Cover version LPs – low cost greatest hits ‘tribute’ recordings by soundalikes of Abba and so on, sold in Woolworth and similar chain stores for a fraction of the price of an authentic recording, were surprisingly popular in the 1970s. In 1978, the greatest of them all appeared in Spain, where ‘Los Punk Rockers’ came up with an alternative version of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks – a record that was presumably hard to find and expensive to buy in the post-Franco Spain of the time. Los Exitos De Sex Pistols (The Best of The Sex Pistols) is possibly the greatest cover record of all time.
While most covers LPs tried to stick as closely as possible to the original recordings, Los Punk Rockers were rather less restrained. The music is a weird fuzztone approximation of punk, as fed through the musical sounds of the decade and with basic production levels. The lyrics were presumably translated by ear, and only vaguely approximate the originals, often being entirely incoherent to both English and Spanish listeners. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume that this was some sort of avant-garde art project – but by all accounts, it was released as a straight-ahead covers LP on the Dial Discos label’s Nevada series. However, there’s certainly the possibility that the performers behind the ‘Los Punk Rockers’ name were taking the piss – it’s rumoured that they were Spanish prog rock band Asfalto, and if that’s true, they might well have felt the back-to-basics sound of the Pistols was beneath them. But oddly, while they sound nothing like the Pistols, they do have a curious, unexpected and accidental affinity for the stripped-back, under produced, indie punk sound that emerged. For all the punk back-to-basics attitude, never Mind the Bollocks is a well produced, thunderous, heavy album. This is none of those things.
Oh, and the sleeve – a random attempt to make a woman (surely not a professional model) look ‘punk’ while presumably only having limited access to what punks actually looked like. And so she appears more authentically punk than the mohawked clichés who followed in the UK.
Whatever the truth, Los Exitos de Sex Pistols is mind-bogglingly brilliant, and in its own way, very punk – chaotic, shambolic, ludicrous and anarchic. original pressings of the LP are now very rare – a bootleg edition was produced in 2014, which for most people will more than suffice, but collectors should approach copies sold online with a degree of caution.