Friday Morning Music Club is a weekly column in which I review new, old, classic and/or shitty albums.

Public Image Ltd.
Album*
1986

Punk albums aren’t supposed to feature two-and-a-half minute guitar solos by Steve Vai. Punk albums aren’t supposed to feature Nipponese synthpopper Ryuichi Sakamoto on keyboards or dino-rocker Ginger Baker on drums. Punk albums aren’t supposed to feature any didgeridoo.

And yet Album does. In 1986 arch-punk John Lydon released a record that was as much post-punk art rock as it was anything. Not to say this is a bad album, quite the contrary. It’s just… unexpected. Of course, Lydon’s never been one to do what’s expected. That isn’t because of some anarchistic ideal, he’s just an asshole. His greatest joy seems to be being obnoxious, often for no reason other than it makes him the center of attention. But that’s neither here nor there to Album.

The grande dame’s trademark anger and vitriol is still firmly in place, and he’d yet to slide into embarrassing self-parody. (That was still a couple years off.) Songs like “FFF” and “Fishing” are brilliant fuck yous, all angst and guitar chops. Deservedly so “Rise” is an alt-rock classic, an ode to growing up, sort of, thanks to the modern wonder that is electro-shock therapy:

They put a hot wire to my head
‘Cause of the things I did and said
And made these feelings go away
Model citizen in every way


Lydon claims the song is about Apartheid, but that’s bullshit if you ask me. There’s no question about the lyrical content of “Round” (“Mushrooms on the horizon”) and “Home” (“Spare no man/Match bomb for bomb/War/All is fair in war/When the ground is soft/With hot blood/Spare no man”) recorded when we were all convinced we’d die in a rain of nuclear missiles. (Thanks, Ronald Reagan.) Topical, timely, and appropriately paranoid.

Then there’s the album’s closer, “Ease” with its oddball backing chorus (“Susan and Norman you’re so normal/Susan and Norman you’re so normal”), didgeridoo, and eight minute run time. What this song is about, I don’t know, and that solo goes on forever, but whatever, it beat the pants off any hair metal tune released that year. Hell, it beats the pants off any hair metal tune released any year.

(* Note: Depending on which format one purchased, this release was alternately titled CD, Album, or Cassette.  The VHS and Beta compilations released at the same time were called Videos.)

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