VICIOUS The Art Of Dying Young
Sanctuary 2004 £12.99 / $17.95.

The lists to your right are a play on one of Malcolm McLaren
and Vivienne Westwood
's most famous early T-shirt design's.
I've changed the content of the original categories to reflect
the schizophrenic nature of this book relating to the cult of
the personality that was Sid Vicious. The Art Of Dying as a
factual document is a mass of contradictions and it
's all the better for it. It's a really good read. The
author Mark Paytress makes no final judgements or supposedly big revelations like Rockets Redglare
may have done the dirty deed. He simply lets the story unfold through the memories of the people that
were there, in such a way that the reader may be a little confused by the time they reach the last page,
due to all the conflicting eyewitness accounts of what Sid /Simon was really like.
You'll be a hell of a lot more enlightened to the crazy world of Sid Vicious and it's surrounding players, but it's up to you to decide
what you do or don't believe. Mr Paytress has done a sterling bit of detective work in getting first hand accounts of what sort of
person  Sid/Spiky John was from his ex close friends, school pals and
bodyguards, who normally don't get a look in. This adds a lot of meat to the
bones of a life story we have only seemingly been allowed extended excerpts
from in past publications.  So for a change we don't just get the tiresome, boring
well worn stories from the usual suspects like Fred Elliot look-alike Marco Pirroni
(sniggering - PDC) and all the other un-hip old things who still think they're some
sort of punk clique elite. Jah Wobble is quoted throughout the book as well as
the late
ex-Doll Arthur 'Killer' Kane who spills the beans on Sid's last days in
New York during the final chapters. Wobble pulls no punch's in his opinions, he's
very entertaining to read and insider knowledgeable. Famous journo's like Nick
Kent and Jonh Ingham also contribute extensively. It takes more than stories of
outrageous clothes design and hanging out in gay clubs to impress the many
punk fans far and wide interested in real punk history these days. As there
seems to be a new book relating to some facet of punk on the shelves every few
weeks, but there
's plenty to interest any self respecting punk follower inside
the eye-catching yellow cover with a pic of Sid full of attitude with his low slung
blood splattered bass.

In this week when the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death
camp is remembered, the televised coverage of the ceremony as the eerie
sound of the invisible ghost train arriving in the snow covered extermination site,
the furnace chimneys, the burning railway tracks and the survivors testimonies
really puts into perspective just how silly and stupid punks flirting with Nazi
imagery actually was, even if it was without malice and only for shock value by
most of the participants. This particular subject was covered  in detail recently
on Nihilism On The Prowl! by the guvnor himself Peter D C. Sid Vicious is the
obvious prime example of this punk style faux paux from his T-shirts to his
underpants apparently. He
's not alone. I'm guilty of the mistake myself. I wore a
'Destroy' T-shirt with a swastika on it which I bought from Seditionairies on a trip
to London in Feb. 78 for a Sweet gig at which I
the Damned, which was a real buzz at the time for a young punk from my neck of the woods. I didn't understand the
significance of these symbols. I was only a kid and as misinformed as 99% of the other punks were. It was just a punk fashion
statement to us nothing more. I was more worried at the time about my mother seeing the upside down crucifix with the naked
Jesus than the swastika.  Sid's
Flowers of Romance era song titles and lyrics documented here like 'Belsen Was A Gas',
'Postcards From Auschwitz' and 'Brain Damage' show how young , dumb and immature he was. New light is shed on the simmering
tensions within
the Pistols when Sid joined that would in a matter of months destroy  the band. Through time Johnny Rotten may
have been feeling a little overshadowed by Sid in the punk icon stakes. Though in the music press Johnny was always the
intellectual, while Sid was portrayed as the out of control chemically imbalanced fool with punks most famous curled lip sneer , the
evil twin of his pretty bleach blonde boy opposite Billy Idol. Rotten along with Cook
'n' Jones were all getting annoyed that Sid was
more interested in being a freak show than a musician. It
's said he was so bad a bass player that Johnny Thunders rejected him
for his Saturday night pick up band the
Living Dead and we all know how bad a shape Johnny was sometimes in. The three
Pistols eventually realised their mistake in firing Glen Matlock and hiring Sid when it was too late, as they watched their
tight little unit crumble  around them.

Glen who did contribute to the book unlike the other
Pistols is understandably still pissed off at his treatment. Sometimes gloating,
sometimes angry when he remembers how everything they had achieved up to that point had imploded from within and self
destructed so soon after his exit. This was thanks in no small part to Sid's serious lack of contribution in the  musical side of the
band and his major contribution to the chaos surrounding them. Add to that Malcolm
's constant wheeling and dealing.  Malcolm
just seems to have wanted the money, media notoriety and fame to sell a lot of clothes. The
Sex Pistols opened up all the right
doors for him to realise his objective. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the most universally disliked person in
the whole sorry tale had arrived on the scene from the states
, Nancy Spungen! Nauseating Nancy hot on the trail of Jerry Nolan
ex-Dolls and Heartbreakers drummer and the bands alleged stash of drugs. Very few of the people interviewed here have
anything positive to say about her in print , she seems to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Was she really that bad? Sid
and Nancy just rolls of the tongue doesn't it. They were made for each other and destined to collide somewhere in a drug
dependant nightmare. Now I'm sure many of you reading this review think you know this story off by heart. Yeah everyone knows
how it ends, but you don't know as much as you think believe me. There
's loads of new info here on Sid's pre punk days in
words and pictures, as well as retelling important facts relating to the
Pistols history and legendary Sid gross out tales. Such as
the time he was taking drugs with his hero Dee Dee Ramone and he began shooting up a mixture of piss, vomit and other
associated filth from a dirty overflowing toilet bowl! And on another occasion in the USA losing control of his bowels over a groupie,
when receiving a blow job covering her in diarrhoea!!! Highly recommended reading.
Joe Donnelly (Belfast) 29/1/05.
Vicious The Art Of Dying (2004)
Your Gonna Wake Up...(PDC 2005)
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