Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Your Current Dream Is a Shopping Scheme

In a move which allowed him to utter one of the most nonsensical statements ever created in English, Virgin Money founder Richard Branson will use cover images from one of the bands his record company signed back in 1977 as images on two new vanity credit cards.

The band? The Sex Pistols. The statement? "I can't think of anything more appropriate than Virgin Money adopting the Sex Pistols on their credit card."

The Sex Pistols, for our younger readers, were a punk band in England in the mid-1970s that represented rebellion against anything and everything they could think of, including the music industry and the quaint notion that performing musicians ought to be able to play their instruments. When they began their career, there was really some question about whether or not they had any idea what they were doing, although by the time they reached their peak fame they'd managed to figure out the necessary three chords.

Bassist Sid Vicious also figured out how to be under suspicion for murder of his girlfriend and die from a heroin overdose supplied by his mom. By the time he was 21. The Pistols' biggest hit was a song that contained the line, "God save the Queen/She ain't no human bein'" that English longshoremen didn't want to ship because the lyrics and defaced cover picture of Queen Elizabeth offended them.

What the Pistols contributed to the punk scene is an exercise left to the aficionado; "Anarchy in the U.K" and "God Save the Queen" are classic snarls of punk rage and "Pretty Vacant" still sums up a society that despite what it says, believes in appearances over substance. But the band's pretense that their nihilistic tantrums against hotel rooms, fans, writers and others somehow represented an authentic and honest rebellion against the world vanished as it became more and more apparent that it was instead a self-destructive death spiral.

Either way, it's hard to imagine a less appropriate band to have its name and imagery decorate a piece of debt-ridden status symbol plastic than the Sex Pistols. It'd be like seeing a Clash song used by the dopey American Idol as a commercial for a major corporate automaker.

Well shoot.

(ETA: Hat tip Dustbury)


CGHill said...

For what it's worth, Sid Vicious was the least talented of the bunch, and when they recorded Never Mind the Bollocks, guitarist Steve Jones also laid down the bass tracks — except on "Anarchy in the U.K.," on which Vicious' predecessor Glen Matlock playes, and on "Bodies," where Vicious proves himself unequal to the task.

Also for what it's worth, in Johnny Rotten's next band (Public Image Ltd, in which he reverted to being John Lydon), Dave Crowe, the band's financial advisor, was credited as a full member, and is still considered so today.

Friar said...

Yeah, Lydon was and is a savvy marketer, and the band developed into competent musicians quickly. I think the Go-Go's followed the same arc.

I suppose that the hidden swindle (heh) of credit cards could make one say the mostly made-up image of the Pistols would in fact be exactly what the cards should be wearing, but I don't think Branson's ever demonstrated that kind of self-awareness.