3. “Pretty Vacant” – The Sex Pistols: An Artist A Week/A Song A Day – A History of Alternative Music

3. “Pretty Vacant” – The Sex Pistols

(From the album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols)

1977

The Sex Pistols third single was the slightly less frenzied and belligerent “Pretty Vacant”. In fact, one can hear the influence of both The Stooges and the New York Dolls here more than on the earlier singles. While “Pretty Vacant” is not as heralded today as either “Anarchy In The UK” or “God Save The Queen”, the song was another hit for The Sex Pistols in 1977, going all the way to #6 on the charts in the UK and earning the band their first appearance on the British TV program Top Of The Pops. “Pretty Vacant” also was chosen by NME as the magazine’s “Single of the Year” over “God Save The Queen” and many other excellent punk (and other) songs released that year. In spite of having chart success The Sex Pistols still were intent on trailblazing punk music as a path of self-destruction though. Continued issues within the band while recording Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (one of which being that new bassist Sid Vicious couldn’t actually play the bass), more incidents of bad public behavior (including complaints that Johnny Rotten sang the chorus to the new single “Pretty Vacant” with a very strong emphasis on the last syllable of the title), and the continued furor over the “God Save The Queen” single caused their new record label, A& M, to drop them only days after signing them. Ultimately, The Sex Pistols manager, the infamous Malcolm McLaren, would get them signed to Virgin Records and it would be Virgin that would release Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols a few months later.

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