Agony Shorthand

Thursday, November 13, 2003
(NEAR)-MASTERPIECE : “PRETTY VACANT”…..I don’t think I’ve written a single thing on the SEX PISTOLS beyond a passing reference in my life – and come to think of it, I’m hard-pressed to name a piece by any cultural/rock critic heavyweight (Byron Coley, Richard Meltzer et al) that goes beyond mentioning them in dismissive passing either. That’s kind of curious when you think about it. Oh sure, the hacks and the phonies and the Greil Marcuses all confuse the band’s media & cultural impact with their musical impact, and because the former was so massive and all-encompassing, I always forget to even consider giving kudos for the latter. I’m not really a huge fan, despite owning a cassette of “Never Mind The Bollocks” (my first punk tape!) since I was a wee lad. Yet I recently got the chance to listen to “Pretty Vacant” – long my favorite number of theirs – with an unbiased, unwaxed, unencumbered ear again, and man, is that one hot tune. Buoyantly fun and angry, with an exuberant, mocking chorus, snotty as hell and a rollicking good time. “God Save The Queen” I can take or leave, “Anarchy in the UK” is fairly useless – but “Pretty Vacant” is punk rock on wheels. A (near)-masterpiece!