Public Image Ltd. – Death Disco

Public Image Ltd.

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The explosiveness of the original Sex Pistols couldn’t prepare the world for Public Image Ltd. Gone was Punk Rock – in its place, we were left with world-weary chants and eerie bass throbs. 1978’s debut record 1st Edition was just a warm up for what PIL would unleash on the world just a year later. John Lydon (formerly Rotten), Jah Wobble, and Keith Levene were the principal musicians on Metal Box, one of the formative records from the initial wave of post-punk music. A record that takes the template from 1st Edition, drops any leftover punk excess, and creates its own world. The 1st single was Death Disco, which appears on the record as Swan Lake (apparently due to a reference to Tchaikovsky in Keith Levene’s guitar riff). The bass explodes out of the speakers, right from the start – perhaps one of the most memorable bass riffs in history. White noise guitar squawks compliment John Lydon as he wails like a man possessed – and perhaps he was. The song is about his feeling of helplessness as he watched his Mother pass away from Cancer. From the man himself “When I had to deal with my mother’s death, which upset the fuck out of me, I did it partly through music. I had to watch her die slowly of cancer for a whole year. I wrote ‘Death Disco’ about that. I played it to her just before she died and she was very happy. That’s the Irish in her, nothing drearily sympathetic or weak. Like her you’ve got to really get to grips with your emotions and attack them, confront them head on. You won’t solve things any other way. It works for me, I can’t run away from things.” – Jack Barron: “I Cry Alone” (New Musical Express, 10 October 1987). It just makes these words resonate just a bit more: “Seen it in her eyes / Ending in a day / Silence was a way / Seeing in your eyes”

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