Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Most rock reunions mix the depressing and the disgusting. At best they're futile attempts to rekindle an extinguished spark, at worst shameless schemes to sell an expired brand name. Between the speed of the Sex Pistols' flame-out and the candor of their cash-in, you'd expect the blatantly entitled Filthy Lucre Live (Virgin) to distinguish itself only by taking these tendencies to 'orrible new extremes. But even though it reprises all 12 songs on the classic Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols with their tempos and arrangements pretty much intact, Filthy Lucre Live is that rare thing, a live album with a life of its own.

The five familiar outtakes and B sides included are a bonus--the strength of this music is that its historical moment is so definitively over, forcing us to hear or rehear it as pure sound. Steve Jones's immense, bluesless riffs and Paul Cook's stone simple beats have gained magnitude with the years. Original bassist Glen Matlock always provided melodic glue. And it's impossible to miss how John Rotten-Lydon's hilariously ill-humored gutter-prophet howl, now broadened but not softened with age and a decade-plus of paid acting lessons in Public Image Ltd., could define both a new rock voice and a new rock attitude. Sure Bollocks is where the curious should start. But this one is more than the profit-taking reprise it pretends to be.


When Amy Rigby moons over the bookstore clerk who checks her knapsack, you figure out not just that her j-o-b is only a means to leisure, which is how it works for most people, but that her leisure has a lot of slack in it. Diary of a Mod Housewife (Koch) reveals how good girls stay loose after 30. If Beer & Kisses isn't on some chart soon, she should move to Nashville. She'll like the rents.

Playboy, Aug. 1996


June 1996 Sept. 1996