“I’m not the same as when I began/I will not be treated as property.”
For Record Store Day 2013 (April 20th), Light In The Attic is set to issue one of the 20th century’s pivotal singles: the debut UK 7” by PiL, never before available in the U.S.
In 1976, Johnny Rotten set the agenda for punk music’s year zero with the Sex Pistol’s ‘Anarchy In The UK’, a song that summed up the band’s spirit, sound and attitude in one shocking package. Two years later, the Sex Pistols were in tatters, but Rotten was as unsentimental as you’d hope. He reverted to his real name – John Lydon – and set about forming a band whose very identity kicked against press and media manipulation – his new group were Public Image Limited. The public image would be limited.
PiL were a very distinct prospect from the Pistols, founded with a greater thought for rhythm, and with a sound that turned the page from snarling punk to a more experimental sound fusing rock, dance, folk, ballet, pop and dub.
But that’s not to say Lydon’s new outfit lacked vitriol. ‘Public Image’ hits out against the notorious British tabloid press, who never gave Lydon an easy ride, and against his own Sex Pistols public image – “You only saw me for the clothes I wore”.
It’s a debut single that operated as a theme song and a manifesto: “…my entrance/My own creation/My grand finale/My goodbye,” as the lyrics had it.
For this one time limited edition pressing, we are re-releasing this landmark single in an exact reproduction of its original ‘newspaper’ sleeve mocking the infamous ‘red top’ tabloids (its ‘stories’ included “The Girl Who Drove Me To Tea, by Donut’s wife Carol,” Donut being drummer Jim Walker). The B-side, “The Cowboy Song”, included here, revels in Lydon’s newfound sense of freedom that he found with his new band (featuring bassist Jah Wobble, drummer Jim Walker and guitarist Keith Levene). It is, essentially, the sound of four people letting loose in a studio – and not caring what anyone else thought.
LITA’s exploration of Public Image Ltd’s catalog, expressly for the U.S. market, will continue later this year, with the re-release of the group’s debut album First Issue, from which ‘Public Image’ was taken, in an expanded, 2xCD and Single LP edition with various bonus material including an almost hour-long audio interview circa 1978.