Public Image Ltd – the 2012 edition.

‘This is PiL‘ starts with a defiant burp and, as with the debut single by the post-Pistols band, it begins with a statement of self-definition. “You are now entering a PiL zone” we are informed – a kind of listener advisory; turn back now if you are of a sensitive disposition.

Actually the rants against moronic institutions, lost values and lying leaders are fairly mild; in one interview John Lydon/Johnny Rotten admits that lyrically there is more “soul-searching than asshole hunting”.

It’s as if Public Image Ltd have come full circle with its spokesman going back to his Rotten beginnings.

For some reason he feels the need to introduce himself all over again – “I am John, I was born in London” (One Drop) and “I am from Finsbury Park, I am having a lark” (Reggie Song). Most of the lines sound like they were made up on the spot and probably were.

There are some nice dubby rhythms and even some vaguely world music touches but nothing as innovative of trail blazing as Metal Box. It’s a shame that Jah Wobble and Rotten can’t bury the hatchet and get back together because I sense they’d still be able to produce the goods.

It’s 20 years since the last PiL album and the miracle is that they still play the songs like they mean it – this is not a band going through the motions.

The sarcastic edge to Rotten’s voice is still there and you have to love the way ‘education’ becomes ‘Ed-you-kay-she-on’ on Human but the wear and tear has taken its toll.

“We are the ageless” he pronounces hopefully but time waits for no man, Punks included.

Still , by and large, it’s good to have Rotten back and I’d say the proceeds from his butter adverts have been put to good use.

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