Sex Pistols: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

The Sex Pistols weren’t the first punk band to release an album – The Ramones beat them by 18 months. But Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Sid Vicious became the face of punk in the UK.

Manager Malcolm McLaren successfully courted controversy – an infamous appearance on Bill Grundy’s Today program, replacing Queen at the last minute, culminated in Jones firing a list of obscenities at Grundy on early evening TV. The band released the anti-monarchy anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, while John Mortimer QC defended the group’s use of the word “bollocks” on their debut album.

The Sex Pistols

This publicity resulted in a number one record, but the band were unable to capitalise on their success. Original bassist Glen Matlock was the band’s main songwriter but was fired for not fitting the Sex Pistols’ image – he washed his feet too often and idolised Paul McCartney. Matlock only appears on the 1976 single ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ – most of the bass on the record is handled by Jones since Vicious was only a rudimentary musician. Rotten left the band in January 1978, famously leaving the stage after uttering the words “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night.”

On this April 1, we go through the Sex Pistols’ discography of studio albums and rank them from worst to best. I’ve excluded the soundtrack The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle – it was compiled by McLaren after Rotten left the band to form Public Image Ltd.

Sex Pistols Albums Ranked

#1 – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

This iconic punk album is spearheaded by its advance singles. ‘Anarchy in the UK’ has the unforgettable opening salvo “I am the antichrist”, where “anarchist” is shoehorned in as a rhyme. ‘God Save the Queen’ is a gloomy state of the nation in 1977, where England’s dreaming and there’s no future. The rest of the record is no slouch either, with energetic, riff-based songs. Despite punk’s reputation as amateurish, they’re a tight band on record with Jones and Cook both impressive – the punk edge comes from Rotten’s snarling vocals.

What’s your favourite Sex Pistols album?

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  1. Yep 100% agreement here.

    (Though when I saw the post title, I was wondering if you going to actually dredge through all of the dreck of demo cuts and “Swindle” out-takes/asides out there in record bins, to this day).

    (I applaud you for not doing so!)

  2. HA!! Great.

    I get that it’s April 1, but when I tell people SP had (really) only one album, they are stunned.

    It Shows how much noise you can make if you are in the right place at the right time – even with no real musical talent.

    Does anyone sit down to listen to any of the songs now?

    Not really a “desert island band”, or at least don’t use up one of your 5 spots on them!

    The best thing about the Sex Pistols is the late 80s mock-doc called “Sid and Nancy”. It’s very well done.

    • I do think the original band was talented – Rotten’s an incisive and charismatic vocalist, Matlock had some good tunes, and Cook and Jones are capable musicians. Replacing Matlock with Sid Vicious and Rotten with Ronnie Biggs made them a lot worse though. ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ hold up pretty well.

    • I didn’t think it qualifies as an album per se. Do you like it? I’ve never heard it but I’ve always been wary.

  3. Wow, Graham, you totally had me confused here! 🙂

    Admittedly, I know next to nothing about the Sex Pistols. It really comes down to “Anarchy in the UK.” I had no idea they only released one “regular” studio album.

    • I decided my last worst to best list was a bit tangential, plus it was April 1. ‘God Save the Queen’ is great too.

      • Oh Graham. I chatted with support and they have no clue about the follow. They are looking into it. I know when you post so it’s not a big deal but things like this bother me….that is why I do what I do for a living.

  4. On a separate topic: For all indy/ alt nation music fans: lots of stuff coming out. The new Arcade Fire single “Lightning” and the new Sam Fender “seven going under” are both good. The new Chili Peppers sounds too much like many of their other songs IMO

    • I’ve never been a RHCP fan, but I’m sure I’ll get to Arcade Fire when it comes out – I like their other stuff, especially the first 3. Never really heard Sam Fender though.

  5. That’s so weird because I never knew what bollocks meant cuz no one ever uses that word over here. And the only place I ever saw it was on the Sex Pistols album. And then when I finally asked someone what it meant they told me that it means ass. So I thought that it means ass until somebody else told me that it means shit. It’s only recently that I found out what it really means. It’s like that other word “shite” that British people always use. I know that it must be something bad, but I don’t know what exactly. I presume it must be the same as saying shit. I think it means the same thing but I don’t know if it’s a real word that really means something else or what. It’s another word that people never use over here, And I’ve never even heard it pronounced. Is it pronounced the same as shit? Is it a real word?? Who the hell knows.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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