Play the guitar like a Sex Pistol!

SteveJonesGibsonI had no idea that Gibson had issued a Steve Jones model Les Paul in honor of the Sex Pistols ax-man. Though it was discontinued some time ago, it appears to have been a sturdy mid-Seventies type Les Paul without a whole lot of gewgaws, aside from the Varga Girl decals on the bottom.

As for the sound, here’s a clip in which Steve Jones himself demonstrates some of those big nasty riffs off Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

I read about the punks before I heard them: the early coverage in Rolling Stone pretty much went along with the “Sex Pistols can’t play their instruments” conventional wisdom. It took a network TV program of all things to set me straight. The NBC series Weekend with Lloyd Dobyns did a segment on punk rock that showed Johnny Rotten recording the vocal track for “God Save the Queen,” and I realized that (a) the Sex Pistols were anything but incompetent, and (b) they played rock and roll the way I’d always wanted it played. Then I heard the “God Save the Queen” single, purchased at Armand’s Sound Odyssey in the Cherry Hill Mall, and learned that Steve Jones was in fact an unsung monster on the electric guitar.

It’s interesting to hear the riffs stand by themselves, without the multiple overdubs that made Never Mind the Bollocks into a veritable maelstrom of guitar. (The original versions quickly became available on a semi-official bootleg called Spunk, which is worth tracking down.) Clinton Heylin has called the album’s sound “guitar soup,” but I think it’s extraordinary: a universe of snarling riffs, pounded home by Paul Cook’s exemplary drumming.

As for the Steve Jones guitar, let a hardcore fan demonstrate how it sounds:

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