Yesterday was Malcolm McLaren and two days ago was Cabaret Voltaire with me admitting that my 16-year old self struggled to enjoy Nag Nag Nag, a situation that hasn’t changed in 2017.

Back in 1979 I also struggled to understand and appreciate much of the output of Public Image Ltd, albeit I adored debut single Public Image. The follow-up Death Disco freaked me out and went way over my head as indeed did the next single Memories.

The difference, however, is that today I can listen to early PIL and really enjoy what I’m hearing with probably no better example than said third single:-

mp3 : Public Image Ltd – Memories (12″ mix)

I think it was being exposed to the emerging Associates and listening out more for bands who sounded similar to Joy Division that made me come to fully appreciate PIL. I had actually forgotten that the single version of Memories, was a totally different mix from that which appeared on Metal Box. It’s about a minute or so shorter in length as well. I feel it’s the superior version as Jah Wobble‘s bass playing is much more to the fore and John Lydon‘s vocal feels more focussed and angry as he rants about how nostalgia for the old days of punk is a waste of time and energy.

mp3 : Public Image Ltd – Memories (album mix)

Here’s the b-side of the single:-

mp3 : Public Image Ltd – Another

Those of you familiar with Metal Box will have spotted that this is a version of an instrumental track from that LP – Graveyard – but with vocals and a bit more bass action.



  1. I thought the 12″ mix of Death Disco was incredible then, and haven’t changed my mind at all over the years. Having never saw their TOTP appearance for this song at the time, I was blown away when I saw it on YouTube recently, and saw Jah Wobble with his teeth blacked out, sitting, smiling as he played bass. I was less impressed by Memories at the time, but grew to like it over the years.

  2. I can’t really say anything bad about the first 3 PiL albums. The debut was a statement of intent from someone who felt they were being mischaracterized. It goes a long way to establishing just how creative Lydon was. Metal Box is a stand alone triumph. It is harrowing and devastating and not much music can ever live up to those two adjectives. It immediately affected me on first listen and has never lost any of the wonder and agitation it created for me.
    I have to include the percussive free for all that is Flowers Of Romance as well. It’s never really given the due of the first two PiL albums, but for me, it would be the last time Lydon and Levene would really pushed the envelope sonically and emotionally on record.

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