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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Johnny Rotten changed music: part two
Small wonder Lydon walked off I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Must be galling to realise your fellow campers still think of you as Johnny Rotten when you left the name (and the Sex Pistols) behind in within months of punk hitting the high streets, and reinvented yourself as an art rocker with Public Image Limited – the band you have fronted for nigh on...
Published on 10 Feb 2004 by A. MCGILL

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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware - this is Copy Controlled
There appears to be no warning on the web site. Hope it doesn't damage my CD player.
Published on 23 Nov 2004


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Johnny Rotten changed music: part two, 10 Feb 2004
By 
A. MCGILL (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
Small wonder Lydon walked off I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Must be galling to realise your fellow campers still think of you as Johnny Rotten when you left the name (and the Sex Pistols) behind in within months of punk hitting the high streets, and reinvented yourself as an art rocker with Public Image Limited – the band you have fronted for nigh on two decades since.
For if the Pistols sparked a very public, musical upheaval, PiL was a much quieter, more subversive but no less revolutionary beast. Remember how seventies music was muddy, but eighties alternative rock was all bass and treble – tinny, spindly guitars, biscuit tin snare drums and fluid, gut loosening bass lines, all drenched in reverb? Yup, the sound of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Sisters of Mercy, U2, the Cure, Cocteau Twins . . . yada yada yada. Well it all starts with PiL’s first single, the eponymous Public Image (featured on disk one of this two-fer set) and reaches fruition with their epic second album, Second Edition (AKA Metal Box, being initially issued in one).
Along with Led Zeppelin II or the Byrds’s debut album, this is one of the rare examples of a band inventing a truly new sound and changing the rock template. By Second Edition, Lydon wisely left Jah Wobble – conveniently one of the finest bass players in music – to lay down grooves that are somehow tight and liquid and thundering at the same time, while he and Keith Levine lay abstract noise on top: Levine doing it courtesy of his chiming, razor-wire guitar, Lydon via his voice (by his own admission, “an instrument of torture”). Think of the ‘Pistols given a dub remix by Lee “Scratch” Perry and you’re almost there.
You’d think it would be sub-punk drivel along the lines of Crass, but no this is arty stuff of the kind Eno and David Byrne, even Beefheart (Lydon’s hero), might approve. Don’t let the sneer and the sarcasm fool you; this man is an artist. No, that sounds pretentious – he’s a great communicator and a great commentator, and these album evoke the unease of British life in that strange grey hinterland between the arse-end of a strike-ridden Labour Government and the frightening new dawn of Thatcherism better than any other bar Unknown Pleasures.
Read Jason Parkes’ review if you want the low-down on the music. Suffice it to say that no purchase of Never Mind The Bollocks' – and no picture of Lydon - is complete without this, his other, greater achievement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two staggeringly good albums from the punk icons, 12 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
"Only the lonely" John Lydon (nee Rotten) sings/wails mockingly at the end of Albatross, the powerful first track of "Second Edition", the second of the two staggeringly good albums in this set from Public Image Ltd. And at the time they were lonely - lonely in their brilliance as they combined punk rock, krautrock, reggae and whatever else they decided to throw into their heady brew. One thing was certain - then and now - this music would not leave you cold. It demands respect, it demands a reaction, even if it is a negative or an angry one. Lydon, an intelligent chap despite his, hah, public image, had realised the trap that his notorious punk rocker threat to a nation's youth presented for him. Either he could carry on riding on the Cook/Jones/Vicious/McLaren self-parody bandwagon or he could leap off into the unknown to seek his artistic destiny and retain his creative integrity - and we all know what path he chose. That parody of the Orbison track at the end of the mighty original epic that is "Albatross" says it all about how the Pistols went down a blind alley of admittedly fun covers of Sinatra and Cochran classics. Compare Sex Pistols singles like that to the mighty "Public Image" and "Death Disco(Swan Lake)" singles and there is no comparison in the musical majesty stakes! Wobble and Levene were ideal foils for Mr Lydon, giving him the creative forces he needed by his side as he let the PIL material stretch out to its natural length. Listen to a song like "Poptones", the guitar, drum and bass driving the song along remorselessly until Lydon's under-rated but powerful singing chimes in - "Drive to a forest in a Japanese car, the smell of rubber on concrete tar...hindsight does me no good, standing naked in this back of the woods" - a terrifying tale of assault, real or metaphysical is never quite made clear, all you need to know is the oppressive, dense sense of paranoia and danger as the cassette plays poptones. There is frankly not a bad track on either of these two albums and some truly memorable and inspirational ones, including the likes of "Careering", "Radio 4", "Chant" and "Religion". There is certainly meaning beneath the moaning if you listen to the lyrics and the ambient synthesised soundscapes are built around metallic drums and pounding bass. Do yourself a favour and buy this at the budget price - two great albums for the price of one, not much more than you would have paid for these albums if you had got them separately in the late 70s. Even the instrumentals are great here - take "Socialist" as a simple effective example, kind of The Fall meets Disco. He meant it, maaan, and it is about time Mr Lydon/Rotten got the credit he deserves as a musical pioneer who took punk into the avante garde to avoid the shame of camp as the safety-pinned stereotypes and spiky peroxide fools took over.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Budget-priced twin-set of PIL classics, 1 Jan 2004
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
Well, it's nice to see PIL getting referenced more over the years- not the crap PIL from the mid to late 80s, which was John Lydon with whoever, but PIL- the outfit that centred around Lydon, Keith Levene (subject of Slits' Instant Hit) & Jah Wobble (& sometimes with drummers like Martin Atkins & Jimmy Walker). Lots of hip new bands are getting PIL comparisons- e.g. The Rapture, Radio 4 (named after the last track from Metal Box)- & there was even a (misguided) comparison between the lyrics of No Birds here & Primal Scream's Swastika Eyes. Alan McGee even set up a label after the song Poptones here, though for some reason every band is a jingly-jangly Byrds-tribute band (so fey skinny guys can get girlfriends and/or rickenbackers). Though look at Massive Attack's debut Blue Lines & you'll see a namecheck to PIL; look at Screamadelica & you'll find Wobble present also.
PIL were roughly part of post-punk, the most exciting period in British music history- this was where all the acts that had surfaced due to the impetus of UK punk circa 1976 (notably Sex Pistols & Spiral Scratch)took that revolutionary spirit into the musical realm. A lot of punk was poor musically- it made perfect sense that Sex Pistols ended up doing Eddie Cochran songs. But the major punk souls soaked up dub (see Don Letts Trojan compilation) & from the late 70s to early 80s many acts influenced by punk just went OUT THERE MUSICALLY.
PIL take their place alongside such acts as The Slits, Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, Throbbing Gristle, Pop Group, Josef K, Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Magazine, even early Simple Minds, as people pushing the musical envelope (a similar thing happened in the US- from Devo & Talking Heads & Suicide to things like No-core & Straight-edge). The Clash became a lot more interesting musically, notably from London Calling to Combat Rock.
These two albums are everything I expected Never Mind the Bollocks to be- too young, you see; listening to them I understood why a teenage friend had a PIL symbol painted across his bedroom wall. Lydon, following that classic "...cheated" comment jumped the good ship Sex Pistols. Punk to me, was about rejecting convention & the Pistols had become a bit of a cliche, as punk had become a uniform. It's like when Kurt Cobain moaned about rock star cliches...then became one. Don't take my word for it, the evidence is in The Filth & The Fury. Rotten became Lydon and a business chic (pre Dexys/Blur) became an image. Lydon was one of the greatest lyricists of all time, partly why so many Pistols songs remain so fantastic- on these albums he's on full-form.
The debut album is great- simple one-word titles and a brilliant chemistry between the respective band members- Lowlife dishes it to McLaren, which sounds fair enough when you look at what the Pistols did next. Single Public Image remains as great a debut single as Anarchy in the UK- wild guitars that cut through the senses as Lydon mutters "Hello?...Hello?"- one of the classic post-punk singles alongside Magazine's Shot By Both Sides & Joy Division's Transmission. Best of all is opening track Theme- which is bleak stuff moving from the nihilistic chic of the Pistols somewhere else. It's a suicide note, or admission of, but one that moves on regardless- reminding me of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape: "Wish I could die...on and on and on and on...I will survive...wish I could die...now I understand..." If that doesn't blow you away, the fact that Lester Bangs wrote eloquently about it in Psychotic Reactions & Carburettor Dung should...
The second album was the complete masterpiece, Metal Box (aka Second Edition) came after a few singles (Memories, Death Disco- the singles were slightly different versions)& remains a potent 12-track set. The 10-minute Albatross typifies this album, sort of Can meets The Pistols with the bleakest lyrics this side of Beckett. Death Disco sounds like Chic in hell, detailing Lydon's experience of family death (it's called Swan Lake here); while Memories is as violently wonderful as prime Pistols. "I think you're slightly late" is a statement that very much applies to retro bands these days...
Poptones is more dark-epic stuff, droning guitars, repeated basslines, morose lyrics- listen to this and Hex Enduction Hour back to back to get an idea of Can's influence on British punk. Careering is even better, great concise keyboards & electronic noises (as on Death Disco)as Wobble's bassline pulses- the title has a great double meaning also: the path to self-destruction/doing the yuppie thang (both lead to the same path)"Is this living?...he's been careering"- though the lyrics about bacteria "both sides of the border" have been read in reference to the Irish Troubles (which were dire at the time of this album's recording). Probably my favourite song here...
The rest is as great, Metal Box is an album that you just exist to- one of the albums I play constantly and compulsively like Tilt, Sulk, or Spiderland: it lives in a world of its own. No Birds has probably the darkest lyric about modern life this side of Aldous Huxley ("A nice constitution/A layered mass of subtle-props/This could be heaven"); while Chant is like Can on the worst drugs over & over. Messy & minimal and perfect- the album is topped off by the sarcastic (if touching) Radio 4- a divine instrumental that washes away the bleak stuff before - Wobble's bass in conjunction with the keyboards predict later things like Screamadelica & AR Kane.
This twin-set is brilliant value, though the reissue of Metal Box is preferable, as it gets its original cover & title back now (though the tracklisting is the same). PIL after this would become less exciting- This is What You Want...& Flowers of Romance are worth getting (as is Wobble's Betrayal)but after that it's very hit & miss...Two of the best albums of a great era; Metal Box/Second Edition one of the greatest albums ever, as far as I'm concerned.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 for 1, 5 Jun 2004
By 
Michael Channon "shonkyhonky" (SE London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
of course, it was a time when things were not right with the world (and it still is not) and John, Jah and Keith still had issues with some things, but what they formed was the most productively and artistically brilliant! The way it is pulled from the dust and dirt to a clammer of craftsmanship... love everything about these two.
Low Life, Public Image, and Pop Tones (before ginger got his record company named after the song, I had a community radio show named after it) all fantastic. Keith's guitar strangulation and Jah's ethnic pounding 'ones' on bass, with John telling you and me what he thinks (take it or leave it) will always be a highlight in PiL's life....
Public Image should react to this stuff more!
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware - this is Copy Controlled, 23 Nov 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
There appears to be no warning on the web site. Hope it doesn't damage my CD player.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant and hard as diamond, 12 May 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Public Image/Second Edition (Audio CD)
and as eternal. Simon Reynolds has rightly described this as the pinacle of what came after punk. go without food if necessary to own it. but avoid the copy controlled version.
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Public Image/Second Edition
Public Image/Second Edition by Public Image Limited (Audio CD - 2003)
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