Thursday, March 29, 2012
Metal Box - Public Image Ltd.
Metal Box is the second album by Public Image Ltd, released in 1979 by Virgin Records. The album showed a radical departure from PIL's relatively conventional debut First Issue, released in 1978, with the band moving into a more avant-garde sound, characterised by singer John Lydon's cryptic vocals, Jah Wobble's propulsive dub reggae-inspired basslines, and a unique, "metallic" guitar sound, made from guitarist Keith Levene playing Veleno guitars which are made entirely of aluminium. Metal Box is widely regarded as a landmark of post-punk and experimental rock. In 2003, the album was ranked number 469 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Metal Box was recorded in several sessions with several different drummers, none of whom were credited on the original release. "Albatross" and "Death Disco" were recorded with new drummer David Humphrey at The Manor Studio in Shipton-on-Cherwell. "Poptones" was recorded too, with Levene on drums. During this time, additional tracks were recorded at Townhouse Studios in London, namely "Beat the Drum for Me" (which later turned up on Wobble's first solo album), and a new version of "Fodderstompf" (which became the B-side of PiL's "Death Disco" 12" single). Humphrey left the band around mid-May 1979. "Memories", "No Birds", "Socialist" and "Chant" were recorded with new drummer Richard Dudanski at Townhouse Studios in London. The instrumental "Graveyard" was recorded at Rollerball Rehearsal Studios in Bermondsey, PiL's rehearsal studio, with Dudanski. For the B-side of PIL's "Memories" single vocals were added at The Manor and the track re-titled to "Another". Dudanski left the band around mid-September 1979. "The Suit" was recorded as a solo track by Jah Wobble at Gooseberry Sound Studios in London. Vocals and some overdubs were added at The Manor. "Careering" was recorded at Townhouse Studios with Wobble on drums."Bad Baby" was recorded with new drummer Martin Atkins at Townhouse Studios. Except for a brief period during 1980, Atkins remained with the band until 1985. "Radio 4" was recorded as a solo piece by Keith Levene at Advision Studios and an unknown second studio. According to Levene, this was the last recorded track.
The title of the album refers to its original packaging, which consisted of a metal 16mm film canister embossed with the band's logo and containing three 12" 45rpm records. It was designed designed by Dennis Morris and was innovative and inexpensive, costing little more to the label than the cost of standard printed sleeves for equivalent 12" releases (although Virgin did ask for a refund of 1/3 of the band's advance due to the cost). Before the metal tin was finalised, there was discussion of the album being released in a sandpaper package that would effectively ruin the sleeve art of any records shelved next to it. That idea would later be realised by The Durutti Column for their 1980 Factory Records debut, The Return of the Durutti Column.
All words, music and production credited to Public Image Ltd.
No. Title Length
1. "Albatross" 10:34
2. "Memories" 5:05
3. "Swan Lake" 4:11
4. "Poptones" 7:46
5. "Careering" 4:32
6. "No Birds" 4:41
7. "Graveyard" 3:07
8. "The Suit" 3:29
9. "Bad Baby" 4:30
10. "Socialist" 3:09
11. "Chant" 5:01
12. "Radio 4" 4:24
The original track listing put "Socialist", "Chant" and "Radio 4" as one song.
On the Second Edition re-release, "Socialist" is put before" Careering", and it splits up the last three tracks.
Second Edition puts the whole album onto four sides of vinyl, whereas the original release used six.
"No Birds" is sometimes listed as "No Birds Do Sing"
John Lydon – Vocals
Keith Levene – Guitar, Synthesizer, Drums on tracks 4 and 12
Jah Wobble – Bass guitar, Drums on tracks 5 and 8
David Humphrey - Drums on tracks 1 and 3
Richard Dudanski - Drums on tracks 2, 6, 7, 10 and 11
Martin Atkins - Drums on track 9
Levene played all instruments on "Radio 4".