It was 45 years ago that John Lydon rearranged pop music – for the second time – with the introduction of innovative experimentalists Public Image Ltd. Almost a half-century on, PiL are an avowed musical institution (and, since Lydon wrested control from record labels roughly a dozen years back, they are truly independent, releasing records on their own PiL Official Ltd label. Today, Public Image Ltd. have released their vital eleventh studio album End of World worldwide by PiL Official Ltd via Cargo Records/Redeye USA, HERE. End of World is available everywhere on vinyl, CD and digital, a 2x LP is available on white vinyl at independent record stores with a special neon green edition exclusive to PiL Official / Cargo Records.
On Tuesday, August 15, a limited edition digital pressing of End of World will be released that unlocks access to exclusive videos, previously unheard versions of songs, scanned lyric sheets, illustrations, audio interviews, and more. For more information on the End of World digital pressing, visit: https://artists.serenade.co/publicimageltd.
On End of World, Lydon, refuses to fall back on any tried-and-true formula or convention – even his own. Take “Hawaii,” the album’s hypnotic first single; over a bed of pulsing toms, languid saz and plucked upright bass – courtesy of long time PiL compatriots Bruce Smith (drums), Lu Edmonds (guitar) and Scott Firth (bass) – he delivers his most vulnerable and moving vocal to date, a love letter to his late wife of nearly five decades, Nora, in which he reflects lovingly on a shared moment in time – the two of them “drinking mushroom tea and watching them dangerous waves all day long,” as he recalls – in a house on Oahu’s north shore. It’s an intimate and stripped-bare performance, but also one, Lydon says, that speaks to the universal “we.” “I would say it’s got precious little to do with me and a lot to do with the problems many people face. But the only way you can deal with it is by being honest with yourself.” If you have yet to be acquainted with the sympathetic reverberations of “Hawaii,” you’re in for a treat. But be forewarned: If you expect End of World to present, as some have surmised from that one song, a “kinder, gentler John,” we can only say, well, you’re in for a surprise.
To be sure, Lydon finds plenty to spit and scratch about on End of World, taking aim atLiars, Fakes, Cheats, and Frauds (“you’re fucking irritating!”) in the taut funk of “LFCF.” Blasting hyper-educated, low-on-common-sense university automatons atop the electro-grooves of “Being Stupid Again” (“How much money for that educayshun?”). Lamenting no less than the entirety of the human race (“martyrs and morons to the slaughter”) on the slinky “Walls.” Throughout, he shouts and snarls, barks and bellows, roars and rebukes, pokes, and prods, questions and commands with a dynamism and distinctiveness that remains unmatched in modern music.
And still, let it be said that for all Lydon’s extravagant vocalisms, and his band mates’ glorious waves of strident, primordial noise (turn up – loud – the roiling “The End of the World,” the menacing death-march, “Penge,” and the rollicking “North West Passage,”splattered with what Lydon describes as “screaming, tear-your-ears-out” guitar), it’s not all existential dire straits here. There are lighter moments to be had both musically and lyrically – even if the album is called End of World. The T. Rex-tastic glam thump of “The Do That,” for one, where Lydon unleashes a dizzying stream of syllables (“there’s a hundred thousand words,” he jokes) in a blur of trad-pop giddiness. Or the deranged “Dirty Murky Delight,” which the singer calls a comedy song. Or “Car Chase,” a deep-groove electro-disco rave-up about a mental patient who “cleverly breaks out of the mental asylum at night, unbeknownst to his owners,” Lydon explains, adding slyly, “We all have secrets… even the looniest of us.”
My musical taste is extreme, is excessive – it goes everywhere,” Lydon acknowledges. That said, he also asserts that when it comes to creating music with PiL, the desire to probe uncharted musical territory “is not the driving force of why we put records together. It just happens to evolve that way.” It’s an ethos that rang true in the era of culture-shifting PiL platters like Metal Box and The Flowers of Romance and continues to resonate loudly on the band’s no-less-essential 21st century releases. “I’m a consistent writer, and I love it,” Lydon says. “And I don’t feel like I’m running out of steam at all. A lot of people in this industry, a lot of singers and songwriters say, ‘Why don’t you just give up, like we want to?’ Well, I’m not like that. The longer I live, the more I learn, the more I notice, the more I have to write about.”
You could say, then, that with End of World, Lydon continues to build on an already extraordinary and expansive PiL legacy, with another extraordinary and expansive album.
“I don’t take accolades very kindly, and I’m always suspicious about praise,” he warns. “I seem to really thrive and get better and better and better with the more insults laid on my lap. People flash around titles, call me a great British icon – it just sounds so rude!”
“The hardest thing of all when I first started was to find out if I had a true voice,” Lydonsays. “I didn’t want to just be shouting words; I wanted those words to be clearly and totally understood. And so, each word became a part of my heart and soul.” All these years later, he continues, “What I can say is that I’m maybe not the world’s best singer. But I’m possibly the world’s best storyteller – except they’re not stories. And I can happily tell you that the best song I’ve ever written? I haven’t written it yet.”
Celebrating their 40-year anniversary in 2018, Public Image Ltd. is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential bands of all time. PiL’s music and vision has earned them 5 UK Top 20 singles and 5 UK Top 20 albums. With a shifting line-up and unique sound – fusing rock, dance, folk, pop and dub – Lydon guided the band from their debut album First Issue in 1978 through to 1992’s That What Is Not, before a 17-year hiatus. Lydon reactivated PiL in 2009, touring extensively worldwide and releasing two critically acclaimed albums This is PiL in 2012 followed by their 10th studio album What The World Needs Now… in 2015, which peaked at number 29 in the official UK album charts and picked up fantastic acclaim from both press and public. (The album also peaked at number 3 in the official UK indie charts and number 4 in the official UK vinyl charts). What The World Needs Now… was self-funded by PiL and released on their own label PiL Official Ltd via Cargo UK Distribution. In 2018 PiL celebrated their 40th anniversary with a career-spanning box set and documentary, both called ‘The Public Image Is Rotten’.
John Lydon, Lu Edmonds, Scott Firth, and Bruce Smith continue as PiL. They are the longest stable line-up in the band’s history and continue to challenge and thrive.
PiL will be touring the UK and Europe in September and October 2023 – dates below.
Track listing for End of World:
2. End Of The World
3. Car Chase
4. Being Stupid Again
6. Pretty Awful
8. Down On The Clown
9. Dirty Murky Delight
10. The Do That
11. L F C F
12. North West Passage
U.K. Tour Dates
Fri 8th Sept – Sheffield – Leadmill
Sat 9th Sept – Leeds – The Woollen Mill
Mon 11th Sept – Swansea – Patti Pavillion
Tue 12th Sept – Margate – Dreamland
Wed 13th Sept – Lincoln – Engine Shed
Fri 15th Sept – Blackburn- King Georges Hall
Sat 16th Sept – Buckley – Tivoli
Mon 18th Sept – Sunderland – Fire Station
Tue 19th Sept – Scotland – Aberdeen Beach Ballroom-
Thurs 21st Sept – Edinburgh – O2 Academy
Fri 22nd Sept – Manchester – O2 Ritz
Sat 23rd Sept – Holmfirth – Picture Dome
Mon 25th Sept – Coventry – HMV
Tues 26th Sept – Brighton – CHALK
Thurs 28th Sept – Bristol – O2 Academy
Fri 29th Sept – Torquay – Foundry
Sat 30th Sept – London – The Forum
Europe Tour Dates
Mon 2nd Oct – Germany – Cologne – Kantine
Wed 4th Oct – The Netherlands – Amsterdam – Paradiso
Thurs 5th Oct – Belgium – Gent -Vooruit
Fri 6th Oct – Germany Stuttgart Im Wireman
Sun 8th Oct – Germany – Hamburg – Gruenspan
Mon 9th Oct – Sweden – Gothenburg – Pustervik
Tues 10th Oct – Sweden – Stockholm – Nalen
Thurs 12th Oct Estonia – Tallin – Helitehas
Fri 13th Oct – Finland – Helsinki – Ääniwalli
Sun 15th Oct – Germany – Berlin – Metropol
Mon 16th Oct – Czech Republic – Prague – Lucerna Music Bar
Tues 17th Oct – Czech Republic – Brno – Fléda club
Fri 20th Oct – Spain – Madrid – Shoko
Sat 21st Oct – Spain – Barcelona – Salamandra
Sun 22nd Oct – Spain Bilbao – Cafe Antzokia
Tues 24th Oct – Portugal – Porto Hard Club
Wed 25th Oct – Portugal – Lisbon LAV
Fri 27th Oct – France – Paris – Le Trianon
Sun 29th Oct – Switzerland – Lausanne – Les Docks
Mon 30th Oct – Italy – Milan – Magazzini Generali
Tues 31st Oct – France – Strasbourg – La Laiterie
Public Image Ltd:
John Lydon – After fronting the Sex Pistols, John Lydon formed Public Image Ltd in 1978. Outside of PiL John has released several solo records and collaborations. He also brings quality TV to the masses. He has released two autobiographies; ‘Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’ in 1994 and ‘Anger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored’ in 2014. He then released ‘Mr Rotten’s Songbook’ in 2017, which features never before seen artwork as well as annotated song lyric sheets spanning John’s entire career, all written in his own hand.
Lu Edmonds – Multi instrumentalist and former guitarist in The Damned, Lu joined PiL in 1986 recording and playing on the album Happy? and co-writing the album 9, adding yet another dimension to the PiL sound.
Bruce Smith – Drummer in The Pop Group and formerly of The Slits Bruce became percussionist for PiL in 1986 playing and recording on the albums Happy? and 9. Seen as a drumming virtuoso, Bruce brought his unique style into the fold.
Scott Firth – Joined PiL in 2009. A bass player/multi instrumentalist that has collaborated and played with a variety of top musicians and bands including Steve Winwood, John Martyn and Elvis Costello.