Album: Public Image Ltd, Metal Box: 30th Anniversary Remastered Edition (Virgin)

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The Independent Culture

While John Lydon's cultural impact will always be measured by his time with the Sex Pistols, his artistic reputation is more reliant on his subsequent work with Public Image Ltd, most notably the groundbreaking Metal Box, which borrowed the reggae sound-system notion of earth-shaking 12-inch dubplates, three of which were included in the circular tin.

From the opening of "Albatross", it was clear why: the rolling dub bass of Jah Wobble would have been difficult to contain in standard LP format, especially since Keith Levene's itchy guitar track marks were scratching away at the opposite end of the sonic spectrum. Metal Box was the album that validated the idea of the 12-inch single, though few proved as innovative. It's an album wracked with death, darkness and disgust, Lydon's imperious "You are unbearable!" on "Albatross" offering a kiss-off to his former co-workers, while elsewhere the mutant disco of "Memories" was stained with contempt, "Careering" hurtled down icy sheets of synthesiser noise and "Poptones" lurched along like an opiated Beefheart groove. It's presented here for the first time as three CDs in a tin, though nothing comes close to the heavy heavy monster sound of the vinyl.

Download this Albatross; Careering; Poptones; Swan Lake

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