My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: First Issue is the debut album by Public Image Limited, the band John Lydon (Johnny Rotten), formed after the break-up of The Sex Pistols. It was recorded and released in 1978.
What I think: I’ve heard the occasional PIL song on the radio over the years, but have never listened to an album before and I was eager to do so. This album though is filled with mixed results.
Mostly it seems that Lydon’s vocals often go over the music with no regard to what is happening in the music. That is certainly the case with Theme and Religion II, where they have this really cool bass heavy stuff and angular guitar with the vocals buried in there. Speaking of Religion II, Religion I which precedes it, is just the spoken vocal part with out the music. So you hear the first and then get an exact vocal repeat in the second. It just seems unnecessary. I realize they want people to hear what they are saying in the song, but that’s why you make it compelling so that people listen enough to piece out those vocals.
The only songs that sounds really complete as one whole piece are “Annalisa” and “Public Image”, which was released as a single prior to the album being recorded and was written while Lydon was still in The Sex Pistols. “Public Image” by the way, sounds like the blue-print for a million eighties “alternative bands” including The Cult, U2 and The Smiths.
It would be in error if I didn’t mention the final track which is an eight minute piece of non-sense and is completely used as filler.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I almost think this would have been better as an instrumental album. I’m not trying to rip on Lydon here, I generally really enjoy his vocals, but they often just seem out of place here. I do think it’s important music though as I hear a lot of influence in bands the bands I mentioned before and into later post-punk bands like Fugazi.
Rating (Out of 5): 3.0/5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (320/419)