The Sunday Times January 07, 2007

Going for a song
Nicky Wire on God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols

Up until I heard God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols, my musical life felt like a gigantic preamble.

I saw the video on Old Grey Whistle Test in about 1984. It was the perfect distillation of all my wants and needs. It was glamorous, dangerous, political, angry and brutal. Musically, I had gone from Black Sabbath to the Smiths in three years, but this record and the accompanying film burnt a hole through my brain. The intellect of Johnny Rotten, the violence of Steve Jones’s guitar, Paul Cook’s perfect rock drumming and Sid Vicious’s stroppy, insolent coo l... The music was vivid, realised and concise. It was proper rock’n’roll.

The indie kids seemed redundant. Rock’n’roll could be life-saving.

The lyrics are simply unique: “When there’s no future/How can there be sin?/We’re the flowers in the dustbin/We’re the poison in your human machine/We’re the future, your future.”

As I missed out on punk first time around, God Save the Queen felt like an important historical document: Magna Carta of rock’n’roll, it challenged all my preconceptions and stopped me listening to other records for months. Its glorious fade-out (“No future, no future”) became a soundtrack, a mantra and a philosophy for my life. When you are in a band, few things are perfect — the music, the words, the image, the artwork, the production — but this was. Nobody ever sounds like the Sex Pistols; they rock like no other punk band. Johnny’s lacerating vocals will never be repeated. A mixture of Albert Steptoe, Shakespeare’s Richard III and Iggy Pop, Johnny made the Sex Pistols truly original. Their venom and power remain undiminished.

Nicky Wire is the bassist with the Manic Street Preachers

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