Saturday, April 7, 2007

Public Image Ltd. On American Bandstand, 1980.

Here is one of the strangest and most arresting things ever shown on US television. PiL 'performing' two of METAL BOX's most incredible tracks. It is hard to believe this was ever actually aired, we won't see the likes of this again. Lydon, Levene, Wobble and Atkins; one of the great units in rock history.


Tim Lucas said...

I couldn't agree more. When this show aired, the Cincinnati ABC affiliate wasn't carrying BANDSTAND anymore and someone I used to know actually drove to a hotel in the nearest receiving city to catch the broadcast. He couldn't tape it unfortunately, so when this tape showed up on the gray market, I was tickled pink. This is truly one of the most Dionysian art happenings ever televised, and it shows that PIL were provocateurs interested in breaking down the walls between performer and audience as they sometimes said (and which makes Lydon's subsequent embrace of celebrity all the more bewildering). In this respect, and in their immediately identifiable musical and imaginary landscape, I think they resemble The Doors. In hindsight, it's tempting to think that Levine and Wobble were the real conceptual geniuses behind PIL's revolutionary sound and intentions, but Lydon was surely one of the great musical frontmen of our time. The great reason to get PLASTIC BOX if you can find it is its inclusion of the 12' mixes of "Death Disco" and "Meggamix," which may have been their greatest slab of vinyl ever. I'd love to find a copy of their bootleg album SCIENCE FICTION, which was recorded at an unlikely venue: a British sci fi convention.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Tim,
Great story. I have always thought it was odd that the Tom Snyder interview is the PIL tv appearance that everyone seems to know about as this one is considerably stranger and more important.
I agree that ultimately Levene and Wobble were the conceptual heart of PIL but absolutely Lydon was one of the great frontmen.
I love the story about the remarkable RADIO 4 that closes METAL BOX, basically that Levene went into the studio and cut the track alone which I think says a lot.
I have a few PIL boots but I don't think I have the one recorded at the Sci Fi convention you mentioned. I'll have to keep a look out for that one.
As always, your comments are greatly appreciated.

Tim Lucas said...

NUBES, the PiL bootleg from their Boxing Day concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London -- their first live British performance, and something like their third ever live show -- is an incredible record. The sound quality is audience taping level, but "Theme" and some of the other songs have an even greater intensity than the studio tracks. Clinton Heylin's book on the band speculates that the downfall of the original lineup was pharmacological conflict: they were each into different drugs -- Lydon into ganja, Levene into smack, Wobble into speed, and the drummers a revolving door.