ARTIST: Public Image, Ltd.
TITLE: Public Image: First Issue
YEAR RELEASED: 1978
CHART ACTION: #22 UK
SINGLES: Public Image (#9 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not here in the US.
LINEUP: John Lydon, Keith Levene, Jah Wobble, Jim Walker.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Moving on from punk and the Sex Pistols, Lydon forms a group that allows him (and his mates Levine and Wobble) to express themselves creatively without restricting themselves in a punk genre. It’s mostly brilliant, adventurous, but not for the mainstream.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Expecting more of the same Sex Pistols furious and simple attack, many didn’t know how to react to this furious yet adventurous and forward looking record. Especially when “Theme” starts it out with nine minutes of harsh, yet brilliant, music that really didn’t have a genre at the time.
What we have is Lydon’s bile, but now communing with music that allows his vocals to roam freer. Levene’s guitar washes over everything, not playing punk chords, but sounds, riffs and melodies. Wobble’s bass is very reggae and dub oriented, which blends nicely with Walker’s drumming (he was a trained jazz drummer). The mix of musicians make a great sound for Lydon.
“Religion I” is spoken word, the same lyrics as the powerful “Religion II”. “Public Image”, Lydon’s statement after the Sex Pistols, is one of the best singles of the 70’s and one of the best UK singles ever.
Yet, the last track, “Fodderstompf” is a lark, an album filler, and an almost ‘fuck off’ to fans, since it’s over 7 ½ minutes of a Wobble bass line, a drum machine, and helium voiced chants. Knowing Lydon, that’s what he really wanted.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Many in the press thought “Public Image” was about the Sex Pistols’ fans. It was not. Lydon said it was about his old band mates.
Also, this wasn’t released in the US at first, but sold a lot as an import.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an extra track, a B-side. Just as useless as “Fodderstompf”
GRADE: B+: A potentially classic album downgraded for one pointless track.