CMA Awards 2018

A Bondage-Inspired Edition of 'God Save Sex Pistols' Celebrates the Band's 40th Birthday in Style

RICHARD YOUNG/REX/Shutterstock
The Sex Pistols photographed in 1977. 

The Mexican Summer label and a cultural historian team-up to archive music history.

God Save Sex Pistols, a visual history of the titular band originally published by Rizzoli, is intended as a celebration of the meteoric crater left by one of rock and roll's most divisive and storied bands on the occasion of the group's first single "Anarchy in the UK.” A new ultra deluxe edition is being published by Anthology Editions, a joint venture between the Mexican Summer label and cultural historian Johan Kugelberg's archival Boo-Hooray venuture.The new entity is producing historic-minded hardbound books, heavyweight vinyl, exhibitions and ephemera. God Save Sex Pistols, out today, marks the imprint's first music-based project.

The edition costs a pretty penny at $650 (a deluxe edition is $160), and includes a bondage-inspired rubber slipcase designed by French street artist Zevs, a limited edition print of the iconic Queen Elizabeth image signed by designer Jamie Reid and, naturally, a safety pin book display stand. (Thanks, Malcolm.)

When asked about some of the non-academic bells and whistles included with God Save the Sex Pistols, the historian reveals something of his impartiality. "We're such fans that it's meant to be a gregarious celebration of the band," he says, "that's why we've done something that's as fantastic and wonderful as this package."

1977 was, infamously, the year that punk broke -- the Pistols released their seminal debut Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols the same year -- and Kugelberg notes that 2017 will likely bring a number of other commemorations. It's practically science.

"The trajectory of how subcultures and alternative cultures are documented, studied and understood," he says, "usually has a one-and-a-half generational shift, because you want to document these things before everybody who was involved in it are dead and the materials go into the dumpsters."

Kugelberg has created or contributed to dozens of books, monographs, archives and exhibitions, many for academic institutions filled with documents on everything from the early histories of hip-hop and punk (both now at Cornell University) to the Velvet Underground, Scandinavian black metal and the Sunset Strip.

He may speak like a historian, but Kugelberg defies the stereotypes. When Billboard spoke with him, he had just been surfing at Rockaway Beach and had recently met with Ian MacKaye, co-founder of the foundational Dischord label central to Washington, D.C.'s historic punk scene.

Then there was Lou Reed, who teased Kugelberg mercilessly for his archivist's instincts.

"Before Lou Reed passed away we would have endless conversations about the archiving of the Velvet Underground," Kugelberg says. "Lou used to burn his notebooks. He was always pretty stoked when he could tell me, 'Hey Johan, burned another of my notebooks, what do you think of that?' And I would go, 'I think that's completely ridiculous because it belongs in a museum.' But I see Lou Reed's point that he, as a poet, only wanted to present finished drafts to a public and he couldn't be bothered looking in the rear view mirror on his cultural life and all of that."