Keith Levene, the groundbreaking post-punk guitarist best known as an original member of the Clash and for his work on the first three Public Image Limited albums, seems to be a bit heated up these days. This morning, the following screed appeared on his Facebook page, and was copied to his Twitter feed:
It has been brought to my attention that various parties involved in the first go of the Commercial Zone project have been having their say anywhere they can and popping up messages that r absolute bollocks! I won’t stand for this anymore and I’m going to address this now just for me and anyone who’s interested in the truth. All these people Wobble, Jones (NOT YOU BARRY , Anthony Keidis, Bob Miller and of course John fukin Lydon - AND THAT’S JUST FOR STARTERS. I say fuck the lot of you and tell me…what the fuk did i do that was so bad aside from greatly enhancing your situation. Everyone’s lives who I encountered in a professional sense were improved after they worked with me. I kept silent for more than 30 years. No more. My contributions have been erased by you and these lies that I absconded with the CZ tapes, was horrible, was fired from the Chili Peppers when I was never hired (show me the fucking contract if I was hired), and so on and so forth. ITs obviously not going to stop. Lies in books, lies in press and its so obvious none of you have anything new to offer. Fukin grow up, embrace your limitations and stop trying to erase my contribution to your lives for one not to mention the history of music.. IM MAD AS HELL AND IM NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE. Oh and Anthony Kiedis. What the fuk is wrong with you? If you’ve got something to say…stop hiding behind your book agents, fakes names on message boards, your friends who are journalists, and so on. You know where you can find me. In the studio of course (unlike you) working on my next project. And do yourself a favour…get CZ essentials and then you have another 20 years to plagiarise me at www.teenageguitarist76.com WANKERS!
Much of that explains itself, but the apparent falling-out with PIL bassist Jah Wobble is a bummer. (About Anthony Kiedis, well, I guess that’s maybe a shame, too…) It apparently stems from a recent Guardian interview in which Wobble off-handedly mentioned that Levene was “a horrible junkie in the PIL days”. The interview, which by the way is definitely worth a read, now runs with a disclaimer:
The reason I find that falling-out to be such a shame is that Levene contributed guitar to the 2011 Wobble/Julie “Lonelady” Campbell album Psychic Life, then did two wonderful collaborative releases, EP and Yin & Yang, with Wobble in 2012. Now, these releases weren’t ever going to blow minds and change lives like Metal Box or anything, but still, this was good new music from the people who made friggin’ Metal Box, so I had hoped there’d be more to come from the two. Actually, I still hope there’ll be more to come from them.
It’s honestly baffling why Levene should be dwelling on negatives. He’s been extremely active lately, penning a memoir of his early years in music, Meeting Joe: Joe Strummer, the Clash and Me, and successfully crowdfunding the album Commercial Zone 2014, a long-in-the-works completion/ expansion of what would have been PIL’s fourth album, which was released in two different versions in the ‘80s: by Levene as Commercial Zone, and by PIL as This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get. Levene’s version was legally suppressed after its first issue (haha see what I did there), so it’s a bit of a rarity, but it has die-hard adherents among those who find the PIL version to be kind of hacky, pandering crap (myself included—those horn sections are ear-stabbingly painful). The Quietus gave the album a very positive review, and Levene posted works in progress from the sessions on his YouTube channel. Here’s a bit called “Area 52”:
Check out these audience-cam videos of Metal Box In Dub, a band comprised of Levene, Wobble and singer/actor Nathan Maverick, who plays Johnny Rotten in a Sex Pistols cover band. They did several shows in 2012, performing early PIL material.
Many thanks to Shawn Swagerty and his unstoppable nose for news.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Keith Levene of PIL on why he quit the Clash
Anarchy on American Bandstand: When Public Image Ltd. met Dick Clark, 1980
Raw footage of John Lydon and Keith Levene at MTV interview, 1982