My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book takes us on a journey from Lydon’s difficult Irish family upbringing in North London, his take on the trials and tribulations of the Sex Pistols era, through the making of PiL albums. Its colloquial style reads as if it has been transcripted directly to the page from a long series of chats between Lydon and (ghost writer?) Andrew Perry down the local pub. This style, of course, reads like Lydon speaks, so it is quite successful in that it sounds like it is coming straight from the horse’s mouth.
The Pistols and PiL front man doesn’t hold back on those he feels have wronged him (particularly Malcolm McLaren). He then goes on to say he never bears a grudge, which is just one example of Lydon’s somewhat contradictory nature. However, there’s also plenty of surprises, including some of the names he gets on with.
What comes across strongly is Lydon’s desire to move forward and embrace new challenges, both in and out of music, rather than living off his 70’s and 80’s glory. It’s worth remembering that Never Mind the Bollocks was released almost forty years ago (!), and understandable that Lydon gets frustrated at still being defined by his twenty-year-old self.
Although the first half of the book kept me well entertained, at over 500 pages, it is too long for my liking. It digresses into a mishmash of stuff of limited interest – to me anyway. There is some insight into John the family man, and his film and TV work, but basically some chapters could do with more editing. At times you have a feeling that you are listening to someone repeat themselves down the boozer after too many sherbets. But there is enough interesting and surprising content to make it worth a read if you want to know more about the man or his music, beyond the oft-told adventures of the Sex Pistols.