1978: The moment I heard it I knew that Punk, in that incarnation, was dead… but that punk, the feeling and the attitude, was very much alive. The Sex Pistols were dying and this was Lydon’s closure, eviscerating his former band members with a searing indictment of their lack of engagement with his lyrics in a band which, for me, was swept away by what Lydon did next.
As far as my own musical journey goes this marked the end of the beginning. I have a mix tape that I made at the time. It began with The Damned’s ‘New Rose’, and ended with ‘Public Image’… approximately two years apart, and taking me into my teenage years it was the perfect launch pad away from the primordial soup of the early punk years into a process of evolution which, of course, many of the bands of the time undertook as well (not least The Damned).
It was ‘Public Image’ though which really symbolised this change for me… probably because hearing it was something of a jolt for me. I think I hoped for more of the same… more Pistols. What I got was something that far outweighed my expectations. Yes it was exciting, but it was also different… it was raw, but was also more accomplished… let’s face it Wobble is in a different league to Vicious… and that opening baseline was surely a statement in itself.
But, as I said, it was also the end of the beginning… with Public Image Limited’s follow up singles taking my teenage self well out of my comfort zone, but also acting as a siren call for me to move away from the raw to the cooked. That early run of songs took me into many new areas of music, but also helped me appreciate albums such as The Stranglers’ Black and White album (which I’ve also written about here), ‘The Scream’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Magazine’s ‘Real Life’; all of which also came out in 1978, and are still central foundations in my own musical understanding.
‘Public Image’ then stands out for me as one of those transition tracks that took me somewhere else… opened my ears… life was never the same again.
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