Music Review: Public Image Ltd.’s ‘Second Edition’

Public Image Ltd. Second Edition

You’ve got to give some kind of credit to Public Image leader John Lydon, who is best remembered (in more ways than one) for his role as the Sex Pistols‘ “Johnny Rotten.” While that outfit didn’t exactly sell like the Bee Gees, it did after all impress a lot of British record buyers and American critics; and by following in the path of the Pistols, Lydon could presumably have built himself a sizeable nest egg.

Instead, he has apparently chosen to thumb his nose at the big time. Dropping his saleable monicker in favor of his real name, he has come up with Second Edition, a two-LP collection that stands about as much chance of climbing the charts as did Lou Reed’s infamous Metal Machine Music. The set, which recalls the most self-indulgent and abstruse of sixties psychedelia, features a preponderance of obscure chanted lyrics and dissonant sounds. The only nod to commerciality, in fact, is the jacket’s Universal Price Code symbol. Clearly, it takes more guts than intelligence to make an album like this—or to play it.

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