The Sex Pistols returned to UK venues this year and with the 30th anniversary of their one and only studio album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ sparking a re-release it’s no surprise that there is a host of other Pistols related publications hitting the shelves. One such product is Alan Parker’s ‘Never Mind the Sex Pistols - An Alternative History’, a 100 minute long DVD documentary that’s classed as unofficial, despite boasting one to one interviews with original Pistol Glen Matlock and puppet master Malcolm McClaren.

Parker is a respected Pistols aficionado and general punk expert, his work including a couple of books on Sid Vicious and the production of SLF’s recent DVD but this latest offering has as much wrong with it as it has right. What’s interesting about this DVD is that it features in depth and apparently honest interviews with people that were on the scene at the time such as John ‘Boogie’ Tiberi (Tour Manager), George X and Alan Jones (employee at McClaren’s shop ‘SEX’). These give a genuine insight & feel to what it was like when the Pistols first broke and what it meant to the average kid on the street. There are of course plenty of stories that anyone with an interest in the band will have heard before, such as Matlock recounting how Midge Ure was offered the job of singer before Johnny Rotten (a nation thanks it’s lucky stars!) and how they practiced every day, belying the myth that they couldn’t play.

The problems arise early on, the production is fairly low key with no big intro and you feel that you’ve just stumbled into the middle of something. The flow of the documentary is also a bit patchy and at times is in danger of rambling, it often feels like Parker (who features as an interviewee) just giving his opinion, which given his in depth knowledge is interesting but not particularly ground breaking. Where it really falls down though is in the fact that there is no actual footage of the band, this in itself wouldn’t necessarily be a problem but instead we are given rather poor recreations of certain events by the Sex Pistols Experience tribute band, none of whom particularly look like their counterparts and the smattering of segments they appear in just don’t work and are almost embarrassing at times. Also every still of Sid wearing his infamous swastika t-shirt has been censored (the offending symbol being blurred out), which although a minor censorship issue is irritating; that’s how it was, as a documentary reporting events of a particular time & place it should have been left in.

McClaren, not surprisingly, comes across as an unlikeable character and you find it hard to believe what he says most of the time; for example he reveals that he never wanted the band to make a record at all and yet then goes into great length about how he refused to leave the EMI offices until they’d signed them. There are no great revelations, Parker suggests that Sid didn’t kill Nancy & whilst I’m inclined to agree with him this is nothing new and there is no real evidence offered to support this view. Whilst the interviewees are interesting & it’s good to get a different take on events you do get the feeling that some of them only feature because the rest of the Pistols either weren’t available or didn’t want to be involved. As an alternative history it’s not really that different from every other version that’s gone before and it would probably have worked better if it had included or even centred around more of the Pistols entourage such as the Bromley contingent but then that has already been done some years ago.

Let’s not get carried away though, this is a budget price release and ultimately this is an interesting addition for hardcore fans but it’s just not accessible or engaging for anyone with only a casual interest in the band.