Public Image Ltd
If you want to get an indication of how dire the mainstream music scene was in the mid 1970s you need look no further than the current BBC4 re-run of Top of the Pops from 1976. Week after week there was a seemingly unending supply of bland, tedious middle of the road lifeless pop. Against this back drop an underground emerged inspired by a combination of the New York Dolls, Iggy and UK acts such as Bowie and T.Rex. John Lydon and the Sex Pistols were the undisputed leaders of this movement and during their brief spell together they almost single handedly changed the musical landscape in the UK for good.
Lydon's first venture after the acrimonious split of the pistols could not have been more different or more divisive. Instead of snappy 3 minute songs of rebellion, Public Image Ltd owed more to Can, Peter Hammill and Augustus Pablo. The original line up featured Jah Wobble's rumbling bass and Keith Levene's choppy angular guitar. Despite a successful, almost conventional first single 'Public Image' the debut album 'First Issue' was experimental, loose and not yet fully formed. Much better was the follow up ' Metal Box' . Arguably Lydon's masterpiece and best work to date.
The band carried on in name form for the rest of the 1980s although the original line up split shortly after Metal Box had been released. PIL enjoyed a brief resurgent spell and even some chart action with ' Album ' which featured the hit single 'Rise'.
Lydon decided to re-launch PIL in 2009 using the money he had made from Country Life butter adverts to fund the project. The band played their first dates for 17 years and following the success of these shows announced further dates for 2011. The band last played in Cardiff in 1983. So if you have ever wanted to catch Lydon in action now might be the time to go.
Public Image Ltd play the Millennium Music Hall in Cardiff on Thursday 2 nd June.
First Issue (1978)
Metal Box (1979)
The Flowers of Romance (1981)