I’ve whined recently about how the London punk scene of ’76-77 gets such a disproportionate share of media attention. So why’d I pick up Matlock’s book? Because his is one of the first-person perspectives I haven’t seen. Lydon’s and McLaren’s versions are amply documented. But Matlock’s part in the Pistols actually ends when Sid Vicious joins the band, and much of the Sex Pistols legend as punk icons kicks into high gear.
Matlock’s musical contributions to the band also fascinate me. I’m convinced that the strange alchemy between Matlock and Steve Jones is at least as important to the band’s enduring success as Lydon’s characteristic sonic sneers and McLaren’s image-mongering. Matlock wrote lovely pop songs and Jones stripped away the fiddly bits and reduced them to their elemental essence. (The fantastic EMI documentary Never Mind the Bollocks has many examples of this process in action).
Matlock (with help from co-author Pete Silverton) proves a breezy and entertaining narrator unburdened by false modesty. He’s got about as little patience for the myth that the Pistols couldn’t play as I do. He portrays McLaren as more of an opportunist than a master manipulator, and since he worked in McLaren’s shop even before it was renamed Sex, his is presumably a well-informed opinion. His account of the infamous Anarchy tour is markedly different than the others I’ve read; he was insulated from the press furor and mostly remembers being dead bored in hotel rooms.
A brief quote will give you a feel for the book’s flavor, and also show why Matlock didn’t ultimately fit well with the band:
…What they were interested in was prostitutes. It was all, let’s go and get Glen a tart. It may sound like I was a party-pooper but I wasn’t interested. One, I had my eye on a girl at the Paridiso [the club where the band was booked]. Two, I had a couple of songs to work on and one of the songs I wrote there turned out to be “Rich Kids” which sold 100,000 copies, thank you very much. So sod going off after a tart.
I read the original 1990 edition, but glenmatlock.com indicates that Matlock has revised the book with new material covering the recent reunion tours. Dang. I might have to read it again.
Needs More Demons? Not really.