Alan G. Parker and Mick O'Shea - Young Flesh Required: Growing Up With The Sex Pistols (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Alan G. Parker and Mick O'Shea

Young Flesh Required: Growing Up With The Sex Pistols (2011)

Soundcheck Books

Like many people of a certain age, I can point to the Sex Pistols for being responsible for what my parents saw as a phase but which has turned into a life that relies heavily on punk music and much of what accompanies that genre i.e. politics etc. From the moment I heard "Pretty Vacant" on the weekly radio chart show here in the U.K. I realized that something was going to change for me with a stirring happening deep within me that would have a lasting effect on me and my life. That's not to say that the Sex Pistols have been a favorite band of mine but there is no denying that they were a catalyst for much of what was to come in the intervening three-and-a-half decades.

Apparently Alan G. Parker is something of a Pistols aficionado and, unbeknownst to me, has been heavily involved in many things Sex Pistols-related, including books and films over the past few years. Therefore, it is only natural that he attempt to flog the dead horse that is the Sex Pistols in what is either a) the sharing of key information relating to the band and those around it or b) an attempt to further cash in on the cartoon antics of a band whose implosion was as dramatic as its rise to infamy.

Yes, I'm a touch cynical here. While some fans will be eager to snap up any new piece of information regarding the Pistols this piece of work offers them, I find that knowing Paul Jones' attendance record at school and details of Vivienne Westwood's early career working in a pea factory rather uninteresting. There is much discussion surrounding how Sid Vicious could not have killed Nancy Spungen, which Parker has already covered a film entitled Who Killed Nancy?, which is readily plugged in the book as one would expect. The book does not really identify who might have killed Sid's drug-dependent girlfriend but does provide some information which the authors feel exonerates him from the crime--and who am I to play C.S.I. Punk Rock and doubt their findings when to be honest I'm not really that bothered.

That's not to say this book is a waste of valuable reading time as there were parts I enjoyed, including more details of the (in)famous U.S. tour than I previously knew. The authors also discuss their lack of excitement over most of the reunion shows they attended (given the option of seeing the Pistols play live, I'd only be interested in seeing them in their heyday, however brief that might have been, rather than the bloated version that hit the stages during the past 15 years) which justified my, fairly easy, decision to not go myself, mainly down to a lack of interest.

I'd suggest that this book is for die-hard fans only, those who continually seek more obscure (and irrelevant?) facts about the band, its followers and its management. For those who can point to the Sex Pistols as a band that changed the course of their life but have since moved on, then I'd pick up something different to read.