Public Image Ltd., ‘First Issue’ 2 CDs (Light in the Attic)
“Don’t like the look of this old town,” John Lydon growled in “Seattle,” a song inspired by a 1986 Seattle appearance by Lydon’s group, Public Image Ltd., when local opening act Green River stole beer from the former Sex Pistols’ singer’s dressing room. Which makes it ironic that it’s a Seattle label (Light in the Attic — the outfit’s 100th release) behind the reissue of PiL’s debut album, “First Issue,” a record never officially released in America. Back in 1979, Warner Bros. Records deemed the album to be too harsh and uncommercial.
“First Issue” shows Lydon landing firmly on his feet after the Sex Pistols broke up in disarray following their 1978 US tour. Ditching the “Johnny Rotten” moniker he’d used in the Pistols, Lydon still offers lacerating vocals that are more than a match for the raucous clatter created by the rest of the band (Keith Levene, guitar; Jah Wobble, bass; Jim Walker, drums). Lydon’s sarcasm is in full flower, as in “Religion I,” which drips with withering contempt, though he’s less confrontational in an hourlong interview with the BBC, included as a bonus track on the second disc.
Other new releases
The Purrs, “The Boy With Astronaut Eyes” (Fin)
J. Cole, “Born Sinner” (Columbia)
Bill Frisell, “Big Sur” (Sony Masterworks)