SEX PISTOLS: Ah the memories, the insults, the spittle…

9th December 2016

Title: Live ’76
Label: Universal

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of punk this new four LP box set contains four concerts from the period.

They include: 4 June, Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester; 29th August, Screen on the Green, Islington; 17th September, HM Prison, Chelmsford and 25th September, 76 Club, Burton on Trent. This set arrives with related photographs and an original facsimile press kit including articles from Melody Maker, Sounds, Rock Star and Rock New.

There is a real dichotomy in terms of the presentation and content of the music within this box set. It is, on one hand, a good one because it relays the experience of the concerts to the user. The DIY aspect of the punk era is conveyed here in the sleeve art with its casual tea stains and the A4 ‘photocopied’ booklet detailing press cuttings while the large format book including black and white and colour photo rarities amongst other details provides a larger than life view on the chaotic times.

The problem is, though, that the sound quality is totally wasted on the vinyl format. That this music exists at all is a blessing, that the concerts are available in any kind of listenable format is a wonder to behold while the mastering that has attempted to bring the sound up to a level of discernibility is a minor miracle. That said, these are ‘merely’ bootlegs. Nothing more, nothing less and quite, quite wasted on vinyl. If you listened to this set on MP3, I don’t think that you would be missing much. We’re talking dodgy AM radio quality here. Go into this box set with your eyes open, wallow in the memories, the music and the nostalgia and be prepared to have a great time: just don’t expect that time to be of audiophile quality.