Pop Albums: Public Image Ltd Metal Box Virgin MTLCD 1

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The Independent Culture
A welcome and timely reissue of PiL's grim masterpiece from 1979 - timely in the light of John Lydon's recent activities and the pre-eminence in current pop language of stripped drum and bass rhythm; welcome because it's still a terrific record.

The governance of Metal Box falls to Jah Wobble and his Jamaican-style bass rumble, about which circulate shards of trebly guitar, synthetic noise, drums and the largely incoherent musings of the lately-Rotten one, who reduces rock vocal style to a grouchy strangulation of its base components - yodels, whines, whinnies and the ecstatic moaning of children with their faces full of fish fingers. Chief among many dubious pleasures is "Poptones", which features one of Lydon's most poetic stanzas - all about driving to the forest in a Japanese car - and has the barest hint of a key-centre supplied by rotating, arpeggiated guitar chords and a bassline like a sack of bears bumping down stairs.

Further joy will be derived from the packaging, which replicates the film-can conceit of the original and requires plenty of wrist-action to propel the CD from its metal enclosure in a steep arc directly on to the floor. It's the sort of record you play on dark afternoons in autumn as a sharpener to the soul.