Album #449 – Metal Box

Album #449

Public Image Limited’s second album, named after the packaging the album came in, is different from the first somewhat. Instead of John Lydon’s ranting, we get Lydon singing lyrics that were sometimes hard to understand and decipher. The sound is more avant garde than their first album but is redeemed by the bass playing of Jah Wobble. It would be the only time he would appear on a PiL album and his basslines add funk, r&b, reggae and disco influences, making PiL sound very similar to Gang of Four. Wobble reunited with PiL guitarist Keith Levene a couple of years ago but, ended up leaving the group after Metal Box because of the lack of creativity. Indeed, Public Image Limited were very restricted during this time. In a famous interview Levene and Lydon had with Tom Snyder after this album’s release, the two were not happy with being labelled a rock band. They looked at themselves as more of an enterprise. You could cut the tension with a knife. Snyder was unimpressed but, luckily, he interviewed Lydon 20 years later and the two put the past behind them. Levene and Lydon would eventually go their separate ways and the sound of Public Image Limited would change in the middle of the next decade. But, the sound on Metal Box, released as Second Edition in the U.S., would forever influence the direction experimental music would take in the preceding decades. PiL certainly wrote the rules for Post-punk and helped define the music at a time when many wanted to hold on to the past. Other highlights include: Albatross, Swan Lake (which musically references the famous Ballet), Poptones, Careering, Graveyard and Chant. Overall, I give Metal Box, 4 out of 5.

Next: Off the Wall by Michael Jackson

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