocks's gloss and shimmer.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 03 August 2017 at 7:30am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

It's Bollocks not bullocks. There wouldn't have been any controversy over the title if it was bullocks!
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David Miller
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Posted: 03 August 2017 at 10:40am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I'm like the worst Sext Pistols fan ever. Syd must be spinning in his urn.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 03 August 2017 at 1:51pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Is bollocks widely used in the US? Using US TV/film as a barometer, I can't recall many (or any) movies/shows that featured the word "bollocks". 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 August 2017 at 2:06pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

"Never Mind the Bollocks" was the first time I'd ever heard the term when I bought the LP back in the early 80s, and I'd say it's still not quite in  common US vernacular, though I think most Yanks of a certain age have a general idea what it means thanks to that selfsame album.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 03 August 2017 at 2:09pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I find it fascinating the way our terms are so different.

You guys are weird (for starters, why are your steering wheels on the wrong side of the car?). And why do you call it "gas" rather than "petrol"? Yes, it's gasoline, but it's so wrong for you all to say you're putting "gas" in your car.

And, I tell you this, it's a jumper, not a sweater. ;-)

As for bollocks, it'd be interesting to survey how many Americans knew the term prior to that album's release.
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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 04 August 2017 at 7:30pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Initially it was ignored except by rock music magazines and those that read them. Over time -- fifteen years, maybe? -- it went "gold" (500,000 copies sold).

It's one of my favorite LPs although John Lydon has turned into -- I'll translate it into British -- an annoying prat.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 05 August 2017 at 12:32pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Those who attempt to censor things don't realize (or perhaps they do, but choose to ignore) the fact that attempted censorship can only result in more publicity and sales for an album, book, film.

It happened here in the 80s, the infamous "video nasties" scandal, where films like THE EVIL DEAD, THE BURNING and others were all banned, but it only made us curious. Probably helped the films in some manner.

Even if someone wasn't a punk rock fan, they may well have been tempted to buy "Never Mind The Bollocks" just to see what the fuss was about.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 08 August 2017 at 8:45am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood springs to
mind,getting it banned by Radio 1 was a stroke of
genius! As was The Sex Pistols `God Save The Queen`
released during the Queen`s silver jubilee! The
BBc/Radio 1 just pretended it didn`t exist,as episodes
of Top Of The Pops from that time testify!
The `Moral Majority` in the U.S. in the 80`s helped
sell millions of rock albums!(Plus they purchased all
those copies to burn!)

I love the tale of Sid Vicious being in the same
recording studio as Freddie Mercury and him
sarcastically asking Freddie if he was still bringing
opera to the masses,Freddie`s reply `Of course Mr
Ferocious`!
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Robbie Parry
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Posts: 7270
Posted: 08 August 2017 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The parallel with videos in the 80s is one worth exploring.

I heard about this controversial film called THE BURNING. A slasher film (80s). Banned for so long. Eventually released but with scenes cut.

I bought it from HMV around 2000/2001. And it was shit. A lame "clone" of far superior films from the HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH franchises. Yet stupid me, and others, bought it because we thought it might be an effective and well-told horror film. It wasn't.

DRILLER KILLER was banned. I saw that when the VHS was released. Didn't last the whole film. Another pile of shite.

If they had just released them quietly back in the day, they'd have "gone under the radar". Instead, censorship of the films led to them becoming notorious - and getting sales they probably didn't deserve.
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Matthew Wilkie
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Joined: 09 March 2011
Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 08 August 2017 at 3:13pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood springs to
mind,getting it banned by Radio 1 was a stroke of
genius!

***

I genuinely don't think it was premeditated though. Radio 1 had been happily playing until Mike Read, playing it on his Breakfast Show (and I can recall hearing it live), took exception to the lyrics and refused to play it. Ultimately, the BBC followed suit and stopped playing it although this decision was reversed in the coming years. Ironic that they had a problem with this but, as we now know, happily tolerated employees who have seen been revealed as sex offenders and paedophiles.
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Matthew Wilkie
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Location: United Kingdom
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Posted: 08 August 2017 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I think it's a great album. I was surprised by how pop the music is.

***

I bought Bollocks around ten years after its release and can remember thinking exactly that too - surprisingly accessible and, as you say, poppy.
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Bill Collins
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Joined: 26 May 2005
Location: England
Posts: 8717
Posted: 08 August 2017 at 9:31pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Matthew,i didn`t mean it to come across that FGTH
engineered the ban,i just meant it was a good career
move,as is a pop star dying! i find ironic that Radio
1/BBC banned it,but had been happily playing Greased
Lightning for years which has equally dodgy lyrics.
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Matthew Wilkie
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Joined: 09 March 2011
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 742
Posted: 09 August 2017 at 12:15pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

You're right, Bill, and I bet there are others.

And Mike Read who prompted the ban has subsequently gone on to be a slightly dubious character with his public support of UKIP.
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Bill Collins
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Joined: 26 May 2005
Location: England
Posts: 8717
Posted: 09 August 2017 at 2:10pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I find most Radio 1 dj's from that era dubious!
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