Never Heard of 'Em
Never Heard of 'Em: Public Image Ltd.
Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
I didn't think I'd ever heard of Public Image Ltd. until I searched for the cover image online and noticed someone calling them "PiL." Ohhhh! Man, the music abbreviations that just fly right over my head sometimes. I've only this year figured out who people are talking about when they say "ELO," "COC," and "MC5," and now I know who "PiL" is. I think I'm getting somewhere.
But a 10-minute song with confusing, repetitive lyrics might not be the best way to start an album. I know the symbolism of an albatross is heavy and deep and, like, so intense, man. But track 1 ("Albatross") just makes me tired. Saving grace: There's a beat! Man, I really like this drumming. And then there's a thudding thing I can feel as much as hear, which must be a bass, right? In fact, if it didn't wear me out at around five or six minutes, I'd probably like this okay.
I was excited for track 4, "Poptones," because that name is funny and bright, but it's too melty for me. The lyrics, which start out "Drive to the forest in a Japanese car/The smell of rubber and country tar," are promising, but I can't love this singer yet. I have a feeling, though, that if I listened to this a few more times, I could fall for him.
I also liked the lyrics of track 9, "Bad Baby" ("Nearly ten thirty/I'm rising early... Someone left a baby/In the car park"), but instead of his regular singing, he's doing a ghost impression, and then there's some really high and sireny pianoish tones that make my ears frown and my eyes involuntarily squint.
On Grant's advice, I have conducted research to determine who these people are and why he assigned me this album. I have discovered the following on Wikipedia: (1) PiL is "post-punk," meaning that since I listened to Suicide for my first column, I've now come from proto-punk to post-punk—I must be done! (Note: The Suicide album came out in 1977, and these guys started playing in 1978, so apparently punk lasted only about a year.) (2) This singer is John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, aka lead singer of the Sex Pistols—a really super-famous band I've totally heard of! (3) Lydon helped start rap rock in the '80s (you're welcome!). (4) You know who cites PiL as an influence? The Red Hot Chili Peppers, that's who.
I give this a "Wikipedia: the 100-percent-true research machine" out of 10.