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Metal Box

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Amazon's Public Image Limited Store


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Public Image Ltd (PiL) are an English post-punk band formed by vocalist John Lydon, guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble, with frequent subsequent personnel changes. Lydon is the sole constant member of the band.

Lydon emerged after the break-up of the Sex Pistols with PiL's First Issue (1978). His new band had a more experimental sound: Wobble's "droning, ... Read more in Amazon's Public Image Limited Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 May 1979)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin
  • ASIN: B000007UDQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,262 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Albatross10:34£2.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Memories 5:05£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Swan Lake 4:11£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Poptones 7:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Careering 4:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. No Birds 4:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Graveyard 3:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. The Suit 3:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Bad Baby 4:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Socialist 3:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Chant 5:01£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Radio 4 4:24£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

BBC Review

The definition of a ‘classic’ album exists only in the mind of the individual. But what can’t be doubted is the incredible influence of a select few LPs from the not-so-distant past, and Public Image Ltd’s Metal Box is among the most important. To today’s boundary-challenging purveyors of prefix-led rock, pop and punk it is Sgt. Pepper’s, Let It Be, Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers, Rumours and Dark Side of the Moon rolled into one.

Remastered to mark its 30th anniversary, Metal Box – PiL’s second album following 1978’s First Issue, which took the punk template established by vocalist John Lydon’s Sex Pistols and began to expand it with explorations into dub and krautrock territories – is a bona-fide essential album for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of rock music. Listening to the landmark release today, in its twisted, wiry guitar lines, deep and wide bass and insistent percussion one can hear roots, of differing thicknesses, of Sonic Youth, Liars, Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers, Shellac, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Elastica… basically next to every act that’s mattered since punk’s phenomenal rise in the mid-70s.

The shrillness of Keith Levene’s guitar (he played an aluminium Veleno model), the irrepressible energy – always tethered but never comfortably so – and the sheer ferocity of Lydon’s abstract lyricism tempered by the reassuringly warm bass tones of Jah Wobble: every ingredient in this alluring, exciting and otherworldly mix was both ahead of its time and completely out of step with the dictations of fashion and the gravity of pop culture. Metal Box inspired through invention, not part of any progress but the seed of it. From the opening discomfort of Albatross to the sweeping splendour of Radio 4, via Graveyard’s elastic dub and the clangourous howling of Poptones, it’s an adventure that few albums since have successfully emulated. Simply, it remains singularly special.

Re-released simultaneously is 1999’s Plastic Box, a four-disc collection of rare tracks, remixes and session recordings. It’s a completist’s dream, but newcomers be warned: you’ll likely be suffocated by the weight of this material. Then again, if you’re really intent on unearthing the foundations of your favourite bands of today, the hours spent in Plastic Box’s company are certain to be enlightening. Absolute beginners, though: straight to Metal Box with you. --Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Franz Bieberkopf on 20 Dec 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Originally released in 1979,this,even today,sounds like a trip into the future.It wass famously released originally as 3 12-inch singles,so breaking down the begining-middle-end of conventional albums.The contents pretty special too.
Jah Wobble's bass thunders out as the backing,with Levene's guitar and Lydon's vocals swirling over the drum/bass mix.It is the reason for the original 3 12 inchers(the bass tracks could be cut into the vinyl that much deeper).
Hard to pick out highlights as it works as a totality,rather than a collection of tracks,but "Poptones" and "Careering".Any fans of dub reggae,Holger Czukay/Can, and/or Captain Beefheart will find something to delight in here.
It isn't easy listening,and if your knowledge of PIL starts with "Album" or later releases,you'll probably be scratching your head in puzzlement as you listen to this.Listen to it with an open mind,and enjoy.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan James Romley on 6 July 2005
Format: Audio CD
Metal Box is an album as impenetrable as the case in which it comes... a fifty-minute swirling bombardment of Kraut-rock rhythms, dissonant keyboards, jagged guitars and Lydon's bitter lyrics and screaming vocals. It follows on nicely from their first album, which took the sound of the Sex Pistols and fused it with disco, Kraut-rock and the kind of guitar music that would later become known as "post-punk". As a listening experience there is little else to rival it, with Metal Box offering up twelve tracks filled with a pain and anguish that can seemingly only find true catharsis through the screaming angular music found within. This is the sound of a band falling out of love with each other... and with the world around them.
The opening song, the near-legendary Albatross (which is almost eleven minutes of Beckett-like lyrical ruminations, over screaming guitars, a heavy and monotonous bass-line and some trance-like percussion) picks up where Theme (the opening track of their first album) left off, giving us more of Lydon's existential anguish and torment, as he screams about death and all manner of other related-horrors that infuse the album with a bleak, gothic and claustrophobic sound. Unlike the first album, the emphasis here is more on sound rather than song, so there's no real standout singles like Annalisa or Public Image, instead, we get longer tracks with much reliance on layered instrumentation. This is very much a precursor to those Radiohead classics, Kid A and Amnesiac, with PiL creating a landscape of cold synthesisers, an aching violin and that great integrated sound of Keith Lavene's scratchy, distorted guitar and the dub pounding bass of Jah Wobble.
This is dark music, as bleak as albums like Tilt, OK Computer, Regeneration, Blood on the Tracks and The Final Cut...
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Jones on 4 Sep 2010
Format: Audio CD
You don't think -do you- that punk was only about reductionist riffs and complex trousers? If you do then doctors -none of them reputable, all of them struck off- recommend an immediate course of `Metal Box'

Jah Wobble's bass on the anti-hit that is `Pop Tones' owes nothing to anyone while Lydon-formerly-Rotten's stream-of-consciousness is of course put over in THAT VOICE (strip away the rest of his band before PiL and THAT VOICE still sounds downright unruly)

And of course there was an interface between punk and reggae that went way beyond The Clash covering `Police And Thieves' Look no further than `Albatross' to realise this, and also to catch the sound of perhaps angst-ridden young men making music as a means of getting rid of something, and indeed of `getting rid of the albatross' as Lydon / Rotten mentions a few times. As if that wasn't enough the gulf between Wobble's bass and Keith Levine's wired guitar is unbridgeable, so the drummer -Dave Crowe?- makes no attempt to do it.

When it comes down to it I'm one of those reviewers who's going to tell you that `Metal Box' is seminal. It's also essential for anyone who believes that `music' is a term which covers all known bases and those yet to be labelled. My advice to anyone who can't go for that is to avoid this set like the plague, but then dividing opinions is a good thing when it's an alternative to consensus, bland or otherwise.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By franck on 8 Mar 2007
Format: Audio CD
Metal Box is the second PIL album and their masterpiece. One of these rare things that crosses the sky of rock from time to time. Formed by John lydon after the split of a well known band, PIL turns the back to the past : with cynicism. Exit the image shaped by Mc Laren, place to the music, a powerful funk carried by the hypnotic bass of Jah Wooble that sometimes evokes Holger Czukay of Can, striated by the minimalist riffs of Keith Levene (between James Blood Ulmer and Tom Hemran from Pere Ubu) and chanted by a muezzin voice who once used to call himself "Rotten".

In the late 70's, PIL is unique with this punk Funk : only the bands Siouxsie & the Banshees and Wire offer a music as original as theirs. Inspired, Lydon makes psalmodies on the breathtaking " Careering" which with " Poptones" is enough to justify the acquisition of this precursor recording.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By PC Pete on 15 Jan 2010
Format: Audio CD
I can only compare this to Second Edition - the only previous version of this seminal album I've ever owned. It sounds a fair bit brighter and edgier than Second Edition - definitely a big improvement. If you're hesitating because you are uncertain about the quality of the remastering there is no need to. This is a sonic step-up from what you've heard before.
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