Public Image Ltd. – Second Edition


As I understand it, this is a second pressing of what is commonly known as the Metal Box, but in this case is called Second Edition.

“Albatross” is built around a grooveless reworking of the “Billie Jean” bass line. Though since it came first it’s more like “Billie Jean” is a funky reworking of the “Albatross” bass line. The drum sound is so thin here it really highlights the simplicity of the beat, while the guitar and vocals sound like they were recorded in a very large tin can. This is Can for bored, rich teenagers who think they’re smarter than they are.

I tease, but I actually do like this shrill art rock of the late ‘70s, despite my general distaste for John Lydon and his embodiment of the above-mentioned snot-nosed approach to everything. Public Image Ltd. is way more interesting than the “you can’t fail me, I quit!” insolence of the Sex Pistols.

As is the case with most hatred, my hatred of John Lydon is most likely actually self-directed. I was a smart kid in high school. The world has since long caught up with and surpassed me, but in high school I was smart. Smart enough that by the time it was coming to an end I was more than a little bored. I had no real intentions of going to university. My plan at the time was to become a garbage man, be done work by 3pm and spend the extra time in my day writing. In my arrogance, I guess I had never heard of being tired? That maybe after waking up before dawn, doing hard manual labour in the hot sun all day and coming home stinking of garbage and sweat I might just want to have a shower and watch Everybody Loves Raymond?

Anyway, since I didn’t plan on going to university I expressed my boredom in my last year of school through various games. I attempted to write one test entirely in rhyme. I wrote short stories on my calculus tests. And the coup de grace, I tried to see how low a grade I could get in OAC (that’s grade 13 for you, kiddies/non-Ontarians) Writer’s Craft while attending every class. The answer is 7%.

The truth is, I still get a tiny thrill and prick of pride writing that list of shitty dumb things I did as a teen. It’s like the video for Journey’s song “Faithfully.” That video is ostensibly about how hard it is, and what a drag, to be on the road all the time. But every shot in that video is so full of romance it betrays the truth that the road is all they know, and all they want to know. My best guess is that the video concept of “what a drag it is to be on the road” was agreed on to placate one or many wives. So, while I may still find amusement in my antics, the arrogance at the root of them is an ugly trait.

And if I had felt the need to go to university, maybe I’d still be smart. Though I’d definitely make less money.

***

Favourite Song: Memories

Runner Up: Socialism

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