Friday, May 04, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 55: Public Image Ltd - Compact Disc

Album - Compact Disc (or Album/Cassette) depending on your format
Artist - Public Image Ltd. (P.I.L)
Key Players - John Lydon -vocals.
Produced By - Bill Laswell and John Lydon

Release Date - February 3, 1986

What caused me to blow off the dust? I read an article recently about one of their live shows in which the band taunted the audience from behind the stage for close to one hour. Lydon has always been very quirky (and some might say annoying). PiL was a band that always seemed to be moving forward. This is just one of a few records that could be reviewed but the cast of uncredited band members make this all the more "curious" for a re-listen.

Overview - This is the fourth studio album from Public Image Limited, or PiL as they are commonly known. Front man John Lydon, former lead vocalist for the Sex Pistols formed the band and began to work with some of the finest musicians of the time on PiL albums. Lydon said that when he was in the Sex Pistols there was weak playing and bad gear, something he never wanted to repeat on future records. For this album Lydon felt it was basically a solo album with a series of guest musicians. As we go track by track you'll be astounded to see who was used.

Special note: The site fodderstompf proved to be an invaluable tool for getting a lot of this information.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - As we break down each track I will include the players on each track. Lydon was the vocalist on all the tracks so he will only be listed if he did otherwise. Bernard Fowler sang back up on every track as well.

Track by track break down:

"FFF" - opens with heavy guitars and drum and Lydon's opening line "Farewell my Fair weathered Friend". Rumors circle this track is about founding PiL member Keith Levene. The track is drum heavy through out. The are some backwards vocal workings that fade directly in to the next track.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Nicky Skopelitis - guitar,
Bernie Worrell - Organ, Bill Laswell - Bass, Tony Williams - Drums

"Rise" - if there were ever a "well known" PiL song this would be it. Opening with the bass drum/snare intro from Williams this would be the "anthem" for PiL for years to come. Immediately catching is the swooping bass line from Laswell. During live performances Lydon would encourage the audience to scream along the lyrics "Anger is an Energy!". The song follows a pretty similar pattern but builds with urgency as it progresses. This is the first track you hear the guitar work of Vai stand out. A blistering solo about half way through before a few pounding beats on the floor tom send it back to the verse.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Nicky Skopelitis - Guitar, Ryuichi Sakamoto - Fairlight CMI Synthesizer, L.Shankar - Electric Violin, Bill Laswell - Bass, Tony Williams - Drums

"Fishing" is the first of a few tracks to feature Ginger Baker. His presence is immediately felt. The guitars crunch behind the heavy drum line. During the track there is a portion where a light keyboard layers over before Vai again sets off on a terrifically played solo. Its a tad over the top, but it's almost what you need and expect from a virtuoso of the instrument. Steve Vai - Guitar, Nicky Skopelitis - Guitar, Ryuichi Sakamoto - Fairlight CMI Synthesizer, Bernie Worrell - DX 7
Bill Laswell - Bass, Malachi Favors - Acoustic Bass (check out the image on that link!), Ginger Baker - Drums

"Round" opens with chatan and drums and Lydon repeats "round" a few times over. This is the first "slower" song on the album. The drums and guitar are still prominent in the mix, and heavy but it’s a little more basic in its four four time. There is more a dueling guitar solo at the outset between Vai and Nicky Skopelitis until Vai takes over.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Nicky Skopelitis - Guitar, Bernie Worrell - Organ, L. Shankar - Electric Violin, Bill Laswell - Bass, Ginger Baker - Drums, Aiyb Dieng - Chatan

"Bags" folds back into the mode of a heavy drum intro layered with a strong bass line. Vai is the lone guitar player on the track and continues to shine. The synthesizer is more "up" in the mix and it has a lighter feel, although Lydons trademark snarl is present.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Ryuichi Sakamoto - Fairlight CMI Synthesizer, Bill Laswell - Bass
Malachi Favors - Acoustic Bass, Ginger Baker - Drums

"Home" follows with a very similar feel to the whole album. A heavy, yet basic, drum line kicks off the track. This track had the least number of performers on it for the entire record. The organ work from Worrell adds a great touch and the track doesn't stray from the formula that has worked to this point.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Nicky Skopelitis - Guitar, Bernie Worrell - Organ, Bill Laswell - Bass, Tony Williams - Drums

Closing out with the epic "EASE" it takes over a minute to "get there". The slow keyboard intro slowly grows until Baker kicks it all in to gear. The musical influences in this track are numerous. There is a dueling "sitar" solo at two points on the track and the second one leads in to the final solo laid down by Vai is the finest solo he does on the album. Clocking in at over two minutes it is slowly faded with the whole track, who knows where it might have gone. This was a no brainier to add to the downloads. If you are a guitar player (or like guitar in general) check out the final few minutes of the track. Perhaps I "lack taste" but this solo to me is A+ stuff.
Steve Vai - Guitar, Ryuichi Sakamoto - Fairlight CMI Synthesizer, Jonas Hellborg - Bass, Malachi Favors - Acoustic Bass, Steve Turre - Didgeridoo, Ginger Baker - Drums

Where are they now? - In 1993 Lydon declared the band to be on an 'indefinite hiatus'. Lydon did release a solo album in 1997 and the year prior he agrees to a re-formation and tour with the Sex Pistols. (they did it again in 2003). In 2005 the Sex Pistols were inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but they did not attend the ceremony.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - In checking things PiL made my list of shows four times. The first was March 21, 1988 at the Worcester Centrum opening for INXS. On July 10, 1989 PiL was in an "opening band" slot again but this time it was sandwiched between the Sugarcubes and New Order. A few months later (October 7, 1989) the band played the Orpheum in Boston. It was a "neon stage" as props and the like were painted in bright colors and highlighted by black lights. The final time was at Avalon on September 9, 1992. What stood out the most this evening was the fact the band opened with a Lydon (and thus vocal-less) version of Led Zeppelins Kashmir. It was spot on and quite frankly John would have ruined it.

FDF Overall Take - The list of band members is astounding and nobody gets a mention anywhere in the liner notes (barring writing credits). For a music stand point alone this is a terrifically underrated album. Some of the tracks have a very basic or "generic' feel to them but overall the listen is rewarding. Lydon also said that while recording a vocal track on this very record Miles Davis came in and played horn behind him yet they never used the track from's RE-ISSUE TIME folks!

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**MP3's have been removed*** 6/20/07 11:15am ET****

Ease my pick..check it

You can buy your own copy here or here if you so desire.

This weeks bonus download...

Public Image Ltd.
Crawford Hall, UCLA Irvine, CA
September 26, 1992

- great quality - "liberated bootleg" under the name "Acid Drops"

This has been removed..

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Sammy and Joe said...

You know that avitar looks more like Mrs. March than Mr. March
*This is not derogitory comment to Mrs. March, we all know she is much better looking than Mr. March, avitar or in person)

At 5:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

any chance of reloading the PIL Crawford Hall gig please?

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous wall1885 said...

any chance of re- upping PIL, Crawford Hall please?

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous wall1885 said...

any chance of re-upping PIL Crawford Hall, please?


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