From Can to Captain Beefheart: Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock’s favourite albums
As the songwriting powerhouse behind the Sex Pistols, coupled with the realisation that he was the only real musician the group boasted, a figure who was later dispatched by the band for the photo-ready Sid Vicious, Glen Matlock’s contribution to punk rock is undeniable.
His influential basslines and ear for an incredible hook has made Matlock one of the instruments pioneers in the realm of punk. Often underrated, largely because of Vicious’ replacing him in the band, Matlock is a serial influencer—but what are the six records that really inspired the bassist?
In a story for the Express, Matlock spoke with the publication about his then-new show I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol which took place at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. But in the chat Matlock also revealed six of the most influential albums of his life and below we’ve got the perfect Pistol playlist.
The first album illustrates Matlock’s love of the sixties pop groups and how they helped to inspire his radio-ready basslines, picking The Faces’ A Nod Is As Good As A Wink. The bassist said of the album: “They were a real lads’ band but they played fantastically, like a rock band with a soul singer. The track ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’ is lyrically suspect but magic and I got to play it with them a couple of years back.”
Another flash of Matlock’s penchant for pop is, Motown Chartbusters Vol.3, a compilation record of “Really well crafted songs. This takes me back to the tail-end of when I was a lad. I’m a sucker for My Cherie Amour and remember dancing to it at Butlin’s at Minehead in 1969.”
If you thought Matlock was all about straightforward pop licks then you’d be dead wrong. He’s an avid lover of all music and his next picks show off that pursuit of experimentation. Art Blakely’s Jazz Messengers LP Les Liaisons Dangereuses show his love of jazz, “I play this jazz album more than any. It’s a cool soundtrack from a beatnik movie. I used to work for Malcolm McLaren many years ago and he came in with it one day.” He continued, “I really dig it.”
That creative flair continues with CAN’s Soon Over Babaluma an artist who Matlock has seen live before confirming, “I like the one-offs of this world”. In a similar vein, there’s also room on the list for Captain Beefheart’s double record The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot, “that’s pretty whacked out but great. There are great song titles, such as Big Eyed Beans From Venus” and great names for the musicians, like a guitarist called Winged Eel Fingerling. There’s a skew-whiff Americana to it: he makes music like somebody who has talked to too many iguanas.”
The final selection is the late, great Scott Walker and his record Sings Jacques Brel, with Matlock revealing the power of Walker’s reinterpretation of Brel’s songs. “Jacques Brel songs are fantastic and Walker has gone to the trouble of translating them into English so we understand. Next was the heaviest song ever, about a virgin legionnaire who’s in line for the mobile Army whorehouse. And it’s a tango as well. These are lush versions with Walker’s sexy baritone.”
So, if you ever thought that the Sex Pistols were built out of three chords and a whim, then you’d be wrong. The man behind the group’s musical prowess is a bonafide muso and knows his stuff. The playlist of all of Glen Matlock’s favourite albums can be found below.