Following the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones stuck together, finishing some final tracks under the Pistols’ name, backing people like Joan Jett and Johnny Thunders and doing lots of production work. I Didn’t See It Coming, however, is their only joint post-Pistols album. With Paul Meyers (bass) and Ray McVeigh (guitar), the trademark Cook/Jones rock crunch stretches over a wide terrain on songs that are neither trusty punk oldies nor retreads thereof. The album’s not consistently good, but “The Magnificent” (a song seemingly aimed at John Lydon, complete with parodic Public Image guitar), “Payola” and the anthemic “Kick Down the Doors” are among the tracks that bear repeated spins.
Cook and Jones can be seen in several movies, including the Pistols’ Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. In the ’80s, Cook spent some time in the Chiefs of Relief. Jones went on to work with Iggy Pop, Andy Taylor and others and made solo records before settling in Los Angeles as a radio DJ.
The guitarist known for his chunky chords and rough’n’randy attitude caught fans off guard with Mercy, a debut that allows low-key, sentimental moments — like the title track, the hopelessly sappy “Love Letters” and others — to mingle with the rock numbers. Although Jones is no vocalist, he gamely sing-speaks his way through the record, assisted only by two drummers and a pair of keyboardists. “Drugs Suck” is a terrible track that reveals a healthy attitude; Mercy isn’t Jones’ best post-Pistols work, but it’s by no means his worst.
That distinction belongs to Fire and Gasoline. An unforgivable, plodding replay of the Pistols’ “Did You No Wrong” shrieked by W. Axl Rose and Ian Astbury (also the album’s co-producer and songwriting collaborator) reduces Jones to auto-cannibalism; the rest of this serviceable but unnecessary record either emulates the Cult or settles into self-parody. Ironically, Cult guitarist Billy Duffy upstages Jones on “Get Ready” with an electrifying solo.