Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Public Image Ltd. riot show
May 28, 2012 6:58 AM   Subscribe

On May 15, 1981, at The Ritz in New York City, Public Image Ltd. performed as a last-minute replacement for Bow Wow Wow. It didn't end well. (previously)

A bootleg recording of the entire 25 minute show is one of many cool things available at Egg City Radio. (previously)
posted by Trurl (57 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heh. I can well imagine that Bow Wow Wow fans might not have reacted well to PIL being substituted in at the last minute.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:06 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought you were talking about Lil Bow Wow, the rapper. That would've been equally epic, and I like to now imagine that there is a world where somewhere Lil Bow Wow fans are losing their shit as Public Image takes the stage.
posted by scunning at 7:16 AM on May 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


It sounds as if the crowd WERE there to see a PiL show, then they got the ol' "performance art" substitution trick, and, justifiably, they rioted.
posted by thelonius at 7:19 AM on May 28, 2012


This is not a criticism of the post, but I feel like listening to this concert is pretty much beside the point. This band was so amazing - indisputably through Metal Box, arguably through Commercial Zone. I would even posit that the band he put together for Album constitutes some sort of bizarre performance art statement.
posted by snofoam at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


No candy for you.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 7:28 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow, they just came out with a new album. Why????
posted by snofoam at 7:30 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


this concert is pretty much beside the point

It certainly failed to do justice to the the album the were promoting - The Flowers of Romance - whose Wikipedia article has interesting track commentaries by the band members.
Nick Launay (producer, 2003): “On 'Four Enclosed Walls' for instance we placed Martin's Mickey Mouse pocket watch on a floor tom, so it would resonate and have more tone. Then I added two harmonizers with a 15 second delay fed back on themselves, one paned left, one right. I recorded about seven minutes of it ticking away. Then Martin went out and played that amazing beat to it. The toms that come in at the very end were an overdub. I remember John came in and said 'Alright, let me hear what you two wankers have been up to!'
posted by Trurl at 7:32 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh. If I were a crazy billionaire I'd probably do this on a regular basis. "Justin Bieber! May 28th! My personal auditorium in west-central Texas! Tickets only $5!" -- "Sorry folks, Justin cancelled at the last minute. So we got this lady called Grouper instead. Stay and enjoy! Drinks are on me!"
posted by anewnadir at 7:33 AM on May 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


"The AMS was so primitive you couldn't actually edit it to get it in time, so I randomly kept locking in different beats as he played them, till I got one that sounded cool. That loop became the song 'Track 8'. It's actually out of time, but somehow it grooves."

Yeah, real groovy.
posted by snofoam at 7:43 AM on May 28, 2012


Did the audience get the feeling they'd been cheated?
posted by box at 7:50 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


I haven't yet bothered listening to This is PiL. The reviews have been predictably mixed. I probably will get it, but anyone here have an opinion of it yet?
posted by item at 8:01 AM on May 28, 2012


Every PiL concert should have consisted of an hour-long "Poptones," then a 5 minute "Death Disco," then the crowd scatters... for the turnstiles.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:04 AM on May 28, 2012


It didn't end well. -- Was this trip really necessary?
posted by crunchland at 8:12 AM on May 28, 2012


Lydon gave an interview to Flipside in August '81, and he said this:

"We've got a lot of video stuff, film we haven't even shown yet. The Ritz gig was about the closest we've come to showing a lot of our stuff, but the audience wouldn't have it, so fuck them, they don't know what they missed, ha ha."
posted by Huck500 at 8:22 AM on May 28, 2012


It didn't end well.

That is one way of looking at it.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:24 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every PiL concert should have consisted of an hour-long "Poptones," then a 5 minute "Death Disco," then the crowd scatters... for the turnstiles.

As far as I'm concerned, every PiL concert should consist of a single performance of 'Albatross' lasting 2.5 hours long, with Jah Wobble's bassline mixed as loudly as the gear will handle.
posted by googly at 8:57 AM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


They only wanted to be loved.
posted by Decani at 9:01 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, they just came out with a new album. Why????

Um... because they're musicians and artists, and they had enough inspiration to make new material and wanted to put it out in front of the public?

Bands which have been out of the eye for a period have been suddenly putting out new albums for ages. I remember in the early 1990s, both Jefferson Airplane and The Doobie Brothers put out new offerings. Both pretty great albums, I should add. But it's hard to recapture lighting in a bottle once it has been shelved for a while, so neither of them went very far.

Not sure whether PiL will find success with this latest effort, but I wish them nothing but the best.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just want to take this opportunity to say that Perfect Sound Forever is the best music website that has ever existed or ever will.
posted by koeselitz at 9:25 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what you want, this is what you get.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:28 AM on May 28, 2012


I haven't yet bothered listening to This is PiL. The reviews have been predictably mixed. I probably will get it, but anyone here have an opinion of it yet?

This is PoS.
posted by malocchio at 9:30 AM on May 28, 2012


Of course, hippybear, this band has every right to continue to pretend that they are PiL. Just as I have every right to roll my eyes at this nonsense.
posted by snofoam at 9:33 AM on May 28, 2012


Rolling your eyes before even hearing the album? That's nonsense.
posted by davebush at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2012


I listened to two terrible songs on youtube. That seems like reasonable due diligence to me.
posted by snofoam at 9:45 AM on May 28, 2012


MetaFilter: they just came out with a new album. Why????
posted by jimmythefish at 10:01 AM on May 28, 2012


in the early 1990s, both Jefferson Airplane and The Doobie Brothers put out new offerings. Both pretty great albums, I should add.

The Doobies record was enjoyable enough, but I remember the Airplae one being pretty awful.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on May 28, 2012


Let me put it this way. Public Image Ltd. was perhaps the most innovative and uncompromising band of the post-punk era. They recorded three albums (First Issue, Metal Box and The Flowers of Romance) before breaking up during the recording sessions for their fourth album. Following the breakup, Keith Levene released the unfinished recording sessions as Commerical Zone.

John Lydon subsequently went on to form a new band, which he also called Public Image Ltd. Initially, this caused a great deal of confusion, but it quickly became apparent that the two bands had essentially nothing in common.
posted by snofoam at 10:05 AM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did this band actually make music -- or did they just go from one publicity stunt to another? I seem to remember discussion of an American Bandstand appearance that turned into chaos.

PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.
posted by Yakuman at 10:27 AM on May 28, 2012


Unknown to whom?
posted by humboldt32 at 10:34 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Did this band actually make music

2nd edition, aka metal box was one of the key recordings of the post punk era - in some ways, more important than the sex pistols
posted by pyramid termite at 10:35 AM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


One could argue the Pistols were much more a publicity stunt band than PIL. I love both bands, for the record.
posted by davebush at 10:42 AM on May 28, 2012


No more bottles.
posted by chococat at 10:57 AM on May 28, 2012


I've got something to sa-a-ay!

I ain't no goddamn sonofabitch!

I'll be seeing you again! I'll be seeing you in hell!
posted by box at 11:03 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


PiL were a band. They had their moments.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blueberry Hill: Jah Wobble ‘betrays’ Public Image Ltd.
posted by homunculus at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2012


Jah Wobble's a handy guy in musical six-degrees games.
posted by box at 11:16 AM on May 28, 2012


Did this band actually make music -- or did they just go from one publicity stunt to another?

Early on, they claimed that Public Image Ltd. was actually a company that would be involved in many media, including music and film. The music was just supposed to be one of their many projects, or products. As far as I know not much panned out besides the music in the end.
posted by snofoam at 11:17 AM on May 28, 2012


Yakuman: “Did this band actually make music -- or did they just go from one publicity stunt to another? I seem to remember discussion of an American Bandstand appearance that turned into chaos.”

You're right, appearing on American Bandstand is always only ever a publicity stunt, especially since they never let you actually play. However, you have to remember that these were times when bands were beholden to record companies, etc, which fought to control them and forced them to do crap like that. PiL did their best in the situation, I think, and made something beautiful.

“PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.”

Pardon me for saying this, but that's a spectacularly mistaken impression of them. Public Image Ltd could be vivid, brilliant, keening, gutfelt in ways that no other band could be in those times (or any other times that I am aware of.) There is no sense in which they as a project resemble Glenn Danzig's meanderings, not least because they did things on stage and in the studio that could cut you to the heart. I recommend strongly that you actually listen to their recorded output before writing them off; you might find they surprise you.
posted by koeselitz at 3:03 PM on May 28, 2012


Metafilter: You'll Dance to Anything
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:03 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(sorry as soon as I hit post, I remembered that I made this joke...or something like it...before)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:05 PM on May 28, 2012


I thought you were talking about Lil Bow Wow, the rapper. That would've been equally epic

At Lollapalooza one year Ice Cube got hung up at the border and his slot was taken instead by Ministry. Nobody thought to get on the PA and explain why the roadies were putting a wall of goat heads on sticks in front of the DJ booth for quite a while. Hip hop kids were staring with their mouths open trying to figure out what kind of weird shit Cube had gotten himself into. It was hilarious.
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


PiL's show in 2010 was awesome. The focus was on the music and not the attitude.
posted by Raymond Marble at 4:38 PM on May 28, 2012


No. More bottles.
posted by steef at 4:51 PM on May 28, 2012


PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.


The Misfits had no "marketing campaign"; their logo was just bootlegged forever for years, starting after they broke up in 1979. At that time, people who wore the shirts knew the songs. At some point I think Danzig or or someone figured out licensing and probably makes some money from it, but in the 80s any old random place with a screenprinter would sell fake band schwag. Since the logo was stolen from the movie the Crimson Ghost, it was pretty much available to anyone and everyone.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


"The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown."

But those who know them, love them.
posted by jetsetsc at 6:01 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live with Nick Launay, who produced The Flowers of Romance and has endless hilarious anecdotes about John Lydon and company. I'll have to ask him about this incident and let you all know what he has to say about it.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:55 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hello. Hello? Hello!
posted by bardic at 7:51 PM on May 28, 2012


Early on, they claimed that Public Image Ltd. was actually a company that would be involved in many media, including music and film. The music was just supposed to be one of their many projects, or products. As far as I know not much panned out besides the music in the end.

I thought that was Sigue Sigue Sputnick's schtick.
That damned band never had an original idea.

PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.

Say what now?

Bloody kids of today!
But I will not rise with anger to this provocation.
I will tunnel under my lawn and sulk.
posted by Mezentian at 8:24 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since I am in the thread (and apparently hogging it):
The new PIL single.

Apparently Lydon now likes long country walks, and hates making videos.
posted by Mezentian at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2012


PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.

I don't know who The Misfits' songs are unknown to, but not anyone into punk rock at any time in the last 30 years or so. PiL, eh, they were kind of a band known more for having Johnny Rotten in it than anything they recorded, but they still managed to be hugely influential. The Edge and a ton of other people in the 80s basically stole Keith Levene's guitar style to one degree or another, and the first well known record to use gated reverb on drums was "The Flowers Of Romance", which Phil Collins reproduced by hiring the same engineer PiL used and was subsequently used so much it became an 80s cliche.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:33 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since I am in the thread (and apparently hogging it):
The new PIL single.


Dear me, I need a palate cleanser after that.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:27 PM on May 28, 2012


The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.

I don't know what 80s songs you think are well remembered, but based on this I'm pretty sure your favorite bands suck.
posted by freebird at 9:35 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


> PIL reminds me of The Misfits -- an 80s band remembered for their faux-underground marketing campaign, while their songs are completely unknown.

What?? I'm no Misfits apostle but whaaaat?
posted by desuetude at 11:15 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha – according to this interview with the Suicide Girls (!) website (John: "A most unfriendly title...") the reformation of Public Image Limited was entirely financed by that Country Life Butter commercial from some years ago. Bet you never thought anything good would come from that, eh?
posted by koeselitz at 11:53 PM on May 28, 2012


That's amazing. I thought EMI would be gagging to fund a PiL record.
posted by Mezentian at 1:41 AM on May 29, 2012



I just want to take this opportunity to say that Perfect Sound Forever is the best music website that has ever existed or ever will.


It looks and reads like something that was set up by some bored it students in the mid nineties and never updated. This is not necessarily a criticism.

I have a sneaky liking of warr.org, two baby boomers writing about and reviewing their favourite bands.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:28 AM on May 29, 2012


I'm not asking this as a way to pile on the Misfits pileup, but because I genuinely would like to know, so please understand that this is a real question, not a snark:

What "faux-underground marketing campaign" are you referring to? Growing up in Texas in the 1980s, all my punk friends knew the Misfits and liked their music, but I don't remember any marketing campaign, period, let alone a faux-underground one. Did the marketing campaign come later, in the 90s, or perhaps before the 80s, so it was already over by the time folks my age were getting into music? Or was it just that the marketing campaign never reached Texas?
posted by Bugbread at 6:43 PM on May 30, 2012


« Older The ternary calculating machine...  |  Have you looked at the sky tod... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments