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Public Image Ltd.

One of the first and most significant post-punk bands, Public Image Ltd. (PiL) were originally a quartet led by singer John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten, born January 31, 1956) and guitarist Keith Levene, who had been a member of the Clash in one of its early lineups. The band was filled out by bassist Jah Wobble (John Wordle) and drummer Jim Walker. It was formed in the wake of the 1978 breakup of Lydon's former group, the Sex Pistols. For the most part, the band's early incarnation devoted itself to droning, slow-tempo, bass-heavy noise rock, overlaid by Lydon's distinctive, vituperative rant. The group's debut single, "Public Image," was more of an uptempo pop/rock song, however, and it hit the U.K. Top Ten upon its release in October 1978. The group itself debuted on Christmas Day, shortly after the release of its first album, Public Image. Neither the single nor the album was released in the U.S.

Metal Box, the band's second U.K. album, came in the form of three 45-rpm 12" discs in a film canister. It was released in the U.S. in 1980 as the double-album Second Edition. By this time, PiL were a trio consisting of Lydon, Levene, and Wobble; the latter two played some of the drums on recordings, while the position was held by a series of percussionists, none of whom stayed long. The third album, not released in the U.S., was the live Paris au Printemps (1980). Lydon and Levene, plus hired musicians, made up the group by the time of The Flowers of Romance (1981), the much-acclaimed fourth album, which reached number 11 in the U.K. In 1983, PiL scored their biggest U.K. hit when "This Is Not a Love Song" reached number five. By this time, however, Levene had left, and the name from here on would be, more than anything else, a vehicle for John Lydon (though with a comparatively steady lineup). A second live album, Live in Tokyo, appeared in England in 1983.

The following year saw the release of This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get, only PiL's third album to be released in the U.S., though by now the group had six albums out. It marked the start of Lydon's move toward a more polished and accessible dance-rock style, a direction that would be pursued further in 1986's Album (also called Cassette or Compact Disc, depending on the format), notably on the hit "Rise," as well as on Happy? (1987) and 9 (1989). In 1990, PiL released the compilation album The Greatest Hits, So Far, and in 1991 came the new album That What Is Not. After completing his memoirs in late 1993, Lydon decided to put PiL to rest -- largely the result of contractual issues -- and pursue a solo career.

The career-spanning box set Plastic Box arrived in 1999, but otherwise the band seemed truly dead until 2009 when Lydon announced he was reviving the project for a short set of gigs in the U.K. The new PiL, featuring past members Lu Edmonds (also a member of the Damned and the Mekons) and Bruce Smith (who also worked with the Pop Group), along with multi-instrumentalist Scott Firth, were so warmly received in their homeland that a U.S. tour followed in 2010. An album of all-new material, This Is PiL, followed in 2012. The band supported the release with an international concert tour, and PiL returned to the recording studio in 2014. The group's 2015 release, What the World Needs Now, would prove to be the first Public Image Ltd. album to feature the same lineup of musicians as the album that preceded it. ~ William Ruhlmann
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Reggie Song / Out Of The Woods

1. Reggie Song

2. Out Of The Woods

3. Psychopath (Live From NYC 2010)

4. USLS1 (Live From NYC 2010)

5. Warrior (Live From NYC 2010)

6. 4 Enclosed Walls (Live From NYC 2010)

7. Disappointed (Live From NYC 2010)

x

Track List: This Is Pil

1. This Is Pil

2. One Drop

3. Deeper Water

4. Terra-Gate

5. Human

6. I Must Be Dreaming

7. It Said That

8. The Room I Am In

9. Lollipop Opera

10. Fool

11. Reggie Song

12. Out Of The Woods

x

Track List: Compact Disc

1. FFF

2. Rise

3. Fishing

4. Round

5. Bags

6. Home

7. Ease

x

Track List: This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get

1. Bad Life

2. This Is Not A Love Song

3. Solitaire

4. Tie Me To The Length Of That

5. The Pardon

6. Where Are You?

7. 1981

8. The Order Of Death

x

Track List: The Flowers Of Romance

1. Four Enclosed Walls

2. Track 8

3. Phenagen

4. Flowers of Romance

5. Under the House

6. Hymie's Him

7. Banging the Door

8. Go Back

9. Francis Massacre

x

Track List: Second Edition

1. Albatross

2. Memories

3. Swan Lake

4. Poptones

5. Careering

6. Socialist

7. Graveyard

8. The Suit

9. Bad Baby

10. No Birds

11. Chant

12. Radio 4

x

Track List: Metal Box

1. Albatross

2. Memories

3. Swan Lake

4. Poptones

5. Careering

6. No Birds

7. Graveyard

8. The Suit

9. Bad Baby

10. Socialist

11. Chant

12. Radio 4

x

Track List: First Issue

Disc 1

1. Theme

2. Religion I

3. Religion II

4. Annalisa

5. Public Image

6. Low Life

7. Attack

8. Fodderstompf

9. The Cowboy Song

Disc 2
x

Track List: One Drop

1. One Drop

2. I Must Be Dreaming

3. The Room I Am In

4. Lollipop Opera

x

Track List: What The World Needs Now...

1. Double Trouble

2. Know Now

3. Bettie Page

4. C'est La Vie

5. Spice Of Choice

6. The One

7. Big Blue Sky

8. Whole Life Time

9. I'm Not Satisfied

10. Corporate

11. Shoom

12. Turkey Tits

Comments

Report as inappropriate
PiL didn't last long as a band. Lydon soon fired or drove off everyone and PiL became nothing but the Johnny Lydon band of session musicians.
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May the road rise with you.
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I see that bobonnit made a stupid comment a couple of years ago & yet again needs to go "bob-on-it" since he has no idea what great music is! Pandora are of course dorks for listing public image ltd& pil as "similar artists" since they are indeed 1& the same but that is good because they play them atleast 50% more than they normally would because of it, if only all screw ups in life could be so beneficial!
Report as inappropriate
Great tunes
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PiL is listed as a similar artist. That's the same band.
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Love PIL since they came out and always will. Memories, Careering, Warrior Annalisa, etc...Great beats and lyrics!
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Happy
Report as inappropriate
very cool and original love pop tones and careering
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Is this a love song?
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Just an AMAZING track!!!
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dlambert489
It's Steve Vai's birthday, blow out the candles!
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Love this track still sounds gorgeous!
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timmullins59
Why is the first album not in the discography?
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What is this garbage ? Thumbs down losers
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cameronevanw h i t e
If steve vai was never born this album would still be great
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yes, i'd say public image ltd. is very similar to PiL
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Saw them 2 weeks ago in Houston, TX at a tiny venue called the Scout Bar - what a great show! They played about 16 songs including Rise, Love Song, Albatross and Disappointed ! Johnny was as good as ever!
Report as inappropriate
jkinney2311
Thank God Steve Vai was there to give this album it's greatness!
Report as inappropriate
Saw PiL in 1983 in San Francisco (in what seemed to be the lobby of an unused office building)... a w e s o m e show!
Report as inappropriate
bdalida3
PIL played at First Ave in Minneapolis in the early 90's (Where Purple Rain was filmed) Top three best conterts ever seen. Saw them play with new order and sugar cubes too that year at a larger venue... He out performed them both!!!
Report as inappropriate
I saw P.I.L. at the San Diego X fest back in the 90s. Johnny wore a bright orange and yellow plaid suit,They rocked,but he wouldn't play until someone in the front row put out a joint.Then New Order came on and he said"I make a million dollars a year I don't care what you do" LOL
Report as inappropriate
d_erwin22
I saw PIL open for New Order in 1989, San Diego State University with my cousin Davis while we were stationed in San Diego. He was more interested in the Suger Cubes, but most bizarre was that the opening band was De La Soul singing me myself and I.
Report as inappropriate
I saw these guys in concert this year. Amazing show.
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this band is going to be awesome live...johnn y rotton is amazing live..that crazy motherf**ker
Report as inappropriate
"Not a band...it's a company" - Lydon
Report as inappropriate
And one of the similar artists is the same band itself under a different name! My god. Oh well.
Report as inappropriate
Glad to hear this stuff sounds as good as it did when it was first done. LOL, 'similar artists'???
Report as inappropriate
S.A. Birl (aka Ogal Finklestein) says: 03-26-2009

Pandora needs to get 'Happy?' '9' and 'That what is not' on here. Please!\

TOTALLY AGREE....... . . . . P L E A S E DO SO
Report as inappropriate
Pandora needs to get 'Happy?' '9' and 'That what is not' on here. Please!
Report as inappropriate
don1983
Metal Box..Brillia n t . Post Punk brilliance. Uncompromisi n g , honest, real.
That is PIL.
Report as inappropriate
Love Public Image. Just a lot of fun to listen to. Surprised to see no comments.
Report as inappropriate
One of the Best Concerts in the Early 80s I had ever attended, I have seen them Multiple times.

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