Friday, July 6, 2012

CD REVIEW: Public Image Ltd. “This is PiL”

Public Image Ltd.This is PiL
                When I was in my early teens, I became obsessed with punk rock.    The first real sort of punk rock albums that I bought, after Green Day and Operation Ivy of course, were by Guttermouth, Unwritten Law and SNFU.    At some point in time no doubt, I found out about the Sex Pistols, much like I’d find out about the Ramones, The Clash and so on and so forth—all of these punk bands that no longer existed but you had to know in order to be considered punk rock.
                Call it the Connecticut punk/ska scene at the time, call it youthful bliss, but whatever the reason I became quite obsessed with not only the Sex Pistols but Johnny Rotten himself.    I kid you not, I was not only listening to the music of the Sex Pistols at the time, but I was also watching movies, reading books (Clair still has my Johnny Rotten auto-bio) and just trying to get my hands on anything that I could related to Johnny Rotten.   
                At one point in time- yet, sometime later down the line, maybe a few years or so- I was kind of convinced by someone who still runs a pretty prominent label to this day to write about music.    When I first began writing about music it was mostly live reviews and CD reviews.   I had no real experience or knowledge so I wasn’t going to start doing interviews… at least not in person.   Yes, I did a lot of email interviews with some pretty good bands, which I guess got me some legs as backing.   I don’t know, maybe instead of veering off track with this review I should instead save these details for a guide on how to create your own ‘zine without really trying.    In any event, at this point in time, as we were rapidly approaching the 21st century, one thing that remained true in my mind was that no matter who I interviewed—ever—that one ultimate interview would be a one on one in person interview with Johnny Rotten, especially if he walked out on it at some point.   (My close second would be Scott Weiland, because of my love for him and his general lack of media love)
                Now we’re over ten years into the future past my humble beginnings as a writer, begging his favorite bands to answer stupid questions via email, and we’re at a point where I now bug my favorite musicians via email to send me their music for free because even if I paid you a dollar for your album, then I’d have to pay everyone a dollar and that quickly adds up to more money than I care to think about.  We also have a new band from Public Image Limited, who I always thought of as this crazy side project of Johnny Rotten, but I was never really sure whether or not I really liked it.   I knew that I liked it- at least on the surface- because it was Johnny Rotten and, let’s be honest, at one point in my life (Maybe even now, but I don’t wish to test it) I’d be willing to listen to a three hour long album of nothing but Johnny reciting bad poetry written by someone worse than me (That’s pretty bad)    With all of that being said (And it probably didn’t all need being said) this new album by PiL is actually quite good.   I don’t remember the old PiL as much as I do Sex Pistols and you’ll have to forgive me because as I get older and hear more music, I kind of forget some of the older music in my brain (Especially the songs I wasn’t as fond of, which is where PiL used to be because I always just saw them as a lesser Sex Pistols in ways, but hey, who didn’t?)
                The first thing that you need to know is that for all of the punk rock hoopla, Johnny Rotten can sing.  Is he Johnny Rotten still or is he John Lydon is PiL?   I don’t know, he’ll always be Johnny Rotten to me.     These songs seem to be less of an annoyance (which Sex Pistols were about in a lot of ways) and more of just a demonstration that Johnny Rotten is not the talentless bum certain critics make him out to be.
                The music itself comes off sounding somewhere between Talking Heads and Operation Ivy, so, sorry, no, this isn’t going to be Sex Pistols sloppy or fast or anything along those lines.   It’s got some speed to it, but it is also a bit more low key than what you’d expect from the former Sex Pistols leader.
                Also, and this might just be my favorite part, the first song, which is the title track is quite obnoxious.   The rest of the album be damned, but the first just annoys the living snot out of me.   I’m fairly certain that’s what it was intended to do.   I’m pretty sure that it was put there as a way to detour the fakes who would just listen to the first song, write a review blasting the album and then move on to whatever Lady Gaga is currently doing.  (OMG She dropped her iPhone in the toilet, took pictures somehow and sent the pictures to Rolling Stone by mistake!)   In that way, I feel like this album is very Andy Kaufman-esque and if I ever make a musical endeavor I’m going to be sure to put an inaudible intro on it to chase away the poseurs.   Granted, this title track isn’t inaudible, but let’s just say I’ve listened to it only twice and I’ve listened to the rest of the album a great many more times than that now. 
                P.S. – If you want to do an interview, JOHNNY ROTTEN, drop me an email:   No joke, let’s do it like Kurt Loder and Jewel.

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