Never Heard of 'Em

Never Heard of 'Em: Public Image Ltd.

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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.


Second Edition

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. recommended


Comments (17) RSS

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Give this woman a copy of Faith No More's "Angel Dust" and call it a day.
Posted by Beat Masterson on June 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
I love Anna M
Posted by Kelly O on June 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 3
good choice - 1st issue isn't difficult enough, flowers of romance isn't enjoyable enough.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM · Report this
The_Shaved_Bear 4
I think the gag is over, Stranger folks. Maybe give her Suicidal Tendencies first album then retire this idea.
Posted by The_Shaved_Bear on June 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
chimsquared 5
@4 screw that. we should be able to nominate the next nhoe. how can we do that?
Posted by chimsquared on June 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Good idea, @5. Let the readers pick one for her.
Posted by BallardBoy on June 9, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Estey 7
No offense, but part of the charm of this column is Grant's excellent choices in LPs for Anna to review. It shows an awesome editor-reviewer synergy or whatever the grinders call it. The energy of these reviews is why I buy old copies of CREEM etc. to read reviews the months certain albums were released -- not everyone was on the bandwagon with some things, and people were still trying to figure out what to do with what later became perennially influential, for better or worse.
Posted by Estey on June 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 8
Punk didn't last a year, it was stillborn. There's no punk.

I nominate Mr. Bungle's eponymous album for next "Never Heard of 'Em."
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on June 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
NOP_Spinster 9
I love this column. I think it would be great if Grant would choose a few and let us vote on occasion. I think Grant does just fine with his picks it would just be cool if it were more interactive.
Posted by NOP_Spinster on June 9, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
I can imagine a world where Anna Minard got to explain other things in life the way she describes music.

Example: a lawn mower
AM's possible thoughts: "There's a lot of screeching and some whirling, but the ones you can ride on are like an amusement park for your front yard."
Posted by catyrose on June 9, 2012 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 11
The interesting thing about PiL of course is that it came after the Sex Pistols. do you make music, or rock, after you've destroyed it? (How do you keep a millenarian after the judgement hour passes and nothing happens.)

So, PiL is a kind of back pedalling by the boys, as England pulls out the safety pins and turns into Boy George and Soft Cell.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on June 9, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 12
Hey all, I'm totally into this voting thing on occasion. Good call, and keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on June 9, 2012 at 10:46 PM · Report this
Estey 13
NOP, you're probably right: It's actually great to have a column with content that readers want desperately to interact with, as it sparks so many different opinions among us (I go from thinking Anna's incredibly astute on some things to feeling like she's stabbing me in the heart on others -- Beefheart, sigh). I just wanted to pitch in my two shekels above that her editor has done an awesome job of pairing her with specific albums I really did want to hear her reactions to. It doesn't seem random, and it shows Grant's own keen sense of taste in the zeitgeist. But I'll throw in for more audience participation, that certainly would be fun too.
Posted by Estey on June 10, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
You know I thought there was some hope with the last recommendation of Love, but fucking PiL? Joy Division did it better. Unknown Pleasures should be on the list, especially paired with Second Edition, so you can overall appreciate what was going on in that genre between 1978-1981.
Posted by sisyphusgal on June 10, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 15

@14: unknown pleasures isn't "difficult listening". everyone likes unknown pleasures. not everyone likes 2nd edition.
Posted by Max Solomon on June 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
@15 I didn't think the point of this column was "difficult listening".
For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.

That's why I was so happy they gave her the Love album! It gets repetitive when they keep giving her punk/noise/avant-garde.
Posted by sisyphusgal on June 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
The order of death. Awesome PiL song, one of my favorites.
Posted by seh825 on June 10, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this

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