Incredible as it sounds, there was a time when rock and roll was not only exciting but downright dangerous. A time when a ratty band of working-class English yobs with little more than a bad reputation could get themselves banned across the country. When a few,
expletive-filled minutes on a television broadcast could outrage an entire nation, trigger a moral panic and get the band dropped from their label. When the English music press preferred to abolish the No. 1 slot rather then give the band's best-selling "God Save the Queen" its place at the top of
the charts. The band was the Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, bassist Glen Matlock (later replaced by Sid Vicious) and snarling, snaggletoothed frontman Johnny Rotten the short-lived but enormously influential group that helped ignite the '70s punk-rock
explosion. If those lame punk revivals have made it hard to remember what all the fuss was about, this loud and exhilarating documentary from director Julien Temple brings it all back in a vitriolic spray of spite, spittle and raw rock and roll that still hits like a heart attack. Temple includes
rarely seen footage of the band, including their notorious appearance on the Bill Grundy show, where the Pistols swore themselves into the next day's headlines (the best remembered of which serves as the film's title); interviews with the surviving members, all shot like criminals in shadowy
silhouette; and the best bits of Temple's first attempt at a Pistols movie, 1980's god-awful GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE. From their humble beginnings banging out Small Faces covers, to their depressing final concert at San Francisco's Winterland theater ("No Fun," indeed), Temple captures it all.
And he does something few behind-the-music profiles bother with: placing the Pistols firmly within the dreary social context they railed against with righteous anger and a glorious racket.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: Incredible as it sounds, there was a time when rock and roll was not only exciting but downright dangerous. A time when a ratty band of working-class English yobs with little more than a bad reputation could get themselves banned across the country. When a… (more)