Monday, March 16, 2009

Los Punk Rockers - 1978 - Los Exitos De Sex Pistols (SPN)

Los Punk Rockers - 1978 - Los Exitos De Sex Pistols (SPN)
“Los Exitos de Sex Pistols por Los Punk Rockers” is perhaps the finest shit-fi record of all time (forget that mention of “Sacrilegio” one sentence back). It simply does not get any stupider, stranger, more poorly played, funnier, or nigh-psychotic (and possibly -psychedelic) than this record. Even the most humorless sad-sack must crack a smile when the singer growls and caterwauls incoherently, and in-the-red, in no language known to even the most ardent linguistic anthropologists during “Problems.” So what exactly is this fine piece of shit? Not much is known about the origin of the record, but it seems to follow a pattern that was once relatively common, especially in the, uh, less developed nations of the world: rather than trying to license a hit record for sale in, for example, Spain, a record company paid a studio band to record their own version of it—a covers record, essentially—that would be sold profitably to fans hungry for the real thing, which was completely unavailable. The record didn’t pretend to be the real thing, but if the fans were confused and thought it was, well, no harm in that. The records, and cassettes too, were sold in supermarkets and on roadsides, though not necessarily outside the normal distribution channels of legally manufactured records. (The original LP jacket mentions a cassette version, catalog # NC. 1276, but it was supposedly released under a different band name.) “Los Exitos de Sex Pistols” was released, in two different pressings (!), on Dial Discos, under its Nevada series. The back of the sleeve of one version depicts, as many mainstream 70s records did, various other records available on the imprint, a few of which are possibly in the same style, such as “Los Exitos de Julio Iglesias.” The difference is that Los Punk Rockers managed to outdo the Pistols at their own game, whereas I doubt Mr. Iglesias blushed before phoning his lawyer if he ever learned about the album sold under his name (the cover of which archly includes a silhouette of him, rather than his actual likeness). The back of the sleeve includes Dial Discos’ address, the printer’s address, legal information (ha), and the release date. Every record pictured from the Nevada series includes the reference number for the LP and the cassette. I don’t know what the other sleeve variation has instead of the pictures of the other Nevada releases.
The bootleg of the LP, which is what you’re likely to encounter when you see this record for sale on eBay, has a few obvious differences from the original. It used the version of the sleeve with the other releases on Nevada, but deleted the catalog numbers. Also, on the back in the top right, it says “1978,” but the original does not. The bootleg sleeve, which is also larger than the original, has a printed spine unlike the original (and the cardstock differs, with the original laminated and bootleg varnished). The front of the boot’s sleeve lacks the Nevada logo in the bottom right and the catalog number, ND-1276 ESTEREO, along with the label name. Finally, the colors of the boot’s sleeve are slightly brighter, with the punk woman’s face more ruddy. The vinyl is clearly different (original matrix: ND-1275 A / ND-1276 B followed by a diamond-shaped glyph; bootleg matrix, in Czech Republic pressing style: AE 12759/A / AE 12760/A). The original label is brown and beige, whereas the bootleg is pink and magenta and includes songwriting credits instead of only the song names. As I mentioned, the original LP is extremely rare. When one sold in 2007 at the incredible Wah Wah Records store in Barcelona, it was the first the shop’s owner had seen in something like 15 years. I’ve heard of an insane trade: Opus single for Los Punk Rockers LP. Presumably, both traders thought the other was a complete idiot.
“Los Exitos de Sex Pistols” was obviously recorded in a flash, before the next trend could take hold. The musicians more-or-less learned the songs from “Never Mind the Bollocks,” but the singer must not have spoken much English, because his approximations of Johnny Rotten are complete nonsense. (Here are “Holidays in the Sun” and “Pretty Vacant”.) Even when singing the song title, as in the chorus of “Seventeen,” he seems to be making words up: “I’m a lazy seven.” He does have the snottiness down pat, though. The vocals are clearly the best part of the record, simply because they’re so hilariously terrible. The guitar sound is thin and fuzzy, quite unlike the multitracked wall of guitars on “NMTB”—actually, it’s a lot closer to what one associates today with DIY punk of the late 70s than the Pistols’ sound. Few punk sleeves are as iconic as that of “NMTB,” but this album’s sleeve does fit the music well. It’s dumb. The woman on the sleeve appears to be some random person a photographer pulled off the street and dressed in moderately “punk” duds. (A friend of mine coined the term “calzone” to describe an unfortunate effect extremely tight pants have on luscious hips—check the model’s jeans pockets to see an example.) Some time ago, one of the guys behind Munster Records saw this woman walking down the street in Madrid; he recognized her but didn’t know what to say and she escaped. Me, I would’ve followed her home, in the hopes that she had a stash of LPs under the bed.
When I was in Spain last year, someone told me of gossip that the popular Spanish prog-rock band Asfalto was responsible for this recording. Their legit records, I noticed, are easy to find in Spain. I wonder if the members of the band would admit to having recorded this abomination. Maybe the gossip is not true. I did find, in my research, that Asfalto played London’s Marquee in October 1978, which would’ve been the perfect place to learn about the Pistols. The early-for-the-trend Vibrators, who collaborated with Chris Spedding, the producer of the Pistols’ 76 demo (Spedding may have actually played guitar on it), played the Marquee the following day.
This LP could demonstrate one way that the transitional period of the first few years after Franco’s death perfectly coincided with the worldwide punk explosion to create music in Spain that stood apart from that of its peer nations. The uneven development of the worldwide capitalist economy is clearly due to factors like dictatorships, which, however market-friendly they were, as Spain’s started to become in the last half of Franco’s rule, still stifled innovation in the introduction of cultural commodities. Unscrupulous business practices have been endemic to popular music since its early days, but they are aided by local economic situations that bear attitudes toward legality out of joint with the larger global system. Thus, bootlegs have flourished in countries with lax regulations of intellectual property. In this LP’s case, however, not only did some apparent legal loophole create the space for it, so too did Spain’s rush to catch up with the rest of Europe culturally after Franco’s death, which included the explosion of subcultures as resistance—a sea change from the types of resistance that flourished before and during the civil war, in the era before the society of the spectacle commodity. The major difference between this record and the “real” punk records from Spain in 1978 is that Los Punk Rockers were not members of a movement. They took from the movement, however loosely constituted it may have been, but they did not contribute to it. Indeed, I am sure the “true” punks, such as members of Kaka De Luxe, if they were aware of this record would have considered it an insulting joke. Some aspects of punk rock, Los Punk Rockers showed, were easy to fake on record, but being a member of an oppositional subculture in a repressive society was not one of them. The Sex Pistols obviously serve as an introduction to nearly everyone’s understanding of punk rock, but I believe a far more accurate representation of the silliness and lack of pretense of punk as it was and is lived by the majority of its practitioners can be found on Los Punk Rockers’ LP. The stakes were far higher for the Pistols or La Banda Trapera Del Río than they are for me and my friends today, as we sit around laughing our asses off while listening to Los Punk Rockers.
source Shit-Fi (link)


topper said...

thank you Felipe..long story

Do you have "The Doubt" Contrast Disorder" It's irish. I'm looking for this one and it's out of stock at rave up

Graham said...

What is that guitar strung with? Rubber bands? And the singer, wow.

"An insulting joke", yes, but still undeniably punk rock. (Wasn't punk itself always meant to be an insulting joke? What's wrong with a joke as long as it's funny?)

p. albert said...

Excellent post, exxcellent blog! Here's a question I hope you can answer: there's a song from the late 70's or Early 80's, very droney, sythesizer-thick, that features the chorus "Go ahead and shoot her now". And idea wha this is and who did it?

The Hairy Hands said...

Tosqueira total. Me lembrou aquelas bandas de garagem, no mal sentido.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, it's funny how this record has become such cult object. I remember seeing it in the mid 80s in a 2nd hand record shop for maybe 200 ptas (about 1,50€) but I thought it was just a cheap version of the Bollocks LP by the Pistols themselves cos "Los Punk Rockers" didn't seem a bands name at all... Didnt care about it at all but I found the sleeve very interesting. To think the fortune I had in my hands and I let it go! hahaha. Thanks for the post, great fun record and the memories...
Fernando :)

Graham said...

Hi Fernando

If I'd seen it in a second-hand store last week, I wouldn't have bought it either, for exactly the same reason as you.


isksp said...

topper, i have the "Contrast Disorder" lp... already in the list to be posted

p. albert, sorry, this chorus doesn't remind me nothing, but if you found out more info just let me know

Graham and Fernando, always good to read your comments... about this lp, indee, i think that even though the sound is almost horrible, at least is worth of a good laugh

isksp said...

quanto ao mão peluda... quando eu escutei esse lp eu só fiquei pensando em uma coisa, como seria se tentassem fazer a mesma coisa na mesma epoca e aqui no brasil

acho q não dava pra ficar pior, só se decidissem fazer as tais versões em portugues hehe

The Hairy Hands said...

Quando vi a capa jurei que as músicas seriam em espanhol, esses latinos adoram fazer versões. Mas não era. Que pena, pois poderiam ter conseguido fazer algo ainda pior.

O som me lembra um zilhão de bandinhas que tocam (ou tocaram) na minha vizinhança. Se fosse hoje, daria até para entender os caras conseguirem gravar essa tosqueira, mas em 1978? Seriam eles filhos de algum magnata espanhol?

Anonymous said...

Esta gente todavia estan en activo y son de Vallecas, barrio de clase obrera, y si en la actualidad es dificil vivir del rock imaginar en aquellos años...Tambien hicieron covers de Beatles y Stones dirigidos a la venta en gasolineras. Por este de los Pistols creo que les pagaron 130 euros y lo grabaron en 3 horas.¡OLE!

isksp said...

pretty cheap and pretty fast recording... i'm gonna check for this other covers, thanks for the info!

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FReshmould said...

Hello! I was sad to see the link has expired. It's such a strange album. I kinda prefer it to Never Mind the Bollocks. If there is ANY chance you could reupload this you would make my day.