Sid Vicious “Sid Lives” 2019. Black Friday Record Store Day release, Jungle Records, tri-color double-LP vinyl. Live recordings from two of Sid’s last-ever shows on September 28th and 30th, 1978 at Max’s Kansas City in NYC. His backing band included New York Dolls’ Jerry Nolan and Killer Kane, plus Steve Dior who writes an incredibly lengthy set of liner notes on the inside of the gatefold cover. Besides a meticulous timeline of Sid’s life, it also contains some interesting tidbits regarding this recording: Mick Jones from The Clash performed with Vicious at the first of the Max shows but “Sid said he didn’t like Mick’s guitar coz he played too much lead, so that was the only show he did. That first show wasn’t recorded. But thankfully two more nights were and here they are, in all their rough and ready glory.”
The shows are rough, that’s for sure. I’m familiar with several of these live recordings as they first appeared on the 1979 release Sid Sings and I totally recognize a beyond-irritating audience member who was too close to the recording equipment “singing backup” through much of the set and shouting out shit constantly. The four sets from the two evenings on Sid Lives are pretty similar. They all include covers of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Search and Destroy,” the Vicious-penned Sex Pistols song “Belsen Was a Gas,” Paul Revere and the Raiders/The Monkees’ “Stepping Stone,” Jerry Nolan’s “Take a Chance” (from the liner notes: “Sid had to read the lyrics every night we did this. And every night he lost ‘em.”), and Dave Berry via Sex Pistols’ “Don’t Gimme No Lip, Child.” There are two Johnny Thunders covers that don’t appear on all of the sets: “Born to Lose” and “Chatterbox” (from the liner notes: “Originally Johnny Thunders was offered the other guitar spot [in Dior’s band that backed Vicious], on the condition that he was somewhat straight. I was there when [Jerry] Nolan called him. ‘Johnny, if you turn up looking the least bit silly, I’m walking!’ Thunders never showed up. Too many junkies on the one stage is a recipe for total disaster!”) plus Richard Hell’s (co-written by Dee Dee Ramone) “Chinese Rocks” and Eddie Cochran’s “Something Else.” One of my favorites is Sid’s cover of Paul Anka’s “My Way” made popular by Frank Sinatra. Back when I first heard Sid Sings in the 1980′s I honestly had never heard Frank’s version before so my only awareness of the classic pop tune was Sid’s. Hahaha, imagine my surprise when I finally heard the original.
Again according to the liner notes, Vicious had planned to go into the studio with the band (going by The Idols at the time) soon after these shows. However, twelve days after the last gig on October 12th, Sid’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found dead with a knife wound to her abdomen and Sid was arrested on murder charges. Steve Dior clearly doesn’t believe Sid did it. “I got to see many tender moments between Sid and Nancy. My memories are fond. I remember clearly the moment I summoned up the courage to ask him about Nancy. We sat alone in my apartment on 3rd Street. I wanted to ask him but I was really scared. Finally: ‘Sid, I’ve to ask you! Did you do it?’ ‘No! Steve! I didn’t! I didn’t kill Nancy!’”