The album debuted at number nine on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 41,000 copies in its first week. It achieved respectable chart success elsewhere and produced three singles, including the international hit "Fuck You". The album has sold 498,000 copies in the United States as of October 2012, and it has been certified double platinum in the United Kingdom. Upon its release, The Lady Killer received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its production, classicist soul music approach, and Green's singing.
Green reportedly "spent three years on The Lady Killer, recording close to 70 songs". Thirteen tracks that didn't make the final selection for The Lady Killer were leaked online in June 2010 as an album titled Stray Bullets including the song "You Don't Shock Me Anymore", and collaborations with The B-52's ("Cho Cho The Cat"), Soko (a remix of "I'll Kill Her"), and Goodie Mob ("Night Train").
"Bodies" is a Sex Pistols song about the shock of abortion from the 1977 album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The lyrics contain very graphic imagery about a terminated fetus and feature a great deal of profanity for the time: the third and final verse begins with a couplet in which the word fuck is repeated five times in rapid succession. Along with the later "Belsen Was a Gas," it is probably the most graphic and controversial Sex Pistols song in both its subject matter and style. Musically, it is also the fastest and heaviest song in the Sex Pistols canon — characterized by thudding drums, droning buzzsaw guitar, and shouted vocals. As such, it can be considered a significant antecedent to the genres of hardcore, thrash, and speed metal that was to emerge in the mid-to-late-1980s.
"Bodies" is one of two songs on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols which original Pistols bassist Glen Matlock did not co-write. It is also the only song on the album on which Sid Vicious actually plays bass, although his part was later overdubbed. The song was, like all other Sex Pistols songs, credited to the entire band, though Vicious was in the hospital with hepatitis when the band wrote it. It is mostly about a fan named Pauline, who was (as the song states) from Birmingham. She had been in a mental institution, where she apparently lived in a tree house, in the garden of the institution. This was where the line 'Her name was Pauline, she lived in a tree' comes from. The institution was also where she seems to have been raped by one of the male nurses. When she was released, she travelled to London, where she became a punk rock fan. She had several abortions. According to legend, she showed up once at John Lydon's door wearing nothing but a clear plastic bag and holding an aborted fetus in a clear plastic bag.