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Public Image Ltd.

When the Sex Pistols imploded in '78, Johhny Rotten went back to being John Lydon. Next, he founded Public Image Ltd. - PiL, with guitarist Keith Levene, formerly of The Clash, and bassist Jah Wobble (John Wardle).

Levene's work with PiL influenced numerous guitarist including U2's The Edge, and Wobble's distinctive bass lines were oft imitated.

Jim Walker was installed on drums after answering an ad placed in Melody Maker.

The group's 'droning, slow-tempo, bass-heavy noise Rock' accompanying Lydon's 'vituperative rant', led the New Musical Express (NME) to argue that PiL was "the first post-Rock group."

If the Sex Pistols were self-destructive, PiL didn't do much better. "Public Image: First Issue" went over budget and the album was finished in a rush. Still, if not hugely popular, the album was considered ground-breaking, largely due its dub Reggae sound.

The single "Public Image" was seen as diatribe against Malcolm McLaren, the creator, manager and main manipulator of the Sex Pistols, while "Low Life," thought initially to be another attack on McLaren, was, according to Lydon, a dressing down of the Sex Pistols' talentless, drug addled, and eventually murderous bassist Sid Vicious.

By the mid-80s, Levene, Wooble and Walker were gone with Lydon replacing them and eventually replacing the replacements.

In the U.S., PiL albums never cracked the Top 100. The situation was better in the U.K. where a couple albums landed the Top 20. The '81 album, "The Flowers Of Romance" did the best peaking at #11.

Not surprisingly, one of PiL's best known songs came as a response to criticism from fans and the music press over the band's movement towards a more commercial style.

'83's "This Is Not a Love Song" was inspired by a line in the song "Her Story" ('79) by the Flying Lizards. ("But you can still make money, by singing sweet songs of love... this is a love song.") PiL's anti-love song became their biggest hit going to #5 in the U.K.

Having run its course, and then some, PiL went on hiatus in '92. Two years later, Lydon published his memoir, "Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs." The book was co-written with Keith and Kent Zimmerman. "I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die...," wrote Lydon.

Two years after that, the original Sex Pistols (pre-Sid Vicious) regrouped for the Filthy Lucre Tour. Lydon's solo album, "Psycho's Path," dropped in '97.

Twelve years passed before PiL reunited for five U.K. shows, their first live appearance in 17 years. Lydon financed the reunion using money he earned doing a U.K. TV commercial (they all eventually sell out, don't they?) for Country Life butter. "The money that I earned from that has now gone completely - lock stock and barrel - into reforming PiL," Lydon claimed.

"This Is PiL," the band's first studio album in twenty years, arrived in '12.

PiL's tenth studio effort, "What The World Needs Now...," with lead single "Double Trouble," dropped three years later.
Public Image Ltd. Discography


1978 Public Image: First Issue
1979 Metal Box
1981 The Flowers Of Romance
1984 This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get
1986 Album
1987 Happy?
1989 9
1992 That What Is Not
2012 This Is PiL
2015 What the World Needs Now...

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