Thursday, October 26, 2006
This one is for you Phibes, as requested.
Public Image Ltd. is a band that went through so many mutations throughout it's career that you really can't compare one era with another. Their first three albums, with the Wobble/Lydon/Levene line up, were dark and brooding, as dissonant as they were brilliant.
PiL's later work (essentially as Lydon's solo vehicle) can be spliced into two eras: '84-'87 and '88-'92. Albums like 1986's "Album" were hard rock with an artistic, commanding attitude while 1989's "9" LP saw Lydon reveling in dance-pop while maintaining a lyrical depth unseen in mainstream pop music.
For all PiL's artistic swings, however, it is Metal Box that stands out as their Crowning Glory. After showing signs of uncertainty with their debut, Metal Box delivered the promise PiL had spouted off about in press interviews: one hour of original, challenging and commanding, forceful proof of life after rock `n roll.
From the first thunderous bass notes of "Albatross" to the guitar-as-weapon assualt which drives "Chant," PiL were making sounds never before heard in the context of popular music, all the while setting this hell-fire blaze of chaos to almost-disco power beat of Martin Atkins' drums and Wobbles devilish dub-like basslines. In fact this entire album is dub like; vocals, sythesizers, and other sounds float in and out of the mix, bass and drums always in front and at their deepest.
This is music both jarring and beautiful, impenetrable and addictively listenable. This is the album that made PiL heroes to generations of kids who believe there can be more to music than top-40 aspirations; there are still new places in sound to be discovered. (Year of Release: 1979)
3. Swan Lake
6. No Birds
8. The Suit
9. Bad Baby
12. Radio 4
Download: Public Image Ltd. - Metal Box (69.4MB)