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Sunday, April 18, 2010


320 KBPS

Most who own Plastic Box probably use the second half as coasters. Those who don't probably get headaches when listening to the first two, and a select few find much to love about the whole thing. As if conceding to the consensus that PiL's early years were their best, the first half is devoted to the band's first three studio LPs cut over four years, while the second half covers the remainder. Listeners get the entirety of Public Image/First Edition sans "Fodderstompf." The majority of Metal Box (issued as Second Edition in the U.S.) is included, with three of the original versions sacrificed for Peel Session counterparts that really take the cake. "Careering" is especially wonderful and harrowing, arguably the collective's finest recorded moment. Keith Levene goes bonkers with the keyboards, perhaps fostering the increased intensity amongst the remaining members. The 12" mix of "Swan Lake" ("Death Disco") gets the box set upgrade too, as well as a couple other worthwhile Metal Box outtakes. Closing out the second disc is the entirety of The Flowers of Romance, sequentially shuffled with an additional non-album track. The second half of Plastic Box hits upon each of the remaining studio LPs, with the odd rarity, single mix and Peel Session thrown in for completist bait. For those who want improved sound over their early CD issues, the money spent is a smart investment. A quick comparison of the first 20 seconds of "Annalisa" to the version found on an old copy of Public Image should be evidence enough; the bassline of "Chant" makes the gut feel as if it's being endlessly pummelled by a bouncing battering ram. Plastic Box is an excellent introduction, if only for the adventurous.
Disc 1
1. Public Image
2. The Cowboy Song
3. Theme
4. Religion 1
5. Religion 2
6. Annalisa
7. Low Life
8. Attack
9. Poptones (Bbc Session)
10. Careering (Bbc Session)
11. Chant (Bbc Session)
12. Death Disco (12" Remix)
13. 1/2 Mix Megamix
14. No Birds Do Sing
15. Memories

Disc 2
1. Another
2. Albatross
3. Socialist
4. The Suit
5. Bad Baby
6. Radio 4
7. Pied Piper
8. Flowers Of Romance
9. Four Enclosed Walls
10. Phenagen
11. Track 8
12. Hymie' S Him
13. Under The House
14. Banging The Door
15. Go Back
16. Francis Massacre
17. Home Is Where The Heart Is

Disc 3
1. This Is Not A Love Song
2. Blue Water
3. Bad Life
4. Question Mark
5. Solitaire
6. Tie Me To The Lenght Of That
7. Where Are You ?
8. The Pardon
9. 1981
10. The Order Of Death
11. F.F.F.
12. Rise
13. Fishing
14. Round
15. Home
16. Ease

Disc 4
1. Seattle
2. Angry
3. The Body
4. Selfish Rubbish
5. Disappointed
6. Happy
7. Warrior (12" Extended Version)
8. Usls 1
9. Don' T Ask Me
10. Criminal
11. Luck' S Up
12. God
13. Cruel (Bbc Session)
14. Acid Drops (Bbc Session)
15. Love Hope(Bbc Session)
16. Think Tank (Bbc Session)

METAL BOX (1979)
320 KBPS

PiL managed to avoid boundaries for the first four years of their existence, and Metal Box is undoubtedly the apex. It's a hallmark of uncompromising, challenging post-punk, hardly sounding like anything of the past, present, or future. Sure, there were touchstones that got their imaginations running — the bizarreness of Captain Beefheart, the open and rhythmic spaces of Can, and the dense pulses of Lee Perry's productions fueled their creative fires — but what they achieved with their second record is a completely unique hour of avant-garde noise. Originally packaged in a film canister as a trio of 12" records played at 45 rpm, the bass and treble are pegged at 11 throughout, with nary a tinge of midrange to be found. It's all scrapes and throbs (dubscrapes?), supplanted by John Lydon's caterwauling about such subjects as his dying mother, resentment, and murder. Guitarist Keith Levene splatters silvery, violent, percussive shards of metallic scrapes onto the canvas, much like a one-armed Jackson Pollock. Jah Wobble and Richard Dudanski lay down a molasses-thick rhythmic foundation throughout that's just as funky as Can's Czukay/Leibezeit and Chic's Edwards/Rodgers. It's alien dance music. Metal Box might not be recognized as a groundbreaking record with the same reverence as Never Mind the Bollocks, and you certainly can't trace numerous waves of bands who wouldn't have existed without it like the Sex Pistols record. But like a virus, its tones have sent miasmic reverberations through a much broader scope of artists and genres.
Note: This rip comes from the new CD edition, reproducing the original package of the first U.K. vinyl edition, is also the first CD edition on which the sound pays justice to the original vinyl release.

Disc 1
1. Albatross
2. Memories
3. Swanlake

Disc 2
1. Poptones
2. Careering
3. No Birds
4. Graveyard

Disc 3
1. The Suit
2. Bad Baby
3. Socialist
4. Chant
5. Radio 4


Anonymous said...

Great post.
It's a shame that the band decided to focus on the UK and US for their current tour, since it seems to be heavy on their most "edgy" side and leaves the rest of the world searching for the official live recordings to enjoy the rebirth of PIL.

Jeff Gee said...

The link for the "Metal Box" info actually gives you the "Plastic Box" info. So does the "Plastic Box" link.

Jeff Gee said...

Nope, there it is. I'm an idiot. Apologies.

Mr Moodswings said...

No problem mate, the mistake is understandable as the info for all the links are in the same text file. ;)