Public Image Ltd. - Public Image (First Issue) (Music CD)

Release Date: 16 January 2012
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Like it or not, Public Image Limited's First Issue (aka Public Image) was an album that helped set the pace for what eventually became known as post-punk. In England a vacuum had opened up in the wake of the breakup of the Sex Pistols in January 1978, and many punk fans and rival groups were impatient to see what ex-Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon aka "Johnny Rotten" was going to roll out next. Disheartened owing to events in his legal proceedings against the Sex Pistols management company Glitterbest, and disgusted by the punk scene in general, Lydon was determined to create something that was neither punk nor even really rock as it was known in 1978. Working with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene, first-time bassist Jah Wobble, and Canadian drummer Jim Walker, Public Image Limited produced an album that represented the punk sound after it had shot itself in the head and became another entity entirely. Embracing elements of dub, progressive rock, noise, and atonality and driven by Lydon's lyrical egoism and predilection towards doom, death, and horror, First Issue was among a select few 1978 albums that had something lasting to say about the future of rock music. And not everyone in 1978 wanted to hear it; contemporary critical notices for First Issue were almost uniformly negative in the extreme.
Not all of the material on First Issue was necessarily forward-looking: "Attack" and "Low Life" could almost pass muster as latter-day Sex Pistols songs if it weren't for their substandard production values. These two numbers were recorded late in the project, and on the cheap, as the fledgling Public Image Limited had already been kicked out of practically every reputable studio in London. And there was a bracing song about Lydon's pet peeve, "Religion," presented in both spoken and sung incarnations. It is about as vicious and personal an anti-Catholic diatribe as exists on record, and in its day was considered a high holy turnoff by many listeners. But from there it gets better -- Public Image Limited's debut single, "Public Image," was also included on First Issue, and Keith Levene's guitar part, with its tasty suspensions and held-over-the-bar syncopation, was an important departure from standard punk guitar language absorbed so quickly by others (the Pretenders, U2, the Smiths) that listeners and musicians alike forgot the source of the sound. First Issue's opener, "Theme," was a force to be reckoned with, a grindingly slow dirge with wild, almost Hendrix-like figurations on the guitar and Wobble's floor-splitting foundation. This was punk with the power of Led Zeppelin, but none of the pretension. Lydon's anguished mantra in "Theme," "...and I just wanna die," was the exact reflection of what his generation was thinking about in the wake of the collapse of classic punk. "Annalisa" is the hardest-kicking rocker on the album, with nosebleed-strength guitar from Levene; it is so good that Nirvana in all practical purposes purloined the whole number, with minor alterations, as "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" on In Utero.
But even with all of the calculated controversy seemingly built into the various cuts on First Issue, none attracted quite so much attention as "Fodderstompf." Faced with a serious shortage of material to fill out the album and with its release date looming, Public Image Limited decided to conclude the project with a track 12:55 in length, consisting of no more than a disco beat, chattering synthesizers, a bassline, and Jah Wobble singing, shouting, and screaming the phrase "we only wanted to be loved" in a joke voice. Rock critics savaged the song as a deliberate attempt to rip off the public, but it became hugely popular at the Studio 54 disco in New York; the drag queens and hipsters sang and screamed right along with Wobble out loud on the dancefloor -- nothing like that had ever happened at Studio 54. As it is perhaps the earliest extended dance mix that has little to do with disco or dub, it is apparent t
Release Date: 16 January 2012

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

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Catalogue No: CDVR2114