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Lucky You! This Is PiL

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Those are the first words on the new Public Image Ltd. album.  They follow a prolonged (repeated?) belch.  Ah, yes, John Lydon can still be a little Rotten.

I’m a big fan of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, but I am also extremely fond of the bands fronted by members of those great bands after they broke up: Lydon’s PiL, Joe Strummer’s Mescaleros, and Mick Jones’s Big Audio Dynamite and Carbon/Silicon.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that PiL is better than The Sex Pistols – not as “important,” not as “influential,” and probably not as much fun (in general) to listen to as the Pistols, but better.  That goes for the band’s amazing early albums, and it goes for This Is PiL, too.

Don’t Mention The Butter Ad

Oh, but I must.  I am always amazed at the frequent discrepancy between musical genius and, you know, making enough money to live.  Lydon famously did a television ad some few years back – one of the funniest ads I’ve ever seen – for Country Life butter, and he said afterwards that the money he made from that ad helped him finance the reformation of PiL and the recording of the new album, the first in ten years.  Look up the ad, and you’ll see why I think it’s the opposite of a sellout.  It’s brilliant.

How About The New Album?

Well, it ain’t no Metal Box, and by that I mean that I have listened to it a lot already, whereas Metal Box gets an airing maybe once or twice a year, as much as I admire it.  This Is PiL has loads of good songs, by turns funny, ambitious, punky, experimental.  My favourite is probably the damnably catchy “Lollipop Opera,” but you gotta love “Terragate,” which starts with a few bars that do not sound significantly unlike the beginning of the Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.”  Then there’s the amusing “Reggie Song” (that’s not a typo: it’s not a reggae song, but it is sort of about a guy named Reginald) and ten-minute album-ending “Out of the Woods,” which features some of Lydon’s best singing.

Ten Minutes Long?

Well, it’s 9:41.  But my point is, Lydon is not out to score a radio hit.  This is an album for the faithful; it’s also an album for those who recognize that the latest Kanye, Gaga, and Cyrus albums do not represent the full range of popular music in 2013.  John Lydon poured his own money into this project because he is an artist with a lot left to say, and he wants people to hear it.  I hope you’re one of those people.


Check out our review of The Flowers of Romance.

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