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Memories; who needs them?,
This review is from: Public Image - First Issue (Audio CD)
Blasting out an accapella impromptu version of Religion to an assembled mass of born again in 79 Chelmsford. Unfortunately with their kind hearts, I had chosen the wrong throng, they were Quakers. They smiled and clapped, something of a surreal moment. Although unfortunately marred by a local wanting to take venegance. People did not need any excuse in the 70's for violence. A quick mexican stand off, eyes a twitching ensued, before the tension disipated but was never forgotten. The point of this recollection?
The lyrics resonated because the 70's were still in the twitches of a religious era, albeit at the end. Sunday School, hymn singing and scripture reading were all staple indoctrination of young people in the 60's and 70's. Even now 40 agnostic years later I can still remember all the hymns and carols inculcated at Primary School and Sunday School.
Rotten became Lydon in the brief walk of fame from the bad boy band Pistols to the adult experimental sounds of Pil, a walk consumed with trauma.
The weight on the shoulders was heavy. Those caught in the media glare were given full demonic exposure. Emerging from adolescence, to find your image plasted over newspapers, billboards, record covers and TV, haunting the imagination of pubescent brains needs some form of adjustment. It leads to narcissus forever gazing into his own reflection finding it airbrushed into perfection.
The Pistols were vilified by the adult world, they alienated one source of potential support, the 68 generation by proclaiming their redundancy. The Spitfire pilots, the Airey Neave generation were unutterably appauled. The war had been fought and won, for council estate people to mock the establishment. The notion of the war also hung heavy up until the 70's, a marker to measure manhood and adversity. The establishment was clear why the war had been fought, to uphold its values, the same values "needing to be upheld" which lead to two pyrrhic victories.
Up until 77 there had been no direct art/media critique of the system by its white inhabitants. The walls suddenly closed in on the four sacifical Pistol lambs. They were squeezed tight by the system. Young people up and down the land, pushed and pulled at the crushing edifice to free the Pistols and thereby free themselves. A mixture of people who after the initial tussle returned back to their imaginary Roxy/Bowie/Bolan fantasy worlds. Meanwhille the world after 77 raged with physical, social and cultural struggle.
Lydon coping with disintegration, his mother being one source of support became very ill. His best friends slow demise, the band's slide into fragments, he left the debris and created PIL.
Elements of this album appear to be fill-in material. Untangling the zeitgeist from the music needs another generation to look afresh. Fodderstompin, nice bass sound, but if this was attempted by another act, there would have been a howl. "Theme" rises and falls with another type of howl, one emitting from the precpice of Beachy Head. PIL was a two fingered salute to the world, as meaning arose from disintegration. The Pistols was the Albatross on his neck. This album was a sketch for Metal Box, where more sound ideas arose. The public's reaction to this allowed the motherlode to be created.
I do not play it very often, perhaps too many memories are encoded in the grooves but the fact it can envoke memories for me is its greatest strength. So much music is purely background whilst this demands to be listened to.