Second Edition / Public Image Ltd

Johnny Rotten/Lydon's post-Sex Pistols entity, and his most enduring "band, was Public Image, Ltd. Their catalog is spotty, to be sure, and contentious. But Second Edition  was one of the first great post-punk albums, and remains the era's hallmark masterpiece

It’s a harrowing experience, even after repeated plays. But it is also one of the most addictive albums ever recorded, a compulsive listen, and a hypnotic experience. 

Steeped in dub, the bass- and echo- heavy dance hall sound favored by true reggae aficionados, ominous and insistent,  Second Edition  (released in Great Britain as  Metal Box) is a far cry from the thrash-and-burn of the Pistols or their imitators. 

Jah Wobble's bass takes the wheel, while Keith Levine's angular, inky guitar lines zig-zag around, creating an atmosphere of confusion and alienation around the sheer, blissful, groove-smacked danceabilty of the rhythm section. The Edge has frequently been accused of nicking Levine's sound and approach, but The Edge never sounded this...um...edgy

So out of this musical fog comes Lydon's howl, less the snarl he affected in the Sex Pistols than a resigned, and even horrifyingly amused, chant. The sound of it is as important as the lyrical expression, effectively becoming another instrument. A damn creepy and expressive one. 

It is unconsciously modal in it's approach, and owes a lot to Can, a German aggregation whose skillful use of rhythm put a more human bent in an otherwise sterile soundscape, complementing the sparse bed of electronic-prog, bass, and sound effects. Also, in it's use of dissonance and dadaist sonic effect, Captain Beefheart. And Lydon's vocals are reminiscent, in both tone and effect, of Pharaoh Sanders' expressive, shrieking tenor playing. 

I've heard it called alien dance music, which fits. But it is, ultimately, music for roving droogs, the perfect soundtrack for finding a sliver of warmth in dystopia, through any means necessary. New age music for sociopaths. 

The subject matter is pretty much the same ol' Johnny Rotten all-purpose utility lash, finding demons in the cold and avaricious society most of us must deal with, bitching about everything, refusing to even consider the possibility of reconciliation. The icy detachment while witnessing a kidnapping in "Poptones", or the sneering kiss off to the Sex Pistols in "Albatross". The illness of vapid suburbia in "Careering", or the spiritual abandonment alluded to in "Bad Baby." 

Standard harping, and not altogether comforting. Hell, if one stopped listening and/or dancing for a minute, you might find the whole thing a rather sobering affair. 

Mesmerizing, and perpetually revealing. 
Johnny Rotten/Lydon's post-Sex Pistols entity, and his most enduring, was Public Image, Ltd. Their catalog is spotty, to be sure, and contentious. But Second Edition  was one of the first great post-punk albums, and remains the era's hallmark masterpiece


It’s a harrowing experience, even after repeated plays. But it is also one of the most addictive albums ever recorded, a compulsive listen, and a hypnotic experience. 

Steeped in dub, the bass- and echo- heavy dance hall sound favored by true reggae aficionados, ominous and insistent,  Second Edition  (released in Great Britain as  Metal Box) is a far cry from the thrash-and-burn of the Pistols or their imitators. 

Jah Wobble's bass takes the wheel, while Keith Levine's angular, inky guitar lines zig-zag around, creating an atmosphere of confusion and alienation around the sheer, blissful, groove-smacked danceabilty of the rhythm section. The Edge has frequently been accused of nicking Levine's sound and approach, but The Edge never sounded this...um...edgy

So out of this musical fog comes Lydon's howl, less the snarl he affected in the Sex Pistols than a resigned, and even horrifyingly amused, chant. The sound of it is as important as the lyrical expression, effectively becoming another instrument. A damn creepy and expressive one. 

It is unconsciously modal in it's approach, and owes a lot to Can, a German aggregation whose skillful use of rhythm put a more human bent in an otherwise sterile soundscape, complementing the sparse bed of electronic-prog, bass, and sound effects. Also, in it's use of dissonance and dadaist sonic effect, Captain Beefheart. And Lydon's vocals are reminiscent, in both tone and effect, of Pharaoh Sanders' expressive, shrieking tenor playing. 

I've heard it called alien dance music, which fits. But it is, ultimately, music for roving droogs, the perfect soundtrack for finding a sliver of warmth in dystopia, through any means necessary. New age music for sociopaths. 

The subject matter is pretty much the same ol' Johnny Rotten all-purpose utility lash, finding demons in the cold and avaricious society most of us must deal with, bitching about everything, refusing to even consider the possibility of reconciliation. The icy detachment while witnessing a kidnapping in "Poptones", or the sneering kiss off to the Sex Pistols in "Albatross". The illness of vapid suburbia in "Careering", or the spiritual abandonment alluded to in "Bad Baby." 

Standard harping, and not altogether comforting. Hell, if one stopped listening and/or dancing for a minute, you might find the whole thing a rather sobering affair. 

 

Mesmerizing, and perpetually revealing.  

 

 

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