Monday, September 28, 2009

PIL - Metal Box

As the board of EMI, TV-booting lorry drivers and Mirror journalists knew, in the seventies John Lydon and the Sex Pistols were a threat to the very fabric of society. Now, with eyebrow-raising developments like this, their power as Wreckers Of Civilisation may have ebbed somewhat. This isn’t the case, though, with PiL’s totemic Metal Box, which showed Lydon plumbing freezing new depths, cut off from all human warmth in the drug-disordered company of Year Zero-minded former Clash guitarist Keith Levene and low frequency bassist Jah Wobble. Contained on three 12” singles housed in a film canister was some of the strangest dance music ever, evoking frigid nihilism yet sounding angrily alive. The songs were constructed from jams; Levene’s nerve-scraping guitar playing and Wobble’s speaker-busting dubular basslines, plus the tense contributions of a variety of drummers and Rotten wailing his psychoses, make for a powerful chemistry. In ten-minute opener Albatross the singer declares independence from what went before (“Still the spirit of ’68” – this was Hawkwind/Can fan Lydon talking), while on the fearsome skank Swan Lake (aka Death Disco) he sings to his terminally ill mother. This formation of the group would end the following year (Wobble and Levene would both take PiL tapes and release them themselves). But cold and unyielding Metal Box – arguably the sonic equivalent of this - remains a challenge and an enigma to be savoured. - Ian Harrison

01- "Albatross"
02- "Memories"
03- "Swan Lake"
04- "Poptones"
05- "Careering"
06- "No Birds"
07- "Graveyard"
08- "The Suit"
09- "Bad Baby"
10- "Socialist"
11- "Chant"
12- "Radio 4"


  1. Lydon was asked why he released the disks in that metal box. he said it was because it was fuckin difficult to open it and get out the disks.
    he was right. it is a pain in the ass

  2. Still got the original 3 12-inches in the tin...these and Motorhead's 'Motorhead' 12-inch on Chiswick Records are possibly the loudest records I own...