Sunday, February 17, 2013

Public Image Ltd - Rise

It's nearly impossible to talk about John Lydon without mentioning the Sex Pistols.  While the Sex Pistols were only together for a few years (and one studio album), they helped define the punk movement.  As the frontman for the band, Lydon (then going by Johnny Rotten) became of the most visible punk rockers in the world during the movement's heyday, making him an important and influential artist.

To his credit, Lydon did not attempt to form the Sex Pistols part 2 after the band fell apart.  Instead, he created a new band, Public Image Ltd (PiL) who have recorded using various interesting and eclectic styles.  Some critics have taken to calling this "post-punk," but that feels like a lazy way to characterize the music.  It seems to me that what Lydon did was take a punk attitude and try to translate it to other genres of music.  I don't think that it was always successful, but it was always interesting.

"Rise" was a 1986 single off the PiL LP called Album.  Stylistically, it is almost a punk folk song, if there is such a thing.  The lyrics were influenced by the apartheid system in South Africa (not unlike the "Sun City"  previously featured on ERV).  Hence the references to skin and torture.  The song ended up becoming one of PiL's biggest hits, and reached #11 in the UK.  It didn't chart in the U.S.

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