Rocker, actor and European Marquis Michael Des Barres has unveiled a darkly beautiful reimagining of The Sex Pistols’ 1976 classic Anarchy In The U.K. — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
“My version of Anarchy In The U.K. is not an angry one,” Des Barres explains of his timely version. “The Sex Pistols were angry, but I am not angry! I wanted to record the song as if it was a warning that we live in dangerous times and the only thing to negate that danger is loving and being there for each other. It’s an opportunity to understand that love conquers all, especially now. I’m a huge fan of The Sex Pistols — Steve Jones, who I was in a band with in the ’80s (Chequered Past), is one of the greatest guitarists rock ’n’ roll has ever experienced and I love him dearly. And I think John Lydon created a masterpiece lyrically. I have reinterpreted it in my own way to reflect the times we live in.”
But with his own songwriting repertoire to lean on — he’s sold more than seven million albums as a recording artist and songwriter (his hit song Obsession hit #1 in 27 countries for L.A. new wavers Animotion, and continues to be featured in countless movies, TV shows and commercials) — the question is obvious: Why deliver a cover?
“I think doing cover songs is a very good way to show audiences who you like and, for young bands, to learn how to write a great song,” he considers. “Listen to the greats, but never copy them.”
Sage advice coming from a man whose rock royalty resume includes fronting seminal ’70s bands Silverhead and Detective, playing 1985’s Live Aid as part of Duran Duran spinoff The Power Station, and taking up Chequered Past with Sex Pistols alum Steve Jones and Blondie’s Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison.
Considering Des Barres is an artist who says “volume is an instrument,” it’s no wonder there’s a documentary — titled Who Do You Want Me To Be? — slated for upcoming release. Also an actor, Des Barres’ credits include starring as Murdoc on the original MacGyver, as well as parts on Seinfeld, To Sir With Love, Roseanne and more than 40 feature films.
“We’re not here to impress, we’re here to learn and entertain,” he offers. “I’ve never been interested in technical ability, I’m interested in what an artist is feeling. It’s why I say to only write music to please yourself, never write what you think you should be writing. Regret nothing. Just be kind, be cool, and be courageous!”
The track is backed with a self-written song Where Did All The Lovers Go? featuring Genya Ravan (Ten Wheel Drive, Dead Boys, Ronnie Spector) on co-lead vocals. It’s anchored in additional purpose, as well; “100% of the proceeds from the release will be donated to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in an effort to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism,” Des Barres shares.