Mark Stewart titled the 2012 solo album he made with Kenneth Anger, Richard Hell, Tessa Pollitt, Keith Levene, Gina Birch, Factory Floor, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Youth, et al. The Politics of Envy. A proper dialectician, he prepared the way by singing about the “Envy of Politics” on 2011’s Mammon, a six-track digital album by London’s New Banalists Orchestra.
The orchestra appears to be the musical component of the New Banalists group founded by Stewart and the artist Rupert Goldsworthy. The Bandcamp page says only that the New Banalists “formed an orchestra to proclaim [their] manifesto”—which is refreshingly concise, as manifestos go, and seems to be slightly different in each iteration:
TASTE IS A FORM OF PERSONAL CENSORSHIP.
DENY THE POLITICS OF ENVY
TECHNIQUE IS A REFUGE OF THE INSECURE
Rupert Goldsworthy and Mark Stewart’s beautiful logo for the New Banalists
On Mammon, Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine of Crass, John Sinclair of the White Panther Party and the MC5’s management, David Tibet of Current 93, and Zodiac Mindwarp (“The trick is to tough it out, sailor”) of the Love Reaction espouse a bohemian, psychedelic anticapitalism over music by Youth of Killing Joke and Michael Rendall, some of which will sound familiar to fans of Hypnopazūzu. Ex-PiL guitarist Keith Levene and the late cannabis kingpin Howard “Mr. Nice” Marks are on there, too.
After the jump, watch the ad for Mammon and then stream the whole thing…
Public Image Ltd live at the Palladium, NYC, April 20, 1980 (photo by Rob Pistella via Fodderstompf)
I confess that I haven’t yet read Jah Wobble’s autobiography, Memoirs of a Geezer, though it’s been sitting on my desk for a month. If I’m apprehensive, it’s only because the last book I read with as promising a title was I, Shithead, and that turned out to be a disappointment because Joey Shithead only has nice things to say about people.
But Martin Scorsese’s name did jump out as I was turning the pages of Wobble’s book, trying to figure out why some paragraphs are set in italics (as below). I didn’t solve that mystery, but I did learn that Scorsese met with Lydon and Wobble about recording the soundtrack to Raging Bull. One can only begin to imagine what a different movie Raging Bull would have been with a soundtrack by Metal Box-era PiL in place of the one Robbie Robertson produced.
Wobble says Scorsese was in the audience at Public Image Ltd’s first New York show, the start of a two-night engagement at the Palladium in April of 1980. And suddenly they were having a showbiz meeting in Marty’s penthouse, and Marty was giving a manic reading of Harry Lime’s famous monologue from The Third Man:
Martin Scorsese was making a film, Raging Bull, and he wanted to have a meet in regard to us doing the soundtrack. I went to meet him with John. We ended up sitting in a penthouse apartment with Scorsese; because of the combination of my first-ever jet lag, speed comedown, booze and general tour weirdness, I was very spaced out (I think I must have had a puff as well). My memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to remember that John left soon after we arrived with some biggish geezer who worked for Scorsese. I don’t know where they went. They may well have explained where they were going, but in the state I was I in I probably just grinned inanely at them. So anyway, I was left in the apartment with Scorsese. I was very happy because the bloke was an absolute hero to me. Taxi Driver, as far as I was concerned, was a masterpiece. Paul Schrader wrote the incredible screenplay. Apparently, Schrader was brought up in a strictly Calvinist household, and didn’t see a movie until he was eighteen; he’s a very interesting bloke. The soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann is also something I never tire of.
Scorsese was a like a cat on a hot tin roof, just couldn’t sit still. He was jabbering away like crazy. I recall him beckoning me to the window. He pointed down at the people milling around on Broadway. (We were several floors up in a skyscraper.) He asked me if I would care if ‘one of those little “dots” suddenly stopped moving’. I immediately knew what he was on about; he was reciting Orson Welles’ speech from Carol Reed’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Third Man, the one where Orson is on the Ferris wheel and goes on about ‘the Renaissance’, ‘cuckoo clocks’, ‘the Borgias’ and ‘Switzerland’. Basically Scorsese did a performance. He was very wired and his delivery was far more urgent and imploring than Orson’s. His face was no more than two feet from mine.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Scorsese, he more than lived up to any expectations that I had. To tell the truth I don’t like all his films but when I do I love them; Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Casino, Last Temptation and Kundun are the ones for me.
I can’t remember how the encounter ended, but eventually John came back. I dimly remember Raging Bull being discussed, the storyline and all that. I don’t think they showed us scenes from the film or anything. I vaguely remember thinking that they weren’t really serious. Anyway, we never did the soundtrack for Raging Bull.
John Lydon’s fans have probably heard that he co-starred opposite Harvey Keitel in a 1983 film—variously titled Copkiller, The Order of Death, Corrupt, or as it was later renamed Corrupt Lieutenant (to capitalize on Bad Lieutenant, of course), but they have probably never seen the film.
No surprise few have ever seen it as the movie hardly saw any release in any form other than a VHS that came out in the mid-80s and a newer crop of bootleg DVDs you can buy at the 99 Cents Only discount stores. The version you can find there—and yes for 99 cents—has a cover that looks like it wasn’t even made on a computer, but by hand, with scissors, tape and magic markers, that’s how schlocky it is. It’s sourced from the same VHS that came out in the 80s. It’s for sale on Amazon, too, often for as low as a penny with $3.99 postage and handling.
Under whatever title, this film is not, by any method of accounting, what you could call a “good” movie, but it does have one very good thing to recommend it and that is the then 24-year-old Lydon’s performance as Leo Smith, a wealthy headcase who falsely(?) confesses to the murders of several dirty narcotics cops to a cop he (and the audience) knows is crooked, played by Keitel. His performance is so strange and riveting (and utterly unhinged/psychotic) that you just can’t take your eyes off him. In many ways he was just doing his standard John Lydon shtick (and wearing his own clothes!), but it’s simply amazing to me that he wasn’t routinely hired for more psycho and “bad guy” roles after this. What a waste. What a Joker he’d have made!
The film was shot in Rome—standing in for New York City—and a few sleazy Gotham exterior shots aside, the producers didn’t really seem to care that much if this was obvious. It’s got a decent, nerve-wracking Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but other than Lydon’s charismatic performance, Copkiller, AKA The Order of Death, AKA Corrupt is pretty sub-par, and at times, a rather tedious affair. Still, I confess that I have watched it at least three times all the way through just for Lydon’s scenes. Sylvia Sidney (Beetlejuice) is also in the film.
In the 80s and 90s heyday of the “VHS tape trading underground”—from whence oozed choice fare like Jeff Krulik and John Heyn’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” Todd Haynes‘ unorthodox Karen Carpenter bio Superstar and Apocalypse Pooh—the territory was covered in every major city and college town by a small cast of characters—often marginally employed losers who gained a certain amount of notoriety and geek pecking order prestige by the scarcity of their video treasure chests.
These social outcasts and otaku misfits usually kept tight reins on what they had. The less uptight of these guys would trade a full two hour tape for another full two hour tape, whereas others would demand two tapes for every one they traded you. Many were real pricks and would only trade for something they wanted, not something that you wanted. (The sort who might say “Sorry man, but rules are rules.” You know the type.) In this way, back then bootleggers and tape traders were the clutch point between collectors and what they coveted most. It wasn’t unusual for bootleg VHS tapes to sell for $50. “Deals” would be brokered between two assholes, one with a pristine 2nd generation of the demented TV movie Bad Ronald, the other frantically bargaining with him because, of course, acquiring a copy of a shitty movie like Bad Ronald was a matter of extreme importance. With Bittorrent, and before that eBay, this vibrant—albeit somewhat stunted and idiotic—fanboy culture eventually evaporated.
I cannot tell you how many of these dumb “negotiations” I was involved in myself, often with some pretty petty Gollum-like characters. Luckily I had several good “trading cards” in my hand to play, so I always got what I wanted. Three “top traders” that I will admit to back then were Robert Frank’s rarely seen Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues that I got via a guy I worked with who had himself transferred the film to tape under Robert Frank’s personal supervision; another was the oddball black and white latenight TV commercial for Captain Beefheart’s Lick My Decals Off, Baby album (dubbed by me from an ancient 2” videotape master possessed by an MTV producer who told me to make a copy for myself) and a sharp, first generation dub of an off air recording of Public Image Limited on American Bandstand.
I bring up the PiL clip in particular just to mention that the version that was used on a well-circulated bootleg PiL DVD anthology—one which Amazon used to sell like it was a legit release—that came out about 15 years ago was a grandchild (at least) of my Bandstand clip. I could tell this—definitively—because of the split-second of what preceded it, an outtake of the same Cramps set that was shot for Urgh! A Music War. The clip had been trading around for maybe fifteen years at that point and now it had come full circle. (As for Cocksucker Blues, if you see a brief videotape warble just as the title card fades out...)
But that’s how those things used to get around. They were quite literally copied one at a time and spread from hand to hand. Which brings me to the topic of this post, another PiL performance—unquestionably the greatest live PiL performance on video—director/editor Paul Dougherty‘s short document of PiL performing at the Great Gildersleeves, a low rent heavy metal bar in NYC, on April 22, 1980 that was bootlegged on this very same DVD. When I bought my copy—at the Pasadena Flea Market—as I scanned the contents and saw that this was on it, I thought I’d hit bootleg PiL paydirt. Sadly it was poor quality.
Now I know Paul. I actually met him at a screening of the PiL Tape, his video for Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” and his classic clip for Pulsallama’s “The Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body” when he was showing them at the ICA in London. Many times over the years I’ve asked him for a copy of the PiL Tape—he knows that I’m a complete PiL freak—and every time he just firmly said “No.”
Of the many random things I remember about my youth, one of them was the excitement of visiting the merch table at a live show. Honestly, I’ve never really grown out of that pursuit, and seldom leave a gig empty-handed.
Like a lot of 70s and 80s kids, I was a HUGE fan of covering my trashy Levis or Baracuta jacket with badges, pins and patches. So I nearly lost my mind when I happened upon the vintage 70s DEVO “Flicker” pin (sometimes called a ” flasher” pin), above.
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Flicker pins were big during the 60s - for instance, politicians running for office used flicker pins (see our pal, Tricky Dick above) to display not only an image of themselves, but also their message. Because when you tilt the pin, the image changes. So naturally, curiosity got the better of me and off I went in search of pins and badges from 40 years ago. Because, why not? And my search unearthed some pretty cool and fairly rare old-school swag.
Elvis Costello mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Iggy Pop New Values mirror badge style tour pin, 1979
In addition to the flicker pins, mirror badges were sort of like the crowning jewel when it came to pins (much like the enamel “clubman” style pins you probably remember ogling at Tower Records, or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall that put a giant hole in your clothes). Mirror badges were usually large and actually had a piece of glass placed on top of the image which made them rather heavy.
Vintage mirror badges are really hard to come by these days and believe it or not, sell for a good bit of cash. As do any vintage flicker pins or promotional buttons/badges/pins that were sold at live shows. Would you pay $54 bucks for a vintage 70s promotional flicker pin that was sold at a performance Alice Cooper did in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel when he recorded his 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show?
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
I know I’m not alone when I say, yes. Yes, I probably would. In case that seventeen-year-old kid inside you just said yes, too, pretty much everything in this post is out there somewhere for sale. Tons of images follow. I also included some vintage enamel clubman pins because I couldn’t help myself.
When I was a kid, more than any other group, Public Image Ltd. were my band. As a teenager, I was a major acidhead who hated religion and PiL suited that state of mind better than just about anything. They were demented dada geniuses, doing more to move music away from the three chord blues-based rock and roll that had dominated popular music since the days of Chuck Berry than anyone else. It wasn’t as if John Lydon’s previous outfit had done much to musically challenge the status quo. The Sex Pistols may have shown that the prevailing rock acts of the day were all “dinosaurs,” but their music really wasn’t anything all that “new” was it?
Who would say that about Public Image Ltd.? With their second album, Metal Box, they changed the state of modern music the way Picasso and Georges Braque had changed the act of perception itself with the advent of Cubism some seventy years earlier. After PiL, everything was different and nothing was too weird. A hundred years from now those first three PiL albums will still be revered the same way they are today, except that by then they’ll considered classical music or something…
I was lucky enough to see PiL in 1983. I’d run away from home and PiL were playing a few days later on Staten Island at the horrible, decrepit and just downright shitty Paramount Theater (a venue that should have required a tetanus shot to enter). Jah Wobble had already been kicked out of the band, but that didn’t bother me (I’m probably just slightly more partial to The Flowers of Romance than I am the first two albums) and this was a few months before Keith Levene and Lydon had their famous falling out.
Without Wobble you still had PiL, but as Lydon would soon prove beyond all argument, he was only as good (or as bad) as his collaborators. When Keith Levene fucked off, forget it, after that it was Public Image Ltd. in name only. Not that Levene did much of anything—for years decades—without Lydon anyway, but Lydon without Levene was hopeless, a fucking joke from 1983 onwards if you ask most fans of the original group.
I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I have a pretty decent collection of PiL bootlegs on vinyl. Truly “oldschool” boots produced over thirty years ago, most of them pretty primitive pressings. When I got rid of most of my records ten years ago (keeping collectibles and signed pieces, plus my Jeannie C. Riley albums) I still retained them and as a percentage, they comprise a good bit of what’s left of a once ridiculously huge record collection. One of them is a boot of the actual show I saw called “Where Are We?” taped on March 26th, at the Paramount Theater.
The title comes from a song PiL had been playing in their sets around that time that was originally called “Lou Reed Part 2” and then later rechristened “Where Are You?” (the spiteful lyrics are about departed PiL video maker Jeanette Lee). It came out on both Lydon’s “official” This is What You Want, This is What You Get album and Levene’s less official version on the Commercial Zone bootleg.
This 1982 report from Canadian television about PiL’s first performance in the country, at Toronto’s Masonic Temple Concert Hall, features a short excerpted performance of “Lou Reed Part 2/Where Are You?” and during it someone spits right in Lydon’s face. He’s not happy. At the end of the piece there’s a bigger chunk of a live “Public Image.” With so little decent footage of PiL around—I’ve seen very little video of the post Wobble group—this is a real treat. Lydon’s sporting a hospital gown and looks, as he often did in his youth, like an escaped mental patient.
I don’t know exactly what he means by this, but if you click over to Keith Levene’s website, he’s trying to raise the funds to “finish” Commercial Zone 2014. For a guy who was so, er, quiet, throughout most of the past three decades, for the past few years, Levene seems intent on making up for lost time, recording and gigging with Jah Wobble, releasing solo material and writing his life story, the nicely titled, This is not an Autobiography: The Diary of a non-Punk Rocker, available soon as an e-book.
You have to love it when a budding guitar player can email a master like PiL and Clash co-founder Keith Levene—the Hendrix of the post-punk era—asking “how do you do that?” and get a reply like this one!
In 2010, Levene gave “Justin” advice on how to play “Annalisa” and “Poptones” by recording himself and uploading it to YouTube.
‘New band, new mistakes,’ said Siouxsie Sioux in an after-show interview from this concert of The Banshees at De Meervaart Theater, Amsterdam in 1982.
Siouxsie was describing changes to The Banshees line-up over the previous 4 years, which had seen the arrival of drummer Budgie, and guitarist John McGeoch, joining Siouxsie and 1st Banshee Steven Severin.
As McGeoch explained it was the core dynamic of Severin and Siouxsie that made The Banshees work.
The Banshees were one of the most important and influential bands of the past 30 years, and while so many other bands from the sixties, seventies and eighties are getting back together and taking to the road again, it would be good to see The Banshees regroup, to take their rightful place at the top of the tree.
Sadly, any reunion would be without McGeoch, who died in 2004. McGeoch was classed as a Punk Jimmy Page, and had successful career with Magazine, Visage, The Banshees, and Public Image Ltd. I’ll leave it to McGeoch to describe performing with The Banshees in concert at De Meervaart:
‘It was great, because I felt like I was a teenager again, which was at least 20 years ago - and it’s nice to have memories like that.’
And o, what memories.
02. “Painted Bird”
03. “Arabian Knights”
05. Interview with band
07. “Happy House”
08. “Head Cut”
09. Interview Steven & Siouxsie
10. “Voodoo Dolly”
11. “But Not Them”
12. “Sin in My Heart”
On Christmas Day, 1978, and on the following day (what Brits call “Boxing Day”) Public Image Ltd. played two legendary gigs at the Rainbow Theater in London. Their live debut had occurred just five days prior, in Brussels, Belgium.
Here’s a run-down of what happened by someone who was there at the Christmas show, as published on the PiL fansite, Fodderstompf:
When PiL announced the Christmas 1978 concerts I couldn’t get tickets fast enough. This was what it was all supposed to be about. The Pistols were over, punk was over, long live the new flesh. Who wanted to be associated with people with mohicans and ‘The Clash’ written on their biker jackets? Not me, strictly pegs and shirts, the new way…
A band playing a gig on Xmas day (and Boxing Day) was a big thing back then, no one ever played gigs at Xmas, there was never anything to do, I knew it was going to be special, the fact that it was PiL’s first UK gig and that Lydon hadn’t played London for so long added to the event as well. PiL, along with punk chancer (and later Pistols cash-in merchant) Jock McDonald, decided to promote the gig themselves which was another unusual step at the time. One thing was for sure, PiL were going to be different, this was the new way…
The Rainbow in Finsbury Park was normally seated, but if I remember rightly there had been trouble at a Clash gig a few weeks before so they decided to take the seats out and also brought in loads of extra security, in all I reckon it held about 1,000 people that night. There was no public transport , but me and my mate G-Man had sorted transport out. We loaded up with lager and copious amounts of illegal substances and off we went, leaving South London to travel to the wilds of Finsbury Park. By the time we got there we were half pissed. We polished the other half off, chatting to the various faces outside, then it was in…
Don Letts had a DJ box towards the back of the stalls and was belting out some earth moving Dub, so far so good… We sorted out a vantage point and waited. An early incarnation of Basement 5 without Dennis Morris were supporting, and I thought I remembered The Slits playing too, but apparently it was another all girl group called The Lous, I can’t remember them at all. Linton Johnstone also did some poetry, and all in all it was a good package, though I think it was lost on most of the senile animals who had turned up to see Johnny Rotten…
Eventually the place went black, Wobble’s bass shook the earth and the band launched into ‘Theme’ . They were on, and that’s when the shit really happened! Out strode Rotten/Lydon lagered up, fights started almost on cue. One side of the stage were Arsenal Skins, the other side West Ham, and in the middle the punks. Football chants were heard, the skins kicked fuck out of the punks, then each other. There were waves of people just steaming into each other. Rotten got involved verbally, then people started gobbing and canning stage.
All I can really remember was that the whole stage was decked out in green and black and that PiL looked fucking great. Wobble sitting on a chair throughout, dressed all in black with his bandit hat. Levene wired(?) for sound. Rotten in his checked suit strutting about the stage, slagging the punks off, but at the same time handing out beer. The band had to stop several times while all the mayhem erupted over and over again; it was getting scary.
They played fucking brilliant, I thought it was better than the album, which I loved anyway (and still do). They played the whole album, minus ‘Fodderstompf’. I remember that they never played any Sex Pistols songs, but that said, I know they played ‘Belsen’ the next night, so I could be wrong. I think not playing Pistols songs helped all the trouble erupt, lots of punks kept asking for them. Rotten slagged them for it, then they got battered by the thugs (Merry Xmas!).
One quote from Lydon I definitely remember while all the rucks were going off was, “You always use your fists in the wrong direction, you should take them down to Parliament”. I’m not sure if he meant the group or the place (only joking). We didn’t go back for the Boxing Day show, but I’ve heard the bootleg and I reckon it was basically the same set, though it certainly seemed a lot less eventful. Rotten eventually left the stage but the band still played on, he came back on and they encored with ‘Public Image’, then it was all over…
The fights continued on the way out and outside. I bumped into a mate who’d had his nose broken and was covered in blood. He wanted revenge, I just wanted to go home, he got his pals together and went off looking for vengeance. Me and my mate got a lift home from his big brother…
It was the best fucking Christmas I ever had!
Another fan has a somewhat different memory than George X, but having seen PiL live myself back in the day, I’m inclined to go with George’s account: it was one of the most violent (and utterly mind-blowing) shows that I have ever witnessed (When they played “Attack,” my nearly brand new shoes were destroyed, even as they were on my feet. It was at this same concert that I decided to to go to college).
Here’s the audio of the entire 1978 Boxing Day gig.
2 Low Life
3 Belsen Was A Gas
5 Public Image
8 Public Image II
A clip of the group doing “Careering” on the Old Grey Whistle Test about a year later:
DJ Steve Lamacq premiered the new PIL song earlier today on BBC 6.
Our John may have lost his upper register, but it is nice to hear him strain at it in such a raw way over the type of back-to-basics reggae-rock bed that’s screaming for a remix/dub-out…
Johnny Lydon meets Big Youth, photo by Dennis Morris
It’s well-known that John Lydon has been a lifelong and very knowledgeable fan of reggae music and dub. In 1978, after the demise of the Sex Pistols, Lydon traveled to Jamaica with filmmaker/DJ Don Letts, photographer Dennis Morris (who designed the PiL logo and Metal Box) and journalist Vivien Goldman on the dime of Richard Branson’s Virgin Records to scout and sign reggae talent.
Some have conjectured that Lydon formed the embryo of the idea of the bass heavy structures in PIL from his trip to Jamaica, and the sound system dances they attended together there. Don is not so convinced that the trip to JA was as formative an influence on Public Image as some have presumed.
Don Letts: No, John already had that spaciousness, that blueprint in his mind long before we went to Jamaica. As long as I knew John, he had always listened to sparse avant-garde music, stuff like Can , and he really knew his reggae, I have to emphasise that, him and Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, Jah Wobble, they understood dub, deeply, they had a lot of music I didn’t have you know. Lydon, Wobble and the others, they were turning me on to tunes I never had, it wasn’t always the other way round. We went to a lot of sound system sessions here in London too, people like Jah Shaka, Coxsonne, Moa Ambessa, so really, his experiences in Jamaica were an extension of what had already been in his mind for years, back in North London. Isn’t that just so obvious when you listen to those early PiL tunes, the stuff he was making with Wobble and Keith just after he left the Pistols.
Branson had financed the whole journey, as a chance for Lydon to “cool off”, and at the same time he was to act as a talent scout, signing up emerging reggae stars for the new Frontline roots label. Whilst in Jamaica, Letts and Lydon had met all their “heroes” on the roots and culture scene of that time: rebels, visionaries, chanters and mavericks, microphone chanters like Prince Far I, Big Youth and I Roy and deeply spiritual singers like The Congos, musicians who had produced some of the greatest spiritual masterpieces of their time.
Don Letts: You know, sometimes me and John just had to pinch ourselves to remind ourselves that we weren’t dreaming all this! It was great for us to be meeting and working with these guys, guys whose music we really admired and loved!
What did the Rastas make of Johnny Rotten? I had heard numerous stories and reports of John Rotten, dressed entirely in black from head to toe, clad in heavy black motorbike boots, black hat and heavy black woollen overcoat, walking through fruit markets in the heat of a full Jamaican summer! So was this fanciful rumour?
Don Letts: Yeah, it’s not rumour, that’s true! You know why he did that? John didn’t want to go back to London with a tan! Respect to you John!
So what did the Rasta’s make of John then?
Don Letts: The Rastas loved John! To them he was “THE punk rock Don from London” they were aware of all the trouble he had stirred up in London, and yeah, they were into what he stood for and his stance, and they dug it… We smoked a chalice together with U Roy for breakfast, and then went out to one of his dances, miles out in the countryside, quite a long journey by car. I remember the dreads stringing up this sound, and kicking off with some earthquake dubs. Now let me tell you this sound system was LOUD, and me and John both of us, literally passed out! I remember hours later some dreads shaking us awake, it was like, “Wake up man, dance done, dance finish now man!” Yeah, it was pretty wild for me and John out in Jamaica. We loved it. John just had a vibe you know, people were drawn to him. It was the same in London; it was the same in Kingston. John is Irish, and there is a definite affinity between Jamaicans and Irish! We’ve all heard the saying “no Irish , no blacks, no dogs”, which used to appear in pub and lodging windows and well, there must have been a reason for that, that ethnic grouping together, that ethnic rejection ! Jamaicans and Irish people have always got on together in England, though I can’t say for sure why. A similar attitude to life perhaps? Who knows why they should tune in to each others psyches so well…Is it that both are oppressed peoples, or that both have a natural rebelliousness of spirit? Someone should do a study of it!
Although there have been several interviews where Lydon has spoken about what Jamaican sounds he was listening to and radio shows where he’d play some of his favorite reggae tracks, an undated letter that Lydon sent a PiL fan (on embossed PiL stationary, to boot!) who asked where to start with the genre is the most complete listing of the reggae that Lydon was skankin to in the 1970s. What a list it is! Still great advice!
In 1978, at a time after the end of the Sex Pistols, but before Public Image Ltd. was formed, John Lydon gave an actual friendly interview to Janet Street-Porter. Cheerful, not at all rotten Mr. Lydon—seen here looking even more Dickensian than usual in a top hat he says he purchased at Disneyland—discusses how he’d like to see Malcolm McClaren dead, how he made no money whatsoever from the Sex Pistols and he touches ever so briefly on his recent trip to Jamaica, where he’d been scouting reggae talent (and meeting some musical heroes) for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records.
Lydon also reminds us that tickets for the USA Sex Pistols tour cost two bucks!