Public Image Ltd

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Public Image Ltd

Joseph Holt
Member
Joined: 19 May 2003, 10:32

15 Nov 2017, 03:04 #1

MODS: I couldn't find a general PiL thread. Feel free to merge.

PiL are one of those bands that, for no good reason, I've never paid much attention to. A few weeks ago I was listening to a variety of old Peel sessions on YouTube (courtesy of the fantastic 'Vibracobra23') when the PiL session of 1979 (Poptones/ Careering/ Chant) came up on autoplay and I thought it was excellent. A quick search seemed to confirm that their first three albums are the best, so I gave them a go.

First Issue
Opens well with a great workout in 'Theme' which is brilliant. The rest left me feeling pretty much indifferent. 'Public Image' (which I already knew) is good. 'Attack' and 'Religion II' are ok. 'Fodderstompf' is basically 'Crew Filth', fun enough, but throwaway. I thought 'Cowboy Song' was great, but came with my download as a bonus track and isn't really part of the album,

Metal Box/ Second Edition
Like the prior album, has great opener 'Albatross', but also like the first album it's pretty ordinary after that. The three Peel session tracks are by far the best and, as is often the case, the Peel session versions are all superior. If this album is a defining moment in post punk, then it's lost on me.

Flowers of Romance
Before getting into this, I had the most expectation of this album. I remember back in the day the title track being in the charts and seeing them do it on TOTP and thinking it was a great song, which I still do. However, the other two albums left me feeling a bit wary. Not to worry though, this is far and away the best and most interesting of the three albums. Lydon seemed constrained by the first two, on this one he seems liberated.

Is anything else of theirs worth bothering with?
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DeusErac
Member
Joined: 21 Jun 2007, 13:24

15 Nov 2017, 16:19 #2

Joseph Holt @ Nov 15 2017, 03:04 PM wrote: MODS: I couldn't find a general PiL thread. Feel free to merge.

PiL are one of those bands that, for no good reason, I've never paid much attention to. A few weeks ago I was listening to a variety of old Peel sessions on YouTube (courtesy of the fantastic 'Vibracobra23') when the PiL session of 1979 (Poptones/ Careering/ Chant) came up on autoplay and I thought it was excellent. A quick search seemed to confirm that their first three albums are the best, so I gave them a go.

First Issue
Opens well with a great workout in 'Theme' which is brilliant. The rest left me feeling pretty much indifferent. 'Public Image' (which I already knew) is good. 'Attack' and 'Religion II' are ok. 'Fodderstompf' is basically 'Crew Filth', fun enough, but throwaway. I thought 'Cowboy Song' was great, but came with my download as a bonus track and isn't really part of the album,

Metal Box/ Second Edition
Like the prior album, has great opener 'Albatross', but also like the first album it's pretty ordinary after that. The three Peel session tracks are by far the best and, as is often the case, the Peel session versions are all superior. If this album is a defining moment in post punk, then it's lost on me.

Flowers of Romance
Before getting into this, I had the most expectation of this album. I remember back in the day the title track being in the charts and seeing them do it on TOTP and thinking it was a great song, which I still do. However, the other two albums left me feeling a bit wary. Not to worry though, this is far and away the best and most interesting of the three albums. Lydon seemed constrained by the first two, on this one he seems liberated.

Is anything else of theirs worth bothering with?
I also like "Flowers of Romance" the best of the first three . . . but I know we are in a minority position there. The next album "This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get" was a crushing disappointment after that experimental/weird little masterpiece.

Nothing that follows those first three really sounds at all like any of them, though there are some good records and good music to be had.

I thought the 2012 "This is PiL" was quite good . . . did not like the follow-up "What The World Needs Now" much at all, though.

Of the rockier albums between early and late PiL, I like "Happy?" the best, by a longshot. "Album" has the hit ("Rise"), but I don't much care to listen to it in much anymore . . . it feels way too slick, at bottom line, and has a dated production sheen . . .
All we ever wanted was sanitary plumbing, straight roads, and a sense of belonging to a community of interest that could reasonably call itself civilized.

http://jericsmith.com
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Drjohnrock
Member
Joined: 06 Sep 2003, 02:23

15 Nov 2017, 17:51 #3

DeusErac @ Nov 15 2017, 12:19 PM wrote:
Joseph Holt,Nov 15 2017, 03:04 PM wrote: MODS: I The next album "This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get" was a crushing disappointment
I have Keith Levene's rival version of that album, Commercial Zone. Despite sounding unfinished and fragmented in places, it's still superior to the "official" release. It's worth checking out.
What does tapatalk have in common with Donald Trump? They both suck.
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DeusErac
Member
Joined: 21 Jun 2007, 13:24

15 Nov 2017, 20:56 #4

Drjohnrock @ Nov 16 2017, 05:51 AM wrote:
DeusErac,Nov 15 2017, 12:19 PM wrote:
Joseph Holt,Nov 15 2017, 03:04 PM wrote: MODS: I The next album "This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get" was a crushing disappointment
I have Keith Levene's rival version of that album, Commercial Zone. Despite sounding unfinished and fragmented in places, it's still superior to the "official" release. It's worth checking out.
Agreed. The official one is just a BAD record.

Also worth mentioning here . . . I quite like Lydon's one solo album, too. The song "Sun" is a delight, often played in my house.
All we ever wanted was sanitary plumbing, straight roads, and a sense of belonging to a community of interest that could reasonably call itself civilized.

http://jericsmith.com
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thehippriestess
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Joined: 07 Aug 2013, 18:36

16 Nov 2017, 13:18 #5

"Public Image" is the best debut single in the history of everything in my not-humble opinion.

I think the first album is better than it is sometimes portrayed and not that far away from Metal Box really. "Annalisa" is fucking terrifying.
Can't dance, can't sing. Cursed forever is...well, me.
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DeusErac
Member
Joined: 21 Jun 2007, 13:24

16 Nov 2017, 15:31 #6

thehippriestess @ Nov 17 2017, 01:18 AM wrote: "Public Image" is the best debut single in the history of everything in my not-humble opinion.

I think the first album is better than it is sometimes portrayed and not that far away from Metal Box really. "Annalisa" is fucking terrifying.
I have a live version of "Public Image" that I like even better than the studio one/single . . . I think it's taped from a TV appearance, if memory serves (off to investigate).
All we ever wanted was sanitary plumbing, straight roads, and a sense of belonging to a community of interest that could reasonably call itself civilized.

http://jericsmith.com
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Chubby Round Jowls
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Joined: 06 Mar 2017, 20:22

16 Nov 2017, 21:58 #7

I was about 13 / 14 when I saw PIL on Old Grey Whistle Test. Poptones and Careering. I can't recall if Metal Box was already out or not but I did get the metal box version. I got the Public Image single complete with the newspaper the day it was released. Another school bunk probably.

Anyway, reason for my post, I find the Old Grey Whistle Test version of Careering the best thing period. Better than the album version. I was mesmerised by this at the time and still am when I watch it today. Was there a better musician in that period than Levene?

Have to agree with what Annie says at the end. You'll have to watch the Youtube clip to find out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rtwiMFDWa0
"Well, no Jack, I never sit down and listen to lyrics,
because rock 'n' roll is not sit-down-and-listen-to-lyrics music!"
Sterling Morrison, circa 1980
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Slackhurst Broadcasting
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Joined: 13 Aug 2017, 09:23

17 Nov 2017, 00:28 #8

thehippriestess @ Nov 16 2017, 02:18 PM wrote: "Public Image" is the best debut single in the history of everything in my not-humble opinion.
It owes more than a little to Neu’s “Fur Immer”.
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huh
Member
Joined: 28 Mar 2007, 00:15

17 Nov 2017, 07:36 #9

Chubby Round Jowls @ Nov 16 2017, 10:58 PM wrote: I find the Old Grey Whistle Test version of Careering the best thing period. Better than the album version. I was mesmerised by this at the time and still am when I watch it today.
Jaw-dropping; from that to this in three years.
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nonewthing
Member
Joined: 28 Oct 2015, 17:44

28 Nov 2017, 21:36 #10

I agree with you.
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dannyno
Moderator
Joined: 11 May 2004, 15:28

29 Nov 2017, 18:10 #11

Chubby Round Jowls @ Nov 16 2017, 10:58 PM wrote: I was about 13 / 14 when I saw PIL on Old Grey Whistle Test. Poptones and Careering. I can't recall if Metal Box was already out or not but I did get the metal box version. I got the Public Image single complete with the newspaper the day it was released. Another school bunk probably.

Anyway, reason for my post, I find the Old Grey Whistle Test version of Careering the best thing period. Better than the album version. I was mesmerised by this at the time and still am when I watch it today. Was there a better musician in that period than Levene?

Have to agree with what Annie says at the end. You'll have to watch the Youtube clip to find out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rtwiMFDWa0
I've never seen that before. It's absolutely extraordinary. I'd be speechless if I wasn't typing.

Dan
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dannyno
Moderator
Joined: 11 May 2004, 15:28

29 Nov 2017, 18:21 #12

Chubby Round Jowls @ Nov 16 2017, 10:58 PM wrote: I was about 13 / 14 when I saw PIL on Old Grey Whistle Test. Poptones and Careering. I can't recall if Metal Box was already out or not

<snip>
Metal Box came out on 23 November 1979. The OGWT performance was 5 February 1980.

Dan
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huh
Member
Joined: 28 Mar 2007, 00:15

29 Nov 2017, 19:44 #13

I always liked the fact that Flowers of Romance was the only pop single to mention Box Hill, with his binoculars and that; and then, twenty years later, Roots Manuva on Brand New Second Hand sang "High steps got me trippin' from Peckham to Box Hill".

I just looked on wikipedia (dan) and there's a few others, none of which touch the two above of course.
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academichamilton
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Joined: 25 Nov 2012, 19:22

29 Nov 2017, 23:01 #14

huh @ Nov 17 2017, 08:36 AM wrote:
Chubby Round Jowls @ Nov 16 2017, 10:58 PM wrote: I find the Old Grey Whistle Test version of Careering the best thing period. Better than the album version. I was mesmerised by this at the time and still am when I watch it today.
Jaw-dropping; from that to this in three years.
I watched it at the time too and was stunned and still am.

Funny thing was that I had a hippy friend who was well into his prog and synths etc and we met up shortly after he said 'did you see PiL?' in a disgusted voice and I said yeah it was great and he said 'how could they own a Prophet 5 and do that with it?' My reaction was I liked what they did with it :lol:

Oh and I saw Jah Wobble do 'Pop Tones' quite recently in a small venue with some of Lydon's vocals played in as samples. It worked well and it was great to hear it live. Immense tune.
EXCEPT
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High Tension Line
Member
Joined: 31 Aug 2004, 15:24

01 Dec 2017, 00:27 #15

The Peel session in question has those versions on the good value 4CD compilation Plastic Box - the only snag is an inferiort version of This Is Not A Love Song .

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Plastic-Box-Pu ... B002VVI53A
Not everyone's cup of tea.
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Starsky-Tandoori
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Joined: 03 Mar 2009, 14:11

01 Dec 2017, 12:14 #16

huh @ Nov 29 2017, 08:44 PM wrote: I always liked the fact that Flowers of Romance was the only pop single to mention Box Hill, with his binoculars and that; and then, twenty years later, Roots Manuva on Brand New Second Hand sang "High steps got me trippin' from Peckham to Box Hill".

I just looked on wikipedia (dan) and there's a few others, none of which touch the two above of course.
Box Hill :)
My brain is the most complex thing in the Universe. Hiccup said so.

"for the LOLZ!!!!"

'false bravado won't hide the cracks'
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marvell78
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Joined: 03 Jul 2003, 18:24

01 Dec 2017, 18:10 #17

Blown away at the time. There was nothing like it then. Still one of my favourite albums. What is amazing is the progress made from Bollocks. From light entertainment/pub rock to the real thing.

Or, Pere Ubu. Was Datapanik out at this point? Cant remember
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Mr. Marshall
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Joined: 18 Jun 2004, 13:48

01 Dec 2017, 18:27 #18

marvell78 @ Dec 1 2017, 06:10 PM wrote: Blown away at the time. There was nothing like it then. Still one of my favourite albums. What is amazing is the progress made from Bollocks. From light entertainment/pub rock to the real thing.

Or, Pere Ubu. Was Datapanik out at this point? Cant remember
Before. Those songs were released 1975-77.
Howdy to you

Got a light?
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DeusErac
Member
Joined: 21 Jun 2007, 13:24

01 Dec 2017, 18:31 #19

Mr. Marshall @ Dec 2 2017, 06:27 AM wrote:
marvell78 @ Dec 1 2017, 06:10 PM wrote: Blown away at the time. There was nothing like it then. Still one of my favourite albums. What is amazing is the progress made from Bollocks. From light entertainment/pub rock to the real thing.

Or, Pere Ubu. Was Datapanik out at this point? Cant remember
Before. Those songs were released 1975-77.
And Devo doing similar work in Akron 1974-ish on . . .

Man oh man, would I have liked to have been clubbing in Northeastern Ohio in the mid-'70s.
All we ever wanted was sanitary plumbing, straight roads, and a sense of belonging to a community of interest that could reasonably call itself civilized.

http://jericsmith.com
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Punk John
Member
Joined: 17 May 2003, 14:26

06 Dec 2017, 13:50 #20

I like their 1st LP the best. "Annalisa", as well as being my favourite PiL song, has my favourite guitar line ever. Lyrically hard-hitting as well if you're familiar with the outrageous real-life religious idiocy it's based upon.

The problem I have with their 2nd LP is that the best songs, as others have mentioned, are done better elsewhere - Peel and OGWT. I thought the live version of "Swan Lake" the current band did at Glastonbury a few years ago was impressive. I enjoyed the whole set.

It's been a while since I listed to Flowers of Romance, I'll need to give it a spin again. It didn't grab me at the time.
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misterrogers
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Joined: 07 May 2007, 00:35

07 Dec 2017, 14:24 #21

It is amazing.

Ever seen the Tom Snyder? Keith looks awful and you can tell there’s tension between John and he. Ahh the effect of drugs...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0q98NlzvCQ


Different people by then for sure...
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grassydale
Member
Joined: 17 Mar 2006, 01:06

14 Dec 2017, 00:36 #22

I'm going to be tediously conventional here and wave a flag for Metal Box, along with Closer as being the defining statement of post-punk. I still listen to it all the time, and every track has something to recommend it, from the improvisational Albatross to the ersatz music of Radio 4. It's where punk met Krautrock met dub and the results are extraordinary.

Like so much else from Britain in 79/80, it seemed to open up vast new possibilities in music, nearly all of which turned into cul de sacs once people (and the NME) had decided that they'd rather dance and forget with a floppy haircut instead.

So, thank Christ for The Fall. if you weren't around then, it's hard to credit how important they were at this time. I think of them like Churchill in '40 - '43 keeping the world safe for democracy / decent music. In 79-80 Seventeen Seconds, Colossal Youth, Metal Box, Entertainment!, Closer (not their fault), 154, Cut, Y, The Only Fun In Town (from '81) were all released ... and all the potential was never realised, by those bands anyway. Or turned into something quite different, generally a lot worse.

Whereas The Fall released Slates, Hex, Room To Live, Perverted By Language and the singles on In Place Of Swords over the next 3 years. Enough said.
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huh
Member
Joined: 28 Mar 2007, 00:15

14 Dec 2017, 11:18 #23

grassydale @ Dec 14 2017, 01:36 AM wrote: I'm going to be tediously conventional here and wave a flag for Metal Box, along with Closer as being the defining statement of post-punk. I still listen to it all the time, and every track has something to recommend it, from the improvisational Albatross to the ersatz music of Radio 4. It's where punk met Krautrock met dub and the results are extraordinary.

Like so much else from Britain in 79/80, it seemed to open up vast new possibilities in music, nearly all of which turned into cul de sacs once people (and the NME) had decided that they'd rather dance and forget with a floppy haircut instead.

So, thank Christ for The Fall. if you weren't around then, it's hard to credit how important they were at this time. I think of them like Churchill in '40 - '43 keeping the world safe for democracy / decent music. In 79-80 Seventeen Seconds, Colossal Youth, Metal Box, Entertainment!, Closer (not their fault), 154, Cut, Y, The Only Fun In Town (from '81) were all released ... and all the potential was never realised, by those bands anyway. Or turned into something quite different, generally a lot worse.

Whereas The Fall released Slates, Hex, Room To Live, Perverted By Language and the singles on In Place Of Swords over the next 3 years. Enough said.
By and large this is how it seemed at the time, and retrospectively i'd say still the case.

Metal Box is the key though—"It's where punk met Krautrock met dub..."—and occupies a place of its own making.
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