Album review: First Issue - Public Image Limited

JAMES BELFIELD
Last updated 13:30 25/07/2013
First Issue - Public Image Limited
First Issue - Public Image Limited

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FIRST ISSUE
Public Image Limited
(Southbound)

While The Sex Pistols were still squirming in vomit and blood, knifed in a gutter - rotten Johnny Lydon was wiping the blade clean and ready to take on his next adversary: the punk fan.

This reissue of his 1978 PiL debut shows his self-assured loathing for conformity with its one-two punch of lyrical dexterity (four tracks of blatant anti-Catholic blasphemy are followed by an assault on former bandmates and then a decline into banality and the Python-esque pastiche Fodderstompf) and musical ability (gone is punk's DIY racket, replaced by Clash founder Keith Levene's genius guitar and John Wobble's disco dub funk bass).

Future full-lengthers may have cemented PiL's post-punk credentials but the sheer vitriol of First Issue and Lydon's nihilism make this a watershed moment when dance music met hatred, dissonance and irony.

The inclusion here of rare B-side The Cowboy Song and a candid hour-long 1978 BBC interview in which Lydon lashes out at Malcolm McLaren, classic rock n roll and institutions while building the PiL manifesto, makes the reissue a great autopsy into how the first incarnation of punk died.

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