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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Public Image"

Public Image Ltd. "Public Image" (1978)

When Johnny Rotten left the Sex Pistols and the band broke up, he was the first to join a new group.

Public Image Ltd. began when John Lyndon (formerly known as Rotten) called a friend of his and asked him to listen to some reggae together, and when he agreed that it was great, Lyndon asked him to learn how to play the bass. Lyndon put an add in the paper to get a drummer, and called  The Clash guitarist Keith Levene to play guitar. This first single was released in England the day after Nancy Spungen died, and the album was released less than a year from the last day the Sex Pistols performed on stage.

Driving bass line for sure. Simple, but the man had only learned bass guitar a few months earlier, lets give him a break. The guitar and vocals are both heavily echo affected. The guitar does this thing that makes it sound like an ambulance and Lyndon's vocals come in late singing the chorus; that's my favorite part. The band sounds a little like Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and other post punk bands, but I think they sound a lot like early B-52s. Without a keyboard they are definitely not New Wave, and the truly experimental rock and post-rock sound wouldn't come until later in the bands career, so for the immediate moment of their first single, they were hard to classify.

Aspects reminded everyone of punk, but the guitar was more melodic, the song was longer, and the whole band wasn't trying to deafen you. Lyndon's vocals are high and still very whiny, but the rest of the band is making music with some clarity. There may be a lot of echo effects, but the musicians playing the instruments are more talented than the Sex Pistols.

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