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Public Image Limited keeps it unpredictable with “What the World Needs Now”

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@thereporteronline.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Before releasing their 10th studio album since 1978, “What the World Needs Now,” Public Image Limited — PiL for short — put out “This is PiL” in 2012, which had broken a 17-year musical silence.
It turns out Johnny Lydon and company still have much to say.
The real ear-opener on “What the World Needs Now” is “C’est La Vie,” which features a healthy sample of Lydon’s actual singing voice — not the snarling Johnny Rotten persona of The Sex Pistols, nor the cartoonishly over-the-top vocal delivery that’s all over PiL’s catalog.
That track comes after Lydon drops a Johnny Rotten-style F-bomb a mere six seconds into the leadoff track, “Double Trouble,” an amusing meditation on married life to a pounding drum machine beat. “I’m aggravated, but not castrated,” he sings.

IF YOU GO
Public Image Limited performs Nov. 11 at The Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St., Philadelphia. Show time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $29.50-$32. See www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/939919?utm_medium=bks or call (215) 922-6888.

It also follows the new single, “Bettie Page,” an ode to the iconic American pin-up girl, and one of Lydon’s heroes. His singing is memorable on this one because he weirdly shifts from a whisper-snarl to a convincing imitation of Jello Biafra.
“I’m Not Satisfied” is like a shout-along bookend companion to the PiL signature song “Disappointed.” “And then the drugs/to ease the pain. But the drugs didn’t work, and I’m back again,” Lydon howls.

Public Image Limited Photo by Paul  Heartfield

Public Image Limited
Photo by Paul Heartfield


Kudos go to long-time PiL guitarist Lu Edmonds for his work on “Spice of Choice.” The entire band shines on “Big Blue Sky” — a hybrid of soaring anthem rock and the kind of dub reggae that The Clash used to dabble in — and on the dance funk of “Whole Life Time.” world_needs_now_12-cover
The excessively vulgar “Shoom” and the blistering “Corporate,” which features Lydon sing-rapping, both invoke the unsettling, dark, aggressive, industrial soundscapes of Nine Inch Nails.
It’ll be a hoot to see how, and how many of these new tunes are presented in concert Nov. 11 at The Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St., Philadelphia. Show time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $29.50-$32. See www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/939919?utm_medium=bks or call (215) 922-6888.

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