Public Image Ltd – “Public Image” / “The Cowboy Song” (Virgin VS 228) October 1978

Public Image Ltd ‘Public Image’ – Public Image have a lovely little sound, a long way from orthodox boring heavy rock with a punchy, light sound above that great bass and stuff.

But oh dear! What crummy lyrics you’ve come up with John Rotten, all whining about how your fans didn’t do you right, etc. Johnny Rotten performs autopsy on The Dead Pistols, full of lines about making his exit and not being the same as when he began.

The record’s only charm is when you hear it while thinking about everything that Johnny Rotten started and what he’s done, and then its charm is very considerable. It will get in the charts, but only on reputation.

It’s a shame, but Johnny Rotten will probably end up around 1988 like Iggy Pop, being touted around by some businessman on the strength of the outrageous band he used to be with, making offbeat records that impress a certain section of art-groupies and trying to play it straight to young audiences who were too young to be touched when he was good and now just want to see him hurt himself with cigarettes. Never mind, thanks for the memories and all that. (NME)

Once, Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten were inseparable. But on October 13, 1978, as Sid appeared in a New York court charged with murder, Johnny (now plain John Lydon) unveiled his new, post Pistols project, a limited company with grand artistic and commercial aspirations.

The rumbling bass intro, cavernous drums and flanged guitar screamed new intent, but the voice – mock-idly muttering several “Hellos” before breaking into a Carry On cackle – was unmistakable. it was the voice of punk rock, and this time it was aimed at the injustices of the media (and, of course, Malcolm McLaren).

PiL took things further on their debut album, issued several weeks later and, definitively, on 1979’s Metal Box. (Mojo)

Oh, gosh, isn’t this all meaningful? Young Johnny Rotten stares wide eyed at the monster he became and does a Sinatra ‘My Way’ – “What you wanted was never made clear, behind the image was ignorance and fear.”

Poor little diddum.

I thought the great Rotten re-birth would throw up at least a few particles of so far hidden talent – but no. He shouts, he howls, he screams, he bawls, a la Sex Pistols.

And without the publicity of saying outrageous words on family TV shows he’s probably finished. I hope he invested his money well. (Record Mirror)

Smash Hits 1979

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