on 10 July 2014
Love them or hate them, all in all this is an very accessible album. In my case I love them, I love John's view on the world. The way he financed this reunion album kinda proves to me that he practices what he preaches. He puts his money where his mouth is...or in this case "the butter ". The funds were raised by doing a TV Commercial for butter.
Now for the music, first of; the volume Mastering is excellent. No extreme high volume. The bass is deep and clear...which is becoming a trademark I guess. The first song ( this is PIL ) gets skipped by me after playing the CD a few days in a row. When ordering the CD it was already clear to me that in fact it was another album by PIL which I was buying. Just to make sure it has been chosen as album title. And to make it perfectly clear it is also the first track on the album. When listening to the CD I don't need John to remind me that it is in fact PIL I'm listening to......kidding ofcourse, it would just be something John would remark himself. Anyway...I skip the first track and keep the CD-player on repeat. I haven't come round yet to see the Dvd...but there other reviews stating that it's very good...so I'll just go with that.
Twenty years ago, PiL, then sporting a lineup of ex- Smiths , ex- Banshees , ex- Pistols , and numerous others, gave the world their stroppy swansong : "That What is Not". Built on thick riffarama and a solid, pounding rhythm section, it was the exact type of broken stadium rock that Lydon had painted himself into a glorious corner with. And then the band split, the Sex Pistols became a nostalgia act, a punk museum, and Lydon's minimal recorded output - a couple of guest spots, a underperforming but determined solo record - slowed to nothing.
Is there a place for PiL in 2012? The last time this band put a record out, I was living in Leicester, studying for a qualification, John Major hadn't yet won an election,cassettes were the future. There was no internet. Nirvana had yet to headline Reading. Mobile phones were as rare as a private helicopter. "Doom" had yet to be released. Culture was a dripfed vaccum in one direction : from them to us. Everything has changed, and yet nothing has.
The same old battles, the same old wars. Fighting against the business and industries.
With the contrary, and utterly sincere Lydon, PiL has always been his personal love, himself, but different, presented through a prism, no pantomime, no caricature, but an aspect. Who would've dared hope this crotechy old grumpy bggr would bring back his best band and fund them with butter adverts? Who would've thought the lineup that toured 1986-87, with the perfect "Album", and the intermittent "Happy?", would be the one he would choose?
Who would reckon that, at 56, Lydon would still be scratching the same itch, bearing the same soul, fighting the same battle? Aurally, the band are still, as ever, exploring the guttural.
It opens with Lydon grimacing, a minimal drum pattern, a rising roar as he proclaims, perhaps more effectively than any other version of the band, PiL as a communication machine, with art, sound, performance. "This is PiL", the title track, sees Lydon proclaim clearly what this is. Edmonds peels out rising riffs and textures. Combined with "One Drop", and lyrically, Lydon is as sharp as ever. No dimming of the flame. A man rightly furious about the state of the nation. It is an urban album : the steam of London burns through every line, the roar of the underground, the closed factories, and the broken dreams. Songs like "Deeper Water", "Terra-Gate" and "Reggie Song" are evocative things. I'm used to people getting to a certain age, and not caring about the world anymore. As life changes, and people change, and the world revolves, the centre remains, and this is the core battle Lydon is fighting : about being human and warm in the morass of markets and mortality.
"Through The Woods", there are moments where the entire song lifts to a giddy crescendo, where the guitars transcend, the bass roars, and everything becomes so much more than just a combination of instruments and ideas to a primal, spiritual roar. Whilst PiL may not have done much in the years, this si their best album in a quarter century. Not since "Album"have the band growled so convincingly. Not since the days of Wobble have this band held such a deep and throbbing bass : and Lu Edmonds is an undersung guitarist - though no one can touch the departed John McGeough for skill, Lu is a worthy successor. The rhythms, deft guitar, and intonation invoke the best of PiL across all decades, from the sparse earlier years to the huge rock of the late Eighties.
"This is PiL" could, and would, rightly, be seen as the definitive PiL record : the place to start. It is a record that will not leave my ears, a consistent, brilliant, vibrant classic. This is the record I have been waiting for Lydon to make the past 25 years.
on 20 March 2014
The DVD footage for Religion alone is worth the asking prices "..listen to the bass..." requests John,and it is formidably low and intoxicating as it rumbles along,then you ahve the new stuff,takes a bit of getting used to,and is a little annoying as he promotes himself a lot on first song but 'one drop' has some very astute lyrics and 'Deeper water' could be death disco pt 2? the longer tracks towards the end are rewarding for their originality.Always interesting is our John,this is no exception a welcome new album.Saw PIL live last year-absolutely mesmerising!
on 17 July 2012
There are two schools of thought with PiL: The Wobble/Levene incarnation and the subsequent band line-ups without. Technically, a better name for the latter would be The John Lydon Band as the difference between the two is truly radical. The Wobble/Levene incarnation was highly experimental with some of the most extreme sounds ever committed to record while the subsequent version comes across as being more traditional. Some prefer one over the other... some like both... I fall into the latter catagory.
All that said, this is not the revelation one would have expected after nearly two decades of silence. It sounds as if it picks up where the 90s incarnation left off. There are excellent tracks throughout, but nothing can be termed brand new or different. Actually, it is an improvement over PiL of decades ago in that the dated 80s 'dance' sound is gone, and overall, it really is good album worth considerable playlist time. Also, it is great to see new material was written at all. So often bands reunite only to trot out their biggest hits from long ago. Fortunately, John Lydon's band is a vital and living band and not a nostalgia act.
I first heard the regular CD version and thought it was a 4-star release. However, the Deluxe Edition, which comes with a DVD is certainly 5-stars. Besides the really great packaging, the included DVD is excellent beyond measure. Lo and behold, the new songs come across far better live than in the studio.
Highly recommended, especially to those who liked the non-Wobble/Levene band (although the bass thunders on this new release more so than on any other release since Metal Box). It is also a good place to start for newcomers, and from here, check out the rest of the previous releases. Meanwhile Jah Wobble and Keith Levene have recently been collaborating again with a relatively new release simply titled EP (a four-track "extended play" single). When hearing this, one cannot help but wonder what a reunuion of these musical giants would have been like under the banner of Public Image Ltd. Apparently that will never happen, so we are left with the divided talents on This Is PiL and EP, but fortunately, that is not a bad thing.
on 12 December 2012
I wasn't a fan back in the day, but after seeing the band on Jools was blown away by the intensity and emotion. Bought the album, the songs are pretty good, but there is a "cleanness", a flatness to the sound that has sucked the soul from the music.
Don't get me wrong this is a PIL album, just disappointing after seeing them sung on stage.
I will save my money and see them live next time.
on 28 May 2012
So here it is, there return of Lydon's PiL. And it's a pretty solid return as well. I'm happy to admit that 'Metal Box' is one my favorite albums of all time, but PiL has as we all know been shapeshifting many times since and there will never be another PiL album matching that.
My expectations hasn't been to high after seeing PiL live in 2009 (they were good, but not outstanding) and the albums single, the 12" EP 'One Drop' didn't change that. All of it's four tracks are on 'This Is PiL' as well, but the good news is that three of them are amongst the weakest on the album.
In brief, this is the best album PiL have made since Flowers Of Romance, and actually the ONLY good album they've made since then. As the line up is pretty close to the 'Happy' (1987) line up (with Bruce Smith on drums and Lou Edmonds on guitars and more) the song structures follow much the same pattern. But it's mostly stronger songs/material and a way better production (I somehow suspect that PiL newcomer Scott Firth has something to do with this, his bass lines and keyboard work in general is superb). But the album is also way too long (65 minutes) and quantity seem to have won the battle against quality here, but if you (on your mp 3 player or computer) cut 4 or 5 of the really weak songs you'll be left with a quite good 40 minute album.
Opener 'This is Pil' is probably the closest Lydon's been to the classic PiL sound (Lydon/Wobble/Levene) since the already mentioned Metal Box. It's eerie, bass heavy and groovy and it feels like it's got an edge, Lydon is on top of his game and it sends chills down my spine, excellent stuff! After that follows the (in my ears terrible) single 'One Drop' which is almost new wave/ska at it's worst. But later on there'a a lot of solid songs. The next four tracks; 'Deeper Water', (the slightly punkish) 'Terra Gate', the haunting 'Human' and 'I Must be Dreaming' are all among the bands best material for 30 years. After that things get a bit more uneven and without a record labels filter (it's released on their own label which in the end probably is a good thing with Lydon's music biz history) the band seem to loose their focus and the quality drops. The last track, almost 10 minutes long 'Out In the Woods', however saves the day.
Musically the album is mostly solid and pretty straight forward rock/postpunk, not much of the edge from earlier days, but it's a good album which should appeal to old fans of the band (and Lydon in particular). They will however probably not gain much new audience as it does sound very 'grown up'. If you are looking for something more in the direction of the original Public Image Ltd I suggest checking out the new EP by Jah Wobble and Keith Levene and also Wobble's album from last year (where Levene contributes as well). 'This is PiL' is not a classic (that would have been 5 stars), but it's a strong and welcome return with some of the bands best material in 30 years and in fact it's the only PiL album you'll need from the last 30 years.
on 4 July 2012
This Is PiL is PiL (it is). IT IS PiL. Eccentric, strident, daft and brilliant. Some really great driving bass beats and at least half the album is as good as anything from PiL (therefore very good), some tracks not so immediate but it's a grower...UPDATE the more difficult tracks are now my favourites. Buy this album.
on 15 August 2012
I'm a Celebrity .... , Butter Ads, Wildlife Films, all highly entertaining and watchable but this is what John Lydon does best. Music with P.I.L. Ok we'll never get another Metal Box but this comes close to Album. A Personal, political, angst ridden and eloquent state of the nation address from a man who hasn't lived here for decades, but given his position he has never lost touch with where he's from and what that means to him, and us.
All of the musicians on this album are former members of P.I.L and this makes for great listening, as they seem to understand the needs of John's lyrics and each others playing fantastically. A brilliant return to form.
Had a look at this CD on Amazon and was reminded that I purchased the CD/DVD version on 6 May 2012. I played it on my HiFi this evening for the first time in a long time. It has been mostly on my MP3 player for the past six months or so. I still love listening to it.
You may recognise guitar sounds from The Cure early albums. The bass is driving rhythms unlike anything I've heard, check-out Deeper Water for a typical example. The clarity of production is what carries the music in MP3 or full CD sound. And that vocal. That uninhibited, sonic indifference of John Lydon threads its way through statement lyrics of unadorned poetry such as One Drop; a sparkling highlight of many.
Whilst I've only played the DVD a few times it is still recommended. In fact the production on Deeper Water is an improvement, though not missed on the CD form. Get it because it's good. Bloody good. And there's nothing out there anywhere near it.
on 12 June 2012
His name may be John and he may have been born like myself in London but he is nobody's national treasure. This is no dusty old cash-in from a faded star, no retread of old dad's favourite territory, a walk in the woods with the would-bes, oh no, this is vital, this is now, this is coming into your living room. John and his friends are here and they are hot, nostalgic redundant they are not. Listen to our boys rock at the Lollipop Opera, one of the many upbeat tunes on this new cd and dvd set, toasting his way into infamy like a white reggae ragga-muffin. Don't try to make a "Fool" out of this boy, he livens up like Finsbury Park in the dark, in the musical spaces inbetween rock and dub, the power of poptones. He may not fit in, he may never fit in, he may not be "Out Of The Woods" but boy can this boy sing the blues, swimming out of "Deeper Water" - please take him back! I saw this PIL line up live at the now legendary Heaven gig that is recorded for posterity on the extra DVD here and they were tight, they were smoking, they took it to another level and we loved it, you can be sure of that, whatever our religions. You certainly get your money's worth here, 12 new songs and they are all pretty damned fine, with some destined to be live favourites for years to come, e.g. "One Drop" and "Reggie Song". A big mention for excellent guitarist Lu Edmonds (saw him recently with The Mekons live too, wow), a talented and likeable longhaired dude (yes, ya punk, long hair!)and to the superb rock solid rhythm (riddim?) section of Scott Firth and Bruce Smith. Oh, sod this, if you come from London like many of us and want to be a better person you should have this already - don't ask, just buy buy buy and don't be a pseud dude. Has the penny dropped yet?