Saturday, January 21, 2012

Album Review: Public Image Limited – The Flowers of Romance


Public Image Ltd released their third album in 1981.  It’s notable for featuring virtually no guitar or bass, relying heavily on cacophonous drumming (played by all the band) and John Lydon’s wailing.  Opening track Four Enclosed Walls sets the tone, featuring just drums and Lydon, with occasional effects in the background.
Track 8 (the second track here!) has a bass, occasionally plucked by Keith Levene, but it’s the title track that hits home the hardest.  A menacing drum pattern kicks off the track, joined by some foreboding keyboards, demented backing vocals, muffled Middle Eastern horns and Lydon’s barely in tune singing.  As you can tell from that description, it sounds utterly brilliant.
The thundering drums of the ghoulish Under the House would be ‘borrowed’ by the Cure on The Hanging Garden a year later, while Banging the Door is classic post-punk, all brooding atmospheric keyboards and dark drumbeats.  Go Back is the only track on the album to feature Levene’s scratchy guitar, before the true dementia of Francis Massacre.
It’s an unusual, uncompromising, almost confrontational sounding album yet it hasn’t dated, still sounding relatively fresh.