British heritage group releases punk charity album

LONDON (AP) - Punk rockers once wanted to smash the state. Now they’re helping preserve stately homes.

The National Trust charity, which oversees Britain’s castles and historic houses, has released a fundraising album of punk classics.

“Never Mind the Dovecotes” _ a play on the title of the Sex Pistols album “Never Mind the Bollocks” _ includes tracks by the Pistols and other vintage noise merchants, including GBH, Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex.

It means Mod band The Jam _ which has two tracks on the album _ will sit alongside jars of jam in gift shops at the Trust’s 300 properties, which range from Roman-era structures like Hadrian’s Wall to ruined abbeys, medieval castles, grand country mansions and Victorian pubs.

The album is a collaboration between the trust and Decca Records, and a change from previous joint efforts such as “Celtic Collection,” “Classic Voices” and “Land of Hope and Glory _ Great Songs from the British Isles.”

But the Trust’s brand licensing manager, Phillippa Green, said Thursday that the album makes sense. She says people who were teenagers in punk’s late-70s heyday are now middle aged and enjoy “outings with their children and families at parks, beaches and historic houses.”

Punk, in turn, has become a much-loved part of Britain’s heritage, although the music has lost much of its power to shock since the Sex Pistols burst forth 35 years ago demanding “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Punk’s surviving participants have mellowed, too. Vivienne Westwood, who designed the ripped and safety-pinned punk style, is now the grand dame of British fashion _ as well as an actual dame, the female equivalent of a knight.

Sex Pistols singer John Lydon, the former Johnny Rotten, has dressed up as a country gentleman for a series of TV ads for butter, and in 2003 narrated a radio ad for the Trust.

In true punk style, he reacted to news of the album with anger, saying no one from the Trust had spoken to him or his management about it, despite the inclusion of the Pistols’ tracks “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Pretty Vacant.”

“I would like to be able to trust the National Trust but from this point forward I can’t,” Lydon said.

National Trust spokesman Andrew McLaughlin said the punk album was part of a bid to “get people to think again” about the organization, as well as a fundraiser. Proceeds will go to the Trust’s conservation work.

“I think people have quite a set view about the National Trust,” he said. “Over the last few years we’ve loosened up quite a lot as an organization.

“It’s not just all about the past. … We are very relevant to people’s everyday lives today, not just a museum window on the past.”

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