Wednesday, 20 June 2012

REVIEW: Public Image Ltd - a brilliant new record

2012 is really proving to be the year of some great music, and it is heartening to see how artists who have been disappointingly quiet in recent years have come out onto the world stage with music which is as good as anything they had ever done. For example, look at John Lydon.

Although they were nowhere near as important on the socio-cultural stage as the Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd were my favourite of the two bands. Whereas the Sex Pistols produced four classic singles and some other bits and bobs of speeded up heavy metal, and either enthused one generation or irritated several others, Public Image Ltd were something else entirely.

When this reunion was first mooted it was widely believed that Jah Wobble and Keith Levine would be back in the fold for the first time in 30 years. This was not to be; the two of them have – apparently – teamed up to play live and possibly record. I wish them well, indeed if I manage to get hold of a recording or video I will listen to it eagerly and write about it in these hallowed pages, but as far as the new Public Image album, the first for 20-odd years, is concerned, does it matter that there aren’t three original members in the line-up? Not at all.

This is a very funky and dubby album, and although I am a massive fan of the original Metal Box on which Johnny and the boys first de-constructed the then contemporanious dub styles into a post-modern melange of grooviness, this offering from the current line-up, whilst superficiously the same is actually far more organic and completely different. There is a warmth to the playing which I have never heard before on a Public Image album. Add to this the various string textures from the semi-legendary Lu Edmonds make this, sonically at least, quite possibly the best realised Public Image album ever.

The bizarre thing about it is that Lydon’s voice has changed. It seems lower somehow and less confrontational, but don’t let that put you off. This is an absolutely fantastic album, and one which I am sure I will be playing for many years to come.

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