First Issue

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Band Name Public Image Limited
Album Name First Issue
Type Album
Released date December 1978
Music StylePunk-Rock
Members owning this album10

Tracklist

1. Theme
2. Religion 1
3. Religion 2
4. Annalisa
5. Public Image
6. Low Life
7. Attack
8. Fodderstompf

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Public Image Limited


Review @ hack

26 July 2015

...lyrics tailor made for the strait jacket...

By late seventy seven, Sid Vicious' substance abuse problem was getting out of control. In January of seventy eight, the Sex Pistols suddenly split up after a gig in San Francisco. Vocalist Johnny Rotten and a record executive took a flight to London, with a layover in Jamaica. There they crossed paths with an unsigned Devo and the executive offered them the services of Johnny Rotten. Devo declined that proposal and released their debut Album in August of seventy eight. In London Johnny Rotten resumed his real name, John Lydon. He soon formed a punk band named Public Image Limited, as if to proclaim that his legendary punk image was in public demand. Their debut Album was released in December of seventy eight, just eleven months after the break up of the Sex Pistols, and four months after Devo's debut release.

John Lydon was twenty two years old when he presented these performances. He runs the gamut from a rebellious attitude, to the follies of entertaining punk. There is a marked improvement of his vocal abilities on this effort. He cries out those high notes like a human trumpet and sometimes rolls some ending notes exaggeratedly, like Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. Theme features loose bumbling bass lines, with highly distorted guitar music that's reminiscent to sixties psychedelic rock. Lydon shouts quite hysterically like a confused mental patient, with lyrics tailor made for the straight jacket. "Now walk alone, now walk in drain. Does not compute, not a cliche, and I wish I could die (ha,ha,ha)." There isn't much musical variance. It all sounds about the same and rambles on repetitively for over nine minutes.

Guitarist Keith Levene was a founding member of The Clash, but quit the band before they started recording. He uses aluminum guitars like the Veleno and the Travis Bean Wedge. He plays highly distorted high note strumming, crossing over to other notes, to provide a direct contrast to the bass music. It's not overly melodic, but slices and dices like a sharp edged razor. Annalisa is two female names combined, to give a jocular hint of anal sex, sounding sort of like anal easy. It starts with an unassuming pop styled rhythm, accompanied with reverberating drum beats. A high note guitar rip comes in with all of the boldness of the Sex Pistols' hard rocking songs. John Lydon shouts out his lines very assertively and then throws out an exaggerated note held in a prolonged suspension.

Bassist Jah Wobble is influenced by reggae and world music. His real name is John Wardle. He got that nickname from the slurred speech of a drunken Sid Vicious, before PIL was formed. His style is deep low bass plucking, with an approach sort of like seventies disco music. It adds some punch and sometimes leads the delicate guitar music with forceful pumping rhythms. The self titled track starts out with Lydon saying "hello" multiple times. The high note guitar strumming glimmers like rays of sunshine at dawn. There is a steady bass plucking presence and John sings with a cheery attitude, which contributes to an uplifting atmosphere. "You never listened to a word that I said. You only seen me from the clothes that I wear. Or did the interest go so much deeper? It must have been the color of my hair. The public image."

JIm Walker was trained as a jazz drummer at the Berklee College of music in Boston. Which was the same music school that Greg Hawkes of The Cars had attended. He went to London and was selected at an audition for PIL. There are occasional snare rolls and catchy beat patterns. The cymbal crashing complements the high treble guitar configurations and the drum beats seem to complement the bass rhythms. The last track, Fodderstompf, is almost eight minutes of audio foolishness. It's a highly processed keyboard track, with a synthesized percussion of a reverberated crackling sound. This is escorted through with a deep bass rhythm, which is typical of seventies disco music. The guitar music is absent and the keyboard plays some subtle high note effects. The vocals are extremely silly, with Lydon mocking two female voices. Which constantly repeat "we only wanted to be loved."

Pil didn't seem to make the most of the thirty nine minutes, with two vocal presentations totaling ten minutes, and the repetitive Theme for nine minutes. The Album was recorded on a shoestring budget. So the first half was recorded at an expensive studio and the second half was recorded at a cheaper studio. The second half doesn't sound as clear, but it does add some character. Lydon did demonstrate an amazing singing improvement and Keith Levene showed that he's a huge upgrade from the Sex Pistols' guitarist. PIL's debut Album sales were just sixty thousand in the UK, compared to over a million Albums sold in the US for the Sex Pistols' Album. Devo's debut Album sold over five hundred thousand copies in the states. PIL has a lot more creative work to do, if they want their image to capture the public's demand.


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